On Continuity, Time, and Everything Else (FYP18)

Some Reflections on my project
It’s 2018; cue a quick recap on 2017’s highlights: I played about with different materials, tested out several light effects on bubbles, and did a couple of projection tryouts. However, ideation wise, I was admittedly was pretty much stuck, despite my set topic on grief/loss. It was tough to translate the ideas into an actual artwork, and I hit a roadblock before slowly, but surely, losing interest in the topic.

Come December 2017, where I took time off fyp, and expanded my perspectives through chatting with people of different backgrounds. I realised one very prominent theme, of continuity. Be it a person stuck in memories of the past, or someone stuck in ennui, time will continue passing and you will be forced to move on. Personally, it also tied in with my belief that only through hard work from yourself is the only way to get yourself out of this stuck situation. That as a person, one will continually have to push yourself, to continue moving.

In other words,

Screen capture from the movie [The Girl who Leapt Through Time]
Interestingly, I thought that even though we as humans are continuously moving, we do not internalise the present situation of the ‘being’, of the time that it currently passing by us. For the lack of a better word, I’d call this the ‘continuity of presence’ – somewhat similar to the continuity of time, I wish to emphasise on and focus more on ‘presence’. In which, one of the focal mediums by which this presence can be translated would be through time, and these will be the focused topics in my fyp project.

More on the continuity project

Mindmap of said topic

In part, it becomes a development from my previous topic of accepting loss – it’s moving on, and acknowledging the larger presence of the flow of time, or rather, the continuity of time in the larger sphere of things.

In particular, I wished to express this topic, and visualise into an seen experience.

I highlighted several factors of which were the most important for the given topic, and which I will clearly insert into my project.

Continuity of presence operates clearly on 3 different aspects:

  1. Imagined
  2. Independent
  3. Changing

Why imagined?
The flow of time remains a philosophical debate , where as creatures of the world, we come up with our own imagined concept of time to internalise the continuity we experience. It is arguably just an illusion, as our way of understanding this abstraction with our limited perception. According the article, the flow of time is such an conceptual entity that it is understood through the transition between the past, present, and future, whom we mark as individualised points.

Therefore, I’d like to push for the argument that this continuity of presence is an imagined concept.

Why independent?
It is independent of external events, and it can only go forth one way in a fixed trajectory. It goes forward in its own speed, at a rate of 1 second per second.

Why changing?
Say hi to the clique saying: change is the only constant in life.

With continuity, there is progression. Therefore, no matter how minimal, there will definitely be changes that are evident. Movement, or changes, can be shown through continual, evident changes or through highlighting the differences between the previous and present state of matter.

I end this section by the dictionary definition of continuous –

“Marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time or sequence”

These subthemes are what I aim to introduce into my project.

Artist References

Regarding the artist references, I looked at various artists who utilised light as a medium.

Why light? I felt that light (strobe, projection, led bulbs, led strips, neon lights) could be an interesting medium to build upon. Partially, this was because light has a fleeting ‘lightness’, which I thought was similar to the lightness as perceived by the inadequacy of words, speech or objects to quantify the continuity of time.

Olafur Eliasson’s Timeless Garden

According to Eliasson, he saw his works as vessels for experiencing reality, “creating new perceptions of the world” (https://www.modernamuseet.se/stockholm/en/exhibitions/olafur-eliasson/). At the same time, he proposes a dual-self awareness – of what we see, and also of ourselves in the midst of seeing.

It is a matter of becoming aware of what we see, but also of being aware of ourselves in the act of seeing. Or, as the artist puts it, “seeing yourself seeing”, of acknowledging our presence and our participation.

I find it particularly interesting that Eliasson’s approach was not through showing the continuous flow of water, but rather by utilising intelligently the strobe lights, he was able to show that there was changes, albeit frame by frame. By proving the opposite/outcome of change, he shows continuity within the flow of the bigger space.

