Reflections: The Oceanic Exhibition (+ slides)

About me

Being a city-girl that grew up all her life bustling Singapore, questions about the ocean or anything pertaining to it were hardly ever questioned (or popped up in my thoughts at least.) These questions appear during dinner topics, but I never really thought deeper about them.

About The Exhibit

It was only during this exhibition that issues on conservation and the ocean started to trigger some thoughts. It started mainly by this question I heard from one of the interviews


“We(humans) are land-species so we typically care more about our land.. but what about the oceans? “

As I heard these words playing straight into my ears, I quickly pulled out my phone and googled ‘PERCENTAGE OF OCEAN ON EARTH”


A figure we probably saw back in elementary school science lesson but forgotten as life went by.  But that figure. That was actually a high percentage. The fact dawned upon me so hard. That was when I recalled all the conversations about conservation and understanding that it is an important issue we should be looking at.

About the work that gave me interest


Upon walking into the exhibition, I found myself moving towards the video screen installation OCEANS. Dialogues between ocean floor and water column by Armin Linke. I was drawn by the immersive environment of the space itself. I gazed at the installation from the back as video clips of the sea spilled across four screens. The scale and height of the screen invites an immersive gaze as if you were enveloped into the environment of the ocean itself. Hence, it heightens the experience of the audience as it led me to think about the ‘Anthropocene’. Not sure about the artist’s intention behind the work but it wasn’t too clearly shown unless further researched. Perhaps, his long-term film project would be able to capture and showcase the interconnections of human’s activities and its effects on the climate and environment.

Another thing worth mentioning about Linke’s work was that the footage were edits of video archives of several scientific expeditions. It captivated me with the up-close marine life as it clearly captures form and movement of the underwater species with a depth of more than 5,000 metres . I would say the way the installation was curated really worked to its advantage as I found myself immersed in it on the seats for at least 10-15mins.

While being immersed, I was reminded of the question ‘Who owns the ocean?’

My first thought was..everyone. Then one.

I actually felt very compelled to think. I needed an answer. Or is this one of those unanswered questions?

Anyway, I googled.

So the Law of the Sea states that no one owned the oceans. I see. I guess indeed no one owns it, but everyone is responsible for it. Thoughts?

About the lecture that gave me interest

Dr Cynthia Chou – Orang Suku Laut (Sea Nomads)

As the speaker shared a mini lecture on the indigenous beliefs of the Orang Suku Laut, I immediately got reminded of art history. I also found it rather eye-opening as it was the personal account of the lady speaking to the crowd. During the lecture, she talked about the spirit that resides in things and people, specifically 1) adopted things 2) inalienable possessions 3) non-adopted things.

I was intrigued by the supernatural powers these objects were said to possess. In our modern culture, we easily hand things to people or even adopt ‘pre-loved’ objects but for these communities that lived near the ocean, they are more watchful/careful of objects as they have the idea of ‘taboo’.

With further research, I found that the speaker, Dr Cynthia herself was offered an inalienble possession. Suri, the lady that passed the stone on to her was her ‘adopted mother’ during her field study. She explained that Cynthia had been very good to her hence she is passing the object to her.

As a normal reaction, the researcher was taken aback by the gesture and questioned how is she able to to accept the stone.

Suri’s brother then explained that if someone in their community offers something, they accept. Hence, Cynthia cannot refuse on the object.

It was said that by rubbing the stone given to her on her eyelids, she is able to have a vision of her adopted mother and be one with her no matter the distance.

Furthermore, Cynthia, an outsider was also able to claim descent from an OSL. Through the passing on of the object, the OSL community was drawing her in symbolically.

These items like the stone received by Cynthia were highly treasured by Orang Suku Lauts and also people out of their community as they were said to hold inherent powers and inalienable value. I found this seriously amusing that they are able to maintain a culture like that since the beginning of their time.

A quirky thought I had was also that since they are really careful with the objects and its ownership, would the idea of having ‘Carousell’ be a taboo given their culture?

   Carousell: Snap-Sell, Chat-Buy- screenshot

   Carousell: Snap-Sell, Chat-Buy- screenshot

Carousell is a popular app in Singapore that sells pre-loved items. You can find all sorts of items under the sun in this virtual flea market. 

Other questions triggered during the exhibit

What is the role of art in engaging with larger issues around the environment, nature and climate change?

This is really apt – I think it plays a significant role as it makes people reflect. Upon viewing that work, it just made me reflect and actually ponder on what is the state of oceans today, how does culture actually play a part in it, especially on the conservation aspect.

