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“REALITY IS JUST A POINT OF VIEW”
- Philip K. Dick
INSTINC is pleased to present the online version of “Otherworlds: non/digital realities’’ as part of SAW 2021. The exhibition is co-represented by Altermodernists and supported by the Singapore National Arts Council.
“Otherworlds: Non / Digital Realities”, a mixed-reality exhibition responding to the new challenges faced by the art world, where the usual mode of presenting and viewing art is disturbed by the current global situation. We ponder on these questions: What is the role of art in times of the pandemic? How could technology generate new ways to create and experience art in face of our new reality?
As suggested by the title, “Otherworlds” opens up many aspects of realities made possible by technology. Beyond a simulation of the physical reality, the VR session within this exhibition is an expansion of the physical realm, adding new perspectives and meanings to artistic concepts. Eight artists each develop an artistic vision to be completed and experienced in both physical and VR settings, combining the art practices with aspects of VR immersion and interactivity.
The group of artists from Hong Kong and Singapore address the duality of reality, fictitious experience, and alternative reality related to the new ordinary of the post-pandemic world. The works are also an influx of political and social commentaries defined by geographic locations and personal experiences. Through the incorporation of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, artists, cultural practitioners, and computer engineers collectively experiment with new ways to create, collaborate, and experience artworks.
Interactive digital media / Video and mixed media installation
Yeo has been intrigued by the brain, the most mysterious and powerful organ of the human body. The work explores the possibilities of human minds and the new realm of ink art. Yeo’s brain-wave data will be pre-recorded into interactive Inkscape, juxtaposing the traditional ink medium in forms of physical paintings with neurotechnology.
The work was conceptualised during the circuit breaker period when she could not travel to her studio to create paintings. During this time she reflects on the role of technology, and the importance, especially during the pandemic. In an attempt to calm her mind amidst the current situation, she explores alternative ways to meditate, such as by using an app device to track her brain activities.
Her interest to utilise mind energy and her passion to create a new form of ink works result in the collaboration with MAKESTUDIOS, in which human brainwaves are translated into digital ink paintings in real-time through a computer program.
Yeo Shih Yun graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1998 with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration. She then joined LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts and completed a Diploma in Communication Design in 2001, prior to her pursuit of the Post Baccalaureate Programme in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002. Yeo is known to reinterpret the medium of ink painting with striking results. Her experimentations with the fusion of the traditional form and contemporary mediums, such as new media or performance art, have garnered much acclaim, including a commission by the Singapore Art Museum, the Sovereign Asian Art Prize People’s Choice Award 2012 and the UOB Painting of the Year 2007. Yeo has held solo exhibitions in Singapore, Japan, and Germany, and participated in various other group exhibitions internationally.
YIM SUI FONG
Interactive digital media / Sound and video installation
“Avatar” is the second gathering of the on-going artwork series “Assembly of Disquiet”. It is a seasonal thematic communal gathering that discusses the uncertainty of society. It also contemplates the nature of human relationships and life coexistence. The artist first set up a situation, and the participants respond in the process. The practice transforms the participants’ emotions by incorporating elements such as body moment, sounds, settings, and time.
The artwork explores the theme of “companionship”. It is an audio-visual installation, with the video content contributed by a pair of performers. The invisible invasion of the pandemic allows us to question the nature of relationships and magnifies the inherent dangers of close connections. The term “Avatar” is commonly used to describe an online persona or a representation of oneself and activities happening in the virtual realm. In the work, the avatar represents a companion of those who shares the same path. It is our own projected self and shares many similarities to the point that it is not easy to distinguish one from another. At the same time, those with shared values often frequently confront each other.
With the social movements of 2019 and the raging pandemic in 2020, members of society are required to become isolated. The connection between peers is being tested in unprecedented ways. Therefore, the work proposes a new way to heal relationships - It is a way to gain a thorough recollection of the past. It is also a form of action to recall memories of your body, transforming everyday movements into mental markers. While being an avatar maintains a sense of tension, the process also allows us to explore a boundless world of stealth and interactions
Yim Sui Fong is a cross-disciplinary artist. She is the co-founder of the artist-run organisation Rooftop Institute and a member of the Hong Kong art group, L sub.
Her work explores various kinds of uneasiness people face in society and examines the relationship between individuality and collectiveness. Through artistic actions and gathering, she provides a platform to study and connect people’s emotions, while refracting the perplexity and imagination of social phenomena. She was awarded the WMA Masters Award 2017/18. Recent exhibition and project includes: “Still Life Objects” (L sub, Hong Kong House at Echigo-Tsumari, Japan, 2020). “Landskrona Foto”(Sweden,2020), “Artists’ Film International” Whitechapel
IS IT THE TIME?