Teamlab’s Black Wave

Though the teamlab’s concept behind this artwork was not focused on the continuity of time, but rather on generating a force of nature based on hard science and coding, I really liked how this artwork brought about a sense of calm and really allowed visitors to connect with nature, and possibly, reengage unknowingly with the passage of time, and presence of the man made waves.

Joao Costas’ and the wind was like the regret for what is no more

As an outcome of my previous artwork research, I decided to delve slightly deeper into how can one translate ideas into physical installations. One of which was Costas’ wind installations, where he altered the space, drawing attention to wind, and changing it into a sense (sound) which we could experience more knowingly.

Leo villareal’s Cylinder

On Villareal’s biography page, it reveals his inner thoughts and concepts behind his installations. Particularly, I liked how his works explored the physical and dimension of time, both in terms of spatial and temporal resolution. In fact, one might argue that his works and art collective team Nonotak operated on similar principles – the common usage of simple forms and lights to create a more complex structure.

Tokujin Yoshioka’s Lexus

Using optical fibres, Yoshioka created this mirage which I really liked based on my personal preference. As I had done a previous installation using strings, I found this particularly captivating and considered once whether to continue enriching my past string installation into something as large and monumental as Yoshioka’s work.

Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern [100m Version]

Flow: as seen through black and white linear imagery, Ikeda renders data into images.

Perhaps, what I should consider is what aspect of time, space, or continuity which I want to alter into the visual scene?

More Bubble Research | #FYP

Artist references which may give ideas and feedbacks to kickstart my ideation process.

Dream Bubble Machine (Lorenz Potthast and Fabricius Seifert)

Inside a dark room, bubbles filled with fog slowly drift ground-wards. Projected on it are flickering image which are a symbol for dreams which as quickly built as they are destroyed.

How Artwork was created:
1. Bubbles are created:
smoke is blown through a tube moistened with soapy water
2. Camera tracking:
soap bubbles illuminated with infrared light, filmed with an IR camera
Program vvvv recognised position, size and movement of bubbles
3. Projection:
Images projected at calculated positions

The creators were investigating light as a design element, and saw the artwork to symbolise the relationship between dreams and wishes.

Personal Opinion:
The absolute brilliance of their artwork was of how the fragility of the bubbles was highlighted, and transformed with the addition of the projected light. Their artwork becomes a key learning reference for the technicalities of projection – the bubble medium itself is way too thin to be a suitable projection surface; there needs to be a ‘film’ of slightly opaqueness for the light to fall on. Particularly, when the bubble burst, the artwork was arrestingly beautiful – the bubble’s destruction was purposefully amplified and it faded away.

Their artwork also reminds me of the multiple possibilities of using equipment, such as IR light within a dark room to assist with position mapping.


The Long Now (Verena Friedrich)

The Long Now by Varena Friedrich

The mechanical arm squeezes a bubble out, and the predetermined settings in the container attempts to keep the bubble alive for as long as possible. Friedrich mentions that the artwork was her scientific and technological take on the vanitas symbols (momento mori?), where the project looks like a scientific project where the bubbles exist between the states of death and existentialism.

How Artwork was created:

I could not exactly find much information on this, but I assume that Friedrich used a pump manually lubricated with soapy water (the lack of a container for soapy water is obvious). A robotic arm manually squeezes the bubble out. However, Friedrich mentioned that the physical quality of the bubbles had to be altered to increase durability. As for the controlled environment, I suspect it’s to do with temperature, humidity (where colder environment and increased humidity dries the bubble out slower, hence it lasts longer) and wind conditions, to set the bubble at the exact spot where conditions are the most optimal before it slowly floats off route.

Personal Opinion:
I thought this was simply brilliant, and it opened my eyes to the possibility of using only one bubble for the whole experiment vs repeatedly many. At the same time, this project remains very simple and elements are stripped down to the bare minimum – instead of continuously adding in different technologies, perhaps I could focus on the skeleton first? I think this would be very useful to me right now when I have not much ideas on how to create my own project.


