Singapore Art Week 2021: Where to see Debbie’s Works

For those in Singapore at the moment, I have a couple shows ongoing/upcoming during and beyond Singapore Art Week. I’m showing them as digital works and video works, so technically your location won’t matter once I have properly uploaded all the works later in the year…!


1. VOID

Void is a small game that’s available for download on itch.io (Mac currently / Win coming soon) and you could say it is a translation of my current reality into game form. Since I work full-time but also have a toddler who doesn’t quite go to daycare, I spend my days shuttling between void decks, waiting for taxis to take me between my own house, my parents’ house, and the office. There’s usually anywhere between 5 to 12 minutes of waiting where I don’t know what to do and for the fun of it I began scanning the various spaces in a very ad-hoc fashion. I rather liked the bad scans more than the good scans, and I ended up using this material to make an interactive experience in which you’re a little boat drifting between ruins, with the pillars looking a bit like the pali da casada (the poles that stick out of the water in front of buildings) in Venice.

If you’re in Singapore, its also in an awesome CAVE for just 4 days only at Gillman Barracks (9 Lock Road, #03-21, in the former unit of Arndnt), made by the amazing team from DUDE.SG. What this means is that you can navigate through the otherworlds inside it by raising a hand, squatting, flapping your hands wildly in front of you, and swiping. The entire show is a labour of love by INSTINC and altermodernists and all the artists involved, and the CAVE experience is truly seamless. Go and see it!

Otherworlds: non/digital realities

Organised by Instinc @instinc_space

Co-organised by @altermodernist

Curated by @hilda_hiukwan

Opening Hours: 28 Jan 2021 – 7 to 10pm 29, 30 Jan 2021 – 12nn to 10pm 31 Jan 2021 – 12nn to 7pm

Venue Gillman Barracks Block 9 Lock Road, #03-21

FREE ADMISSION

8 artists 2 cities

Digital and physical works

Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/302803607957276

Debbie’s “Void” on Itch: https://dbbd.itch.io/void


2. THE LEGEND OF DEBBIE

My vision for this work was to mine myself for material and create a gallery in which all my artworks were magical wormholes into alternate realities where I would tell you ridiculous stories that were both believeable and unbelievable and you would see various crazy visual representations and reinterpretations of my old work. We always talk about digitisation lately especially during covid – but are we really and truly exploring all the possibilities in a new interactive format like a 3d video game? I had some pretty tight time constraints (only working on this on weekends when I’m off work – I mean I do have a full-time job too), and being a one-woman developer team reined in my wild ambitions for this work (initially wanted to make a crazy ragdoll puppet of myself, which I scrapped due to having difficulties with ragdoll physics and rigging and lipsyncing, none of which is my speciality). I definitely feel this work is not even close to its final form and I imagine slowly improving it over time…

State of Motion: https://stateofmotion.sg/

Curated by Syaheedah Iskandar & Thong Kay Wee

Marina One

20 Jan – 21 Feb 2021

Exhibition open 12pm — 8pm daily (Except Public Holidays)

7 Straits View, Singapore 018936


3. MOTHER

In the basement of the National Gallery Singapore, I have a project called MOTHER. Try to visit it on Thurs-Sunday when there are helpful little elves to guide you through using the kinect-based interaction. Visually speaking this work is indeed a departure from what I usually make – i guess because of the involvement of form axioms’ dev team and my own limitations in Unreal (specifically: having tried to make my part of it on my own without any experience with Blueprints or having watched a proper tutorial or course on it – woops! Yes as it turns out one cannot transfer skills of one game engine to another haha). The background environment for MOTHER was also contributed by the development team; I described it and they translated it in their own way into what you see there. I suppose I imagined in my head something more brutalist and weird and oddball – but what came out was a bit more scifi alien in the end, a bit like walking into a basement lan cafe and you’re deafened by the ambient sound of nonstop clicking and shooting. So… yeah, not entirely what I expected, in case anyone is confused how this strange thing is a “Debbie Ding” work. Nevertheless I do feel like I learnt a lot from the progress of making it, especially experimenting with vocaloids.


