Idea: To use technology to further enhance the experience of emulating that of hong kong coffin housing.

Initially, we planned to use proximity sensor that triggers audio and visual based on how far a person is from the box or in the box. We managed to get processing and arduino communicating with each other where arduino send the sensor value inputs to processing to trigger an audio.

However, the values from the proximity sensor was not very accurate and hard to determine the range. It made setting the limits for the triggers a problem and after consultation with the prof, we agreed that our project shouldn’t be hindered by sensing problems but instead to focus really on the experience.

With that in mind, we had to rethink our ideas and decided against using the proximity sensor and in replacement everything was simplified to be triggered using pressure sensor or switch.

Basing our ideas largely on really how the interior of these hong kong coffin house look like and focusing on emulating the experience of being in one of these house.


Main Objectives:

  • Cramped space on purpose that viewers have no space for anything else
  • Appear almost like a coffin even though it is a living space
  • Experience the suffocating and squashed environment

Interior & Exterior

We improved the interior with using brown wrapping paper as a base to cover up the unpleasant and messy sight of duct tape, scotch tape,etc. We kept the red tinted paper and used it to diffuse the lights from LED strips.

We also had a major problem of the roof of our box always prone to collapsing so we forcified it using more banded bamboo poles and wooden sticks.


Plan: When distance is far, red lights that pulse. When distance is near, white light but does not pulse.

We chose the choice of red lights that pulse to represent the presence of life in the box as well as the colour red symbolises a strong will to survive while white to mimic the lighting conditions of that in the hong kong coffin houses.

We managed to get the code working for both the pulsing red light and white light however, one recurring problem was that whenever the LED is outputting the white light for awhile it would seem to turn yellowish and “crash”. Hence, we decided to take out the component for white light and just have pulsing red light throughout.

Ambience Audio

Plan: When distance is far, recorded cardboard sounds that depict as if someone is struggling to get out of the box. When distance is near, “home sounds” would be played.

We managed to get the code working after a few changes here and there regarding the limits. The problem we faced was that the audio doesn’t seem to stop even though it was coded to only play within this value range and stop within another value range. Hence we could get the audios to play but not stop or it would both be triggered simultaneously and the system jams.


Plan: When presence is detected the box, a video comprising of a photo collage accompanied by our self-made voice recording to narrative the story as well as videos of interview with people who are actually living in that environment. Using the camera, real-time footage of audience in the box are overlay with the photo-video compilation (putting them in their shoes). A timer would also be triggered to start once someone enters.


Voiceover in video installation

To achieve a more Hong Kong vibe in the installation video, I recorded myself speaking in Cantonese, a language used by the majority in the country. The voiceover:


This is the place I live in

Although I’m still alive

I’m already feel like im living in a coffin

These were the actual interview answers of a resident living in the coffin homes. As I am not fluent in cantonese at all, the recording actually took me 45 minutes for a good take.


Plan: Emulate the environment with similar objects as much as possible

We sourced for objects from the IM room, our own houses, and friends. Real food and beverages were brought to make the experience more realistic instead of fake ones. We also sourced for images online as posters to be placed on the walls.

Group Members: Siew Hua & Valerie.




We started out with a quirky and fun idea of building a giant bowl of meepok but due to constraints we re-thought up our ideas. We arrived at the idea of building a box-shaped object with and interior of reflection and lights where the objective was to transport viewers into another space through the illusion of the infinite.

We also re-thought how it would appear on the exterior as well and was quite inspired by the life-sized toy box.

Leading to our original idea of making a resume box that discuss on the notion of us always packaging ourselves nicely, using any self-fabricated and glammed image that we put up to the world to sell ourselves. The project also touched on humans as commodities.


Presentation Slides:

We proceeded to start building our life-sized box.

Box needed further extension

While fixing together the box, we flipped the box to lay vertically instead of horizontally. The space reminded us of the housing situation in hong kong and inspired us to work out project into emulating the space, environment and atmosphere.