Bubbles (Wolfgang Muench, Kiyoshi Furukawa)

Interacting with virtual bubbles using your shadows. Your shadow, reflected on the screen, can move/hit the bubbles, and a corresponding sound will be played. This project attempts to imbue the body – an object usually left out of artworks – into the project as a means of interaction. The combined surface of shadows, projected bubbles and the screen itself closes the distance and spatial relationship between the three discreet objects.

How Artwork was created:
1. Bubbles on screen were created using a simulation algorithm, each bubble was paired with a script object which defined its behaviour according to gravitation, acceleration and air circulation
2. Bubbles’ drifting movements were synced to a midi-synthesizer for sound
3. Shadow’s position was captured if it hit above a certain threshold, and if present, triggers a routine whereby the bubbles bounce back
2. User tracking interface was implemented

Personal Opinion:
Indeed, this could be another method of using bubbles and in fact I did think briefly about this idea. However, I felt that the outcome was way too technology-based/impersonal for my liking. It was nice however, to know that such options are available.


Black Hole Horizon (Thom Kubli)

Huge black horns bellow out compressed air, which collides with soapy water to create big sound bubbles. The concept was to transform sound into three dimensional space with its presence. As the shape of the bubbles are constantly changing, it is also a reflection of how space is repeatedly getting redefined. Visitors are encouraged to place their bodies relative to the bubbles’ position.

How Artwork was created:
1. Need for horn to blow compressed air
2. Fluid circulation required
3. Horns were 3-D designed
Horns’ pitch were also affected by material, due considerations had to be given

Personal Opinion:
I like this artwork, the idea of transforming sound into the physical bubble was evident in the outcome. Since I am considering to input sound into my artwork, are there other ways to go about doing it? Ie. sound affecting the physical bubble


Life Sharing / Research Critique (Week 6)

In Life Sharing (2000), Eva and Franco Mattes, an New York-based artist duo, critiques the landscape of privacy and ownership on the internet. By exposing their personal computer to the world wide network, they reveal their digital identities intentionally, turning it into an artwork. Ironically, they opt to hide their true identities, by providing contradictory information about themselves, accentuated by their obscure domain of http://0100101110101101.org.

In his text Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance, Steve Dixon claims that the digital recording devices are separated into two paradigms: one, surveillance, voyeurism, but also two, openness, sharing and freedom of expression.

“While CCTV surveillance is commonly covert and broadly concerned with policing, the webcam is characterised by a generally opposite impulse towards openness, sharing, and freedom of expression.”
– Dixon. S, in Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance (2007)

The Mattes duo forcibly combined both models in Life Sharing, creating their own version of the open, inviting Big Brother.

Abstract Pornography?

Life Sharing is abstract pornography
– Hito Steyerl, German filmmaker, writer and visual artist

The term ‘abstract pornography’ nicely summarises the essence of this artwork: a calculated spectacle, it reveals enticingly, yet wantonly. More distinctively, it gives off a pleasurable vibe and allures; why do we watch it? Pleasure gained from its novelty, of voyeuristic exhibition, or of knowing that the viewer have knowledge over the artists? However, it is noteworthy that viewership remains passive, as viewers are unable to edit the files. Ownership by the Mattes duo is somewhat retained, ironically solidifying the notion that the original artist still operates from an authoritative standpoint, despite its resemblance to the Open Souce Community.

A Privatised Exposure
File Sharing remains an unorthodox experiment in the artistic landscape, where other artists toil to preserve their Intellectual Property. Instead, the Mattes duo purposefully revealed their art studio, discrediting this policy; privacy is non-existent, and instead a shared trust between viewer and artist is established. On the contrary, as they selectively revealed solely their digital identities – hiding their bodied physical self – they inadvertently impeached a more intimate level of exposure. Private thoughts, and the personal(ised) usage of the computer usually hidden to others are now flaunted in the digital arena.