4. RULES FOR THE EXPRESSION OF ARCHITECTURAL DESIRES

I guess this was my first video work, which I shot in Berlin over a summer, and made foley sound for in the dark scary basement of the ZKU building. The writing that accompanies the work was written about an anonymous city but there are glimmers of other very real cities in it. I’m just showing the video work for this exhibition at SEED space and it opens this weekend Saturday – and I am humbled to be showing alongside the amazing video work by Martha Atienza, Charles Lim, Lim Sokchanlina, Perception 3, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, and Tromarama.

Images above from when I showed the work in Maison Salvan in Toulouse. Will update the pic of the show in SEED space when I can get a better picture!


Documentation for the works coming soon!

Using Paint and Plastics to Make Realistic Fake Cow Grass

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A few years ago I wrote a series of short stories, one of which was about a social contract in which people were allowed to remain in an area if they totally blended in by wearing a camouflage suit. It was based on this story that I decided to make these red-soil-with-cow-grass ghillie suits:

A HOME WITHOUT A SHELTER

In this city, all private land parcels exceeding the specified size must allocate at least 10% of green spaces on their land as a “permitted camouflage zone”. People who wish to use parts of these private gardens for their own leisure are legally permitted to do so, so long as they are in camouflage. Special camouflage suits are manufactured and sold to suit every type of urban space. Members of the public blend seamlessly into the private gardens, private landowners are unable to see the public in their parks — the suits rendering them invisible on first glance.

Some entrepreneurial individuals have been trawling through the streets collecting soil and plant material, sewing the organic material into suits for would-be park goers. In particular, homeless people have been taking the most advantage of this scheme, devising the most ingenious ways of producing a camouflage suit at almost no cost, and becoming virtually invisible within some of these parks. Many people in this city have mastered the fine art of blending in and remaining unseen whilst still in plain view.

It turns out that a clod of recently deposited soil isn’t really a realistic clod of soil unless there is a bit of grass poking out of it. The mound of soil must have grass because soil is the surface through which things intersect (light, buildings erupt from its surface, shards of greenery, etc), and without the eruption of grass from the surface it is hard to appreciate the continuity of the surface.

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Like this…

So it turned out that my attempts to make a landscape work soon became a totally ridiculous painstaking endeavour to produce the most realistic cow grass by hand in artisanal small batches……

When I began conceptualising this new work, I originally intended to digitally print everything, but then as things turned out, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the quality of the digital colour once it was printed on fabric. Often digital print on textile has the odd, dullened sheen of ink deposited on the surface, dependent very much on the base that it is printed on. Mainly the fabric texture getting in the way. But colour is so important in this. As someone who has done a fair bit of digital painting, I consider myself quite knowledgeable about how digital colour or colour on screen works, but paint has always been a whole other territory. I don’t know so much about all the different mediums, or why there are so many different types of whites available in the shops, or why I should buy one brand of paint over another. So it wasn’t my first choice to work directly with colour or paint… its not a medium which I’m 100% comfortable with…

Fortunately, what I found is that one’s understanding of digital colour addition can be easily translated into real-life paint colour addition. And as it turns out – boy oh boy do I enjoy painting! I didn’t even think I would enjoy it so much! I don’t want to just paint abstract or random things, but I want to gain total mastery over the medium. To me, if I haven’t become good or precise enough to paint something ultra photorealistic at the snap of a finger, then I don’t think I could allow myself to generate any ol’ random paintings just yet. After this project is done, I think i’d like to try to master photorealistic painting. You know, obsessively painting images of thin-film interference or iridescence or something totally ridiculous like that. (But since I’m working towards a deadline, I’ll leave my idle dreams of painting images of tempered metal for another time…)

To the left, the paint, and to the right, the colour sample (some actual soil collected from outside)
It was easy to obtain an accurate colour sample for the red soil I wanted because I just kept a bowl of soil in the house for reference. However, I realised that the red of the soil was not necessarily recognisable as a familiar sight to Singaporeans – unless accompanied by a sparse smattering of grass, in particular, the grass known as “Axonopus compressus” or “cow grass”. But since grass is living material and not mineral, keeping a colour sample was harder.

