05 Media Lab Andreas Schlegel Professor Steve Dixon
06 Tinkering with Technology 10 Practice-as-Research and LASALLEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Media Lab
Collaborative Projects Venka Purushothaman
13 Art and Urbanization: New Media Explorations in Southeast Asia 16 Urban Explorations 38 Data Exploration Tool 42 Clicks and Strokes 46 Continuum 52 Line Array 56 Within 140 Characters 58 Constellations 62 Sonic Flux and Reflex 70 Universes 74 The River 80 ArtScience Revealed
Dr. Charles Merewether
82 Three Projects 84 Shift 90 Foris 98 Coded Transformations
104 The Bleeding Edge of Art: Coded Transformations
Interdisciplinary Projects Aubrey Mellor
107 Technological Steps Towards Future Performance 110 Abstraction 114 Interweave 118 Memory.Station 122 Interface
Student Projects Wolfgang Muench
127 Of Art and Logic 128 Chronolien 130 Aleph of Emotions 134 Flood Helmet 136 Air Monsters 138 Flux 140 Sum of Three Parts 142 Sori Pan 144 Autoexposure 146 Light Graffiti 148 Megabyte 150 Stereodermis 152 Re-Load 154 Sound Scribble 156 Sound Plankton 158 Invisible Noise 160 Kriyaworks 162 Experimental Live Visuals 164 DIY Controller 166 Digital Fabrication 168 Alternative Conductive Materials 170 Moving Objects 172 Introduction to Programming
Media Lab The Media Lab at LASALLE College of the Arts operates as a research and practice-oriented environment within the Faculty of Media Arts. It is focused on creating artefacts and prototypes with the use of technology. It is concerned with research involving computational design, physical computing and digital fabrication applicable to everyday situations, the design process, or within an artistic context. Although works realized within the Media Lab are strongly centred on technological tools, they may also be driven by art practices with a DIY approach and open source cultures. Rather than purely working with high-tech technologies, the lab explores the potential of low-tech technologies by developing its own tools using low cost materials, custom electronics and open source hardware and software. Whilst the results that emerge from this lab can be experimental and playful, they can also be applied to real world scenarios. The Media Lab is primarily interested in investigating the potential of using technology in an audio, visual and spatial arts context. With a strong interdisciplinary approach and collaborations with other disciplines such as Music, Theatre, Dance, Design or Fine Art, the Media Lab aims to expand the use of technology into myriad forms of artistic expressions.
Tinkering with Technology
A large part of what is done at the Media Lab at LASALLE College of the Arts requires the various modes of tinkering, be it the act of playing, fixing, tampering or just fiddling around with hardware and software. I see this idea of tinkering and the many manifestations of it as a very important aspect of the Media Lab and also in art making and research. Without that experimentation, one first of all cannot hope to find much joy and excitement in the act of making nor would there be spontaneity and discovery through trials and errors. Technology had become such a pervasive aspect of our everyday life that it is becoming harder to ignore its potential and its consequences. People from many societies and from all walks of life and age groups are unwittingly a part of this scheme of things. Technology is encroaching not just in our visible world but also presents itself as a powerful tool that commands our invisible world, be it by analyzing and controlling data or making systems work. With this, I believe that it is not just pertinent but urgent that people be more aware of the ubiquitous nature of technology today and to understand how it functions in order to question it and eventually create one’s own technologies to shape our world. In short, to quote Douglas Rushkoff “It is really that simple: Program or be Programmed.”1 Certainly, technology that one encounters on a daily basis is typically entertaining and even superficial - bringing us games, social media and TV shows on the smart phone or the changing media façade of buildings and malls. What is more to technology than its obviously playful, information-laden and entertaining nature, I would like to ask?
What we do in the Media Lab is in a large part situated in that ‘playfulness’ that characterized it. We want to adopt the ‘playfulness’ not just in the way of making but also in encouraging the viewer to be part of that playing. In the making, it is crucial that there should be much playing, tinkering and testing the boundaries and the potential of technology, so that it can go beyond to become a tool to discuss and reflect on what it can do. Furthermore, it is about conducting research, going ‘behind-the-scene’, delving into the invisible world of technology via programming in order to manipulate how the sensorial world can be felt. On the viewer’s part, the Media Lab hopes to engage them to play as well. Their involvement and interactions with the works transverse the maker’s world, affecting how technology had initially set out to achieve but is constantly being shaped and reshaped by the user. This is in a way a direct reference to how we are indeed not passive by-users, but one who plays an active role in intentionally and sometimes unintentionally altering the technology as we use it. With these thoughts and guiding principles about technology, the Media Lab had been involved in a range of projects and research activities that provide different angles of what technology is capable of as a medium, equipment or tool. Whether it is about addressing social phenomena and concerns or reinventing ideas or conventions between art and technology, the Media Lab strives to provide multiple dimensions to storytelling and to art making. On the other hand, the Media Lab also plays an active role in bringing various disciplines of art together. With these interdisciplinary projects, the development
of the artwork becomes a platform and avenue for artists to find solutions and coalesce thoughts and practices from differing art disciplines. Yet, more so than others, I find that the act of tinkering becomes most pronounced in student projects for they in essence were done with much trial and error, with much propensity to explore, drift and invent. It is with these thoughts about technology and what we had done thus far that drive me to envision how the Media Lab is part of the dialogue in understanding what technology means in our lives, through artistic projects that highlight its multifarious roles. In here, tinkering with technology requires a spontaneous approach to making, combined with a good dosage of curiosity in order to bring forth the technological narratives we want to create. Likewise, the Media Lab hopes to motivate the act of tinkering as well, encouraging a space for people to explore, interact and communicate with technology, and also to spur one to ponder, reflect and question what lies beyond that first encounter, so that it generates a constant dialogue between play and thought. As part of the Faculty of Media Arts, the Media Lab has created a range of projects that are featured in the following pages. These projects and research activities are some of the highlights for the past 6 years, which include exploring open source hardware and software, prototyping, interdisciplinarity and collaboration. Andreas Schlegel Coordinator, Media Lab LASALLE College of the Arts
Douglas Rushkoff. Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. New York: OR Books, 2010.
Practice-as-Research and LASALLE’s Media Lab
The fascinating activities and work produced by staff, students and guest practitioners at the Media Lab in LASALLE College of the Arts is close to my heart. This is, firstly, because I am an academic who researches into and publishes about the field of digital creativity and, secondly, because it accords with ideas of ‘practice-asresearch’, which I have been undertaking for over twenty years. Practice-as-research has recently become an increasingly significant and dynamic part of the culture of research within art and design. Not all creative practice is research, but much of the work produced by the Media Lab is research by virtue of the ambitious objectives and strategies undertaken. A key criterion that distinguishes research from other activities (such as general scholarship or professional practices) is that it produces and provides an original contribution to knowledge in the research field. ‘Originality, significance and rigour’ are criteria commonly applied to evaluate academic research, and one of the most-quoted and abiding Western definitions comes from the 1993 OECD Frascati Manual: “Research comprises creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge.” The use of the word ‘creative’ here refers both to originality in published research (including PhD studies) and also to innovative creative practiceas-research that – as we find in work produced at the Media Lab – is systematic and produces new manifestations that add to our knowledge and understanding of (in this case) interactive
media arts. While operating within a practicebased mode, these works adhere precisely to the three principles of a traditional academic research investigation: a question is posed; a method is applied; an answer is deduced, produced and disseminated. In our Media Lab this ‘answer’ (or ‘research findings’) will be in the form of an interactive artefact/artwork whereas in traditional research it would be, for example, a publication, or a scientific or medical patent. So, practice-as-research follows the principles and methods of conventional research. What distinguishes it from more general creative or professional practice and defines it as research is when it is: a) an original investigation or a new articulation; b) a systematic, methodsfocused enterprise; and c) a questioning and an answering. Practice-as-research is predicated on the idea of developing art as an innovative process, and it should be remembered that the process is often as, or more, important than the resulting product. The artist-researcher is at the intersection of – and breaks down barriers between – theory and practice, and combines creative doing with reflexive being. Practice-asresearch at its best is not just a combination of creative practice and theoretical research, but rather a practice that embodies research. As such, practice-as-research practitioners are often forward-looking auteurs, pioneers, inventors and influencers. As one clearly finds in the work of Andreas Schlegel and his Media Lab collaborators, they are simultaneously artistic and
scientific, systematic and instinctive, and they know no boundaries. Such research work is not easy, and particularly in an emergent disciplinary field in continual development, and still (despite popular rhetoric) beset with huge technical obstacles and digital gremlins. But it is also a field of real excitement, dynamism and innovation, where new methodologies, theories and paradigms are continually being developed or ‘discovered’. The interdisciplinary nature of interactive media demands multidisciplinary skills of the artistresearchers, and the technological basis of the field offers particular challenges, but also inspiring opportunities to develop new custombuilt technological systems and genuinely original arts manifestations and genres. As an emergent discipline, interactive media arts is a rich research area where there are real opportunities to develop new methodologies, hypotheses, and creative outputs. The Media Lab at LASALLE College of Arts is a research centre that contributes to the global development of this field, and where our academics, students and guest artists explicitly seek to develop pioneering artworks and paradigms through a distinctive practice-as-research. Professor Steve Dixon President LASALLE College of the Arts
Art and Urbanization: New Media Explorations in Southeast Asia
This book is a compendium of new media projects undertaken by the Media Lab at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore from 2008 to 2013. These projects revolve around many issues emerging amidst a fast developing Southeast Asia.1 Before I engage with some of the key projects of the Media Lab, it is important to locate the work within the geography of its practice: Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia, with an approximate population of 600 million people in 10 countries, remains a sleepy enterprise trapped within geographies and neo-colonialist cultural formulations. This fecund region of fast emerging economies has a deep and ancient history of arts and cultural development that is still alive and vibrant; and it continues to brand a collection of nations and states historically known for its trade and spices.
