Today, I set out to map all my current and past projects and where they landed in my personal cartography. I currently have two versions:
Today, I set out to map all my current and past projects and where they landed in my personal cartography. I currently have two versions:
Last November 16th, I spoke on the panel, Negotiating Cities of the Future, part of the ArtScience Conversations hosted by ArtScience Museum, together with fellow artist-in-residence Michael Doherty, Shannon Lim, William Hooi, and Luther Goh. The museum was kind enough to send me photos from my part of the panel.
My talk was entitled, “The Apocalypse Playbook: Strategies for the End of the World.” I spoke about my previous work that led me to do The Apocalypse Project.
For example, I talked about the Seoul43 project. Even talking about it made me recall the exhaustion of climbing more than 43 mountains. Ha.
I also spoke about my previous sensory projects, such as The Hug Vest.
I also talked about how I came to value interactivity and experience-based design through my previous jobs and lives. As a youth correspondent at The Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of my favorite series of articles was something I called Temporarily Yours, where I took on a job for a day and wrote about it. My favorite one was about being a mascot for Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food chain. This is an 11-year newspaper clipping. In the job, I wore both suits, but for that particular photo, I was the blonde girl on the left.
Oh hi again, my Art, Science, and Design slide.
Dr. Margaret Tan, Fellow at Tembusu College and Director of Programmes, introduced us.
Denisa Kera, professor at the National University of Singapore, moderated the event.
Yep, I was wearing the Apocalypse Suit. I should wear that at all times. It’s comfy with a lot of pockets. It’s probably one of the few outfits I wouldn’t mind wearing everyday, other than a dobok.
Last November 10th, The Apocalypse Project was exhibited at the Sunday Showcase at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Here are some photos of my part of the show at the Inspiration gallery:
There were five mannequins dressed Climate Change Couture, four standing projectors that introduced the parts of the project and the Mission Apocalypse game, and screen at the back that showed all the drawings made during The Apocalypse Workshops.
On the left is an interactive station where people can do The Apocalypse Workshop.
It was great to see friends and strangers alike. Here’s Vinod, a Tembusu student and part of the Earth vs Humans: The Court Trial trying on the Smell Mask:
Dr. Stamatina Rassia of the Future Cities Laboratory dropped by.
And here’s Dr. Ingmar Lippert from Tembusu College.
Here’s squad member Yuen Kei Lam manning The Apocalypse Workshop. I’m so happy to see this photo—she started out being a participant in the first workshop I held, and now she’s facilitating one. Dr. Connor Graham of Tembusu College is also at the table.
I also had a photo booth where people can try on some of the Climate Change Couture clothes. On the right is squad member (and taekwondo classmate) Yerim Ku, an exchange student at the National University of Singapore.
I turned the Inspiration Gallery into a game of a sort, called Mission Apocalypse. The audience had a piece of paper with tasks on it.
The paper had 25 clues in a 5×5 grid that made them explore the gallery.
Each clue led to a question about climate change. If you get five correct answers vertically, horizontally, or diagonally (like in Bingo), you get an Apocalypse Project sticker. Or you can answer everything and get a poster.
Oh hey, here’s Professor Gregory Clancey, Master of Tembusu College (and also my neighbor):
This is one of my favorite photos. This kid was so great. He’s seven years old and working on climate change questions in Mission Apocalypse.
He also drew this superpower for The Apocalypse Workshop:
Lastly, but most importantly, thank you, Apocalypse Squad, Batch 1. The more complex my projects get, the more I’ve learned to delegate. Thank you, all.
I’ll be putting everything about the project online here. It’s crunch time again for me (a chronic problem for chronic travelers), but it’ll all get done. The other day, I finished posting all the workshop submissions, which led to me reaching Tumblr’s posting limit for the day. I think I broke the Internet that day. Do follow that site for more updates!
Photos in this post by artist and Apocalypse Squad member Sandra Goh. Now this is exhibition photography, people. I’m taking down notes.