Through public exhibitions, it gets word out to people. It basically serves as a bridge of communication between the issue and the masses

Art is actually a powerful tool as it could engage our five senses. Compare an installation that has a component of scale, sound and visuals, just like the four-screened installation. As compared to reading paragraphs from a newspaper article or a book. In other words, the medium is the message. Art pieces have this powerful aspect – if used well and to its advantage.


About my closing thoughts

Overall, this exhibit sparked a lot of thoughts. However, the bigger problem is in sustaining conservation. How has this exhibit suggested ways we could contribute or play our part in the issue?  I also find that the organising team could think more about how the message is being received by its audience. I find some arrangements rather unconventional and subtle, resulting in a lot of question marks and ending up questioning the whole expedition. I am curious to know are exactly are the target audience of this exhibit and if this is the best way to present it for the public to actually have a ‘call to action’.



Link to slides:

Group members: Anam, Siewhua, Val

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

FINAL BROADCAST: The Death of Privacy by Third Front

The Death of Privacy ☠
by Third Front (Putri Dina, Siewhua Tan, Tiffany Rosete, Valerie Lay)

Final broadcast:


Our project aims to explore the boundaries of glitch, abstract, connectivity, latency and the frustrations of social broadcasting. Inspired by the television screens, each one of us has our own individual screens (top left: Siewhua, top right: Valerie, bottom left: Tiffany, bottom right: Dina). Aligned with the topic of giving up of data, each of us are essentially doing so by sharing about ourselves online, by web browsing, skype calls, vlogs, etc.

Never have I thought i’ll be part of an internet art performance piece, but I was actually thrilled to perform this with a spontaneous team!

Planning and ideation of concept: Glitch 

First and foremost, the concept behind this piece went through huge amounts of thought and process. Through the various live broadcast assignments done previously, I found these aspects almost unavoidable:

  1. Latency
  2. Error screens
  3. Data and connection issues

Hence, knowing of these recurrent technical errors, I decided that if we can’t get rid of them, we make use of them.

Therefore we turned to glitch! I LOVEEEEEE the glitch aesthetic even before I joined this course and I’m loving it even better now, especially its idea of ‘not everything has to be perfect’.

So our final broadcast closely follows the glitch aesthetic as well as concept as inspired from Jon Cate’s BOLD3RRR

Paying attention to detail: The layers of underlying meanings in this performance

Another key component I suggested to the team that we ought to have is paying attention to the details. It was about finding ways of how our medium can add on to the narrative of our project. We gave away many subtleties in our piece through the use of metaphors and overlaying of screens in OBS to name a few – are you able to spot some of them?

Making use of what we’ve learnt…..and implemented the things we found useful

Throughout these 14 weeks, we’ve been exposed to so many interesting concepts and ideas on real-time aggregation and nuances of  the media. However, to tell apart an amateur and a professional, the difference is to be able to recognise what makes a work successful and implement it to your own.  Hence, picking out the key aspects of successful pieces such as  Hole-in-Space, JenniCam etc, it went down to the aspects of communication, interaction, ability invoking emotions, relevance of theme and high coordination. These were the key factors well thought about by the artist that made that previous work successful.

Specific works of influence

BOLD3RRR by Jon Cates – high coordination

Inspired by Jon Cates’ Bold3rrr, this highly skilled piece focuses on the frustration between netizens and the network. Sounds of static, feedback and switching of screens was a big part of our piece. Through this, it gives a sense of disorientation for viewers.  Just like Jon, the true audience of this piece is actually ourselves – serving as a reminder against giving up too much data. It involves very careful and practised coordination between switching of screens on the OBS. As for performers ourselves, coordination and trained practice was also important as we also had to plan our flow when I made the kill – to press the right buttons devices to get the error messages to show.

JenniCam by Jennifer Ringley – relevance of theme, two-way interaction within ‘live’ broadcast

JenniCam inspired us in terms of providing a ‘window into your private life’ and exposing your internet life to the public masses. Somewhat like giving a ‘hole-in-space’, it allows people to take a peek into your life, leading to your own detriment. Just like her piece, there is two-way interactivity in real-time. JenniCam is relevant to people because they were all lonely. Jennifer’s piece was successful as as human beings, everyone could relate to being lonely at times and FOMO. Similarly, we centered our piece on the idea of data. As human beings of the 21st century, everyone is hungry for data in a way or another. Hence with the use of predominant themes and relatable topics such as data, we have been inspired by this to create a successful work.



