Explaining what is art and interaction design to 2-5 year olds

It was “Occupations” day at Bean’s childcare where they had asked if parents could come in and share about their jobs. You know, maybe wear their daily uniform and maybe bring down tools or equipment to show the children. I noticed they had prepared a wall full of common occupations, like being a firefighter, a nurse, a truck driver, a teacher….

Someone’s gotta represent the hybrid-techy-hyphenated jobs of the future, so I prepared a little introduction to myself… and brought down a touchboard and many bananas and spoons, and tried to explain that they could make art on computers. The setup (which seems suitable for all ages, including adults actually) I had brought down involved Bare Conductive’s touchboard, a mini speaker, crocodile clips, and a bunch of bananas and spoons. This was my deck:

Some Observations:
  • Upon seeing bananas, children often want to eat the bananas.
  • Some children examine the connection points and want to disconnect and reconnect the bananas
  • The word “touch” is quite ambigious and does not define how you touch a banana. Do you whack the banana? Do you squeeze the banana? Do you tap the banana lightly? Do you rest your entire hand on the banana?

An Apocalyptic City in Blender: Lazy Speedrun

I was watching another lazy tutorial and had the impulse to try it out for myself. So here is a speedrun of an apocalyptic city. One basic building multiplied many times. No need for elaborate post-processing stacks or piles of artfully arranged rubble, this is the MVP (minimum viable product) shipped to you in 20 minutes (or less, in the case of this slightly sped up video…)

I think that me making these sort of videos is the present-day equivalent of trying to embark on digressions when I have an exam or important project to complete; instead I suddenly get all sorts of ideas to do ridiculous things like make more screencasts of myself doing something in Blender.

For years I’ve watched countless online tutorials on YouTube, many of which were set to some generic vaguely-inspirational electronic music. (I confess that I have playlists full things like youtube tutorial classic Tobu’s Candyland and other NCS Releases) and I took great joy in choosing royalty-free background sounds for this.

People, the keyword for this type of tutorial background music is “CORPORATE TECHNOLOGY”. Don’t go for CINEMATIC or DRAMATIC or INSPIRATIONAL, as there is a chance it might end up too teenage-over-the-top self-aggrandising. As it turns out “CORPORATE” plus “TECHNOLOGY” usually results in something blandly aspirational and futuristic.

A Shopfront in Blender and Unity: Lazy Speedrun using UV Project from View

After encountering Ian Hubert’s World Building video (how did I not see this until now?) I had an epiphany about a different way of making in Blender, besides photogrammatising things or modelling everything up from scratch. For many years I had actively avoided trying to understand UV mapping because I considered it too time consuming, and like he mentions, it is this 3d person whose face is the stuff of nightmares:

HA I have surely attempted to create and unwrap a face like this countless times only to horribly botch it and create something unintentionally horrific (and horrific but in not even an interesting way).

Every time this happened, I had simply accepted this to mean that I was not likely to make it as a character designer or a UV mapping specialist in this life… I mean, you gotta pick your battles. But everytime I saw this map it was like a symbol of all the UV mapping I would never learn to do because I AIN’T GOT THE TIME TO DO IT…

So the UV project from view is an absolute game changer. I actually used the UV project from view to make some pieces of bread previously (for the titular BREAD in the BREAD AND BUTTER game i am working on), but I hadn’t connected the dots to the possibilities… till I saw this…

As a trial run, I did a screen recording of myself doing a speed run making a shop front in Blender and importing it into Unity which took 14 minutes in real time (including a lot of hemming and hawing and undoing). In fact, the editing of the video you see here in iMovie took way longer at 40 minutes (according to Rescuetime), including video exporting and uploading time.

The image I am using is a picture of Hiep Phat from Walworth Road Yes I know it is not even in Stoke Newington, but just another shop found via the keyword “Church Street Stoke Newington”. Sometimes you just need a little hook to get you started. The image can be found on Flickr from the user Emily Webber and it is shared on a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

Ironically yes, I have titled this as a SPEED RUN using a LAZY technique because the point is that I ain’t got time to do it the complicated unwrapping way! I’m not sorry that I didn’t even unwrap the ground (pavement in front of shop) totally because even without the ground properly unwrapped it kinda passes muster!

The resulting shop front is very acceptable and definitely usable as a game asset that you might see glancingly from a distance.

A Presentation of Ethnographic Fragments (Aliwal Street, 25 August 2012)

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Lee Wen addressing the crowd
The Collection and Exchange of Ethnographic Fragments travelled to Aliwal Street the other day, under the invitation of the Independent Archive & Resource Centre. This is an independent archive of materials and documentations of visual arts, performance arts, and other events, and some may also remember this archive previously being at the Singapore Art Museum. It has found its new (temporary) home at Lee Wen’s new place, where we had a kind of “soft launch” or private event to introduce it to people.

About the Independent Archive: “The independent Archive and Resource Centre (working name), is intended to be developed as a professional archive of visual art practices and other cultural manifestations in Singapore. The focus of the archive, especially at its initial stage, is art practices that benefit from archival support — such as visual art practices that are ephemeral, time-based, event and/or specific or that may not be conserved in conventional institutional environments or practices.

A project proposed by Lee Wen, June Yap, Kai Lam, Jason Lee, Hafiz Nasir, Koh Nguang How with the assistance and collaborations of various artists, cultural workers and friends. Many serious minded colleagues of repute and note, younger ones of intense enthusiasm and courageous energies, famed and unknown spirits of inspired momentary wisdom, even dissenting doubters of authentic integrity have contributed to our destined desire in setting up the independent archive and resource centre.

We who prefer to appreciate art in the essences of meaning, values, ethics, aesthetics, whether unilaterally or multilaterally propagated beyond our subscription to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, calls for an independent archive for reflection, review and research what we have done, what we do today.”

We aim to serve: The maintenance of an archive and resource centre open to the public an access to these materials.

The project is research-driven, to facilitate access to significant art materials (documentation, objects, images, correspondence, etc) and the production of critical discourse that interprets and creates forms of mediation of the archived materials.

The archive is to be open to the public. However its key audience are students, institutions, researchers, curators, artists and academics for further academic, artistic and historical production, that in turn will also be archived, thus expanding the knowledge-base on performance practice and history in Singapore and the region.

The development of the archive and resource centre requires the building of a sound foundation in archival practice. The infrastructure of such an archive and resource centre — and in this, its key value — lies in building an environment and set of practices where these artworks can be reliably and securely archived. Such an infrastructure includes: archival venue with climate-controlled storage, technical facilities for the transfer, backup and editing, indexing, cataloguing and referencing, as well as the development of public access frameworks and channels.

Under the backdrop of this great archive (of which I have found great use for, to watch video documentations of ephemera and performances), the fragments were here for a show and tell.

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I gave a talk on the Singapore Psychogeographical Society and its various independent archives.

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This was followed by a conversation with the rocks (ie: Lee Wen investigating the sounds the rocks would make with a guitar). And following that, it was an evening of improvisations and jams with Jordan Rais, Reef, Kai Lam, Rahman, Dennis, and many others who had come down that night.

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Many thanks to Lee Wen for his amazing archive and for hosting this, and Mike for helping to organise all this and helping with the logistics of all the rock moving! If anyone is interested in getting involved with the Independent Archive & Resource Centre, they are always looking for people, so please get in touch with them.

For more images, see the [Flickr Set]