Life Sharing is undeniably an iconic figure in contending the open source community and its related concerns of privacy and ownership. It reveals what we already know – privacy is no longer a solid, fool-proof concept. Interestingly, like bees to flowers, people are drawn towards connecting with others in real time, perhaps in part of their human nature of desiring friendships, or of transposing real life connection into the digitised world. The gradual loss of connections in the public arena of the digital world has resulted in a more desperate attempt for users to connect with another, be it through friendly or perceived ‘unfriendly’ ways.

“The desire to connect to others in real time may be driven by a response to the ‘loss’ of the public realm”
– Dixon. S, in Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance (2007)


[i] Dixon, S. (2007) “Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance” (pg. 443-455), Digital Performance, 2007


Grand Theft Avatar / Research Critique (Week 4)

Grand Theft Avatar (2008) is a live performance by Second Front, hosted in the 3D virtual world Second Life, stimulating a bank robbery of the Lynden Bank to liberate the Lynden dollars held by the bank. The live performance was carried out as part of the “From Cinema to Machinama” panel held physically at the San Francisco Art Institute, and the virtual avatars took on the guise of panel members. Impersonated panel members included new media artists and theorists: Camille Utterback, Char Davis, Howard Reingold and Christiane Paul[i].

After grabbing the loot, the members took a dramatic exit, first through an extravagant scattering of the loot into the air, and finally ending the performance by stimulating the ending of Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to stop worrying and Come the Bomb by riding hydrogen bombs into oblivion, Slim Pickens (aka Rodeo)-style into the sunset[i].

Artificially Expanding Reality
Grand Theft Avatar (GTA) is a metaphor on the blinding artificiality of the fabricated world. It is situated away from the physical space, remotely operating within no set boundary – within the third space, where laws of the known world were disturbingly abandoned. It disrupts and questions the known traditional social etiquette and structure, through fragmenting the sense of reality and imbibes disillusionment. The lines between the reality we live in, the reality that we act out and, the reality that we realise gradually becomes blurred. The constructed boundaries of reality are thus expanded,

The third space is a fluid matrix of potentiality and realizable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness.
– Randall Packer, The Third Space (2014)

Screenshot of Grand Theft Avatar: Liberation of Lynden Dollars
Screenshot of Grand Theft Avatar: Liberation of Lynden Dollars

Derision of the Human Presence
The group constructs their own alternate ego, the artificial avatar on Second Life, and later, disguising themselves as other personas. Essentially, they erase their own presence digitally and mindfully, as their digital avatars are the sole outcome of their personification on the Second Life platform.

In GTA, Second Front justifies their action with a ludicrous excuse – the mocking liberation of the supposedly suppressed Lynden dollars on the guise of a bank heist, and later, the wanton abandonment of those rescued dollars after escaping the venue. With this, they effectually apply another layer of mockery to the work:  the avatars themselves lack a stable existential identity; their ridiculous actions further fuels the hypothesis that in actuality, they do not function as per the known world, but rather, can only exist ephemerally, within the uninhibited constrains of the third space.


[i] Guertin, Carolyn. Digital Prohibition: Piracy And Authorship In New Media Art. 1st ed., Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2012,.

[ii] Packer R. “The Third Space,” (2014) in Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge

Singapore Smart Nation (Response) / Week 4

Singapore Smart Nation Initiative

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

Mockup of Pulse Public Installation Lighted Sphere
Mockup of Pulse
Public Installation
Lighted Sphere

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.

Marina Bay Sands Promenade Image Source: http://mithunonthe.net/2012/01/15/singapore-2011-marina-bay-sands-casino-hotel-infinity-pool-sky-park-photos/
Marina Bay Sands Promenade | Image Source: http://mithunonthe.net/2012/01/15/singapore-2011-marina-bay-sands-casino-hotel-infinity-pool-sky-park-photos/

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:

Image Source: 1, 2, 3

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/.