Final broadcast and course: In a nutshell

A key thing I have learnt is the possibilities of the new found two-way interaction that is happening in real time. The possibilities of being able to be at more than one place at a time. And through that, a form of virtual leakage is spilled between the parties in communication, where they are seemingly bolder in their third-space. Paying attention to detail and high coordination will give you an extra edge in making successful work be it in internet art or any work an artist could do.

“Great art doesn’t reveal itself immediately.

Ultimately, I have also learnt that it is okay not to understand the work immediately.  The intention behind the artist and his work can be several levels deep. This is where we exercise our ways of seeing, as said by John Berger.

Final project update

Voice recognition is a driving element in our voice activated project. We had the choice of using voice control either through mobile input via Android phone (AMR App) or a voice recognition component itself. In such projects, things usually work through trial and error hence we decided to test out the Voice Recognition V3.


How the VR works

The module requires you to speak the commands several times to ‘train’ the device to pick up your speech before registering it. We expected it to be fairly simple.

Test and outcome

For a trial, we recorded the basic ‘on’ and ‘off’ voice command using my voice. We then tried to use each of our voices to speak into the mic to test if it picks up different voices. To our horror (and frustration), it was already difficult to pick up my voice, which was what was used to record and train the commands.

Therefore, we have decided to stick to the AMR voice recognition as it detects phonemes of the word, in contrast to the VR module that picks up the way a person speaks. This could be rather limiting for the VR module.


Also, we find that throughout this process of the project, it’s also helping us to enunciate our speech better. This could be a possible alternative use for this project.

Telematic Stroll: Urban Jungle v Heartland

Today, we took it to the streets of Clementi in the West and Punggol, the utmost end of the North-East. I decided to take the stroll in Punggol instead as this urban estate is just a shore away from Johore Bahru, Malaysia.

Urban concept vs Old School Heartlands

Nestled in the quiet and up-and-coming estate of Punggol is Waterway Terrace, a HDB apartment with a not-so-conventional HDB apartment structure. At the foot of the blocks is also a park, filled with exercise-goers amidst the greenery. Furthermore, it is located right across a shopping mall. Hence, many people mistake this building for a condo.

Therefore, my partner Siewhua and I wanted to showcase these contrasts in a growing and new estate, juxtaposed with the old estate Clementi where she lives. Clementi on the other hand, brings out the heartlands with its old-school looking flats and shophouses.

Typical shophouses found around void decks of Clementi estate.

Our Telematic Stroll

We were told to go live for about 15 minutes but we actually went on for about 40 minutes?! We were shocked at how into it we were that we actually didn’t realise the duration.

Particularly, we paid attention to structure, perspectives, lines, shadows, shape during the walk. Also, we tried to pick out common objects and sync our actions.

In the midst of the contrasts, the new and the old, we also managed to capture these similarities amongst the differences that we found particularly interesting.


Lines and shadows 



Indeed why we’re called Green City in Singapore. Trees everywhere, sheltering us along pathways that intertwine.

Common objects

Bikes for rent! You see lots of these oBikes, Ofos or Mobikes wherever you are across the island nowadays

Fences and bars. They seem to appear even more secure in urban landscapes, creating a nice repetition effect.

We happened to walk towards (not into) a lamp post at the same time!

Old school estate vs newer estate braille! Different design, same purpose! #humancentricdesign

Plants and more greenery. No plants were harmed during the process. Just synchronizing our actions,

Mosquito bite – same leg, same area sia

Even the mozzies were in sync. We got bitten on the same leg and spot during the broadcast. Yikes


Bandwidth – Just as Hole-in-space has proven, bandwidth is so so important. Having enough data is in Singapore has been a problem – what we call ‘data deprivation’. Siewhua does have much to spare and this was one thing that we had to tackle. In fact she only left 300MB for the month…. God bless her next bill. So this module……1 AU for 1 GB

Orientation– As many have done it, their screens are side by side. We did notice this but decided to leave it as it is as it’s the imperfection that proves certain points. Basically, I told Siewhua that comparing these two estates were like ‘peering through a pinhole’ or looking into another world through a small window. Yes, just like through a film camera. We see these similarities, big or small that becomes rather uncanny when it takes place in the same moment.

Just like this moment here

Weather – As a site-specific piece that was outdoor, it was either sunny as hell or raining cats and dogs. We were actually quite relieved that we had bright sun and blue skies (although we got a little burnt) as it broke into a torrential rain right after we ended our broadcast. Perhaps clouds were also in-sync that day islandwide for the telematic stroll!

