2019 - BROADCAST
15 Mar - TodayOnline feature on MeshMinds' and the Internet of Things - creating musical instruments from recycled objects.
10 Mar - Chanel News Asia Luxury on André Wee, Artificial Intelligence and SG75, the future of Singapore.
8 Mar - SG Mag featured article and event listing on art, technology and saving the world.
7 Mar - The Straits Times Art Picks, ArtScience in Focus: MeshMinds 2.0 - ArtxTechforGood (7 - 17 March 2019)
28 Feb - Eco Business article questioning whether experiential art is a better sustainability storytelling tool than words alone
27 Mar - Lianhe Zaobao Student Correspondent's Club interviewing artists featured in showcase MeshMinds 2.0 at ArtScience Museum.
Student reporters met and interviewed artists as part of the Lianhe Zaobao Student Correspondent’s Club’s orientation programme
Lianhe Zaobao published an article on an orientation programme for the new student correspondents of the Lianhe Zaobao Student Correspondent’s Club. The article highlighted that the students had visited the ArtScience Museum as part of the programme, and witnessed the integration of technology and art at MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood. The article also pointed out that one of the student correspondents initially had reservations on the need for art and technology to come together. Through his interview with Kay however, the student was able to understand that art and technology can come together for positive good, by raising environmental consciousness and to interest the public in the artworks and messages conveyed. In addition, the article carried an image of Jason Loo and Cherlyn Mark speaking to the students, and pointed out that they had developed a mobile app game to spotlight plastic pollution. The article also added a link to an article published last week by ZB Schools featuring MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood.
19 Mar - The Straits Times Life section feature on climate issues, featuring MeshMinds' artist collective DPLMT on their AR artwork on the growing trash issue.
Riding the wave of climate issues
In a dark room in Marina Barrage is a bright, claustrophobic sculpture visitors can walk into.
It is a slightly unsettling installation. Low, resonant music pulsates in the background. Some parts might remind viewers of the tentacles of a sea monster.
But scariest of all is the fact that the sculpture is made from 18,000 plastic cups that were disposed at 23 hawker centres in Singapore over just 11/2days.
It is on display as part of Plastikophobia, a showcase that runs at the Sustainable Singapore Gallery at Marina Barrage till April 18.
"We thought it was interesting to highlight how many takeaway cups were used in a dine-in setting," says Canadian artist and photographer Benjamin Von Wong, 32, who created the installation with social impact strategist Laura Francois and Singapore-based Imaginator Studios.
"There is a really high number of single-use plastic cups used in Singapore, for a country that is known for being very clean," says Von Wong, adding that the work should make viewers feel uneasy. His photos on the theme of marine plastic pollution are also on display.
Plastikophobia's launch a fortnight ago was particularly timely. The year 2019 has been dubbed Singapore's Year Towards Zero Waste, a year-long campaign that aims to raise awareness of waste issues.
A series of public consultations will contribute towards a Zero Waste Masterplan, which will be unveiled later this year and outline strategies the Government will implement in the next few years.
On the arts front, there has been a wave of events exploring environmental issues. These range from art exhibitions to theatre productions.
The NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Singapore has also made the environment a focus of its various activities from 2017 to next year. It will hold an exhibition on climate change in late 2020.
NTU CCA Singapore's deputy director for curatorial programmes Khim Ong says: "Artists and their work are able to approach topics from a very different perspective, highlighting and investigating questions that are multi-layered and not so black and white."
Environmental and climate issues, for example, can be addressed "in ways that are evocative, tangible, thought-provoking and sometimes poetic, as opposed to a didactic and informational tone".
The environmental theme is also seeping into some theatre works.
Pangdemonium's Dragonflies, shown at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) two years ago, explored the issue of climate change.
And The Necessary Stage's production The Year Of No Return, commissioned for next year's Sifa, has a title that suggests how failing to curb carbon emissions by 2020 will lead to the rise of global temperatures past the point of no return.
Last year, artist Zai Tang, 34, started a series called Escape Velocity, made of field recordings of wildlife-rich locations in Singapore under threat from urbanisation.
His second work in the series, installed under the West Coast Highway last year, was a composition of slowed-down field recordings from Bukit Brown, MacRitchie and the Rail Corridor. The sounds of birds, insects and macaques were augmented, at times in a rather uncanny way, and heard against a visual backdrop of abstract animations.
"This approach was a means of exploring what happens if we ditch the idea of nature as other," says Tang, who created the animation with artist and animator Simon Ball.
Listening, Tang adds, could encourage people "to step outside of our human-centred selves... allowing the chance for a more interconnected sense of co-existence to emerge".
Some artworks at the recent MeshMinds exhibition at the ArtScience Museum used technology to jolt people into awareness.
The Mount That Keeps Growing, by arts collective DPLMT, looks like a beautiful goddess flanked by sea waves. But on closer inspection, viewers realise that the artwork is made up of images of aluminium cans, plastic bottles and other forms of waste - which come to life with the help of augmented reality.
But what sort of impact does art have?
"Every effort to change the world for the better matters," says Patrick Flores, artistic director of the upcoming Singapore Biennale, which runs from Nov 22 to March 22 next year, and has the hopeful-sounding title Every Step In The Right Direction.
Tang, whose installation at the Biennale will focus on the upcoming Mandai eco-resort development, adds: "I hope people encountering my work will discover something about their aural sensibilities. From here, the way they attune to the world through listening may shift into a deeper state of awareness.