[ii] Heong Tung, Yon. “Smart Nation Be Damned: Singaporeans Aren’t Embracing Innovation”. E27, 2017, https://e27.co/red-alert-for-apac-companies-47-not-ready-for-tech-disruption-only-14-1-in-singapore-want-innovation-says-a-new-report-by-idc-20160824/.

[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.


The Pirate Cinema, Nicolas Maigret / Research Critique (Week 3)

The Pirate Cinema, 2012 Video Installation Nicholas Maigret Photos: Justin Desforges, courtesy Nicolas Maigret Image Credit: wired.com
The Pirate Cinema, 2012
Video Installation
Nicholas Maigret
Photos: Justin Desforges, courtesy Nicolas Maigret
Image Credit: wired.com

Image Source: wired.com

The Pirate Cinema (2012) by Nicolas Maigret is an installation artwork featuring 3 screens, visualising how peer to peer data transfer in real time by using BitTorrent protocols. A collage of top 100 most popular transferred files are played across the 3 screens for a few seconds, including a brief flash of a partial IP address and location. Today, the artwork can be viewed online.

How it was created
Built on a data inception software, The Pirate Cinema automatically scans the most viewed torrents. The intercepted data is immediately projected onto the screen, and discarded after. Torrents scanned originates throughout the world.

The Pirate Cinema, 2012 Video Installation Nicholas Maigret
The Pirate Cinema, 2012 Video Installation Nicholas Maigret

Image Credit: piratecinema.com

In recent years, the availability of peer to peer sharing towards millions of internet users has heralded a new form of piracy, inadvertently changing the way how cinema is experienced. By exposing the ‘internal workings of media'[i], Maigret makes visible the limitations of peer to peer sharing with his immersive sensory and audio installation. Concurrently, he also highlights the possibilities of peer to peer sharing for being part of the aesthetic experience.

Relationship with the Third Space Network
The Pirate Cinema‘s foundations were built upon the third space, despite itself not being part of the medium, but rather, and extrusion of it. It becomes a visualisation of this abstract space, an amalgamation of the efforts of the collective user network engaged in torrenting (unknowingly). Akin to the 1970s and 1980s video collectives such as Videofreex and TVTV, which attempted to mobilise people to make their own medium rather than being passive consumers of a centrally constructed broadcast programming[i], The Pirate Cinema hosts the ordinary consumer (of networked data) into the role of the changed broadcast programming.

They attempted to democratize the media by facilitating people-to-people communication… activating the production of media around a proliferation of local issues expressed by a range of marginalized communities.

– Randall Packer, author of Third Space Network (2016)

Hence, the marginalised, passive consumers are able to break down the hierarchy in media information corporate structure, even-ing the grounds for communication. In fact, they are altered:

It is a living art, exploiting contemporary forms of digital and physical networks as a mode of open praxis…

– Marc Garett, co-director and co-founder of Internet art collectives and communities in Third Space Network

In fact, its existence as a living art can further contribute to the diversity of the artwork – with its ability to constantly rejuvenating itself based on the whims of the collective community, and free against the rules of the broadcast programming.

Ironically, despite of what it seeks to contravene, The Pirate Cinema‘s delivery emulates the centrally broadcast programming in the top down broadcasting to passive viewers. While its content might be drawn upon from the third space, its narrates its information through a screen – similarly, to passive viewers of the installation. Nevertheless, it remains a pivotal artwork in addressing the abstract realm of the third space, underlining the greater possibilities of the third space as an artistic platform and network.



[i] Packer R., “The Third Space Network” (2016)

[ii] “Aksioma — The Pirate Cinema By Nicolas Maigret”. Aksioma.Org, 2017, http://aksioma.org/pirate.cinema/.

[iii] Maigret, Nicolas. “Nicolas Maigret : Nicolas Maigret”. Peripheriques.Free.Fr, 2017, http://peripheriques.free.fr/blog/index.php?/projects/about/.