In Summary

To tie it all up, it indeed felt like my partner was right there with me on the telematic stroll although she was half the island away. Amazing how the third space is able to do that. It indeed showed how one can be at two places at the same time, in REAL TIME, with two-way interaction. This is just the start of something and perhaps we could incorporate more stuff into a telematic stroll in the future like buying a drink. I wanted to get LiHo(new age bobba milk tea) while Siewhua gets her good old Teh ping (milk tea SG style) at the ending. But we wouldve badly overran. Maybe next time folks!

Telematic Stroll Video

Randall asked me to go live #telematicstroll

Posted by Val Lay on Saturday, 4 November 2017

Individual Presentation: Wearables

Image result for wearables gif

Zooming into the payments field, my presentation dives into the area of wearable payment devices. Going even more focused, I made an in-depth analysis of the Garmin HR Vivosmart with Ez-link contactless payment that was hardly known to anyone in Singapore.

Therefore I came up with this thesis:

Contactless payments wearables have not penetrated into the local market because their convenience do not overweigh their pricey cost.


Before I go on, let’s rewind to the new trends I presented in class..


New Trends – Institutions Implementing Wearables

  • Possibility of wearables entering the market tied through school programmes

Cashless payments in NTU

  • NTU Students are now able to have an all-in-one device for cashless payments
  • Wearable device also serves as Student ID/matriculation card

So I was just joking about having a matriculation card and all these payments incorporated into one device but in latest news…

Apparently, the newest matriculation card issued enables NETSflash pay when going aboard buses too. Why not amalgamate these ideas and create a wearable unique to NTU students?

I found this really timely and fascinating because of how it was rather in-tuned with my hypothesis

Image result for cool gif

…Back to this

Before going into the case study, I surfaced the top three principles that sets the ground of the validity of a wearable device

1.Starts from the human, not the machine

Wearable technology design should start from a human problem, and then evaluate viable technology solutions. It should not start from a particular technology solution looking for places to impose its presence.

2. Capitalizes on existing behavior

To earn the privilege of being worn, wearable design should evoke a feeling of the device as a natural extension of the person. It should not require the person to adapt or force new behavior.

3. Requests attention, does not demand it 

Because it is with you everywhere, wearable tech should honor the present moment, not distract from it. In doing so, it permits the wearer to remain in the moment, and for others around the wearer to do the same.


Hence, presenting the Garmin Vivosmart HR with Ezlink

Image result for garmin vivo ezlink

NFC payment feature

  • Near Field Communication radius of about 4 cm provides a wireless connection between your device and another

Look and feelImage result for garmin vivo ezlink

  • Simple and sleek
  • Only in three colours
  • Adjustable strap with 14 slots
  • Fits well for wrists  6″- 10″ in diameter.

User Experience

Taking buses

  • Takes a tad longer (0.5s) to be be processed
  • Better to choose the terminal of the side you’re wearing
  • Plus feature: Able to access last 6 Ez-link transaction records

Taking MRT

  • Placing of terminal points
  • Slightly trickier for those wearing it on their left

Paying for merchandise

  • Number of merchants that accept EZ-link as a form of contactless payment but that list is not extensive

Battery Life

  • Up to 5 days in a single charge (with activity tracking, smart notifications and all day heart rate turned on)
  • NFC capabilities still works after battery is flat (8 hours)

Other Features

  • 24/7 activity tracker
  • Measures steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed, active minutes
  • Measures heart rate and calories burnt
  • Find my iPhone Feature
  • Smart notifications

Paired Mobile App UI ?

The mobile app tied to the device is pretty neat and intuitive

Pros ?

  • Lightweight & ergonomic
  • Waterproof up to 50m
  • Up to 5 days battery life
  • Secure* (Payment terminal thefts in Europe)


  • Limited range of designs
  • Limited ezlink payment terminals
  • Functionalities can be carried out with mobile phone app
  • PRICE!!!

Overall, a 6/10 as the price is really a huge-concern here. (Especially with Singaporeans)

NFC Payment Ring

A short note on this wearable device since I’m doing on this topic – I had the chance to use these rings at the Visa Summer Interns summit in San Francisco back in July. In the video, I’m making payment for my drink at the Contactless Cafe using the NFC ring. In short, these are the pros and cons


  • No battery needed. This is one of the best advantage of a device as it doesn’t rely on any charging, but just the chip in it
  • Price. These are relatively affordable ranging from $20-$60.


  • Sizes. Perfect fit is fairly important for wearables. However, these come In only two to three sizes. Rather absurd as rings are usually custom made for their sizes. Mine almost flew out as it was really insecure

Future of wearables

For wearable devices, many factors come into play like price, fit, fashion factor, ergonomic level etc. It seems to be taking off overseas especially for fitbits and other fitness related wearables. However, the device’s convenience has to work on its standard if it wants to see the increase of users locally.

