Despite their works being rooted mainly in digital technologies, it was fascinating that teamLab continues to integrate traditional Japanese/East Asian aesthetics into its works – modernising how we view traditional art. Takasu-san highlighted that the Future World exhibit was how teamLab envisioned the future – through a digitised playground grounded in traditional play structure. Inevitably, he hints that the future is in technology, and the ubiquity of it transcends our everyday living – starting from the next generation. He also sparked this question in me: was teamLab trying to change the art scene? Traditionalists might argue that their works seem too avant-garde, however, by extruding and integrating the human quality of play, teamLab keep their works accessible – to both traditional and digital art.
With the privilege of having Takasu-san to explain the artworks, it was good to finally realise how the artworks were carried out – using MaxMsp to produce the sounds, lazer sensing technology to accurate trace position and motion. Technology wise, my skills pale in comparison greatly to teamLab’s, but it was an eye-opener to see how far technology with the team of the best expertise could further art. Similarly, for our following FYP, we might want to embark on a larger scale project but lack the expertise. Though on a smaller scale, we could take on what teamLab has epitomised – drawing on the expertise of many and creating a collaborative project.
Another idea that Takasu-san brought up was the instance of people of the Silicon valley not purchasing art as they ‘looked forward’ at not behind (hence hinting that art was of a behind state). However, he later stated that art with digitised medium is not lagging behind, but in contrast was fronting the battle, with teamLab’s Light Sculpture of Flames being purchased for permanent collection later. Perhaps, teamLab tries to pry open the lid of the present, jogging towards the future of art.
Overview The Singapore Smart Nation project is a collective project by the Government of Singapore to transform Singapore into a Smart Nation (SN), defined hereby as:
“…a nation where people live meaningful and fulfilled lives, enabled seamlessly by technology, offering exciting opportunities for all.”
– Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, Speech at the Smart nation launch (2014) [iv]
In the project, technology will assist in creating ‘better living, stronger communities, and create more opportunities, for all’. Ultimately, the project aims to benefit citizens, through the provision of technology as an alternate supporting mean. Singapore Smart Nation is meant to be a collaborative project between citizens, businesses and the government – which will be laying the groundworks in appropriate policies, infrastructure and enablers to spur innovation.
It is an ambitious project, but nevertheless crucial especially with the changing economic landscape. As a country lacking of natural resources, Singapore is reliant on human resource to fuel its economy – past decades have seen a growing emphasis placed on education and social cohesion – as part of the larger plan to nurture and develop our human resource[i]. Singapore’s population ageing composition is gradually being shifted rightwards: a burgeoning elderly population, shrinking working age people, coupled with the low birth rate quantifies into a smaller economic workforce. The availability of technology can help to replace certain work, allowing for better diversion of our limited human resource more economically.
Despite of the high cost in implementation, it is an inevitable choice the Singapore government have to partake in.
Interconnectedness in the ‘Smart’ As with all technology enabled endeavours, the risk of security breach of the project – possibly risking exposure of personal data and confidential government and business details – remains pertinent, highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an earlier speech [iii]. Should the SN initiative choose to continue with the cloud storage database in the case of the Healthhub Portal, it takes a calculated risk in exchange for the ease of access for information.
The Human Connection
In certain healthcare practices, SN initiatives cannot fully replace the human work. In the tele-rehabilitation initiative, the use of technology to remotely monitor and support patients in a ‘caring’ profession might fuel human disconnect. Granted, the appropriate care and monitoring would be carried out, but subtle cues in human behaviour are better picked up in person face to face. In addition, people might be unwilling to adopt new technologies – in particular the less technological savvy elderly, of whom are a large participatory group in the SM healthcare plans. On the whole, SN initiatives are easier adopted if they are already not managed by people, basically, the reconstruction of the technical system. Human behaviour must be taken into account, in particular the locals who are less inclined than their neighbours in their desire to innovate [ii].
One Connected Nation
The initial goal of the SN was to serve the citizens, and this value must be continually emphasised on. The initiatives must adopt a citizen-centric work design, or risk detachment and reluctance to partake in the project.
Currently, even though the government is the main supporter in backing SM, there should be a gradual shift of the burden upon citizens and businesses instead. Only then can the culture of the ‘Smart’ be sustained in the long term. On a larger scale, Singapore could explore creating a globalised Smart World, but with sufficient support for other SN such as China and Korea. However, at current it can only be a pipe dream, but Singapore is definitely working hard towards that ultimate goal.
Media Art Installation/Intervention: Pulse
Pulse is a public data visualisation light installation consisting of a 4 metres high sphere. The sphere is to be placed in a prominent public space, an ideal location being the Marina Bay Sands Promenade.
An external data logger collects data analytics such as wind flow, solar irradiance, and quantity of mobile signals at the immediate area of the installation. Later, these data is translated into data visualisation art and light-projected on the orb’s surface. The orb will be made out of a white, blown up balloon, to save cost. Data visuals will be as such generative art:
Graphics: when wind flow is stronger, the graphics vibrate with faster intensity. When more mobile signals are detected in the area, the orb glows with brighter intensity. The purpose of the orb is solely for visual purposes, and people will sit down and relax at the waterfront promenade with it glowly softly in the background.