have been used as tools of cultural policies in rising economies in Asia. Whilst internationalization has been useful, for example, here I am reminded of the way Indonesian gamelan music found its way into the musical compositions of many globally; globalization, on the other hand, has reduced Asian arts to brands, embellishments and consumables where they play to highlight the flow of cultures within cities and here I am reminded of the intoxicatingly MTV-styled popular music of Asia. Furthermore, as institutionalized world economies face the darkest hour, nation-states are increasingly closing ranks to support and protect their economies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; through the embrace of community participation and engagement. For example, the National Arts Council in the city-state of Singapore has implemented a five-year National Traditional Arts Plan, which sets aside S$23 million to support the traditional arts. This type of participatory politics in countries like Singapore has seen a resuscitation of the traditional arts, which serves as a compass of locatedness for a fast consumerizing society.
Southeast Asia is seeing a renaissance in industrial and economic growth propelled by industrialization and globalization. But the development of the arts and culture continues to be plagued, well into the 21st century, by debates about preservation and promotion of the traditional arts against the development and promotion of contemporary arts that are demonstratively having an alignment with economic development and an emerging affluent and mobile society. The preservation and sustenance of the traditional arts and crafts have found the twin agents of change â&#x20AC;&#x201C; globalization and internationalization as an opportunity to continue their sustained production and circulation. There are numerous examples of this and, both, globalization and internationalization
New studies show2 that the digitization of Southeast Asia through Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) policy drivers accompanying economic growth, is seeing an opening of cultural, technological and socio-political bandwidths. This is evidenced by the use of apps, social networking sites, and online videos to affect change in the political landscape of countries in the region. Accenture Research (2012) has shown that concepts of traditional community cultures are emerging online as the idea of a community
Southeast Asia is a composite of ten countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Sleigh, Andrew, et. al. Surfing Southeast Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Powerful Digital Wave. Report by Accenture Management Consulting Innovation Centre. www.accenture.com. 2012.
and its communitarian ideologies (family, trust, collaboration and courtesy) are fundamentally core to Southeast Asians. While globalization has swept through Southeast Asia through notional ideas of sustainability, economic empowerment and technological revolution, the community spirit of helping one another, or in the Bahasa Melayu parlance ‘gotong royong’ spirit remain rooted to the idea of sustainable development. With an increasingly well-educated and confident population asserting its presence in the global platform, artists in Southeast Asia (e.g. House of Natural Fiber Yogyakarta, Media Lab at LASALLE) are finding new ways to express their sense of being by revisiting their history and tradition. The past locked in the treachery of a dichotomous binary – propositioned as cultural value that is taught, institutionalised and venerated – is undeniably under siege by the epochal shifts in time. The dichotomy (where tradition is history, religion, genealogy and cultural preservation whilst contemporary arts is speed, contemporaneity, technology and the selfdeveloped creative enterprise) is fast dissolving. Media Lab Projects at LASALLE The précis on Southeast Asia was intentional as it anchored the arts as a pre-occupation. But there is another anchor: urbanization. While urbanization has and continues to be a critical core of modernization of Southeast Asia countries, various models encapsulating the socio-cultural connections and religious and cultural specificities have been used to intervene into the urban landscape (Hans-Dieter Evers and Rudiger Korff 2003).3 The Media Lab seeks to bridge both art and urbanization in its enterprise. The Media Lab enterprise seeks to advance new forms of art that embrace history, tradition and the contemporary through collaboration across art forms, genres, technologies and ideologies. The purpose is to foster a new vocabulary of inclusionary practices that speak for a new generation of art makers who are rooted in place but global in ideas: hence, investing in the new – an emerging aesthetic and epistemology
– the acme of contemporary art. It is in the making, incidental, sudden, and epiphanic. But the process of getting to the emergence of the new fosters conversations around new things read, seen, experienced and discovered and how these can become engines for the making of the contemporary. The potential for the contemporary is detected through aesthetic and critical hypotheses that serve to provide a series of piers to discover the emerging new. To remain at the forefront of critical inquiry of the contemporary, the Media Lab increasingly embed in its enterprise the difficult terrain of inter-disciplinarity: a highly intense hothousing environment that conjures new possibilities through the tough negotiation of ideas, play with aesthetics and exchange of artistic vocabularies. Through facilitation it engages in an extreme sport of articulating the contemporary.
Interdisciplinary works such as Abstractions and Line Array engage with the artist of today who is multi-focal in thought, technological, and transnational in communication and expediently broad-based in action. Hence, the traditional practice of teaching, nurturing and developing a reflexive artistic leader has to be re-thought, or for that matter, dismembered so that we can develop new methods of engaging, communicating and creating new knowledge. In actual fact, we want to excite in student-artists interest in reading, thinking and research; and making connections across art forms and with life; develop their curiosity and imagination. Thinking outside of the terror of late 20th century’s postmodern stranglehold on art, we want to develop a platform that opens the field wide open to a new world of adventures in research, knowledge and possibilities.
A case in point is the magical installationperformance piece, Abstraction based on a devised play by Théâtre de Complicité. Performed by students of Interactive Art, Theatre+Performance and Acting in 2012, the work and relationship between the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy came alive. The students were challenged to negotiate their take on themes of spirituality, logic, and passion through technology and performance resulting in a powerful adventure into the new and delighting audiences with the seamless integration of technology, performance, text and people. In Line Array (2012), an installation project by the Media Lab and ‘Alumni-in-Residency’ programme participants, Dhiya Muhammad and Darrick Ma, the traditional Javanese instrument, Angklung became a centrepiece. In this installation, the artist as researcher engaged with the opportunity to discover alternative approaches to creating sounds from Angklungs through a range of electronic pulses generated from algorithms. This work was part of an exhibition KLUNG! Contemporary interpretations of Angklung and intended to locate the identity of the instrument into today’s music through design and technology.
In this same intervention, the Media Lab project, Urban Exploration (2012) sought to critically review the urban as phenomenon. This project was located within a key socio-political project, Singapore Portraits (2012) which sought to paint a picture of the concept of being a Singaporean in a 21st century world.
phenomenological propositions that are readily emergent but rather the incisive thrust of a communitarian philosophy of rootedness that seems to emerge out of this. In other words, the investigation reveals an avowed commitment to community spaces, human dimensionality and tactile sensibilities that are often missing from the megapolis in emerging monster cities such as Beijing, Seoul and Mumbai. The definition of the new urban must be located in the attempt to create a socio-cultural ecology of cultures, languages and communities to map a sustainable future for their world. For such an ecology to work, there must be sincere attempt to accept the unintended consequences of scientific and technological advances, rapid industrialization and their impact on society. These works by the Media Lab seek to contribute to this inquiry. Venka Purushothaman Provost LASALLE College of the Arts
Urban Explorations studies Singapore history through the lens of eight new media explorers who sought to “re-imagine the Singapore narrative”. These eight projects – self initiated by the explorers – located the study under the skin of the urban landscape by ignoring and at times embracing ways of looking at the urban as critically framed by urban sociologists, planners and builders. Through a recording of visual, aural, olfactory, kinesthetic and material forms the explorers drew a connective line from the sights they visited, objects they accrued, data samples they analysed to the viewer/audience and their interpretation of these concepts as phenomena. There is a subtlety to the softness of the investigation against the consuming concrete and clinical harshness of the urban terrain. As you study each of the projects in this compendium, you will realize the power of the investigation is not looking at the
Hans-Dieter Evers and Rudiger Korff. Southeast Asian Urbanism: The Meaning and Power of Social Space. Hamburg: Lit Verlag Münster, 2003. 3
The Urban Explorations project stems from an interest in documenting the various phenomena in the urban landscape. Through the retrieval of sound, colours, smell or merely collecting objects discarded by people, it aims to investigate what ordinarily goes on in the heartlands of Singapore. Through a strategy called urban sensing, the team of 8 explorers utilized custombuilt instruments in which recordings and observations were visually translated. With these data, they then provided a deeper but preliminary understanding about the activities and the locations that were visited. The objects and artefacts that were exhibited not only provided a glimpse of the explorersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; perceptions and observations, but were also intended to ignite questions and generate dialogues.