The reflective film also allowed for the idea that one can never really know what is happening on the inside unless they are inside experiencing it for themselves. They have to take a really close look to be able to see a tiny bit of what is happening.

While the world inside is hard to peer in, it is almost clear as the sky when you are inside peering out. This brings in the contrast that you are living in such a small and cramped space yet the world looks so big and plenty of space.

Problems Faced:

  • Sourcing for large cardboard boxes
  • Preventing the box from falling apart

Cardboard was the chosen material for this project as sturdiness was not part of it. However, we had to tackle the balance of having it look shabby yet strong enough to hold the installation at the same time. Our shed was eventually held strong from the supporting bamboo poles we built beneath it and the use of sticky plasty to secure them together.

Final Documentation

Group Members: Siew Hua & Valerie.

In Singapore, a society that is shaped on the belief of meritocracy, the Ps – proving, pleasing, perfecting, performing are so overpowering that many of us land into the dark pit of self-doubt, a sense of not being good enough. Ever since infancy we’ve been trained to hide our natural expressions and also repress the negative but instead to put on a mask of strength and happiness. So much of our lives are spent attempting to muffle our vulnerability and put on a facade. How often do we actually allow others to see our true feelings, our raw authenticity, fear and lack of solidity?

Many a times, too much of this negativity can also take a toll on our mental health. This vulnerability that we try bury will always resurface and haunt us, owning us, often times the toxicity of it rapidly accumulating just as much as we try to avoid or run from it. Ashamed or fearful of opening up because of the thought that we are alone in this and the thought of being thought of weak pushes us away from revealing it. However, it is not weakness but courage. Courage to being share out loud about our own imperfections that we have battled with. Only when we decide to own our vulnerabilities instead of being owned by them, can be truly find the strength to truly take a step forward and open up to new possibilities, belonging and positivity.

Courage because this “weakness” is the source of our strength and way of connecting with other people and develop a sense of bonding and empathy.Through telling our stories we can understand ourselves better and find our commonality with others.  In this rapidly fast paced world that we are living in, it is time we take a moment to slow down and really, just listen and reflect.

My project focuses on how our insecurities and self-doubts are not our weakness but our strengths. Instead of being owned by these vulnerabilities where it eat us up from within, spending our whole lives running from it, we should instead own our stories, which will then allow us to have the courage to take a step forward. It also opens up opportunities to connect and develop bonds with other people, you are not alone in your vulnerabilities. It is also our own stories that make each and every one of us so unique. It’s never easy laying them all out on the table but my project aims to be a starting point to encourage people to embrace our imperfections in a world that demands for perfection. Because stories of our past, it shapes the story of our future. Because it also instantly create human connection and who knows, where this connections can lead to.


  • Installation to be an experience
  • To realise that it is better to face it then avoid, turn weakness into strength
  • To realise we are not alone in our vulnerabilities
  • People to reflect on themselves
  • Cultivate empathy for each other and develop a sense of bond (to both listen and share)

My project was deeply inspired by these Ted talks that shed many interesting insights, especially the one by Brené Brown, I really recommend others to watch her talk as well.

Key points from the talk:

Angel’s cocktail

  1. Increase Dopamin levels
  • Effects: more focused, more motivation, memory
  • By: building suspense, cliff-hanger
    • Audiences created situations around this, imaging how the rooms look like
  1. Increase Oxytocin levels
  • Effects: more generosity, trust more, bond more (feel more human, feel more relax)
  • By: creating empathy for the character
  1. Increase in Endorphin
  • Effects: more creative, more relax and more focused
  • By: making people laugh

Devil’s cocktail

  1. High Levels of Cortisol
  2. High Levels of Adrenalin
  • Effects: Intolerant, Irritable, Uncreative, Critical, Memory Impaired, Bad Decisions

Key points from the talk:

“When I wrote it out loud, I was no longer being in a vacuum, no longer hiding within myself that I was afraid to bring out. I took the initiative and I laid it out on the table. There, it’s mine, it’s not something that rules me anymore. People who reads will say “me too” or say I think I have that same problem. 