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Here was the grass in situ… (on a grassy mound in Buangkok)

First attempts at making a colour reference failed because I am a monster and I actually tried to laminate the fresh green grass to preserve. Not a great idea because grass obviously changes colour when COOKED, like any other plant or vegetable.

I iteratively improved the colour until it was as close as possible to the real thing. I don’t really like painting on paper. But I really LOVE painting on a transparent plastic medium. The ease of painting on smooth plastic, the way you can overlay it onto other things. I’ve tried cellulose acetate (aka OHP transparency) but that is a medium known to be vulnerable to yellowing and warping over time, breaking down into acetic acid or the plasticisers migrating outwards to the surface leaving a weird white powdery deposit. Now I’m trying Dura-Lar film which is supposed to be a mix between Acetate and Mylar – supposedly archival grade material which is partly made out of the resin Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET).

Finally, here is the colour reference I made for the plastic grass that I seem to be making in a very tedious fashion BECAUSE I HAVE TO DO THINGS THE HARD WAY.

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I ended up putting some of the grass (that I hadn’t inadvertently cooked through lamination) into a dish of water and now it appears I am also growing grass at home. Maybe I will put it in the snail tank, so the snails can feed on it, and then the cycle will be complete?…

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My basket of realistic fake cow grass


You can come to see the grass on the work I produced for the President’s Young Talents 2018 show!

8Q @ Singapore Art Museum
8 Queen St, Singapore 188535
Gallery 3.12 (Level 3)
4 Oct 2018 – 27 Jan 2019

Space Geodes at Ota Fine Arts Singapore (4 August 2018 – 15 September 2018)

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The show at Ota Fine Arts is all set up, with many thanks to Jodi for inviting me to show the work. I’ve shown this work two times but this is the first time I had the option of REAL PLINTHS. I previously used all acrylic casings as plinths. At the time it was a practical decision as I was using whatever unwanted ‘plinth’-like items I could find and The Substation was getting rid of these old casings – but also it was a consistent material to the rest of the work. Plastic upon more plastic!

[PS you can read more of my writing about the work here as well:]
Space Geodes: On the 3D Printed prototype as Digital Fossil
Space Geodes at Singaplural 2016
Public Service Notice about Geodes

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Left: Space Geodes at Singaplural 2016. Right: Space Geodes at Objectifs in 2017.
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Space Geodes at Ota Fine Arts in 2018
Given free choice over the colour that I would want the plinth to be, I’d always choose Grey as a neutral base over White or Black. We chuckled over the names given to the colours and I have to admit I was almost tempted to choose a colour simply because it was named “GRANITE ROCK” or “SLATE GRAY”. (Ultimately if the names given to the colours by savvy paint companies were totally ignored, the choice would have been very clear to me anyway; it was always going to be a specific warm mid-range sort of grey for which I don’t have a name but can always pick out of a lineup)

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I did give the arrangement more thought this time around. Recently I’ve been enjoying laser cutting a lot because I now have access to a lasercutter in the NYP Makerspace which is literally a 5 minute walk from where I am staying at the moment (and its under-utilised!) so as a simple experiment I tried to make an acrylic base/riser which would also light the work from beneath.

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Geode with base

The only reason I haven’t gone with this lighting option is the fact that there is a little colour discrepancy in the “white” when it is lit. My lights and acrylics are too “laser white”, whereas the work glows with a warm white. Weirdly enough, some of the works looked more yellow when lit, as if they differed in thickness, which I couldn’t understand to be the case since they were designed as hollow shells of the same thickness for the SLS process (to save on material cost)

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The answer as to why there was a discrepancy in thickness and lighting became clearer later. As I was arranging the works yesterday, POWDER STARTED COMING OUT OF SOME OF THE WORKS. The powder had been thicker in some portions so that was why the lighting was not consistent. Having shown the works two times before, I was surprised that powder was draining out now when I’d have expected any excess powder to come out of the work in the previous round. Perhaps it was all the transportation and vigorous moving about that dislodged the excess powder hiding inside the print, for the white nylon powder began issuing forth from the escape holes I had designed for the works.