This weekend was the first time I exhibited The Apocalypse Project in our group showcase in ArtScience Museum. This was a stressful installation, but not quite as much as climbing more than 43 mountains, or mowing a mountain in a monsoon with a sickle. But everything went alright in the end, and I was quite happy with how it looked:
The Apocalypse Squad
I have learned so much from all the shows I’ve done in the past, but this is hands down my favorite one, mainly because of the team of students who made up the Apocalypse Squad. Without them, everything would have fallen apart. They worked on everything— helping to assemble the actual pieces, making each interactive station work well, and helping the audience win the Mission Apocalypse game. It was quite a production for a one-day show. I was so proud of how they worked that day—a clear indication of me getting old. Here we are, after takedown:
Kudos as well to Tembusu students and faculty who helped me set up the installation.
More detailed photos about what went on in future posts by this week, but for now, I think I need to rest for a couple of days and get my sleeping patterns back to normal.
But in more important news:
Donate to Haiyan victims
As the world knows, Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) tore through my home country, the Philippines, a few days ago. Being here in Singapore, I have been feeling very heartbroken, helpless, and distracted at seeing all the photos of the devastation. I also couldn’t help noticing the irony of exhibiting The Apocalypse Project, which I intended to make people visualize a dystopic future brought about by climate change, and actually have that apocalypse a reality in my motherland. I am not kidding—some of the things people drew for The Apocalypse Workshop became true this weekend. At the last minute, I changed one dress for Climate Change Couture as a reference to this catastrophe. (More on this in a future post.)
Thank you, Lion City, for lending the Philippines a hand.
For the final part of The Apocalypse Workshop, I asked the participants, “What would you wear to the apocalypse?” and to define each wearable they design. I gave them fashion design templates. Here is the Tembusu version of an Apocalypse Lookbook:
Here are some sketches:
“Fly. Heal. Escape.” —Adeline Chang
“Ability to move the sun” —Amanda Tan Ying Shyuan
“I wish I will have the power to breathe life into the world again.” —Au Yong Shi Ya
“In the case of singularity, no one really knows what’s gonna happen, but it’s likely that people will be even more interconnected than before. e.g. chips planted inside head / linked to the brain. In this case, a helm of mind-control protector might help in preventing subliminal advances to your head space / just outright mind-jacking.
“I would teleport to the mountains, the wilderness, the forests, something of the like. The place can simply transform with a snap.” —Cassandra Teo
“This drawing shows a Superman shooting down CO2 gas molecules to reduce greenhouse warming. He is flying and protecting the atmosphere of the Earth.” —Chan Sze How
“Nose with CO2 to O2 converting nose-hair / cells. Whatever by-product will be used to “recharge” the converting mechanism. Eyes that can see temperature differences in color, that can function like binoculars to see danger from afar. Mouth that has glands that secrete substances to purify contaminated water and food.” —Cherlyn Tan
“I will have the power to be invisible when I go out so that the heat / temperature will not be a problem! I will have the healing power to “heal” anything that comes my way, to have the strength to carry animals, people to safety. Magic wand: I will have the magic power to make plants and trees grow beautifully by having a protective shield to prevent excessive sun rays. Plants will flourish.” —Germaine Goh
“Neo-Atlantis human.” —Jared Koh
“Our skin will be able to dissipate heat and moisture so that we can cope with the increased heat and humidity. To combat bad swampy smells out skin will naturally emit happy smells.” —Jonathan T
“An invisible sphere that can be activated with the click of a button. Being invisible, it will not block out the scenery but at the same time it can create a micro-climate in which people can control the temperature. It is like a force field that don’t need to be carried when you move.” —Lee Ying Lin
“…I think having the power to control the weather from now until the future might be of use. Perhaps I will be able to alleviate the harmful effects of global warming and reduce its negative impact on the Earth’s physical (natural?) atmosphere. Alternatively, with my ability to control the weather, I suppose I could put a stop to global warming entirely? Send thunderbolts to blast factories emitting carbon into oblivion, showers of rain to rejuvenate the plants and the rainforests, more rain to ease droughts and nourish infertile lands … bring the sun out to make the plants grow… Perhaps weather control is not necessarily the ultimate solution to preventing a future like the one I have imagined, but it can be a start. Bring on the superpower abilities!” —Rachel Lee
“Protective Impenetrable Bubble.”—Victoria Er
“Dots-connection deviece. It’s all about changing mindsets of development.” —Zoe Bezpalko
The Apocalypse Workshops that I held last week at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore yielded some very interesting results as to how young people view climate change nowadays. For this part, I asked them to pick a favorite place and describe in great detail how climate change will affect it 50 years hence.