Interactive digital media / Sound and video installation
Contributors of artwork in alphabetical order:
Alice, Matt Fleming, Fred, Iris, Jessica, Kei Kei, L, Lam, Mi, Henry Mullins, Nora, Ms P, Vivian, White, Wong, Yan, Zeng Hong
Wong resonates with “Is it the time?” on the way technology plays a central role in the way we communicate, and how technologies and digital devices now surround us. It emphasises how technology shortens our distance, yet, dissolves the boundaries of personal space at the same time.
The VR session, “Farewell. Before the lights go out” is a virtual space composed of audio recordings created in collaboration with contributors contacted by the artist, in which She relates deeply to their stories and sharing. The audio collection continues to grow throughout the exhibition period, where audiences will share their stories to develop new recordings.
Her physical installation “So long. Let the screensaver run.” is divided into two sessions in the exhibition space. Part I resembles Wong’s living room in Hong Kong. Part II features Wong’s reading performance in a video conference setting, with her interpretation of contributed sound clips from people saying “goodbyes” in various ways.
Elaine Wong is the Founder of Altermodernists, a Hong Kong based independent art group. Wong currently lives and works in Hong Kong. She investigates art beyond representation, and documents the sensual experience. Her works have been exhibited widely including the Hong Kong International Photo Festival (Hong Kong, 2020), Hong Kong Heritage Museum (Hong Kong, 2018), Hong Kong Education Museum (Hong Kong, 2018), Oi! Street Art Space (Hong Kong, 2017), EXIS (Korea, 2017), and Poland Szczecin European Film Festival (Szczecin, 2017). She was one of the selected artists for 1a Space’s Emerging Talents in Contemporary Art (Hong Kong, 2020).
GRADIENT NATIONS AND A SYNCHRONISED UNCERTAINTY
Interactive digital media / Digital print on fabric and sound installation
The work creates an immersive landscape of synchronised sound and subtle movements of gradient colours depicted from still images of gathered crowds from the pre-pandemic times. The once-ordinary sceneries are now becoming surreal and distant in a time of uncertainty.
The work explores the uncertainty of a body of people, a society, a nation, who lives in an uncertain time - a time that is volatile, confused, and uneasy. In some way, the work tries to translate a tension when stepping into the midst of a process, struggling between choosing sides, evoking a desire to identify with an appropriate place to stand.
Through visual and audio articulations, the installation hopes to find meaning between binary oppositions - order and chaos, individual and communal, left and right. Whether in sync or out of sync, it is also the gathering of people that allows the gradient of colours to show endless possibilities for new emergence.
Gabriel Leung is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Hong Kong. He received an MFA from Glasgow School of Art, UK, and a BFA from Tyler School of Art (Temple University), USA. His practice draws attention to the conceptual and aesthetics of the ambiguity of information transmission and reception with uncertainty. Through multimedia installations, his practice isolates the poetic from tensions between the fragment and the whole, while embracing uncertainty and suspending its impact on our human conditions. Leung also works as a photographer and occasionally a part-time lecturer.
THE UNKNOWN GARDEN
Interactive digital media / Digital animation and sound installation, colour pencil drawings on paper set of 12
Sound recording transferred by electromagnetic vibrations. Courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, Scientific Visualization Studio
The work showcases materials that are derived from archival material, images, text, and the artist’s drawing of plants. In the physical version, Yuen displays her twelve drawings of plants and a live-drawing performance streamed from her studio in Hong Kong. The VR version features interactive material animated and translated digitally.
The document from the Singapore Botanic Garden archive “Plants and seeds inward register, 1 May 1936-29 May 1959” shows that the plant species, mostly native to Hong Kong, were dispatched from Hong Kong to Singapore. In order to gain a visual understanding of the two cities’ botanical exchange, Yuen searched the images of the plants through their scientific names at the Hong Kong Herbarium’s Plant Database and depict the plants from these images.
While immersed herself deeply into the world of plants, Yuen feels that the diversity of the botanical world is closely resembling the uniqueness of each human personality.