Perhaps on previous viewings we had treated the works so very softly and cautiously as if we were handling live explosives – but this time around I put them in a basket for rocks and slung them over my shoulder as I carried them to the gallery.

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For those unfamiliar with the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process, it is an additive manufacturing process in which the laser sinters the powder into a solid material, but because the material itself is quite costly, designers often design the part as a hollow part with some escape holes so the excess powder can be shaken out. I would have thought that all the powder from before had been shaken out by now!

Its a bit funny as come to think of it the white powder flowing out visually resembles a weathering process in which the rocks break down into smaller particles. Earlier in the day I was also just building a prototype for a new work in which one can see material flowing in a similar way. When something breaks down into particles that small, the dust is literally blown into the wind. There’s no “trying to collect it in a cup and sticking it back together”. Its just gone, blown away, it ceases to be an identifiable part of the thing it was once part of.

Prototype for a new work
The private view for the group show is tonight – please come down to see if it you’re in town!

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The exhibition will be on view from August 4 through September 15, 2018 at Ota Fine Arts, 7 Lock Road, #02-13 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108935.


SPACES
Kray Chen | Sheryl Chua | Debbie Ding | Hilmi Johandi | Tristan Lim | Ian Tee
4 August – 15 September 2018

Opening Reception in the presence of the artists:
Friday, 3 Aug 2018, 6.30 – 8.30 pm

Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present SPACES, a group exhibition featuring 6 artists from Singapore: Kray Chen, Sheryl Chua, Debbie Ding, Hilmi Johandi, Tristan Lim and Ian Tee. This exhibition showcases each artist’s reaction to the spaces and structures in contemporary society, as well as a more formal focus on pictorial space. From painting to photography, video, 3D print and textile work, diverse expressions by the artists discuss relations between the virtual/imaginary and actual spaces.

Setting up “A Survey of the Singapore Psychogeographical Society” at Galerie Steph

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A Survey of the Singapore Psychogeographical Society
by Debbie Ding

Opening Reception: 6 September, Friday, 6 – 9pm
The Artist will be present

Artist Talk: 7 September, Saturday, 2.30 – 3.30pm
On till: 12 October
Galerie Steph is pleased to present A Survey of the Singapore Psychogeographical Society by the young yet perspicacious artist Debbie Ding. The solo presentation brings together five series of works that serve as visual documents on and reflections of the urban environment she has lived in and travelled through.

Debbie’s interest in psychogeography has led her to investigate urban cities and its geographical environment to explore its effects on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. She renders mundane daily encounters in the city into a playful excursion – creating an opportunity to construct her own personal narratives against the anonymity that modernity engenders.

Galerie Steph cordially invites you to tread through the often taken for granted cityscape which Debbie recreates anew for us.

For more information, see: https://www.facebook.com/events/577010445711989

Galerie Steph
Artspace@Helutrans
39 Keppel Road
Tanjong Pagar Distripark #01-05
Singapore 089065
Tel: 9176 8641
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-7pm
closed on public holidays
www.galeriesteph.com
steph@galeriesteph.com
http://www.facebook.com/GalerieSteph

 


My solo show at Galerie Steph is opening later today at Galerie Steph – special thanks to Steph for exhibiting my work! Thanks also to Kamiliah for all her help in putting the show together, and thanks to Weilun and the Helutrans guys for setting up and hanging the work yesterday. The opening reception will be at 6pm later, and here are some images from the setup yesterday…

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All ready!
My book, Dream Syntax, is also FINALLY READY and will be dispatched soon as well. Many thanks to Alvin from First Printers for the amazing job on the printing. You can still order it online within Singapore at http://dreamsyntax.bigcartel.com, and on Monday I should be able to sit down and estimate overseas postage for those of you overseas so we can send orders overseas too!

