Art Day Out (March 2016), Gillman Barracks Singapore (Part 1)

Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

ShanghART Gallery (9 Lock Road, facebook): Xue Song 薛松 – The Mountain Echoes:

The ShanghART Gallery was, by default, almost everyone’s first stop at Gillman Barrack’s Art Day Out (March 2016 edition). We didn’t know anything about Xue Song being “one of the most influential and representative artists of Chinese Contemporary Art, and China’s pioneer “Pop Art” artists” at that point, but had great fun scrutinising the cutouts and figuring how they fit into the whole artpiece.

This made me think, first of the complexity of history and how short-sighted we are in thinking that we can exhaustively ascribe causes to any event in human history, and second, of the complexity of the Bible so that while it is simple enough for any literate person to read, there are depths to it unknown elsewhere in the corpus of human writing.

Xue Song 薛松 - The Mountain Echoes, SHANGArt Gallery. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Xue Song 薛松 - The Mountain Echoes, SHANGArt Gallery. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Xue Song 薛松 - The Mountain Echoes, SHANGArt Gallery.  Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Xue Song 薛松 - The Mountain Echoes, SHANGArt Gallery.  Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Xue Song 薛松 - The Mountain Echoes, SHANGArt Gallery.  Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Up the stairs…
Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

in the Pearl Lam Galleries (facebook)Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

there were beanbags on the floor to sink into and watch Yinka Shonibare‘s Odile and Odette.
Yinka Shonibare's "Odile and Odette".  Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore
In Swan Lake, the same dancer portrays both Odile and Odette, the characters being distinguished by her black or white costumes. In Shonibare’s version, Odile and Odette are portrayed by one black and one white ballerina, set against each other across a gilt frame. Mirror images, their identities are ambiguous.

I liked that this wasn’t another post-colonial rant about racial victimisation (only to be undone by Chris Brown at the 2016 Academy Awards) but that even racial boundaries aren’t quite clear-cut: classical ballet and contemporary art; “authentically African” Dutch wax cloth tutus, etc.

Thence to ARDNT Fine Art (facebook), where Heinz Mack was being exhibited, and art books were on sale:

ARDNT Fine Art. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

ARDNT Fine Art - Heinz Mack. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

ARDNT Fine Art - Heinz Mack. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

ARDNT Fine Art - Heinz Mack. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

to be continued… "I'm Following You" grafitti. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

"Art is not always high" grafitti. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore

Chun Kai Feng at FOST Gallery, Gillman Barracks, and the Theory of Things.

We’d originally entered the FOST Gallery (1 Lock Road, Gillman Barracks) to ask for directions to an Art Day Out! tour, but I was promptly mesmerised by Chun Kai Feng’s work.

What stopped me in my tracks was that Chun’s works weren’t Singapore-icon kitsch. We’ve had loads of that for SG50 and I’ve purchased my fair share of jiu cheng gao doorstops and racial harmony doormats and chope magnetic keychains (thanks, Stuck Shop).

Yet, neither were they pretentiously arty.

Everyday objects recognisable by any person on the SBS bus were taken out of their usual contexts and rephrased slightly so that an air-conditioner diffuser hung on a wall, spray-painted carefully so that its converging lines were emphasised, giving a linear perspective.
FOST Gallery: The Key to this Mystery is to Rephrase the Question Slightly, solo exhibition by CHUN Kai Feng. Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore “The Key to this Mystery is to Rephrase the Question Slightly”

And it was hard not to burst out laughing at the yellow “Caution – Wet Floor” sign, that itself appeared to be slipping on a blue wet patch on the ground.