Contributions by Andreas Schlegel, Patrick Kochlik, Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Ma Jiahao Darrick, Judith Lee, Germaine Chen Shiyun, Muhammad Reza Bin Nooresani, Benson Chong Thong Pin, Rashid Saini, Jeremy Chua, Hazel Lim, Jessica Angelique Gabrielli, Jacky Boen, Sivaraj Pragasm, Mithru Vigneshwara
Urban Explorations Panting Trees Air temperature in industrialized Singapore was Judithâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main focus in the exploration project. As the population expands, the need for more infrastructures increases manifold. This leads to an increased effort to replenish the depleting greenery at strategic locations on the island in order to enhance and balance the thermal air quality. By seeking out Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new and old residential estates, industrial parks, financial district and coastal areas, Judith investigated how the surrounding greenery of an area affected the siteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s temperature, her own bodily temperature as well as her own perceived notion of temperature. With the use of a portable hand-held device, she compiled these 3 main types of data to be used comparatively and translated visually.
40.0 37.0 34.0 31.0 28.0 25.0
37.0 36.5 36.0 35.5 35.0 25.0
Burnt Hot Warm
Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, tripod, temperature board, infrared temperature sensor, button, potentiometer, sd card, GPS module Year 2012 Credits Judith Lee, Andreas Schlegel
Perfect Cool Cold
40.0 37.0 34.0 31.0 28.0 25.0
37.0 36.5 36.0 35.5 35.0 25.0
Burnt Hot Warm Perfect Cool Cold
Urban Explorations Urban Sounddrifts To understand how the urban landscape and nature co-exist in Singapore, Germaine set out to investigate the multitude of soundscapes, both man-made and natural and documenting the cacophonous sounds that pervaded the places that she visited. A sound recorder and microphones attached to her backpack enabled her to collect sounds as she threaded through the different suburban heartlands. With the device, Germaine could be more sensitive to the sounds she was experiencing at the moment of drifting through the heartlands. This spontaneous act of walking allowed her to track the natural sounds so that they could guide her towards a natural landscape located within a heartland. The immersive experience of the recorded soundscapes provides one an imaginary visual encounter of the heartlands of Singapore â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one that is composed of a hustle-bustle of city life interspersed increasingly with the sound of nature, as the explorer lets the sound guide her towards the rainforests. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, backpack, stepper motors, miniature figurines, GPS, smart phone, microphones, sound recorder, head phones Year 2012 Credits Germaine Chen Shiyun, Patrick Kochlik
Urban Explorations Transitional Shift Collapsing the present and the past was what Reza wanted to achieve through his segment of the exploration project. After seeking out the street roads of old Singapore that still exist today, he decided to visit these roads in order to capture the type of activities that were happening there. With a custom-built time-lapse remote control, he would seek out unobstructed views of the roads and then stationed himself at high-rise HDB blocks or bridges, so as to capture human traffic and vehicular behaviour on these roads. The resulting video footages collected gave interesting accounts of the differing levels of activities at these road junctures. In fact, the flow of moving people and vehicles became abstract moving patterns that provided information about the physiological and emotional states of the people. Through the documentation of these patterns and movements, Reza was able to meld and collage the history of these old roads with the contemporary movement and speed of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s human activities. Materials and Tools Arduino, Cinder, DSLR camera, magnets, iron dust, historical maps, custom time-lapse trigger device, infrared LED Year 2012 Credits Muhammad Reza Bin Nooresani, Patrick Kochlik
Urban Explorations Mnemonic The premise for Benson’s exploration was based on locating objects that signify a sense of emotional attachment to particular heartlands. These objects of modern-day Singapore paint different stories of the various places that Benson visited. With the use of a tool with precise rotating platform and a line laser beam, Benson was able to capture sharp imageries of the objects he found with specific intervals of rotation. The series of captured images enabled a 3D façade of the scanned object to be formed, and later replicated and generated into an actual physical object. When he found objects he felt were representative of the various places, he would ‘reclaim’ them and place them in his suitcase to be brought back for 3D scanning in the lab. These abandoned objects, he believed, would be revived and given new meanings when he picked them up and used for this project, elevating them to become artefacts of modern day Singapore. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, found objects, labels, pelican case, 3D milling machine, custom 3D laser scanner, resin, silicone putty, chemical wood Year 2012 Credits Benson Chong Thong Pin, Andreas Schlegel
Urban Explorations Destinations To investigate the activities of commuters and their relationship with public spaces, Darrick decided to follow a number of people he would encounter and record the GPS locations for the duration of the tracking. After randomly selecting a person, he would jot down some basic data about this person such as ethnicity, age, gender and demeanour. These serendipitous encounters allowed him to observe the activities that they partook in as they made their way through the heartlands to arrive at their respective destinations. For this exhibition, each of these data pertaining to the individualâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s movements were interpreted and presented through churned print outs on a roll of paper and displayed alongside the GPS readings. For some, these readings could be seen as subjective indication of their precise locations as they travelled toward their intended destination or it could be perceived as minute and microscopic updates on the commuterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intimate meanderings within the heartlands.
Materials and Tools Arduino, backpack, GPS, paper, pen, optical mark recognition sheet, thermal printer, notebook Year 2012 Credits Ma Jiahao Darrick, Jacky Boen, Andreas Schlegel
Urban Explorations Territorial Transformation For Dhiya, the interest in land reclamation led him to investigate Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coastal areas and collecting soil samples from the places he visited. By making comparative studies of old and current maps, he was able to distinguish the transformed areas of Singapore due to land reclamation. A number of factors were used to guide him in this exploration such as terrain, GPS location as well as achieving maximum proximity to the coastline. Through the inventory of soil samples collected from the selected sites, their similarities and differences were surveyed and highlighted, in a bid to encourage a hypothetical conversation about territories and boundaries of the island. In the lab, images of the soil samples were magnified via a lens mounted onto a smart phone. Custom-built software was able to extract height map information in order to translate the imageries into 3D models. A milling machine then produced a series of textural landscape artefacts presented in this exhibition that were directly related to the soil samples collected. Materials and Tools Processing, soil samples, test tubes, custom-built microscope, boring tools, pelican case, GPS, smart phone, notebook, stereoscopic glasses Year 2012 Credits Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Patrick Kochlik
Urban Explorations Scentscapes
KAMPONG GLAM Flowery
As a foreigner on a short trip here to participate in this exploration project, Patrick wanted to rely on his immediate experiences and impressions. With this in mind, he decided to centre his investigation about the heartlands in Singapore through measuring, classifying and visualizing location-specific odours.
TOA PAYOH Flowery
After immersing himself and exploring the selected sites more thoroughly, he not only had the opportunity to experience Singapore’s sociocultural diversity much more intimately but also observed subtle differences in architecture and people’s behaviour, which he thought made up for an idiosyncratic local identity. More importantly, what he got out from his observations about the heartlands was the range of olfactory smells that were signature of certain places in the city.
Inspired by Henning’s Odour System, which classifies odours into 6 primary smells, Patrick custom-built an acrylic pad with laser guides to help him document and capture his impressions of smell as he explored the nooks and crannies of the heartlands.