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Upcoming DebbieTalks in September 2013

As we reach the last two weeks before I leave Singapore, I’ve somehow managed to get quite a number of talks lined up. So I’ve made a list of them…


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FORK4: 5 People doing Curious Things

29 August 2013
7:30PM
Barbershop, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore

I’ll be talking at this TONIGHT! YES! TONIGHT! The other speakers are also working on very fascinating projects, including Stateofbuildings.sg and Wethecitizens.sg. Glad to be on the lineup, Shaun, Bernice and Shree are doing some really interesting stuff as well, and I’m looking forward to meeting and speaking to other curious people doing curious things in Singapore!


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Singapore Quantified Self Meetup

2 Sept 2013
7:00 PM
The Hub Singapore, 113 Somerset Road, Singapore

Speaking at a show-and-tell at the next Singapore Quantified Self Meetup! Thanks so much to Ciaran Lyons for organising it on such a quick notice! Debbie will be speaking about her 6 year dream map collecting project, and other data geekery. Perhaps there will even be some mentions of pomodoros, fitbits, gps thingamabobs and other obsessions…


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Goodman Arts Centre Open Day – Artist Talk – Debbie Ding

7 Sept 2013
1pm-1.30pm
Multi-purpose Room 1, Blk B, #01-07, 90 Goodman Road, Singapore

I’ll be giving a short artist talk at the Goodman Arts Centre Open House. I’ve shared a studio with the folks from Studio13 for the last few years, which has intermittently served as a little hiding hole for quite a few of us over the last few years… There are lots of things going on at GAC over the weekend there as well, some of which is… well… quite family-oriented. And if you’re there, you can also look out for the “psychogeographical games” installed somewhere on the 3rd floor, which have somehow miraculously survived the ravages of weather and footfalls since last year…


Debbie Ding - The Cobb (Lyme Bay, 2012)

A Survey of the Singapore Psychogeographical Society – Artist Talk – Debbie Ding

7 Sept 2013
2.30pm-4.30pm
Galerie Steph, 39 Keppel Road, Singapore

Finally, I will be speaking at my solo exhibition at Galerie Steph on the 7th Sept 2013. As you can tell, I like telling stories. So I will tell you stories if you come down to what will probably be Debbie’s last talk in Singapore for a while.

Maps without Buildings (2011-2013)

Maps With/out Buildings is a hand-illustrated study of place, the map-making process and natural geogrpahical features as they are commonly represented in topographic maps. I have been working on an ongoing collection of “maps” of my dreams since around 2009. However, along the way I realized that all of my dreams had buildings in them, such that all the “dream maps” that I used to draw upon waking were technically more like dream building plans than maps of places. I wondered why it was that I didn’t have dreams without buildings in them. So I became interested in exploring the process of making maps which did not have urban features in them. By studying the landscapes I encounter in my travels, and by trying to visualise landscapes devoid of buildings, one day I hope to have dreams without buildings in them.

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Maps without Buildings (2011-Present)

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Ellipsis (2013, London)

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Lichen Mountain (2011, Cornwall)

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Le Petit Arbre (2012, Paris)

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Gepenstermauer (2011, Berlin)

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Lake of Dreams (2011, London)


The texts are integral to the pieces. One of the accompanying texts was generated by running the contents of this long-running blog through a markov text generator, automatically producing a text which sounds like Debbie. More on that in another post!…

The work is being shown at “Theo.do.lites”, an exhibition curated by Kent Chan and Silke Schmickl, at Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore (Lasalle ICAS Gallery 1). Featuring the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Raqs Media Collective, Uriel Orlow, Alexander Schellow, Charles Lim, Romain Kronenberg & Benjamin Graindorge, Marylène Negro, Tan Pin Pin, Daniel Hui, Masayo Kajimura, Massimilian & Nina Breeder, and Debbie Ding. Show’s on from now until 12 May.