“With every “me too” it was no longer a thing to shame me or feed my self-doubt and could take steps and move forward with life.”

Realisation point -> change 

Key points from the talk:

“when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. when you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. and when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.”

“vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

“Vulnerability is not weakness, nor is it optional. We can’t opt out of the uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks that are woven through our daily experiences. Like it or not, vulnerability is coming, and we have to decide if we’re going to open up to it or push it away.”

“Brown believes there are three shields we use to protect ourselves from vulnerability: perfectionism (doing everything perfectly); numbing (using alcohol, drugs, food or work to deaden true feeling); and ‘foreboding joy’, the dread that kills happiness.”

“Courage, she discovered, comes from the latin “cor”, meaning heart. The original definition of courage was “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

―Brené Brown

Key points from the talk:

“sharing your story is an act of vulnerability, it requires allowing yourself to be seen. but with vulnerability comes power.“

“when we give our story voice, we allow them to resonate in the heart and mind of the people we interact with. As soon as the story has been told, the power multiples to exist in both teller and listener. “

“traces of our past shape the narrative of our future and continue to influence the stories that we tell”

Matt Adams is an artist in Blast Theory and is renowned for the usage of multidisciplinary approach as well as in using new technologies in theater, games, and visual art.

During his talk on Saturday night, the first thing and probably the most striking key point throughout the whole talk was the equation: “interactive = unfinished”. He stated right at the beginning of the talk that when a work was to be interactive, it also means that it is unfinished. From my understanding of what he meant, it was that when there is an interactive piece, the element of interactivity leaves this sense of openness as to how the audience want to approach and engage it. As the artist they cannot force an experience on audience and it is up to the audience themselves to figure out what kind of experience they want to acquire out of the work and also how do they want to become of the artwork. The participants and their experience play an important part in “completing” the projects. While the outcome may be unpredictable, the artist still has to ensure that the work is structured in its narrative and presentation as the project goals and objectives.

The two works that struck me most was “Karen” and “2097”. 

“Karen” is a mock life-coach that would eventually develop boundary issues and leaves its users feeling distinctly uncomfortable. It is point-of-view, part story and part game, designed to be played over a period of days, and offers a deliberately unsettling experience that’s intended to make us question the way we bare ourselves to a digital device.

What was interesting was that the entire experience is about the user. As mentioned by Matt Adams: “as you reveal yourself to Karen, she reveals herself to you, in ways that veer farther and farther from a legitimate life-coach experience.” According to the user’s choices and what the information the user chooses to share, the app would begin to make inferences and morph to fit the user. Through these, it is easy to see the link in reality where many people are so easily baring themselves to a digital device , even if the receiving end is another human, (or not?) It is hard to distinguish in the digital world where you can never be too sure if information are really genuine or just feeding off what information you share with them. This particular work also reminded me greatly of my own project in year 2 where I similarly, made a point-of-view interactive film which narrative also changes based on your choices.

“2097: We Made Ourselves Over” takes you on a journey to the cusp of the next century. Audiences are invited into a world where consciousness is transferred from the dead to the living and where teenagers girls are the rulers. It was a project that had short films being played along the streets in Hull and Aarhus, 300 phone calls ringing city wide at the same time where triggered for some real-life actors from the films appearing in certain areas, and the installation pieces itself. It was indeed a very grand, large-scale and enticing yet unfinished work. It also engaged almost all aspects such as individual, social, environment and political.

During the Q&A, audiences asked about how they always got away or dealt with all the sensitive topics that most of their projects venture into. Matt Adams replied by stating that these are very serious and prevalent issues they face a lot while doing their various projects hence, they were always debating on how the concept should be presented and were alawys very very extra careful when dealing with this issues.

Overall, Matt Adams and his group are really inspiring because their works are unconventional and always exploring the boundaries of everything. I really enjoyed the talk.