Link to Google slides


Adobe Connect Second Front Interview

The clock on my Mac showed 11pm and I was drained with an entire day of back to back events – but I actually felt the energy through the third space during the session on Adobe Connect with Second Front that kept me engaged. Perhaps, this was a form of virtual leakage (of energy)?

Some latency and some bits of sunshine were shown on their grids as the session kicked off.  I found this strangely cinematic. It was night and all in Singapore while these folks had sun over there! Just like Skype sessions, it’s always intriguing when you’re interacting with someone at the other side of the world. It is also fascinating to be able to sneak a peek into the other parties’ spaces and  scan across their backdrops. Or rather, for Singaporeans, we just call this ‘kaypoh’ or nosey :b

Amidst the virtual talkshow, adding on to the sunshine and chatter was definitely Bibbes. With the boundary that the virtual world creates, along with Bibbe’s already eccentric character, she was definitely a good example of how people can be bolder, or rather, even bolder when in the third space. Hence, it was actually possible for your true personality to shine even virtually, in contrast to those that want to come off as another personality.

As mentioned in class, it was indeed a thing to multi-task during such sessions. I found myself googling over Bibbes as she was speaking, as I recalled she was the mother of Beck. What I found even cooler was that she personally knew Andy Warhol! She actually participated in Andy Warhol’s factory! I! am! so! stunned! And actually honoured to be in the same third space and being in conversation with the members of Second Front. Great opportunity we had here, thanks!!

Research Critique: Second Front

Every week as I embark on writing research critiques, I know I would raise my eyebrows. (Why thank you Randall for the fascinating and hard-to-understand-at-first-glance case studies.) This week, it was no different as I entered into the realm of Second Front, as I attempt to decipher a gist of it.

So, what they’re doing is not a game. Neither were the Second Front members ‘performing art member’ but performance art members. I deem them as performers of artistical critiques of certain issues they aim to raise, using graphcial animation and third space as their stage. One thing surely, is that they rely heavily on improvisation and unintended actions – which actually makes the magic. I’m a goer for that!

Second Life

What drew my attention greatest out of their works was the idea was the new world they created through Second Life. A virtual world where people come together, sell stuff, stage performances with no main objective – it was practically and literally a second life, lived through the third space. The fact that it engaged one million active users meant that it had an incentive for people.

It just made me wonder – Could it be that people are living their alter egos in Second Life? Or is it the fantasy element that people could actually live their ideal lives in the third space that attracts users?

Then again, this isn’t something particularly new as there are similar sites with the same concept, like habbo hotel. No particular objective but a virtual community where people are increasingly bold with the way they interact with strangers behind an anonymous image.

But one thing for sure is that people feel an inclination towards the virtual world because of the fact that they could be anyone else, just like everyone else there.


As my mentor once told me, not everything in art has a meaning behind it so don’t try to hard trying to understand it – trying too hard will spoil the art. Indeed, this is one work/artist group I dont plan to truly understand or decipher as it may be looking too close or too far into the whole picture they want to paint.

But I believe this can be a good thought about how with the third space, things can be real, and yet not real at the same time.

As I did my own research before reading the interview, I found that this quote actually resonates to my previous thought although it was meant for another context

“……a two way exchange between the virtual and the real, through which new hybrid meanings can be made….”

Hence, with the advent of such virtual platforms, it can be said that an amalgamation of the two worlds (real and virtual) have formed, transpiring us into a new ‘in-between’.

Looking into the future, in my take, is this question that we will ask:

‘What is even real anymore?

Cross-streaming Facebook Invite Test

So Facebook decided to up their game and created a ‘invite’ feature for ‘live’ videos, inviting countless ideas to the already many ideas we have for our final project.

This feature helped my partner and I communicate better – it became two-to many from the one-to many. Pretty interesting as we could now give commands to each other without hassle.

Technical errors: Bandwidth and a stable connection is really the core of delivering a good ‘live’ broadcast to a large extent. My partner’s face would be lagged with a failure icon at some points, breaking the flow of the broadcast.

Suggestions for our final broadcast

  • Work on concepts where latency do not matter
  • Think of the outcome of grids when collectively performed
  • Put two pairs together in other to create a ‘cross cross-stream’
  • Create a ‘two-to-many-ception’ with OBS screen capture

More technical tests to be done to experiment this! Trial and error yea?