Art Day Out 2016, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra, Singapore
“Falling Falling”

I’ve been thinking quite abit about a/the theory of tangible things recently, specifically, Graham Harman‘s object-oriented philosophy of the relationship between objects, Bruno Latour‘s actor-network theory (ANT, see Reassembling the Social), Peter-Paul Verbeek‘s theory of technological mediation – that things mediate relations between people, between people and technology, and between people and the world.

design books and Singaporean Hainanese local breakfast - teh si, kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs, a cupcakeWhat anthropological, cultural studies, material culture studies questions can we ask about Things? More thinking to be done…

Singapore Design Week 2016 – National Design Centre: Design and Make Fair

Singapore Design Week 2016 at the National Design Centre. This was the site of one of NAFA’s former campuses – I have fond memories of the place in its previous incarnation and the promising smell of watercolour paint that used permeate the place.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Design and Make Fair
The Design and Make Fair, said the official non-committal blurb,

is an introduction to the lively, growing community of designers and makers in Singapore, many of whom are small business entrepreneurs that produce delightful creations. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone and everyone to get started on the creative process of making, and appreciate design embedded in everyday living.

It was certainly more middle-class design-focused than Maker Faire (facebook), Supermama’s Trunk Show featured:

what was advertised as maki-e painting, but turned out to be another way of getting designed lacquerware – by painting layers of naturally-dyed lacquer onto a pair of chopsticks and then sanding off sections to produce a pattern. The originally-advertised maki-e, it was explained, would have taken too many days to do:

Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
For S$30, you could sand down a pair of lacquerware chopsticks for yourself.

In the foyer, you could make an abacus under the watchful eye of another Japanese craftsman (Mr Hidetaka Miyanaga?) for, I think, S$30 as well.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design CentrePrepared as we were to be educated and wowed by these Japanese master craftsmen, the lack of knowledge of the salesgirls, the regretable inability of the craftsmen themselves to converse in fluent English, resulted in little communication at all about the intricacies of each trade. Instead, the constant refrain to pay up for a go a chopsticks-sanding etc. just left us feeling a little vulgar.

  1. Why the push to vapid consumerism?
  2. And surely even vapid consumerism requires some hardsell? Ask any of the pasar malam salesmen with their sweaty portable microphones.

What a lost opportunity to really showcase the artisans Supermama (facebook) had taken the pains to find and partner with.

How far this was from the appreciation shown by Richard Sennett to craftsmen (in The Craftsman), whom, he says, glory in the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake; good craftsmanship involving hardship and struggle, developing skills. Not for them are those tedious superficial signs of self-promotion (“artisanal”, “atelier”).

On the ground floor though, the lack of aspirational figures in the One Maker Group‘s Make! Prototyping Lab space did not diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd. How could they get access to the 3D printer? When were the woodworking classes?, eager mothers-with-precocious children wanted to know.

Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design CentreLeather making (Atelier Lodge, The General Company, Stone for Gold, Lucky Apron Studio), woodworking, laser-cutting (Steammetry (facebook)), electronics, 3D printing classes abound in Singapore. If the maker movement really takes off locally so that amateur attempts mature into something more masterful (currently watching: Jeremiah Ang of J. Myers), and if making is thinking (qua Richard Sennett), then it will be very interesting to observe the relationship between Singapore society and artisanal products (qualitatively so, not just branding) in 10, 20 years.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Would there be a general shift from passive consumption? Will we reach beyond quirky merchandisation? What mindset shifts would occur? How will values change?

Street Art or Graffiti? Somewhere in Melbourne

Lively street art or illegal graffiti?

Rankins Lane
Graffiti, Melbourne

Graffiti, Rankins Lane, Melbourne
Rose Street

Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Car park, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Carpark, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Probably not-approved work-in-progress off Rose Street:
Street art or graffiti, Off Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Whereas Grace Cafe (facebook, 76 Rose Street) had someone come in to paint the divine *poke*:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And round the back, a re-purposed shipping container:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And just across Brunswick Street:
Graffiti, Melbourne

Meanwhile, on Hosier Lane, someone is covering virgin territory:
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne. "Real Australians Say Welcome"
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.And even the laneways have not been spared:
Graffiti, Melbourne laneway
Graffiti, Melbourne

The Potter and the Clay

Had a great afternoon incompetently attempting to make a earthernware pot with the very lovely (and very patient) Kenneth and Huiwen of Studio Asobi (facebook).

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio Asobi

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio AsobiShaping the wet clay with our fingers and palms and various tools, the Scriptural metaphor of God as potter and humans as clay came to mind.