Materials and Tools GPS, paper, optical mark recognition sheet, pen, dried orange, pandan leaves, tar, cloves, ashes, dried chillies Year 2012 Credits Patrick Kochlik
Urban Explorations Urban Colours Tracking and documenting dominant colour schemes that best represent the heartlands was what Andreas wanted to do during his field trips for the exploration project. He built a mobile phone application that would allow him to snap a photo with his mobile phone in which the colour information within the photo could be extracted based on analysis of hue, saturation and brightness. 2 colours with the highest density for the 3 abovementioned factors would be chosen to represent the corresponding heartlands. Along with the colours, the image, time that it was taken and his GPS location would all be presented as a series of narrative about a particular place. The resulting 380 colour samples collected were translated into a colour spectrum hand-painted with acrylic paint. With each heartland possessing its own unique character, the samples that Andreas collected are meant as a reminder of the colourful and vibrant portrayal of the heartlands. Materials and Tools Processing, smart phone, GPS, acrylic paint Year 2012 Credits Andreas Schlegel, Jessica Angelique Gabrielli
Data Exploration Tool The Data Exploration Tool was a 5-day exercise exploring a location-based weather data set comprising 880,716 entries. This custom-built software tool was the result of following and visualizing patterns found within this given data set where 3 assumptions were made and documented based on the findings. The 3 assumptions that were recorded and documented with this data are: Weather patterns, low usage between the hours 6 to 9 pm as well as traffic movement patterns of single data profiles that suggest the following characteristics such as taxi, commuter, delivery services, stationary, overseas traveller and more. Here, the Data Exploration Tool is used to describe methods and approaches rather than developing a finished tool to find patterns, similarities, relationships and more within an unknown set of data. Materials and Tools Processing, data set in .csv format Year 2012 Event Urban Prototyping Singapore, Big Data Credits Andreas Schlegel, Fung Kwok Pan, Newton Circus
Clicks and Strokes Clicks and Strokes is a drawing application developed for the Android based Samsung Galaxy Note tablet. This app was used by a group of students to create digital drawings for a competition called Masterpieces.sg, a digital art gallery. Instead of using existing sketching apps, the Media Lab designed a custom application for the device that would allow participants to draw simple shapes and then distorting them with a pixel manipulation algorithm. By using the computing capabilities of the device, the participants were able to create unique digital drawings that could not be achieved with conventional drawing tools such as the pen and pencil. Materials and Tools Processing, Android tablet Year 2013 Event Samsung Masterpieces
Continuum Continuum is a series of audio-visual experiments performed in real time. It played with the possibilities of ever-changing visuals affected by a flow of circulating signals rendered within the algorithmic spectrum of a computer system. A custom control interface was developed to which visuals would respond to a set of changing parameters in real time. Different algorithms were used to define the visual structure of projected images. Continuum was first performed at the Seedfest Festival held at The Arts House, Singapore in 2011. It was also performed and featured occasionally at Home Club Singapore events and as a visual performative backdrop for the LASALLE Fashion show in 2013. Tools Processing, Ableton Live, MIDI controller Year 2011- on going Credits Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Farid Talib, Andreas Schlegel
The installation Line Array was made up of octave-resonating traditional Javanese instruments named Angklungs. With the use of electronic pulses, the work aimed to discover an alternative manner of creating sounds with the Angklung instrument. These pulses were generated from algorithms, which were initiated by a line of movement over the Angklungs. Line Array was part of an exhibition held in Singapore in 2012 called â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;KLUNG! Contemporary interpretations of Angklungâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Materials and Tools Arduino, DC motors, distance sensors, Angklungs Dimension 150 x 100 x 50cm Year 2012 Credits Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Ma Jiahao Darrick, Andreas Schlegel
Within 140 Characters Within 140 Characters is a project initiated by Ong Kian Peng, with technical support from the Media Lab. It is an interactive sonic composition, which aimed to explore the social media phenomenon of Twitter, and its ability to not just entertain, but also give voice and power to those who participate in it. With a unique limited space of 140 characters, Twitter is constrictive yet liberating and none can deny that it has become a personal broadcast station for a sundry of proclamations, from the succinct to the banal. This sound installation aimed to investigate this by grabbing live data from Twitter to create an immediate soundscape. Within 140 Characters was a selected proposal for The Substationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sound Art Open Call. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, Powermate controllers, LCD displays, six channel sound system Year 2011 Credits Ong Kian Peng, Andreas Schlegel, Low Han Yuan, Lim Hong Zeng Vic
Constellations is a large scale interactive mural installed alongside a staircase in the Youth Olympics Village. Located at the common dining area, the staircase was widely used by people to go from the atrium to the main plaza in the village. Reminiscent of a pencil drawing with dark grey strokes against a beige background, the design of the mural was inspired by the idea of constellation drawings through the depiction of clusters of stars connected via lines. LED lights that were installed at the intersections of these lines light up when triggered by the movement of people climbing up and down the staircase. The aim of this work was to create constellations of LED stars that would fade in and out based on detected motion, with light trails that would follow people on the staircase like fireflies or shooting stars. Through the use of custombuilt hardware, movement could be sensitively detected on every step of the staircase whilst the quantity of LED being lit up was based on the speed of pedestriansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motion. Materials and Tools Arduino, ultrasonic sensors, conductive tape, light emitting diodes Dimensions 13x5m Venue Youth Olympics Village, Singapore Year 2010 Credits Andreas Schlegel, Eric Tan Wei Ming, Low Han Yuan, Onellyantie Chuah, Everina Lim Mei Li, Liew Wei Kai Shaun, Melissa Tan Wei Xiang, Gan Kwang Chuan, Nur Azam
Sonic Flux and Reflex
The Media Lab was commissioned to design two art installations that interpret the fascination of light and sound for the launch of the new Audi A8 in Singapore. Responding to the theme Light Years Ahead, the Media Lab worked closely with the architectural team to develop two interactive spaces: Sonic Flux - visualizing sound and Reflex - hearing light, installed at the Promontory, Marina Bay in December 2010.
Sonic Flux To make sound visible, a sound reactive system was developed in order to sense spatial audio activity. These activities would then be translated into light particles floating below and alongside the participants on low-resolution LED panels. To illustrate the responsiveness of the visuals proposed for this installation, a software based sketching tool was developed which could simulate different stages of visual activity that would then later be triggered by sound sensed inside the space. This tool was created to generate dynamic visuals responding to different sets of parameters. The behaviour of these visuals would change according to the audio activity sensed inside a space, which could be very dynamic or subtle. Materials and Tools Processing, microphones, LED panels Dimensions 6 x 6m Year 2010 Event Audi A8 Launch Singapore Credits Andreas Schlegel Architectural Team FACE2050
Reflex The second installation used a sensory object that reacted to gestural motions and would then translate the movements into a 6-channel surround sound experience. Centrally placed in the room, the object emitted slow vibrating pulses of light that engaged the audience to approach it. As more activity was sensed, these pulses of light became stronger and the texture of the surrounding sound would alter. Materials and Tools Arduino, Ableton Live, Processing, 6 channel audio system, ultrasonic sensors Dimensions 6 x 6m Year 2010 Event Audi A8 Launch Singapore Credits Andreas Schlegel, Brian Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Reilly, Low Han Yuan, Lim Hong Zeng Vic, Hector Lee Architectural Team FACE2050
Universes Complementing the annual LASALLE Fashion Show 2010, the Media Lab produced a screenbased projection that introduced each of the 13 designers and the collections they were presenting that evening. Through the development of a custom-built software tool, a text-based animation was created and then projected onto a translucent dark fabric. This dark fabric not only allowed the visuals to float in space but the translucency of the material captured the light from the projectors and let the light travel further onto the floor, casting a mirrored projection onto the runway. The projected animations could be toggled between two visual states, the default state, which was made up of readable text as well as the extended state that was made up of an unfolded arrangement of tiny triangular fragments originating from the letters of the text itself. Materials and Tools Processing, projectors, semi translucent dark fabric Dimensions 6 x 2.5m Year 2010 Credits Andreas Schlegel, Colin Faulks Event LASALLE Fashion Show 2010, organized and coordinated by the Fashion Design programme, Faculty of Design
The River The River, a data responsive light sculpture, was installed inside a shipping container during the iLight Marina Bay Festival 2012 in Singapore. Rows of lights in the shape of the Singapore River represent waves flowing throughout the space, giving the audience a spatial experience of the artwork. The sculpture was based on the idea of changing patterns of light and colour that evolve over time. These patterns were based on an analysis of sound samples taken along the Singapore River, with the sounds representing activities and life along the river itself, including recorded soundscapes of commercial, leisure or civic scenarios. Here, the light sculpture The River became an abstraction of the Singapore River and its surroundings. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, wood, wires, electronic circuit, light emitting diodes, acrylic panels, sound recorder Dimension 5 x 2 x 2m Event iLight Marina Bay Festival, Singapore. SIGGRAPH Asia Singapore 2012, Art Gallery Year 2012 Credits Aw Meng Tiong Adam, Benjamin Low Teck Hui, Jacky Boen, Mithru Vigneshwara, Mui Rui Yi, Zac Ong Chee Chou Zac, Andreas Schlegel
The sculpture consists of 3 elements: Shape, Data and Light. Shape The shape of the sculpture derived from an abstraction of the original shape of the Singapore River and comprised 24 standing acrylic plates installed on the floor of the container. Each individual plate was equipped with a set of LED lights, mounted at the bottom of each plate. Lights were controlled by a micro controller animating the flow of lights based on sound recordings collected along the river. Data Sound recordings were collected and then analysed by a computer program. The results were used to trigger and animate the lights of the light sculpture creating a snapshot of the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activity expressed through light. Light By lighting up a clear acrylic plate along one edge, the light will travel to and light up the remaining edges of the plate. This technique was used to illuminate and animate the edges of the 24 acrylic plates.
