Interactive Spaces: Too Small To Swing a Cat [Final]

Hi good people of OSS.

We’d like to express one thing we’ve missed out during the presentation – written thoughts of participants! We actually found scribbles on the wall after some participants found a marker in the coffin house.

And some others actually followed suit, penning down their thoughts on the walls.

Words such as sad, claustrophobic, cramped and coffin were commonly mentioned with the participants.

The actual coffin boxes of Hong Kong

Here are some images of the real coffin box houses in Hong Kong, in its purest and rawest form.


Does looking at this already make you feel claustrophobic?

Claustrophobia ˌklɔːstrəˈfəʊbɪə: extreme or irrational fear of confined spaces.

For this module of interactive spaces, we really wanted to explore the idea of how one can feel so choked and suffocated through a space itself. Hence we created an installation experience

Having recalled that I chanced upon these coffin houses photos previously, I decided to create this environment along with an experience. 9 out of 10 participants mentioned ‘claustrophobic’ during the installation

The Final Installation 

The red LEDs in the space is a metaphor that signifies the will for survival in these coffin homes.

Items in the house

These ‘coffin homes’ are no bigger than 15 square feet. Household items such as food, beer cans, fan, screen, hanging pecs, mattress, pillows were noted in the actual environment. Hence we sourced and purchased these items to simulate the space as much as possible.

We included tiger beer cans and a Chinese calendar to simulate a more typical Asian household field.

Other items we transported over were rice cookers, waffle makers, knife, oil and other kitchen apparatus.

And finally….the final documentation video.

We managed to get students from other majors to try this out. Watch their interactions and reactions to find out how things went!

Video playing on screen

Below is the video that played as the pressure sensor detects a person’s weight.

Wrapping things up…

Ideally, we would place this ‘coffin box project’ in housing estates be it in Hong Kong or Singapore, in the middle of nowhere on of lane, street or void deck to pique curiosity. By revealing a simulated space and  environment, we hope to tell stories and spark conversations on the issue through this interactive project. Interactive Spaces as a whole really pushed some critical thinking of spaces in general. Whenever i’m out or at home, I’d start to realise the different ways we interact because of the space – high or low roof, confined or twisted corner. Amazing how some shifts in these conventions change how we see things as a whole.

And oh HEY look what came into the news:

An article by Yahoo on 29th April 2018: With more shoebox units, is Singapore going the way of Hong Kong?

Indeed, it’s a real and relevant question to ask.

Project members: Lay Hsing Ern Valerie, Tan Siew Hua


Exercise 3: See Yourself Sensing

Our core idea was to create human whiskers – it was a sensory device most mammals have, except humans. According to studies, whiskers act like fingers for animals hence we developed from there.


Our process was based on brainstorming sketches. We initially wanted to fix these whiskers on a person’s face, while they could control it using their fingers.


Fixing our device

However, this was rather tricky installing. Therefore we ended up with extended fingers on our hands itself.

It took us about 3 hours piecing ice-cream sticks together. The time consuming part was to double layer the sticks. The challenge was to secure the parts at an angle, which acted like joints.


The Try Guys – Letting others test it

We crashed a bunch of programmers’ meeting at SMU to let them have a try at arts. Actually, we didn’t explicitly ask them to try but they were curious on the stuff we were fixing.


Observations: How it changed one’s perception of space

Perceived distance of objects becomes smaller – being able to reach a person at the end of the room/table without moving.

Conscious of having extended fingers giving ourselves extra space – We do not sit as closely to things we usually do with the extension – eg. sitting further away from the laptop

More conscious of the space around you – poking or touching someone all the time just by moving slightly eg. on the mrt

Small spaces feel more confined: Siewhua in the toilet

Behaviour: tendency to touch people or things more

Leaving thoughts

Image result for thinking gif

What if everyone in that room had the apparatus?

Can you imagine a society where everyone had an extension? (fingers/toes). Eg. Physical distance may also be maintained to separate individuals who belong to different social groups

If we could do it differently

Construct one side to be distinctively heavier or getting them to even out the weight (understand how balance plays a part in our perception of space)


— Thank You! —

EX – BePartOfTheArt

For this first exercise, we had a bunch of playful ideas:  From making people tongue-fight for a fruit on stick while being trapped in the same cardboard box to intertwining them with the most obscure objects and observe their interaction. However, we didn’t.

We didn’t as we realised we had to give minimal or no instructions for this exercise. And the point was to just choose an object and ‘just do it’. So we did.

I came across a couple of art pieces made from nature during the holidays hence I decided to use an item we see daily along our walk into school or literally everywhere outdoors to be the art.

Another aspect we wished to observe was honest interactions and reactions. The best focus group would have to be – children! For a clearer idea of the anticipated difference in reactions, we compared the interaction using a similar object but with youths instead.


Observation: Kids really give the most genuine responses and they make you think through your art – what would you do differently? Imagine displaying our works at public spaces, what would we change or tweak to allow our work to be understood or appreciated by everyone? (family-friendly..different age groups etc.)


Group members: Lay Hsing Ern Valerie, Tan Siew Hua