Physical Space

The set up of the Disappearance Bar at National Gallery is based on Lee Kang So’s work, ‘Disappearance, bar in the Gallery’ which involved incorporating wooden chairs and tables from the bars he frequented within a gallery space where viewers could have momentary and temporal interactions just like people do over casual drinks at bars. The idea of leaving behind permanent marks of our presence within this temporal space — alcohol stains, burn marks and cracks on the furniture underscores the idea that temporary interaction can leave a permanent and lasting story. In National Gallery, instead of Korean drinks, local alcohol and traditional ‘kueh’ and tea were served to contextualise and appropriate the original concept for the local demographic. The significance of the physical nature of this space itself serves as a fundamental base for Urich Lau’s experimental and telematic work ‘Life Circuit’ to be performed in.


“Regardless of medium or form, technology is irrelevant if the work of art does not speak about humanistic values, or new ideas or critique our society” — Urich Lau,

Telematic Art

Urich Lau’s works mainly involve integrating and intertwining the archetype form of technology with the new and ever changing alternate reality that it has become as of today. This combination creates a simultaneously jarring yet oddly discomforting unity in his works. The output of his conceptualisations are glitchy, elusive and unpredictable just like the ‘cerebral cortex’ of 21st Century technology and media. He however also centralises his ideas around the concept of Telematic Art’ — “focused on the human aspect of the medium, the desire to communicate with another even in the virtual world, and how this (notion) is central to the creation of the medium.” — Telematic Art is something Stelarc, the artist I talked about in my previous reflection post pioneered with his project ‘Third Hand’ which involved attaching a third mechanical hand to his right arm. This is similar to how Urich Lau incorporates gadgets into his body as extensions.

Stelarc — ‘Third Hand’

Urich Lau, Teow Yue Han — ‘Life Circuit’



‘Life Circuit’ essentially, runs on the simple idea of an input and an output. This dichotomy is technical yet they act as conduits for non discrete and non absolute form of interaction with technology. In ‘Life Circuit’, Urich’s sensory organs lose their ‘human’ functions and instead are replaced with gadgets to alter his perceived reality into that of the alternate scape of technology. He is stripped of his ‘humaneness’ and instead becomes a temporary intermediary ‘cyborg’ that processes and then continuously bombards and projects video and audio from live feed, the internet and other sources to the audience within the space of the interaction. This in a sense forms a closed circuit within the audience by involving them in the alternate reality he is immersed in. Moreover, the idea of us, the audience interacting with Urich, who in this work takes on a tangible and physical form of technology, allows us to establish a (despite confusing), direct connection with the technological realm. However the output is distorted, disturbing and overwhelming, making it a rather uncomfortable and pervasive experience. This then forces us to take a step back and re-think our intimate relationship with potentially innocuous technology.


Performative aspect

‘Life Circuit’ also explores a second conceptual layer that focuses on the physical presence of the audience and the space in which they share with the Artist. As he navigates around the audience members, with his gadgets constantly converting live feed visuals into sounds which in turn ‘hack’ his senses, he becomes blind and occasionally bumps into one or two people. The visuals displayed are furthermore glitchy, distorted and fragmented — caused by the technical glitch brought about by the input interference from the devices attached to his body. The audience’s passive and non voluntary presence then inherently becomes an important part of establishing a direct and forced interaction between them and the artist. The line between the artwork and the observers is blurred here, forming a closed loop that causes a more assertive participation from the ‘voyeurs’.

Critical Aspect

The third layer to ‘Life Circuit’ is slightly more abstract and interpretative. Amongst all the noise and glitchy technical projections and set up, Lau included National Art’s Council’s statements visually projected and also aurally projected by a AI entity, as part of the interference. At first glance I was confused by the distinct foreign presence of the NAC statement beside the visual landscape of the other output. However his intentional inclusion of it is significant and makes us think about the correlation between it and ‘Life Circuit’. Personally I feel that it could be his way as an established Artist to critique the way Art in Singapore is restricted by a seemingly ‘harmless’ statement.

Maybe there should not be any directive or statement that governs what Art in Singapore should be.

Maybe by portraying it as interference his intention was to express how the Singapore art scene is stifled by the same pragmatic and capitalist values that our nation functions on.


Micro Project 4 — Disobedient Objects


Initial Sense

Jess and I both decided to use an object of controversy or something that people would already have an innate sense of discomfort towards.

Object — BRA




We decided to use a photocell as a very direct and effective method to activate the LED Bulbs. However we had to determine the most effective threshold such that the nipple areas would not prematurely light up or not light at all. We settled on a range on 100 to 300. After a few trials, we decided to use threshold : 150.


As our final prototype required many wires connected to the Arduino Uno and from multiple directions, we decided to sew the wires into in the hem line of the bra itself. We then taped the wire cluster of each component together to prevent entangling. We also pierced the LED Bulbs through the fabric of the bra itself to avoid damaging the bra. We wanted to ensure that the circuits were as well concealed as possible to ‘convince’ our participants of the legitimacy of our wearable prototype.