ArtScience Revealed In March 2013, the Media Lab was invited to showcase selected works during the monthly event - ArtScience Revealed at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore. ArtScience Revealed allows visitors unique access to cutting edge projects being undertaken by different institutions across Singapore. The series invites the creators and their work into the ArtScience Museum on the first Sunday of each month. During the showcase, the Media Lab was present throughout the afternoon to talk with visitors about our works, the creative processes, and to facilitate visitorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interaction with the projects. For this event, it is meant to be a hands-on, accessible showcase where visitors could come up close and interact with what we do. Event ArtScience Revelead at the ArtSciene Museum Singapore Works Urban Explorations, The River, Aleph of Emotions, Chronolien, Beam, Continuum Year 2013
One of the most exciting ventures in recent years has been the intersection of the digital domain with the arts. That is to say, not only is the digital domain about information and connectivity but, equally, about creativity and experimentation. This relationship has both challenged and expanded the field of what may be defined as contemporary art practice. What is distinguishable about the research of the Media Lab at LASALLE College of the Arts is the introduction of the digital domain into the equation. Andreas Schlegel, who has been leading the Media Lab over the past couple of years, together with his team of colleagues, staff and students had explored the intersection of the digital domain and the arts. Three of these projects have been exhibited in the Institute of Contemporary Arts at LASALLE. The first project was Shift produced for Sonorous Duration, an annual sound and music festival hosted at the Project Space of the ICAS in October 2011. This project involved placing 8 white computers on the floor of Project Space that display very colourful patterns. But the significance of the exhibition lay in the array of machines in which shifting bytes were informed
by simple and highly repetitive algorithms. This process and set of rules had been shaped by Andreas Schlegel and his collaborators. (1) Any movement such as created by an audience was registered and responded to through a built-in camera. A member of the audience for instance, could pass their hand over or across the computer creating audio and visual abstractions that became in effect a part of the subject of the exhibition. In October 2011, Schlegel collaborated with the artists Jeremy Sharma and Mohammed Riduan to create Foris. Built of wooden portals that looked like large picture frames and small listening devices attached along their side, the exhibition was held in the Earl Lu Gallery of the ICAS. The audience could walk through the portals, stopping to hear the ambient sound of the space and noise of the people inside the gallery. The idea of the portal suggested a form of threshold but, rather than offering a shift in the visual orientation, it introduced sound as if to re-orient or make the viewer also sensitive to sound as much as sight. (2) The third project Coded Transformations was held in January 2013 that explored the relation between physical and digital domains. Through a series of experiments physical data was transformed by
1 Benson Chong Thong Pin, Felix Sng, Ma Jiahao Darrick, Marvin LiangYong Jie, Mike Chen, Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Sid Lim Xian Hao 2 Apart from Schlegel and Sharma, there were eight participating artists: Riduan Mohamad, Jessica Gabrielli, Low Han Yuan, Lim Hong Zeng, Chen Kerui, Foo Hui Ping Lucinda, Ngiam Shi Xiong, Wong Sze Wei Frederik.
digital processes leading to their re-production in various physical formats. Using new technologies such as custom-built software and hardware, rapid prototyping techniques and physical computing, new forms and cultural artefacts were produced. Ranging across eight different projects, Coded Transformations was the most ambitious and experimental. (3) As Schlegel has noted, the project explored how the access to and the use of these technologies affect the way we produce, consume, collect and memorize today. From the first project that generated new images in which the audience could participate in the work being shown to the second project Foris where there was an interplay of visual perception and ambient audio sound and a third project Coded Transformations in which the digital domain was utilized to transform data and reproduce the original. With each of these, the Media Lab has boldly explored the boundaries of contemporary art, of experimenting as to how images are made and the interaction between sensory experiences and the relations of the visual arts to technologies of reproduction. Dr. Charles Merewether Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore LASALLE College of the Arts
3 The participating artists included Andreas Schlegel, Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Vladimir Todorovic, Riduan Mohamad, Mithru Vigneshwara, and Judith Lee.
Shift originated from an independent programming study group in 2011. Starting from basic programming exercises, a template program that would generate simple glitch effects was developed. Initially created for a single screen, it is then extended to multiple screens interconnected through a network resulting in an array of machines shifting bits and bytes informed by simple and highly repetitive algorithms. Shift pays attention to its environment through the ever-watchful eye of a built-in camera and responds to movement. Changes in state are expressed through audio and visual abstractions. An algorithm is a process or a set of rules. Here, the algorithms are shaped by Andreas Schlegel, Benson Chong Thong Pin, Felix Sng, Ma Jiahao Darrick, Marvin Liang Yong Jie, Mike Chen, Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Sid Lim Xian Hao. Materials and Tools Processing, Supercollider, 9 iMacs, 4 speakers, sound mixer, ethernet switch Dimension 5 x 3 x 2m Venue Project Space, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore Year 2011 Event Sonorous Duration
Foris is an installation work that interprets the outdoors in both an imaginary and allegorical dimension in sound, sculpture and space. Based on prepared mechanical systems and using simple structures and commonplace materials like wood and nylon, Foris opens up both imaginary and allegorical dimensions of the outdoors in sound, sculpture and space, inviting the audience to participate in an acoustic experience. This collaboration between Fine Art and Media Arts staff and students at LASALLE College of the Arts explores the relationships of the artificial and the organic. Materials and Tools Arduino, wood, motors, solenoids, nylon strings, ultrasonic sensors Venue Earl Lu Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore Year 2011 Credits Riduan Mohamad, Jessica Angelique Gabrielli, Low HanYuan, Andreas Schlegel, Lim Hong Zeng, Chen Kerui, Jeremy Sharma, Foo Hui Ping Lucinda, Ngiam Shi Xiong, Wong Sze Wei Fredrik
Coded Transformations is a project that takes place in between the physical and digital domain. Through a series of experiments, physical data is transformed by digital processes, where the resulting outcomes are re-productions expressed in various physical formats. Throughout these transformative processes, new technologies are used and new forms and cultural artefacts are produced. Here new technologies include custom-built software and hardware, rapid prototyping techniques and physical computing. The attribute new only applies temporarily and will be outdated in the near future, but how does the access to and the use of these technologies affect the way we produce, consume, collect and memorize today? The Coded Transformations project aims to investigate this question and suggests a series of applications through experimentation. Materials various custom-built software and hardware Venue ICA Gallery 1, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore Year 2013 Contributions by Andreas Schlegel, Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman, Vladimir Todorovic, Mohamad Riduan, Mithru Vigneshwara, Judith Lee
The Bleeding Edge of Art: Coded Transformations1
While software has too often been undermined as merely an instrument for executing preexisting neutrally formulated tasks, there is certainly more to the significance of software art than the argument that these tools brought about by digital technology are what makes it relevant to contemporary society. There is an extended potential of software for contemporary artistic thought, which artists have continually demonstrated in their forms of cultural expression through the usage of software and new technologies. At the same time these works and their driving principles, to varying degrees, have art historical precedents or are informed by conceptual practices. New media artist Andreas Schlegel’s practice traverses the shifting and blurry terrains of art and new technologies, playing a significant role in the shaping of media art in Singapore. Born in Germany and based in Singapore, his artistic practice extends the use of emerging and open source technology simultaneously on several fronts, often seeking to generate new forms of audio, visual and physical output. Coded Transformations exhibited at ICA Gallery 1 in January 2013 brought together a number of works which explore software and emerging technologies as a cultural form in order to create a dialogue between the digital and physical domains of art. Through a series of clever experiments, new computing and manufacturing technologies are used to transform physical input to produce new forms of cultural objects or formats. The methods and technologies employed here, although used by artists or within the digital domain for years, have not yet attained mainstream status in contemporary art today. In RandomNoiseFlow, Schlegel explores 1 Bleeding edge refers to technology that has been released but is still not ready for or not adopted by the general public due to the fact that it has not been reliably tested. The term ‘bleeding edge’ was an allusion to the similar terms ‘leading edge’ and ‘cutting edge’.
aesthetics and form of natural hazards through the mediation of computer software. The work, a triptych of large black and white prints, consists of an immense traffic of tiny rectangular particles generated by the program. At a distance, they simulate and aestheticize the flow within natural structures, from lava to rock strata. Upon closer inspection, we see the particle is a tiny white rectangle with a one-pixel black outline. What is apparent in these reproductions is a unique computer-generated image, which is given by algorithms and inscribed in the language of prototyping machines. On the one hand, there is interplay between an active setting of parameters and defining of algorithms by Schlegel and his collaborators, and on the other, the active ‘participation’ of the computer, the medium. The work examined the subliminal aspects of natural phenomena, converting physical input into an aesthetic experience mediated by the prototyping by machines and custom software. The imagistic, beautiful and invented mutations of natural phenomena position the work on an artistic borderline between abstraction and custom software programming. Discussions surrounding the historical precursors for software or generative art have often focused upon Fluxus art and Happenings, which rely on instructions or a set of rules.2 As with many Fluxus projects, the work of Schlegel problematizes notions of authenticity and uniqueness by removing or blurring the artist’s role in artwork production. Even if the physical and visual manifestations of digital art conceal the layer of data and code, any ‘digital image’ are essentially produced by instructions and the software that was used to manipulate it. In RandomNoiseFlow, the algorithms are used to position a set of particles in a 2D-space over time, and parameters are set to determine the aesthetics of the outcome. It is these layers of ‘code’ and the set of determined parameters that form a conceptual level of the work, connecting it to previous conceptual experiments by artists who share the same strategies – of instructions, dematerialization, appropriation – for example such as Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Sol 2 3
Rachel Greene. Internet Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2004. Ibid., p.152.