Ivy Yuen graduated with a Master of Art in Fine Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2018. She received a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art), major in Painting at Hong Kong Art School in 2014 (co-programmed with RMIT), and a Bachelor degree in Social Sciences in China Economics at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2000. Her art practice is research-based through data-mining from historical and statistical records. Her solo exhibition includes, “When Smoke Rises’’ (am space, Hong Kong, 2015). Group exhibition including “Art in Construction” (CIC-Zero Carbon Park, Hong Kong, 2020), “In the course of Dancing, from Nightfall to Darkness” (Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 2020), “From the Outside of the Inside”, (INSTINC, Singapore, 2016; Pure Art Foundation, Hong Kong, 2017). She was awarded the Osage Art Award Best in Master in 2018. Yuen currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
YEOH WEE HWEE
THE INTERSECTION OF WORLDS AND THE UNBREAKABLE BOND
Interactive digital media / Video and mixed media installation
Yeoh touches on the question of existence in the work. It is a poetic metaphor on the physical and intangible matter, and how we are separated, and yet connected between worlds.
The physical format is a concrete garden of blocks with text and images embedded in them. The form is transformed in the VR version, it will vary in its shape, quality, and material.
Yeoh Wee Hwee graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons – 1st Class) Fine Art with Contemporary Writing from University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom, in 2006. After receiving her Art Bursary (Oversea) in 2007 from Singapore National Arts Council. She continued to pursue her masters degree in Fine Art from The Glasgow School of Art, United Kingdom, and graduated in 2009. She is currently a part-time lecturer in LASALLE College of the Arts.
Wee’s practice enquires into the idea of becoming through a work intensive operation on displacement and transgression. Nothing is stable, things are constantly in a state of becoming; in a state of flux where one never ceases to slip and transform into another.
Interactive digital media / Mixed media installation
The work is a dream world between the void decks of the safety and familiarity of our homes, between the cracks of a game.
The player finds themself swimming through the sea at night, exploring a mysterious lost floating city. The ruins are composed of decimated 3D scans of HDB void decks, like the eroded pilings of an ancient underwater city.
Ding was intrigued by the painterly qualities of an intentionally lowered quality 3D scan done with haste, littered with digitally generated voids through which one can gaze through into another world.
Some of the early game environments made by Ding had small gaps through which one could accidentally step through and free-fall through a void. For some players, they feedbacked that the unintentional feature of freefalling through the cracks became their favourite part of the game.
Debbie Ding is a visual artist and technologist from Singapore. She reworks and re-appropriates formal, qualitative approaches to collecting, labelling, organising, and interpreting assemblages of information – using this to open up possibilities for alternative constructions of knowledge. Inquiries are sparked off by the unexpected discoveries and hidden labours of amateur explorers – whose voices are often concealed by the contemporary professionalisation of academic disciplines. Prototyping is used as a conceptual strategy for artistic production, iteratively exploring potential breakthroughs and dead ends faced by amateur archaeologists, citizen social scientists, and machines (programmed to perform roles of cultural craftsmanship) in the pursuit of knowledge. Works take the form of computer-aided investigations into archaeological and historical finds (eg: the former island of Pulau Saigon, 19th century colonial shipwrecks), studies of changing features within urban geography, and informal approaches to collecting and mapping.
THREE DOMES: SIMULACRA 1.0
Interactive digital media / 3D print, video and sound installation
The work is a virtual expedition in an alienated streetscape of Singapore. As part of the latest addition to Lau’s “Three Domes” series, the work discusses the symbolic meaning and the future of cultural institutions through the long-standing heritage architectural structures.
Lau responds to the topographical memories and nuances of the Singapore cultural landscape, adopting the presence of the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum to National Gallery Singapore as a symbolic gesture to the state of the institutional arts.
The route that spans the three art institutions are created by walking from one building to another. The journey is captured by using a running application that shows a graphical tracking map. A 3D rendering is then created for a pace-by-pace walk- through with a total distance of 4.45 km that relays the three art institutions in the city district. The work is also presented as a 3D printed model made to the likeness of the district but with re-imagined architectural features of the three institutions.
The process represents a physical endeavour that situates in a digital simulacrum and shows how reality and virtuality intertwine with each other.
Urich Lau is a visual artist, independent curator and art educator based in Singapore. Working in video art and photography, he has presented works in Singapore, Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Serbia, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, USA and Uzbekistan. Exhibitions include Singapore Biennale 2013, VII Tashkent International Biennale of Contemporary Art, the 7th Geumgang Nature Art Biennale and Pyeongchang Biennale 2017. He graduated with a Master of Fine Art from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2004. He is a lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts, a founding member of the art collective INTER–MISSION, a member of The Artists Village, and Instinctive (INSTINC Art Space).