3. Presentation


Given the nature of our object as a wearable item, we had to conceal any visible circuits as much as possible and also ensure its portability and ease of usage. Hence instead of using a laptop, we uploaded our file onto Arduino Uno and connected it to a portable charger. We then fit the breadboard and most of the extended circuit into a small Coach bag. During critique, we instructed our testers to sling the bag on their wrists while they wore the bra. The use of this complementary womenswear accessory added to the legitimacy of our prototype.


4. Reflections

1. How does your hacked object behave in a way you least expect it to?


For our disobedient object, Praveen and I wanted to make the participants uncomfortable. The purpose of the bra is to conceal the nipples of a female. We wanted to change this and make it enhance the nipples instead when you put the bra on. The nipple areas will light up when the participants try to put it on, making their “light nipples” really obvious and bright red. it’s is kind of a protest product to “free the nipples” for the females.


Most people would slander someone for exposing their beasts or nipples in public. Movements such as free the nipple has also gained flak due to a certain censorship expected of women. The bra is often used as an object that conceals and supports the feminine torso. To even walk out in daylight in ‘just a bra’ seems preposterous to many in society. Hence by subverting this object into one that draws attention to the most censored area/or area that calls for the need for most censorship; the nipples, it becomes disobedient. It becomes a proud and ‘in your face’ object that screams social protest and defiance. To walk with a lit bra with flashing nipples would be equivalent to Hester Prynne with her Scarlet Letter embossed on her chest. The use of a naturally provocative colour, red, further enhances our subversion. Hence anyone who wears this bra does not conceal but covets and ‘reveals’ instead. It is also disobedient in the sense that one who wears one would be probably labelled as a transgression in society.

2. What are some reactions you observed from your participants when they interacted with the object?


Some looked really uncomfortable when the nipples got lit on when they tried to put the bra on. This actually reinforce our purpose of the disobedient object which is to make the participants feels uncomfortable when they put on the bra which was suppose to cover up their nipples and make them feel “more comfortable” with their body.


The interaction is uncomfortable due to two main different forms of interaction. The first is the users’ personal interaction with the object itself – as no ‘warning’ is given and they are only instructed to wear the bra, they won’t know what to expect. As we set the threshold for the photocell to as low as possible, the bulbs only lit up once it is tightly clasped around their chest. In other words, by the time they realise their nipples are lit, it would be too late for them to try to remove it or hesitate putting it on. Hence by eliminating the choice factor this way, we are in a sense forcing them to reach the full interaction. Most people were willing to volunteer as the object looked pretty mundane and normal. But once they picked it up and started wearing it, their choice to stop the interaction was taken away from them till it was ‘over’. This makes it uncomfortable as their freedom of choice is removed. Discomfort also occurs due to the prototype subverting its original purpose of concealment. However we also realised that after clasping the bra for awhile, the users seemed nonchalant and almost intrigued by its ‘flagrance’. Maybe it is due to fact that we all have some sort of inner desire to be hedonistic or to immerse in objects of ‘taboo’ once in awhile.

Another level of uncomfortable interaction came from the audience – user interaction. As the bra lit up, the audience saw it before the user did — the user had to look down to realise their nipples were lit. Hence many of em were taken aback when the rest of the class started laughing or getting excited as they weren’t sure what the commotion was about. Hence this brief moment of ambiguity and where the tester is almost being made into a object of public scrutiny leads to the second level of discomfort from this interaction.

3. What are the challenges involved and how did you overcome them? What problems still exist? How might you overcome them eventually?


Our circuit actually kept short circuiting which was really annoying because we need to replace the bulbs and see it again. To get over this problem, we tried to add in fuses and connect the bulbs in parallel circuit so that when one bulb blows, the other will not be affected.  However, another problem is the portability of the bra. Even though we switched using the laptop as a power supplier to a portable charger, there was still a lot of wires handing around. Hence i think that we could make like an additional pouch onto the bra to keep all the wires and portable charger to make it even more portable.


The first challenge was the brittle nature of the led pins. As we wanted to minimise damage to the fabric, we had to push the pin through the cups and bend it accordingly. However the pins broke and we had to be more gentle. The second main challenge was that our circuit kept short circuiting and causing one of the two led bulbs to overheat and burn. We then decided to add a resistor parallel to the first, to lower the current flowing through. This was a challenge as it took us a few trials to figure this solution – the LED bulbs only burnt after a few times of plugging into power. The last challenge was portability and concealment of the circuit. As we had a significant amount of wires attached to our relatively small and thin object- the bra, we had to figure out how to hide most of the circuit as much as possible. Even though we managed to attain a successful level of portability (details mentioned in previous part of post), we realised that we could have pushed the legitimacy of the object further if we had made an external wearable pouch to hide the remaining wires.