[i] Heng Chee, Chan. “[Paper] The Making Of A Smart Nation By Professor Chan Heng Chee Delivered At Smart Cities Dialogue Platform, Berlin On 12 Dec 2016 – Lee Kuan Yew Centre For Innovative Cities”. Lee Kuan Yew Centre For Innovative Cities, 2017, https://lkycic.sutd.edu.sg/publications/paper-making-smart-nation-professor-chan-heng-chee-delivered-smart-cities-dialogue-platform-berlin-12-dec-2016/.
[iii] Kwang, Kevin. “National Cybersecurity Strategy Aims To Make Smart Nation Safe: PM Lee”. Channel Newsasia, 2017, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/national-cybersecurity-strategy-aims-to-make-smart-nation-safe/3193210.html.
[iv] “Transcript Of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong&Amp;#039;S Speech At Smart Nation Launch On 24 November”. Prime Minister‘S Office Singapore, 2017, http://www.pmo.gov.sg/newsroom/transcript-prime-minister-lee-hsien-loongs-speech-smart-nation-launch-24-november.
Both Löwgren and Stolterman adopted a realistic approach towards the theory of critical design, and recognise the limitation that all designs will always be imperfect, due to the complexity of the design situation. However, through the prediction of social systems and technical components, the product is able to achieve success, or a systemic whole. Hence, they propose that good design is still possible, dependent on the designer.
Later, the authors mentioned that writing acts as the medium to create, but instead the ultimate created product depends on the designer. As his role as the final steward in the production process, the thoughtful designer depends on the theoretics of knowing and predicting in attempting to determine the usefulness of the product for consumers, as part of what they term ‘design as knowledge construction’. The writing tends to edge towards the more practical aspects of a product; if applied to art, it fails to account for the consumer desire for art which cannot be quantified using a theoretical formula.
On a similar scale, they also term digital products ‘Digitial Artefacts’ – namely, designed things built around a core of information technology. The products thus ‘impact on everyday lives’, be it individually or socially, and subsequently the environment and therefore the nature in which we live in. As an extension to this theory, the products are not restricted to simply being a catalyst in helping us function our everyday lives, but also, to perhaps, shape and alter it in hopefully beneficial ways. The way we now live in this constructed world can be purposefully and deliberately changed by us.
In particular, smart home technology, fosters this alteration in an ambitious attempt to further streamline our way of living. In my personal opinion, one of the reasons why such technology has not achieved widespread success is that of it being hard to alter our habits of living (cultural aspect), and also that it might be too intrusive into our everyday lives. Nevertheless, it remains a breakthrough in which interactive design strives to break out beyond being simply contained to a singular body, to affecting the wider environment.
Example projects of thoughtfully designed interactive experience:
Impulse is a digital installation fruited from a collaborative effort by Canadian designers and artists, consisting of 30 illuminated see-saws. Each see-saw was fitted with LEDs and speakers, and when played with, changes its light intensity and sound. Together, the 30 see-saws produce a melody.
The installation successfully incorporates play, an inherent humanistic feature, into a musical artwork, to engage the users in both auditory and kinaesthetic functions. Granted, the see saws will attract users on its own, but the added dimension of music and attractive lighting enhances the playing experience.
Part of the Apple iOS, the elastic scrolling is activated at the bottom of a webpage on a web browser. It gives user a cohesive and organic realisation of himself reaching the end of the page, rather than an abrupt ending.
Spectacles by Snapchat is a recording device that syncs with the Snapchat application on your phone. It’s sole function is to record videos, by pressing the button at the side of the Spectacles. Relatively simple, it functions solely for its only purpose.
Write a response to the reading and post 2 questions to the reading.
Can there ever be a designed good that would suit the needs of all the projected personas of users?
Would serving the human need guarantee long-term success for the product? Assuming that other factors such as project management and marketing are considered successful.
Designing for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin, offers readers a detailed breakdown of the design process. While I do agree with her points, the first chapter could be better studied under certain cases which I would address in this response. With respect to today’s current digital age, there is an increasingly crucial need to adapt as user types and means of affordance are constantly changing. Not only does the visual styles of society change, the availability of multiple design companies on the market saturates the market with generally similar goods. Traditional methodology of creating goods to suit the tested and tried human need will no longer be a design breakthrough in today’s world, rather, I believe that recognising the unrealised human need and thus cater to it would help to distinct one’s design from the others.
It would be interesting to explore the definition of ‘human need’ itself (Goodwin defines design as, ‘the craft of visualising concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constrains’ (Goodwin, 3)). With respect to different personas, their needs would vary – a socialite would need a luxury bag to be compatible with her social status, while a worker with a labour intensive job would need just a durable work bag to store his equipment. As such, the goals of these two cases would differ, despite both items holding the same purpose for storage, and accordingly, the principles, process and practices.