We often forget how in-charge God is; we think we are the ones who should have the freedom to do what we want – we foolishly think that we are in control:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

13 “Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
    Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
    has done a very horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave
    the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
    the cold flowing streams?
15 But my people have forgotten me;
    they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
    in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
    not the highway,
16 making their land a horror,
    a thing to be hissed at for ever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
    and shakes his head.
17 Like the east wind I will scatter them
    before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
    in the day of their calamity.” (Jeremiah 18:1-17)

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio AsobiAnd we are even foolish enough to think that God can’t see what we think or do:

15 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
    whose deeds are in the dark,
    and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
    “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
    “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:15-16)

In fact, because God made everything and so knows everything and controls everything, as potter, God has the right to do what he wants with the humans he created:

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:19-24)

Now that is an image of an awesome sovereign God who keeps his own counsel, not the sort of god we like to think he is – a slave to humankind who heals people on demand or gives them wealth when they nag him enough.

Hand building, pinch pots, clay moulding, pottery with Studio Asobi

Singapore Design Week 2015 – Design Trails 2015 – Calligraphy and Handset Typesetting

We managed to visit the artists’ warren at 195 Pearl’s Hill before the sky broke, and there was torrential rain, and lightning and thunder, that made everyone flee deep indoors. It used to house the Singapore Police Headquarters, and like many old buildings, has had a second lease of life as artist workshops probably until there is enough commercial interest for the whole thing to be refurbished.

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceWhile waiting for the typesetting demo to start, some of us sought to replenish fluids at the Mama Shop:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace mama menu book. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceDown the corridor, Craft Varies (facebook) was at hand (haha) to write beautiful copperplate notes for a tin-can donation. He said he was proficient in many other calligraphy styles as well.

Craft Varies Calligraphy. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Sun Yao Yu arrived from his talk about typesetting and ushered us into his exciting Typsettingsg (facebook) workspace:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
A little Aladdin’s cave of handset typesetting metal types and presses:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace

Yao Yu gave us a whirlwind tour through the history of printing from ancient China to Gotenberg to plate-printing, then let us play a little with his handpress and cylinder press:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceYao Yu described this as his personal project, and also his only job. Glad that he didn’t just sit around and complain about lack of opportunity and lack of a scene in Singapore, but actively got himself trained, imported bits from all over the world, and is sustaining himself through the wedding industry. 🙂

Typesettingsg from Sun Yao Yu on Vimeo.

Singapore Design Week 2015- Make a F-ake by Freitag, and the Design Trail

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design CentreA no-reservation, no-waiting list, walk-ins only, first-come-first-served bit of fun cutting off pre-stamped Freitag tarp at Kapok, National Design Centre. To ensure more people could enjoy the freebies, the woman-in-charge made a big deal of checking that each person only took away either a Merlion tag or a “F-aster Chope” tissue holder.

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
F-aster Chope! Tissue Holder, Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre, Singapore Design WeekThen it was all-aboard the Design Trail 2015 shuttle bus that took us round to various open houses:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

First stop, Basheer Graphic Books (Blk 231 Bain Street, #04-19, facebook) at Bras Basah, where a talk was going on and the logistics uncle was making teh tarik:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Next stop, Park + Associates Architects:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailSingapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailI really liked the little plant-covered house-office in one corner of the open-plan work area:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailChatted about one of their current projects: a new black-and-white bungalow(s) project for a man and his family. This brought us to the question: makes a colonial bungalow so easily recognisable as such? The colours of course, but also the shuttered windows, the pillars, and the verandas (but not those roof-top spaces seen in this model).
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailAnd because it started to rain quite heavily, the final stop of the day was Matter HQ (145 Neil Road). The restored shophouse we heard so much about at the Appreciating Architecture talk at SingaPlural 2015.

The shade of blue on the front facade was positively delightful:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailSingapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

And it was great to actually experience the interior after seeing all those slides a week ago – current use is both commercial-retail and residential:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

Patterned dhotis, harem pants, cloth:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

And Fictive Fingers (facebook) had laid out some eraser stamps for us to play with:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailAll-in-all, an enjoyable opportunity to experience the sort of “creative” work that is going on in Singapore.