Archive for the 'Art' Category

The Hunt For Our Lost Poems

Take Up Arms And Conquer The Vampires

Kevin: It’s been a while since I last blogged, but seeing how I can actually help out on a good cause, here’s something mysterious for you…

Stories, myths and legends await you at Singapore Arts Festival 2012, and right now, 23 Arts Fest Show Symbols are lost in the vastness of the Internet waiting for you to discover.
The symbols are hidden on various webpages, blogs and facebook pages, and where they are hidden just might give you more hints of what to expect of the programmes for Arts Fest this year.

Look out for symbols like the one on my page
Take down the website address on the symbol and enter all your finds in the submission page at the Singapore Arts Fest facebook page

The first five people to discover any 10 symbols will win.
But the best prize awaits the most hardworking person who manages to uncover all 23 symbols first, who will win a hamper with a whole lot of goodies!

There will be clues released on the Symbol Hunt page to help you find some of the more well-hidden symbols, so Like it to stay updated!

Symbol Hunt Facebook Page
Arts Fest Facebook Page
Arts Fest Web Page

The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness

Social Cyborg @ BlinkBl-nk #5

Rushing over from work, I made my way down to Blu Jazz where BlinkBL-NK was at it’s fifth installment. Having been to earlier speaker sessions in the past two months, I liked the diversity in speakers and the easy-going atmosphere.

This time it was my turn to hit the stage, so I thought I’d don the Social Cyborg outfit one final time. Putting on that wearable sensory rig was strangely nostalgic. Continue reading ‘The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness’

In High Definition: Singapore’s Night Festival – New World 2010

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)

Friday evening after work, I grabbed a quick dinner then headed to the museum district to check out the Night Festival: New World 2010. Just me and my Sony NEX-5, absorbing the electrifying experiencing of the numerous unique performances downtown.

While there were several fringe art activities, I spent most of my time checking out the swinging taxi-girls (yes, they were yummy!), the World’s Slowest SMS Billboard at the Singapore Art Museum, as well as the epic Parabole 2.0 at the National Museum of Singapore.

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)
See the entire taxi-girls photo set…

What struck me was how forwardly participatory some of these acts were, from dancing with the taxi-girls and taxi-boys as a way to learn about our past and have fun, the ability to SMS a personal love-note @ SAM, to how the epic Paths of Time theatrical production took two separate stages with actors/actresses having to cross through the audience. This turns the audience into a subtle backdrop or even into fellow performers.

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)

There was simply too much to see in one night, and I’m glad I didn’t travel much because some of the shows, such as the Abusement Park @ SAM, had pretty long lines. I prefer not to get overwhelmed by picking favorites, but for some, the organizers could have perhaps provided a way for the public to create their own itinerary online (as my colleague Regina suggested).

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)
See the Night Festival 2010 photo set…

Read on to watch the high-definition videos of some of these amazing performances…

Continue reading ‘In High Definition: Singapore’s Night Festival – New World 2010′

The Artist is Present. So am I.

imho, MoMA is sensory but overtly commercialized.

“What you do here? You see museums? Oh god, you see nothing. Go to the clubs, go dancing, drinking, so many beautiful pussies in Manhattan. You see nothing.”

That is my Albanian limo driver, Rafek, in his late fifties yet clearly without any dysfunction. Perched above the Manhattan traffic on his carriage, the Cadillac SUV, he peers out at the pedestrians, howling whenever we drive past an angelically proportioned lady of the night.

New York City, a renowned safe harbor for immigrants seeking a brighter future, gave Rafek his chance of starting a new life. A decade back, he arrived in New York and applied for political asylum. A court hearing and five years of no-travel commitment later, he brought his family over and lived the American dream.

I didn’t have it as hard as Rafek. Moving to the States was fun times for me, though going home was another story altogether. Though I struggled a little moving my nine years of baggage from Buffalo back to Singapore, I won’t deny that my heart had always belong in this tropical city. I just needed a really good reason to return… and the job was it.

I really wanted to do the East to West coast roadtrip as a personal farewell, but I chose on a tour of museums around New York City instead. Thanks to my professor mentor, Alex Halavais, I was able to stay comfortably yet frugally in a relatively expensive city.

What Rafek didn’t realize, which I didn’t want to dive headlong into, were the real-life pussies and boobs I got to see… at a live nude performance-art piece in the Museum of Modern Art. This was significant for two particular reasons: 1) Visitors were overheard commending how MoMA was willing to challenge conventions, 2) Being single for several years, it was a vice-free way for me to get visually reacquainted with the physical female form.

The exhibition which ended yesterday (May 31st), is none other than Artist Marina Abramovic’s retrospective performance-art piece entitled “The Artist is Present“. Since opening March this year, this show alone has drawn more than half a million visitors to MoMA.