Let us explore the concept of bespoke gifts. The situation has now been transformed, of designing an individualised product for a particular group of customers. In my opinion, the goal of the design no longer simply seeks to simply satisfy the human need, but rather to fulfil the want. Should the deadline be tightened if it is a last minute job, the project length will have to be shortened, potentially sacrificing some design aspects with speed. As mentioned in the text, design has to be within certain constrains: be it time-wise or resource availability. As such, I have come to realise that there will always be an inherent limitation in design, that designers will constantly try to overcome.
Part 1:Choose any current exhibition in Singapore (except for “Future World” at ArtScience), visit it and write a response. Select particular work(s) in the exhibit which inspire or interest you and do some research to find out how the work was developed and additional information about the artist.
What is not visible is not invisible; National Musuem of Singapore
What is not visible is not invisible – the title of the exhibition postulates that beyond the 2 distinct opposites of black, a more deep-seeded area of grey exists.
The title and design of this exhibition was inspired by the artwork of a similar title by French artist Julien Discrit – a lighted-text installation that lights up only when triggered by motion – paradoxically, the need to make seen the not visible can only be realised after being seen (visible). The exhibition, which features video, installations and sculptures, tries to bring to the surface deeper philosophical themes, through the uncustomary forms of art-making.
The exhibition reveals the not visible: the abstract, through the revisiting of both organic and structured forms of art. The exhibition layout adopted took the form of a fixed path, bringing the audience through a proportionate mixture of video and structural art, ultimately starting and ending with the artwork What is not visible is not invisible.
The deliberate placement of that artwork challenges our thoughts, of realising the absence of the not visible firstly through text, but later, through a series of thought-provoking artwork. By touring through the whole exhibition in a circular manner, one walks around the entire physical space, and metaphorically, concurrently expands the philosophical space of understanding.
This post will focus on two artworks in the exhibit, Grass Grows, and Blue Sail by Hans Haccke.
Hans Haccke (b. 1936) is a German-born conceptual artist whose process and materials are constantly changing. He favours creating minimalist sculptures from industrial materials and found objects. In the late 1950s to early 1960s, he joined part of an international art movement called Zero, where most of the works were monochromatic, geometric, kinetic and gestural. Zero also utilised nontraditional materials such as fire, water, light, and kinetic effects, which are reflected in Haccke’s pieces.
Haccke’s earlier works, Blue Sail, allude to movement, minimal expressions, while Grass Grows uses earthly elements – literally, Earth, and grass.
Despite his status as a conceptual artist, he prefers to label his art as thought provoking, rather than as conceptual pieces.
Blue Sail, 1965
Blue Sail features a fragile fragment of chiffon blue silk floating softly above a fan blowing above situated on the floor, Haccke labels it as a sculpture, questioning the status of art-making and production. The structure of Blue Sail remains nostalgically organic, with undulations unfurling gently, akin to waves of water, but created with non-traditional materials such as chiffon silk, and a fan. It reflects Haccke’s philosophy of debating against compartmentalisation.
According to Haccke,
“A ‘sculpture’ that physically reacts to its environment is no longer to be regarded as an object. The range of outside factors affecting it, as well as its own radius of action, reach beyond the space it materially occupies. It thus merges with the environment in a relationship that is better understood as a ‘system’ of interdependent processes. These processes evolve without the viewer’s empathy. He becomes a witness. A system is not imagined, it is real.”.
– Excerpt taken from Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham And Hans Haacke (2014)
Thus with reference to Haccke, everything we are exposed to contributes to our view of the world – and with his artwork, he attempts to destroy the conceived status of the forced narrative of a sculpture, expanding and not constraining the borders of art.
Grass Grows, 1969
Grass Grows is a unique art piece featuring a mound of grass growing, oblivious to the conditions of the environment. The grass continues to grow, and exist as a system largely segregated from the cold floor of the museum, as an autonomous entity. Haccke uses this organic artwork to question the constitutional constrains of art, of its economic and political conditions.
Installation setup of Blue Sail
There are few components in the installation Blue Sail, and set-up is considerably simple – strategic placement of the few materials would help to create the work.
Blue Chiffon Silk (x 1)
Strings (x 4)
Fan (x 1)
As for the artwork Grass Grows, the installation setup simply comprises of digging up a perfect round mound of soil, taken from the ‘institutional roof’ where it originally grew at, and placing it in the set position, on the floor. However, the artwork requires the frequent watering, lest the grass dies.
[i] Chau, Christina. “Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham And Hans Haacke”. Contemporaneity: Historical Presence In Visual Culture, vol 3, no. 1, 2014, pp. 62-76. University Library System, University Of Pittsburgh, doi:10.5195/contemp.2014.57.
Do Ho Suh is a Korean sculpture and installation artist who was born in Korea and subsequently relocated to the United States. His artwork ‘home within home within home within home within home’ is an immersive installation built using silk. It is a full-scale recreation of his past residences – the traditional korean style housing he stayed it during his childhood, which is enveloped by another replica of his first housing in the United States where he later relocated to.
The artwork almost resembles a blueprint, and constitutes of overlaying significance – of Do Ho Suh’s experience leaving his homeland to the US, of his Korean home within his US home, and finally within the walls of the musuem. This multi-layered narrative inspires me as we delve deeper into his experience, not just as an artist but also as a human.