LeWitt, whose works are based on the execution of instructions.3 Schlegel’s concerns with human-computer interactions in the context of the everyday unfolded through works like Aleph of Emotions, a project by Mithru Vigneshwara.4 As an attempt to archive emotions, data is collected from Twitter’s public feeds over one month based on keywords defining emotions. It is presented together with an interactive camera-like interface that reacts to a particular direction and focuses on a particular city. The information collected is then colour coded according to Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions and linked to specific geolocations. Once all the data were collected, it is visualized into a graph according to countries. The work treated custom software and hardware as fodder for experimentation to explore the relationship between Internet space and geographical organization, and to suggest the possible observable patterns of ‘global emotions’. It transformed physical data taken from social networking platforms, processing it through custom software and hardware, before its eventual physical output that allows us to contemplate the way in which these applied technologies can affect the way we express or archive ourselves today. This strong focus on the process of transformation is what all of the works in the exhibition share. Like RandomNoiseFlow, works like Formations and Syntboutique for example, all begin with physical input in the form of samples or data sets and undergo a digital process performed by a computer and custom software to be transformed into physical output. It has as its drive the need for dialogue about the boundaries between digital and the physical registers. Another layer to Coded Transformations is the reference to politics and commerce in his work. Albeit less direct, Schlegel’s use of open source software, DIY process and his display of the assembled parts adhere to an aesthetic and philosophy of resistance to capitalist monopoly of technology. It is a critique against 4 The Aleph, according to author Jorge Luis Borges refers to a point in the Universe where all other points exist. Therefore, anyone looking at the Aleph could see everything in the Universe at once. Mithru Vigneshwara, Coded Transformations exhibition notes, 2013.
the assumptions of existing computer and information technologies and its limited set of commands that inhibits autonomy. Unlike proprietary software which does not allow alterations and is expensive, open source systems allow for experimentation, innovation, and collaboration. In fact, it is common that the open source technologies and its users often have communities that organize and share libraries of codes. Open source software has been described as a ‘bottom-up’ system, rather than ‘top-down’ systems such as proprietary software (such as those developed by Microsoft Corporation) in which its basis of capitalist monopoly relies heavily on the secrecy of its source code.5 Politics and commerce, as Greene suggests, are “often referred to with internet art as it is no straightforward complement to dot.com era capitalism” but is, somewhat, a counterbalance to its excess and injustices, developing actual alternatives. Schlegel’s assembly of parts on the DIY Table such as electronic components, batteries, screws and wires are a deliberate gesture. The equipment laid here, inexpensive and easily obtainable, are enough to assemble various forms of electrical devices, which elsewhere in the commercial market, would be expensive and have pre-designed functions. Coded Transformations demonstrated the significance of the role of software and new media technologies in cultural expression today. Rather than simply a tool to process pre-set tasks, the works in the exhibition demonstrated the conceptual strategies and the malleability of new technologies that Schlegel and his collaborators take advantage of in their artistic processes. Through creating a dialogue between the digital domains and physical formats in art through producing new forms of cultural objects, Schlegel reveals that there is still much more that technologies can contribute to the way we produce, consume, collect and memorize today. Joleen Loh Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore LASALLE College of the Arts
Rachel Greene, 2004, p. 152.
Technological Steps Towards Future Performance
Integrating new technology with live performance has been a hallmark of LASALLE productions for the last five years and continues to grow thanks to the advocacy and work done by Andreas Schlegel in the Media Lab and the Interactive Art programme. His collaborations involving writers and directors in Theatre+Performance a programme led by Elizabeth de Roza with students in Media Arts, Fine Art and Video Art, as well as students in Dance, under Melissa Quek have been regular and incremental. The School of Contemporary Music has also been integrating live performance with computerised visual programs developed under Brian Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Reilly and Justin Hegburg in the Music Technology programme. Regular collaborations with the Media Lab explore possibilities in responsive audio and visual elements, combining technical means to sense and actuate body movements as an integral part of the live performance. With productions such as Interweave, Interface, Memory.Station and Abstraction, LASALLE now leads tertiary arts training in Southeast Asia and Australasia in its integration of technological arts with performance arts. Whilst maintaining a conservatory basis, LASALLE is keenly future-looking and has long defined itself as a contemporary arts college, investing in the necessary equipment; further, its faculties are uniquely collaborative and hold a diverse range of arts training not available in colleges with a narrow focus. The integration of new technology with live performance has emerged as one of the two main paths leading to future theatre; and staff members often arrive at LASALLE expressly to work in a multidisciplinary way and quickly take advantage of the possibilities, furthering explorations in cross-media art.
When technology was limited to front or back projections, using stills or film, its use was an important advance on painted scenery, allowing both naturalistic images and abstractions in productions. In the 60’s, for example, the Australian Opera advanced the 19th century ‘magic lantern’ and used a series of painted transparencies, to create storm-tossed ships for Der fliegende Holländer (Flying Dutchman). In the 80’s, I commonly incorporated projections as a scenography element; though the necessary stage lights on the performers themselves often washed out the projections – a continuing problem until stronger lamps and the introduction of mini-spots manipulated by electronic connections to the performers. Dance, however, was always further ahead; first innovative stage lighting (eliminating the ‘frontof-house’ as dancers’ faces don’t need to be as readable as actors’) and developing side, top and back lights. The great European dance companies like Netherlands Dance have long been known for technological advances with both still and moving images and later with electrodes worn on the dancers’ costumes. Meryl Tankard from the Pina Bausch company, projected patterns onto her dances; Gideon Obarzanek of Chunky Move in Melbourne attracted new audiences through continual innovation with new technology integrated with live performance; and even the great Cloudgate dance company from Taiwan, famous for the pure aesthetic of the body, and Butoh companies of Japan, like Saikai Juku, are now continually creating works based on the creativity of the technology designer – e.g. Cloudgate’s Water Stains on the Wall danced on top of a huge LED screen magnifying the live
effects of a calligrapher, being an enormous advance. Similarly, pre-programmed moving lights have long been a regular part of pop concerts and LED screens effectively used in Broadway musicals.
3 student from Media Arts, contributed dynamic abstractions projected on sections of curved walls to create a three-dimensional vortex and overrode the performers in the most entertaining and stimulating way.
The other path to future theatre is essentially Luddite, resisting technology, sometimes philosophically following Peter Brook’s and Grotowski’s advocacy of a poor theatre, sometimes through necessity – especially in Asia, Africa and South America – when not being able to afford the continually advancing equipment. But world theatre changed forever in 1994 when Robert Lepage brought an actor and his briefcase onstage in his Seven Streams of the River Ota: when the briefcase was opened, out flew a roaring jet plane, appearing to increase, fill the stage and fly over our heads. Not only could we now compete with film for the first time in a hundred years, but theatre could also create its own magic and open new vistas of possibilities. And now that the performer’s entire body and features can be illuminated in part or whole, and effects can disguise, blend with or support the performer as desired, I believe digital technology will grow to sometimes rival the performer in its importance. At LASALLE we can rest assured that we remain in the vanguard, as we have followed the lead of Matthew Ngui’s brilliance with Ong Seng Ken in such TheatreWorks productions as Desdemona (2000) and later innovations by Choy Ka Fai. The past semester achieved extraordinary effects integrating live and moving imagery in Edith Podesta’s Memorabilia, collaborating with another Singapore genius, Brian Gothong Tan; and, in Memory.Station, Benjamin Low, a Level
It is a myth that stage machinery was invented relatively recently in the West; from manual to computerised, technology has commonly been part of performance in many countries and is increasing rapidly. I recently returned from working with Hitata Oriza and his roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro in Japan, where robots perform with live actors and androids are computer-operated to reproduce human facial movements. Elsewhere, as in the sepia-toned animations integrated with life-size puppets in Warhorse, and the advanced animatronics in the five-meter-high gorilla in the new musical King Kong, the advances continue to inspire theatrical possibilities. However, the real future of theatre will involve greater engagement with audiences; and the experiments with interactivity at LASALLE are empowering and transforming passive viewers into participants. No future performance event will be planned without the involvement of a creative technologist or interactive designer to continue extensions. Integration of advancing technology with the bodies of performers and with the bodies of the audiences is a positive new horizon. As thrilling and awesome as Miranda imagined in Shakespeare’s Tempest: “Oh brave new world”. Aubrey Mellor Senior Fellow LASALLE College of the Arts
Inspired by Théâtre de Complicité A Disappearing Number, this performance installation explores the key themes of mathematics, collision between East and West, and the interconnections of human relationships. Conceptualized as a visual score, and drawing references from leading contemporary artists like Robert Wilson and Robert Lepage, the performance installation seeks to explore a new perspective accessible to the audience of the 21st Century. Merging real-time technologies with live performance, this re-invention blurs the lines between art and science. Abstraction aims to leave behind something of permanent value, reverberating the life of memories. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, custom electronics, custom software for Projection Mapping Year 2012 Programmes involved Theatre+Performance, Interactive Art, Acting Supervision Elizabeth de Roza, Andreas Schlegel, Rashid Saini, Edith Podesta
Interweave Interweave is a collaborative project that explores the relationship of interactive media with dance performance. Custom-built technology is designed to respond to body movements and translates these into audio-visual expressions in real-time. In each dance work, interactive technology serves as a choreographic tool and expressive media.
Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, wearable technologies, custom DMX controller, infrared camera, Kinect Year 2012 Programmes involved Dance, Interactive Art Supervision Melissa Quek, Andreas Schlegel, Rashid Saini
Memory.Station Memory.Station is a contemporary performance-installation project. This immersive site-specific work combines text, movement, and technology to look at the meanings of memory and history. To fully experience this intimate performance, audience will be split into small groups and will be dispatched at 15 minutes interval. Over the period of 45 minutes the audience would visit 5 site-specific stations each created by a group of students from each programme mentioned above. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, projection, xbee wireless communication, wearable technologies, various sensors and actuators, DC motors, wireless DMX control, Kinect Year 2013 Programmes involved Theatre+Performance, Interactive Art, Dance, Acting Supervision Kaylene Tan, Elizabeth de Roza, Andreas Schlegel, Melissa Quek
Interface is a collaboratively conceived performance that involves the disciplines of Interactive Art and Dance. This performance uses movement explorations and physical responses of dancers and audience members to discuss the relationship between human beings and machines to examine the meeting points between the physical and the digital. As the Memory.Station performance preceded this production, the challenge was to use the same technologies used in that performance but adapt them to a new space and context within a two-week span of time. The Interface performance was followed by a show and tell between the artists and the audience, which allowed for a detailed and better understanding of techniques and technologies used. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, xbee wireless communication, wearable technologies, various sensors and actuators, DC motors, wireless DMX control, Kinect Year 2013 Programmes involved Dance, Interactive Art Supervision Melissa Quek, Andreas Schlegel
Of Art and Logic
The confidence with which our students approach theoretical concerns of digital technology in the age of new media certainly is an intriguing aspect of the already complex projects that were realized in the Interactive Art programme. Among such concerns are issues related to the conception of personalized time in public space (Rui Yi Mui’s Chronolien), the representation of the emotional state of citizens at a global level (Mithru Vigneshwara’s Aleph of Emotions), the design of a tangible user interface for representing complex environmental data (Ong Kian Peng’s Flood Helmet), and playful approaches to generating sound (Onellyantie Chuah’s Sound Scribble). That applies similarly for the deployment of digital technology on stage. Combining nonlinear technology with the largely scripted realm of theatre and performance is still a relatively new area for directors, actors, and digital artists. Especially when the already multifaceted propositions are enriched with topics such as the real-time generation of light, sound and images in virtual space based on the actors’ and dancers’ actions in real space, the deployment of forcedfeedback systems for the coupling of audience and dancer, and the association of mental impulses in the human brain to body movements. All these individual parts of a larger performance, that were conceived, developed and realized in an collaborative effort of students from three specialist areas, form a noteworthy 21st century comment on the problem of the Cartesian mindbody divide in digital virtual environments. Many such topics have been discussed at international conferences just about fifteen years ago, although more as a distant possibility than as realizable projects. The proposition to use a smart, automatized evaluation of short
Twitter messages in order to visualize the current emotional state of our global village’s citizens by deploying a smartphone as a directional input device would have aroused disbelief then. Not only because neither Twitter nor smart phones, the latest and most mobile incarnation of digital computer technology, were invented fifteen years ago. It is only the mind-boggling rapid advances of technology over the last decades that allowed one to even consider such attempts, and it is nothing short of amazing to experience the matter-of-factness in which such concepts are now proposed for realization at undergraduate level in tertiary arts education. And it is equally remarkable to witness how these projects are able to withstand the onslaught of reality in exhibition and performance spaces: Even after two weeks of visitors, or more than 25 performances over three nights, the technical set-ups are still operational. This, too, would have aroused disbelief at international conferences not too long ago. All projects have been developed and realized from scratch as part of the Interactive Art Programme’s Studio Practice module within one semester in less than 15 weeks, with support provided by LASALLE’s Media Lab whenever appropriate. This, by all means, rather tight schedule for dealing with the complex technological issues of digital media is a testimony to the high standards that the programme has achieved over the last years. It is also vivid evidence for the value and benefit of close interrelations between research activities and educational approaches in arts universities. Wolfgang Muench Dean, Faculty of Media Arts LASALLE College of the Arts
Chronolien Mui Rui Yi Chronolien is an interactive and wearable piece that consists of a necklace and belt. The digital components embedded into the piece allow users to change the state of the necklace when a particular area of the belt is pressed. Chronolien represents time in 2 states. One is grand and golden and symbolizes the luxury of time in a natural environment. The other state is black and comments on the rush for time in an urban setting and is activated by the user when taking up a hands-on-hips position. Materials and Tools Arduino, servo motors, nylon strings Year 2012, Interactive Art, Level 3
Aleph of Emotions Mithru Vigneshwara
Aleph of Emotions is an archive of emotions collected from the public twitter stream. Here, data is collected based on keywords that define various emotions including joy, fear, sadness or surprise. A custom-built interface is used to browse through this data archive by pointing the device towards a direction of interest. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, Python, compass, potentiometer, button, Android Phone Year 2012, Interactive Art, Level 3
Flood Helmet Ong Kian Peng Flood Helmet is designed as a mobile device that visualizes possible future flood scenarios based on the userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s physical geolocation. The flood level indicated inside the helmet is determined by the GPS location and elevation height of the land that the user is standing on. This work gives users a sensory and experiential exploration of their surroundings and the future scenarios it might hold. It also creates a sense of immediacy in users regarding the issues of rising sea levels while reminding us that climatic disasters are not always far away. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, GPS module, water pump, custom backpack, custombuilt visor Year 2009, Interactive Art, Level 2
Air Monsters Ong Kian Peng Air Monsters is a portable inflatable object that seeks to explore the issue of air pollution. This is achieved by the invention of invisible monsters that reside in the air which metaphorically represent air pollutants in the atmosphere. The function of Air Monsters is to translate actual air pollution data into visual information in the form of monsters-like visual characters, from the invisible to the visible. These monsters possess a behaviour of their own and are directly affected by the various changes in location and environment. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, air pollution sensors, LCD screen, inflatable Year 2009, Interactive Art, Level 2
Flux Alvin Chua Flux is the prototype of a floating canopy where panels are kept suspended overhead with motors and sensors instead of traditional lateral support. Flux explores what a canopy can be by employing non-conventional materials and techniques to create variation in shapes and forms. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, remote controlled motors, distance sensors Year 2008, Interactive Art, Level 2
Sum of Three Parts Alvin Chua This project is an exploration into the geometric relationship between music and space. The intent is to express musical scores as physical forms by mapping them as a physical unit of measure. Custom software is used to create a dynamic visual music score, which is then translated into a 3-dimensional model and fabricated as a physical polygonal object. Materials and Tools Processing, wood, aluminium, resin, digital fabrication Year 2009, Interactive Art, Level 3
Sori Pan Han Seung Jin Sori Pan is devised as a musical instrument primarily for children to play with. When interacting with Sori Pan, children and adults alike can experience the creation of sounds whilst making objects out of play dough. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, play dough, custom pressure sensors Year 2008, Interactive Art Level 2
Autoexposure Han Seung Jin Autoexposure is a wearable interface that explores social communication in both private and public space. The interface consists of a dress and a tail look-a-like attachment, which reacts to handshake gestures. The tail starts moving when a handshake is detected. Here, the speed of movement is directly proportionate to the quality of communication. Materials and Tools Arduino, servo motors, soft switches, custom made dress Year 2009, Interactive Art Level 3, Studio Practice
Light Graffiti Eric Tan Wei Ming This project is a tongue-in-cheek response to the state of vandalism in Singapore. Reflecting on the plight of graffiti artists in Singapore, and others who share an interest in street art, Light Graffiti communicates the deprivation of free expression and space in a playful way. Through the use of existing low-tech technology, it aims to bring people together as well as creating social opportunities to encourage people to interact and play together in public spaces. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, 7x5 LED Matrix display Year 2010, Interactive Art, Level 2
Megabyte Joel Wee Megabyte is a reflection upon the concerns about technology’s possible far-reaching harm and overarching consequences. The audience will be encouraged to consider these issues through their interaction with this cell phone-like object, which will ‘bite’ when touched. Materials and Tools Arduino, servo motor, light dependent resistor, cardboard, balsa wood Year 2010, Interactive Art, Level 2