Read about the exhibition at your pleasure, then take a mental flight across the other side of the planet to our fair (relatively oil-free) shores of Singapore. Would we ever see such gratuitous art exhibitions in Singapore? Possibly, but definitely not now.


From my month long exposure to what Singaporeans have to say about themselves, there’s a widespread belief that we lack the cultural maturity needed to create dialogue about the arts. Simply put, as a tiny economic powerhouse, Singapore’s initial focus on financial prowess may have cost the nation in cultural criticality. The government recognizes this, but it will take a generation or two before we see society’s appreciation of the art grow. The myth that art is only for the affluent remains invincible.

While local museums have been carefully making art relevant and accessible to the everyday man, they may also have to provide the challenge for those of us who seek a deeper connection with exhibited art pieces. In order to establish Singapore as a cultural capital, there’s a need to graduate museum visitors over time (even years!) in terms of the the thematic complexity of exhibitions. That said, some could argue that such complexity would naturally occur within any context, even simplistic one, not necessarily requiring predetermination. Either way, we have to keep asking what works best.

The National Art Gallery, Singapore, where I now work is staffed by some of the most talented museum curators, educators, and management talents around. They are in the phase of testbedding exhibitions at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), in preparation of when the new galleries open at the former Supreme Court & City Hall.

Over the course of my new life in Singapore, my personal mission here would be to stay curious. As a fresh pair of eyes in musuem scene, I hope to reveal and question traditions to seek sustainable approaches to conversing about the arts. If you’re so inclined, I do keep a blog for interesting ideas at Join me there.

Before I go, we have to ask… what is Art?
My favorite quote comes from Andy Warhol who once said “Art is what you can get away with” (Thx Liz!)

the3six5 project… or how I learned to embrace the emergent

the3six5 project

Around the start of 2010, I began hearing about this idea dubbed the3six5 project. A bunch of transmedia and emerging media folks discussed it with great fervor.

So I took a look…
then asked…
“What’s the big effing deal?”

Every day, a different person would step in and write a journal entry of what was going on around him or her. There are rules of course, like being assigned a day insignificant to the author (i.e. no birthdays, anniversaries), writing a reflection of life that very day from the author’s location (i.e. the stark reality), limits to the number of words, and finally, zero blatant self promotion.

Everywhere Magazine: a crowdsourced travel mag Yes, it’s crowdsourc-ive, it’s storytelling, it’s experimental, but is it too simplistic and too random?

Prior to the3six5, we’ve seen very well curated examples that have even been put to print, such as user-generated magazines Everywhere and JPG. In other words, this isn’t new… so what’s really going on here?

Thinking back at the3six5, I even tried to suggest connectivity between stories…

So I wrote to the3six5 co-founder, Len Kendall

“While some of the twitterati I follow seem to like this project a lot, I beg to differ. I value the experimental (back to personal writing) nature of it, like how it provides a “snapshot” of our world from different perspectives, but find the articles all too disconnected from one another. I feel that it lacks connectivity, a kind of holistic purpose behind it. Perhaps I need to be unhinged to the idea of a plot? That said, I admire the difficult simplicity, consistency and diligence behind this project.”

To which Len calmly replied…

“Your reaction makes sense. There is certainly a disconnect between people. But I think that people’s minds often try to get non-fiction to mirror fiction. But that’s not how life operates. It’s very random, and this chronology reflects that. What makes it flow is that once every few days some folks with mention a “checkpoint” in time. Haiti’s earthquake, Obama’s spead, Apple’s ipad, etc. So that 10 years from now, if you read this story, you’ll have some sense of what was taking place at that time and when that time was.”

At this point I’m widening my sights to treat the theme as a giant chronological expression. Len explained that enforcing a theme pressures fiction around our non-fictional world. Thanks to our increasingly politicalized news media, perhaps it’s our learned reaction to pigeon-hole social reality. I have the sensation that what some storytellers are seeing, that isn’t apparent at face value, are qualities which will emerge from both the process and product of this particular sousveillance literature. The fiction will eventually appear because we will implicitly, and punitively, place it there.

As Len blogged, within the first 30 days of this year-long work, we’re already seeing a string of patterns emerge:

The web can be a really messy place. On creating order from chaos, Len writes how “Crowdsourcing ain’t easy”. Maintaining 365 authors for 365 days is pretty intense work, which makes me wonder if this project could ever work as an entirely community-governed iteration.

The number of views, comments and retweets act like an invisible leaderboard. There’s growing competition, or as BBHLab’s Ben Malbon puts it, “God help those writing in November…”. Throw in a few celebrity writers (ZeFrank!), and it looks like I’m pretty much screwed.