"These subtle affects and sensitivities can make a big difference over time."
Veteran sculptor Han Sai Por, 75, also hopes governments will take heed.
She began her ongoing Black Forest series of installations in 2011, in response to the forest fires in Sumatra and the haze it produced.
On the issue of forest loss, Han, a Cultural Medallion recipient, says: "Governments in South-east Asia and the region need to help one another to control the (number of) trees being chopped down."
Dr Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, an assistant professor of social sciences (environmental studies) at Yale-NUS College, says well-known authors and artists should engage environmental issues in their work, bringing these issues to audiences who might not consciously choose to engage with them.
"Any kind of cultural influencer, whether it's a radio deejay or a film-maker on Singapore TV, I think there's a need to bring these messages beyond the choir. That's something any form of art can do."
He adds: "I'm someone who appreciates art for art's sake. That said, we are in a very perilous moment in human history. At this point, any fiction that hopes to be realistic has to engage climate change.
"Or else, it's fantasy, or historical fiction."
Climate fiction - literature that focuses explicitly on climate change - has exploded in the last decade. But does it persuade readers to take action against climate change?
Not necessarily, even though it does remind concerned readers of the severity of the problem, suggests a recent study by Dr Schneider-Mayerson that was published in the Environmental Humanities journal last year. It surveyed 161 American readers of 19 works of climate fiction.
Some respondents reported feeling "helpless" and "depressed" when they read books with bleak narratives. Such strong negative emotions "could prove counterproductive to efforts at environmental engagement or persuasion", the assistant professor wrote.
He tells The Straits Times: "While I found that awareness is very important, I don't know if awareness is really the problem. I think part of the problem is people don't really know what to do."
Whether it is film, fiction or art, he says, rather than painting dystopian tales about how we are treating the planet, "what we need is to paint futures that are not pie-in-the-sky, but that show us responding in an appropriately determined and resilient way to the problems we face today".
Von Wong hopes his installation will be a "fun" way to continue the conversation about plastic waste and get people more aware about the plastic they use in their daily lives.
"I think people feel demoralised, because they are a really small part of the problem and can't solve it. But one bottle a day for your whole life is 30,000 bottles. It all adds up... it starts with yourself."
16 Mar - Berita Harian feature on artists featured in the MeshMinds 2.0 showcase, including a mention on MeshMinds' collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts.
Berita Harian published an article featuring Mohammad Fairuz Ramlan and his artwork The Glass Bottle Music Machine (GBMM). The article highlighted that the Glass Bottle Music Machine (GBMM) was created by the music student from LASALLE in conjunction with MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood, which featured the works of local artists who creatively used art and technology to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It also noted that the showcase coincided with Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste. Berita Harian pointed out that GBMM strives to address Goal #12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, and described how Fairuz created this artwork.
5 Mar - Straits Times Life feature on technology being used to spotlight pollution, plus an event listing of MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood.
Using technology to spotlight pollution
Art exhibition at ArtScience Museum features immersive artworks focusing on environmental sustainability
At the ArtScience Museum, visitors can use artificial intelligence to transform animals made up of plastic blocks into animated characters.
The animals include endangered South-east Asian wildlife such as orangutans and Javan rhinoceroses.
Illustrator Andre Wee, 29, designed the digital versions of these creatures for this year's MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood art exhibition, which opens on Thursday.
He says: "I hope that by having a hand in the creation of this artwork, visitors can gain a sense of ownership of these animals."
Organised by The MeshMinds Foundation, the second edition of the technology-driven art exhibition will feature about 20 immersive artworks and experiences by more than 25 artists, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Page 43 of 508
Ms Kay Vasey, founder of not-for-profit arts outfit The MeshMinds Foundation, says: "We want to tackle global challenges from an Asian perspective. If we always talk about it from the perspective of the West, where are the Asian voices?"
For Lasalle College of the Arts undergraduate Yashini Renganathan, 29, the exhibition is a chance for her to zoom in on light pollution with her 3D printed artwork, Sabaism.
BOOK IT / MESHMINDS 2.0: ARTXTECHFORGOOD
WHERE: ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue
WHEN: Thursday to March 17, 10am to 7pm (last admission at 6pm)
INFO: Go to www.meshminds.com
Light pollution refers to the excessive brightening of the night sky by artificial lighting.
Singapore had the highest rate of light pollution in the world in 2016, but the issue is rarely discussed, she says.
She used a light meter to record luminosity levels at the brightly lit Helix Bridge and the darker Punggol Park, then transformed the data into two 3D printed figures.
She says: "People can't touch or feel light pollution, so I wanted to show them what it could look like by making physical representations of the data."
Likewise, illustrator Adeline Tan, 35, aims to make the issue of responsible consumption and production more tangible through the immersive virtual reality game Water Bodies.
Visitors will be transported into a virtual human stomach populated by tiny marine creatures and microplastics. They will have one minute to shoot as many of the pollutants to find out their origins, which range from plastic bags to cigarette buds.
A scoreboard at the end will reveal the largest plastic offender, along with tips to reduce their usage.
Tan was drawn to the issue of plastic pollution after reading a BBC article last year which reported that microplastics were in 93 per cent of bottled water in countries such as the United States.
"Plastic pollution is not just in the sea or landfills and it's not just choking seagulls.
"I wanted to show that this is not a distant problem and our trash could even already be in us in the form of microplastics," she said.