Stereodermis Paviter Singh Stereodermis is designed to look at how sound can be generated by the sense of touch. The piece is inspired by the idea that we often pay little attention to many of the objects we interact with. Each object has its own significant texture so by creating an audio communication between things we touch, Stereodermis aims to provide a new perspective on the way we react with our natural surroundings. As much of our sensuous stimuli are located in our fingers and hands, the interface created for Stereodermis is worn as a ring. The sounds created in this project are meant to be a translation of whatever the user interacts with. The sounds create multiple layers, constantly overlapping one another to form a continuously changing soundscape. Materials and Tools Pure Data, microphone, piezo sensor, head phones Year 2008, Interactive Art, Level 2
Re-Load Onellyantie Chuah Re-Load consists of 2 interactive objects that look at the use of high and low technologies in everyday life. The work aims to combine the use of high and low tech objects to address the development of technologies and how people are embracing these rapid changes. In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modern society, high tech products are increasingly used and low tech products are slowly left behind. The computer, for instance, has replaced many objects and activities, such as abacus counting, musical instruments, typewriters or writing. With the click of a button, many high tech products have generalized all physical gestures that signify the character of an object, such as the finger movements of a pianist or the hand gestures of a person calculating using an abacus. These can now be easily replaced by typing on the keyboard and clicking with the mouse. As such, the intended outcome of Re-Load is to allow for both high and low tech users to be able to experience physical gestures from low tech devices through the utilization of high tech devices. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, webcam, light dependent resistor, balsa wood, plastic tubes Year 2010, Interactive Art, Level 3
Sound Scribble Onellyantie Chuah Today, people prefer to use faster technology as traditional communication methods such as letter writing are slowly declining. However, the most important element of communication is the interpretation and understanding of the message itself. Sound Scribble uses hand writing and hand drawings as input to create sounds. Here sounds are used as the universal language of communication. With a mechanism similar to that of a music box, Sound Scribble requires the user to turn a knob to listen to the sound. The drawn lines and writing produced by users are captured by a hidden webcam and data is sent to a computer where it is processed and translated into a custom soundscape. Depending on the position and the thickness of drawn lines, different sounds are played. Materials and Tools Processing, webcam, blasa wood, ink Year 2010, Interactive Art, Level 3
Sound Plankton Han Seung Jin Sound Plankton is a sound toy designed with the use of an electronic circuit, drawing paper and a pencil. Sounds are created when users touch a drawing with a metal clip that is connected to an electronic circuit. Sound Planktonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main target group is children aged 4 to 9 years old but also appeals to a general audience interested in sound making. There are no rules and no restrictions when playing with Sound Plankton, anyone can create sound simply by drawing. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, pencil lead, paper Year 2008, Interactive Art, Level 2 156
Invisible Noise Abdul Rashid Bin Abdul Razak Invisible Noise is based on the idea of interactions between body, space and sound. A customized Wii controller acts as an extension of the body to explore a virtual sound space through movement. Motion and different gestures allow the user to find various sound sequences and textures to play with to create their own custom soundtrack. Movements can be derived from dance, performance, everyday movements or martial arts. Materials and Tools Processing, Wii Controller Year 2008, Interactive Art, Level 2
Kriyaworks exhibition In the spirit of interdisciplinary collaborations, Kriyaworks was the culmination of a 4-day study trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia in March 2010 by Fine Art and Interactive Art students. The works showcased in the exhibition were based on the collaboratorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; utilization of collected data and information from this culturally and historically rich destination and their translation into a new media outcome that intersects notions of craft and technology. It also celebrates the exchange of ideas and perspectives in the joint authorship of the artworks created. The exhibition and short trip to Indonesia were organized by the Fine Art and Interactive Art programmes. Year 2010 160
Experimental Live Visuals The final presentation of the Experimental Live Visuals class took place in a local club in Singapore. Students from the Interactive Art and Video Art programme presented their final works as part of a one evening event at the Home Club, Singapore. Projects on display included live audio-visual performances, collaborative and individual VJ acts. The projects made use of manipulated video camera feeds, live computer generated visuals, video performances and live sounds using custom software synthesizers. Year 2008
DIY Controllers DIY Controllers was concerned with creating audio, visual and electronic applications using various open source and prototyping technologies. Participants were introduced to basic software and hardware programming, the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol and simple rapid prototyping techniques to build custom synthesizer-like control interfaces. One of the focuses of this course was to equip participants with code literacy, that is to have the ability to write software code in order to instruct a computer to do things. This being an increasingly valuable skill in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creative industries would train participants to learn how to use basic programming skills to create generative visuals, write and apply simple algorithms and exchange data using various protocols. Materials and Tools Processing, Arduino, OSC, MIDI, RS-232, various electronic parts, wood, cardboard, acrylic Year 2013
Digital Fabrication Conducted as a 4-day workshop, Digital Fabrication focuses on methods to create physical 3-dimensional objects from a digital model. Here, the outcomes were objects created from different materials such as paper, cardboard or chemical wood. Participants used various software methods to create 3D models, which were then fabricated by a machine or by hand. Techniques demonstrated throughout the workshop were then applied to additive and subtractive fabrication techniques to build parts and components for custom prototypes, smallscale models or artefacts. Materials and Tools Processing, Sketchup, paper, chemical wood, Styrofoam, CNC-milling desktop machine Year 2011-2012
Alternative Conductive Materials This class introduced students to alternative conductive materials such as conductive ink, thread, and tape as a replacement for wires. Making use of these materials in combination with wood, acrylic, and low power LEDs, students were briefed to design and craft a lamp for a purpose of their own choice, which ranged from table lamps and torch lights to reading lamps. Materials custom hardware, conductive tape, conductive ink, conductive thread, balsa wood, transparent acrylic Year 2011
Moving Objects Moving Objects was an exercise which explored the technical and mechanical characteristics of different types of motors including DC, stepper and servo motors. Participants developed motor driven objects that created audio or visual outcomes through movement. Here, the technicality of the subject is strongly interwoven with a playful and experimental implementation. Motors are controlled through custom hardware and micro-controllers. Materials and Tools Arduino, Processing, DC motor, stepper motor, servo motor, wood, tape Year 2010-2012
Introduction to Programming Introduction to Programming teaches participants basic but fundamental programming concepts used to develop human computer interactions, real time animations and sound or computer generated imagery. Rather than teaching programming with a scientific approach, participants learn skills working on exercises which explore the potential of code through computer generated imagery and simple human computer interaction. Tools Processing Year 2008 -2012
The Media Lab within the Faculty of Media Arts works closely with the Research Committee directed by Faculty of Media Arts Dean Wolfgang Muench. Coordinator Media Lab Andreas Schlegel firstname.lastname@example.org
Andreas Schlegel Aubrey Mellor Dr. Charles Merewether Joleen Loh Professor Steve Dixon Venka Purushothaman Wolfgang Muench
Andreas Schlegel Edith Podesta Elizabeth de Roza Kaylene Tan Melissa Quek Rashid Saini Teresa Almeida Wolfgang Muench
Andreas Schlegel Rashid Saini Teresa Almeida Wolfgang Muench
Collaborative Projects medialab.lasalle.edu.sg Brian Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Reilly Colin Faulks Jeremy Sharma Patrick Kochlik Rashid Saini Riduan Mohamad Aw Meng Tiong Adam Benson Chong Thong Pin Chen Kerui Eric Tan Wei Ming Everina Lim Mei Li Farid Talib Felix Sng Foo Hui Ping Lucinda Gan Kwang Chuan Germaine Chen Shiyun Hector Lee Jeremy Chua Jessica Angelique Gabrielli Judith Lee Liew Wei Kai Shaun Lim Hong Zeng Vic Low Han Yan Ma Jiahao Darrick Marvin LiangYong Jie Melissa Tan Wei Xiang Mike Chen Mithru Vigneshwara Mui Rui Yi Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman Muhammad Reza Bin Nooresani Ngiam Shi Xiong Nur Azam Onellyantie Chuah Ong Chee Chou Zac Ong Kian Peng Riduan Mohamad Sid Lim Xian Hao Sivaraj Pragasm SUSEJ Wong Sze Wei Frederik
Technology Aw Meng Tiong Adam Benjamin Low Teck Hui Foo Hui Ping Lucinda Jacky Boen Lim Hong Zeng Vic Low Han Yan Mithru Vigneshwara Mui Rui Yi Ong Chee Chou Zac Titus Tay Choreography Angel Lee Anita Anton Charmain Ho Eva Tey E-Va Tham Huang Lin Lim Ming Zhi Melody Tee Mohamad Sufri Bin Juwahir Samantha Lau Ying Ling Stepharina Chan Tunku Kurshiah Wah Yi Xin Zhou Yiru Directing Cherilyn Woo Delia Png Fairuz Atiqah Khairul Kamsani Marie Lee Rachael Nonis Rachel Boo Tabitha Loh Tan Cheng Liang Frasier
Students Abdul Rashid Bin Abdul Razak Alvin Chua Eric Tan Wei Ming Han Seung Jin Jacky Boen Joel Wee Mithru Vigneshwara Mui Rui Yi Onellyantie Chuah Ong Chee Chou Zac Ong Kian Peng Paviter Singh Workshops and classes conducted for students from Interactive Art Level 1/2/3, Video Art Level 2, Animation Art Level 2, Music Technology Level 2, Kriyaworks exhibition organized by Fine Arts and Interactive Art
Images courtesy of Abdul Rashid Bin Abdul Razak Alvin Chua Andreas Schlegel Benson Chong Thong Pin Eric Tan Wei Ming Han Seung Jin Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore Joel Wee Louis Kwok Low Han Yuan Mithru Vigneshwara Muhammad Dhiya Bin Rahman Mui Rui Yi Onellyantie Chuah Ong Chee Chou Zac Ong Kian Peng Paviter Singh Samsung Electronics Vincent Nghai
LASALLE College of the Arts 1 McNally Street Singapore 187940 www.lasalle.edu.sg ISBN 978-981-07-7024-2 Editor Hazel Lim Design and Layout Andreas Schlegel Colin Faulks SUSEJ Printed in Singapore 2013 ÂŠ LASALLE College of the Arts. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted, reproduced, utilised or appropriated in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission of LASALLE College of the Arts.