And on forcing fiction upon non-fiction: Margo Gremmler said “[…] you brought us all together in an author mosaic”. While I can’t wait to see the big picture, I thought that Gennefer’s tweet was rather poignant for the3six5’s journey…

Twitter / Gennefer Snowfield: @brainopera I'd add we're ...

Almost everyone contributing to this project agreed that “the case study for this project is going to be just as interesting as the project itself.”

To appreciate the3six5 experience, I asked if I could contribute, and was kindly given the day of 24th November 2010. It’s weird… but I suddenly feel like I own that day. It becomes both my honor, and my burden.

For a better idea of the3six5 project, be sure to read Ben Malbon’s “Interview with the3six5 project founders: 365 days, 365 perspectives

Teacher Evaluation Forms for the LOL Generation

Abi Huynh's Teacher Evaluation Forms

As educators, teaching evaluations can sometimes make or break our careers as seen in this New York Times article. Artist Abi Huynh, from the Royal Academy of Art, the Netherland puts a new spin on the otherwise boring survey form.

Don’t bother. The image is too low-res to print, so we’re encouraged construct our own versions.

Source: New York Times “Judgement Day” // via worldfamousdesignjunkies

8-Bit Jesus in the mail…

8-bit Jesus album

Wow, I just got a physical CD in the mail! The package is simply 8-bit beautiful!

Haven’t bought a music disc since forever, but with tracks like We Three Konami, Ryu the Red Nosed Ninja, and Super Jingle Bros, who could resist? Classic Christmas songs in the style of Classic NES games.

Well, I actually bought it for Doctor Octoroc’s poor dog, Ein. He’s much better now after surgery.

The album’s called 8-Bit Jesus, and you can download all 18 tracks for free from Doctor Octoroc’s blog. Or you could buy it from his blog and pretend it’s Christmas everyday.

Here’s my favorite track, Ryu the Red Nosed Ninja:

HyperConnected Beings // From Social Web to Networked Consciousness

Presentation Mindmap: Networked Consciousness
HyperConnected Beings (Slides)

As a guest lecturer at @panomatic‘s Designed Play visual studies class yesterday, I thought aloud of how we are increasingly inter-connected with one another. Although in varying degrees, there are some like me who are inclined to explore the extremities of self-awareness.

Perhaps not now, but little choice later…
Note that I take the perspective of being hyper-connected as a choice at this point, though I believe that it will be unavoidable in the near future. As my friend MrBig already noted, even when he tries to have online presence through pseudonymity, the dilemma comes where his friends connect back to him, verifying real-life information about himself (e.g. Facebook).

Since information shared online by others around and about you would likely be beyond your control, having some form of online presence that’s verifiable by people you know, would act as a findable official reference from which you can control. Even if you aren’t interested in promoting yourself online, having presence acts as a defense mechanism for your namesake / reputation.

To contrast the diversity modes of online presence, I talked about my personal experiences in attempting to share and store consciousness via two routes:

1. Taking the High Road – VIDEO
+ High Cognitive Bandwidth; hard to multi-task / browse
+ Visceral, im-mediate reality
+ Technological accessibility: smaller sensors, cheaper storage
+ Mobile live video streaming (e.g., Qik, etc)
+ Searchable video via thumbnails, keyframe tagging, face detection

2. Taking the Low Road – TEXT
+ Low Cognitive Bandwidth: easy to multi-task / browse
+ Imaginary, requires prior experience
+ Scalable Complexity: twitter (low) to blog posting (high)
+ Democratic participation: twitter, SMS/txting cellphones
+ Highly searchable; naturally mashable / remixable

Points discussed in class during presentation:

Finally, the means of communication often creates avenues for serendipitous encounters, which could explain why we are attracted to use social devices such as twitter.

ASIDE: I’m keeping track of related information at

UPDATE: I’ve share the presentation on

If you were Obama…

Eh Sai!

Obama’s “Yes we can!” slogan roughly translates to “Eh Sai!” in Hokkien. It’s my way of visualizing how an Obama-like campaign could work in Singapore ;)

Go ahead and Obama-fy yourself with a one-word promise for 2009 at

Macworld ’09: Origins of Ocarina for iPhone

One of the SMULE engineers, Spencer, reveals the backstory of how the inventive Zelda flute application, Ocarina, was created for the iPhone.

Apparently SMULE produce all kinds of musical apps as they’re using a unique audio coding language for creative yet rapid development. A key member of SMULE is Ge Wang, a PhD student at Princeton, who was profiled by Apple for his Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk).

Ge Wang had developed ChucK as a programming language tailored for generating and making sense of sound. It’s designed to have a shallow learning curve as Wang claims that it is possible for someone who’s never programmed before to start making music within the first 30 minutes.

To see how popular Ocarina is, just search on Youtube for fans showing off their Ocarina playing skills.

See for details, or better yet, join their “This Contest Blows!” contest!