See also:

Photos from Opening Night –

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More Photo Documentation of Theo.do.lites, the exhibition.

Retroalimentacion (Facultad del Artes Gallery, UAEM)

Here are some images from our show “Retroalimentacion” at the Facultad del Artes Gallery, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

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From the Wall Text: “Retroalimentacion is a series of workshops and a sampling of digital art works by artists located in S.E. Asia sponsored by the Facultad de Artes de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, in Mexico. It is hoped that these events, including workshops conducted in Mexico by four artists/designers located in Southeast Asia, will be the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue about approaches to the digital medium between Latin America and Southeast Asia. The retro in the title recalls a return to a focus on digital art, a medium of expression that first bloomed at the dawn of the Information Age in the late 1990’s. Although not as novel as when wide-spread computer and the Internet usage first sprung up in many parts of the world, the digital medium is being energetically explored by a newer generation of artists geographically located in regions of Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines who approach the medium with fresh insights, as well as by other creators located in the region with longer histories of international practice.

The theme of the workshops and exhibit is loosely related to the theme of feedback, feedback in games, feedback in audio-visual remixing, and in other interactive works such as hacked Kinect games, as well as through mediated social feedback. The alimentation in this event’s title also hints of a desire to feed, to consume, an addiction to mediated reflections and immediate responses to actions. We are easily drawn into expecting continuous feedback, whether provided by human agents, such as comments in socially mediated software like Facebook, or taking the form of artificially programmed audio-visual responses. Feedback satisfies our sense that our actions have consequences, and this addiction is being harnessed for developing commercial design products and games.

But feedback can also be distorted creatively into noise. Audio and visual effects ripple out from electronic sources. Players intuitively follow paths through digital artifacts based on negative and positive responses to their actions. Feedback then becomes both a guide and a lure, noise and art effect.”

Participating Artists:

Andreas Siagian [lifepatch.org]
Anne-Marie Schleiner [opensorcery.net]
Brian O’Reilly
Debbie Ding [dreamsyntax.org]
Kenneth Feinstein
Luis Hernandez Galvan [ungravity.org]
Tengal Nolasnem
Vladimir Todorovic

Organizer:

Janitzio Alatriste

 

Opening Speech

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The Director gave a short speech to the crowd outside before everyone burst inside. It was a small gallery with many projections and “interaction zones” so as a result the first half hour of the exhibition was quite chaotic and I mostly only have pictures of people’s heads, arms and shadows…

 

Luis Hernandez Galvan

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Luis showed a number of works projected on the far end of the wall and on a temporary wall in the centre of the gallery. One of them was an exact model of the HDB flat they had been living in Singapore.

As it was hard to take good photos of projections in the gallery, you should also visit Luis’ website at http://ungravity.org/ to see more of his work.

 

Anne-Marie Schleiner

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Anne-Marie showed two games, one more abstract video game involving rearranging cut-up bits of music made in different places, and another game about bees that she had worked on during the workshop with input from students.

As it was hard to take good photos of projections in the gallery so for more, do also take a look at more of Anne-Marie’s work at http://www.opensorcery.net/.

 

Andreas Siagian

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Andreas spent days working on building an installation that amplified the sound of water being filtered through a series of boxes with the power of gravity, entirely from local materials found in Toluca. Even the PCBs were printed in Toluca, thanks to Relder’s help!

 

Debbie Ding

Sun Cycle (see also previous post for more information):

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The Singapore River as a Psychogeographical Faultline:

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I showed two kinect-based works at the gallery. People seemed to enjoy it, especially the seeming “unpredictability” of the Sun Cycle (that eventually reveals itself to be quite simple).

Other Artists

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A cluster of iMacs were in the gallery to show the video works from the other artists. This was one of them.


PS: If anyone else has other photos of the exhibition, please let me know at 04.48am @ gmail and i will add them or link them to this page as well! Thanks!