Below are some results. Check out the future site of The Apocalypse Project here.
One of my current favourite places to be in the open air lift lobby in the Tembusu College building —on the 14th level. I go there at night, when I need to peace out or think or feel the coldness of the wind against my body. In the darkness all I can see are the faint outlines of treetops, and twinkling out of them are lights —staring eyes and the corners of a generous, comforting smile that engulfs me and my troubles. The lights of the buildings shine in the distance far, far behind the trees, and the air is fresh and cold. At half past 2 in the morning, there isn’t a soul around me, and calm falls over me like the softest blanket as the automatic corridor lighting clicks off. I breathe deep once, then once more.
50 years later I sneak back to that spot, my spot, on the 14th floor. I gaze out at the phantoms of trees past; my eyes glitter with the barest trace of tears. My mind runs free and in ecstasy, conjuring up the face that has kept me company through nights of intimate conversations, cup noodles, somber inner ramblings, the pure bliss of wind, sensation and being alive. But there are only glass towers now, beautiful and cold and hard and ugly and out of place. The wind I loved so is no more, it is warm today, too warm. As my eyes blur it becomes easier to pretend it is tears that shroud my vision—and not the haze of change.
Amanda Tan Ying Shyuan:
Climate problem: full-blown freezing of the top of the ocean waters
Mt. Faber view point
Au Yong Shi Ya:
Botanical Gardens Pavilion in the midst of fallen leaves and dead trees
My favorite place: Headspace > change drastically > Climate change pushes technological developments
50 years from now > 2063 > Projected year around which “singularity” will occur: 2040 > Post-singularity: no one knows, but logical that robots / humans with robot brains would use crazy advanced technology to solve climate change > People become more rational beings > Solve human problems which are barriers to climate change > Technology evolves exponentially
Greatest change that could occur is inside head.
Human apocalypse? since moving to post-human.
Evening, it is warm. The wind is hotter, the sunlight shines through dust. This will be the view outside Tembusu, if it still will be there.
Chan Sze How:
This image is a location in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. 50 years on, with changing climatic conditions, poor harvests (characterised by the black outlines on the slopes of the mountains) and the abandoned town is obsessed. This place relies heavily on subsistence farming which explains why the place is abandoned due to poor crop yield.
This is the rough layout of my home. I live in a HDB flat on the 20th storey in the Eastern part of Singapore. I love my home. Being on the 20th floor means that I get to enjoy the nice breeze and a bird’s eye view of everything—when I look out of the window in my room, I see the sea and the many ships and vessels of all shapes and sizes. I see aeroplanes preparing to land (my home is near Changi Airport), I see part of the MRT track and the good old (most-of-the-time trustworthy) train moving along, and I see cars, all sorts, and hear them, too.
In 50 years, if climate change has revealed its tipping point, I imagine that the heat will be unbearable. So unbearable that the air-conditioning would have to be left on 24/7 (leaving us with the guilt that we may be making things worse, but yet not knowing how else to cope with the heat). The air will be heavy with the smell of burnt and melting rubber and plastic as a result of [increase] in UV rays reaching the Earth’s surface. Aeroplanes carrying tourists will be replaced with government aircrafts to distribute supplies and monitor environmental conditions.
In 50 years, I imagine my house to be my little safe haven, whereby life will be unbearable without aircon (as see by the increase in number of air-conditioner present). Furthermore, my plants will have to be indoor plants for the heat will be unbearable under the hot sun. Trees will not survive (fallen leaves) and the land will be bare (no plants can grow) in the garden outside my house. My safe haven will have my piano still. 🙂
This is what used to be my favorite field. They are building a car park on it already. In fifty years it’ll be hot and swampy. Mangroves and moss will grow where there is grass and flowers. There will be lots of flies. Because the field is surrounded by residences, people will still have to commute through future-swamp. So they will build a stilt walkway through it. The monsoon drain next to the swamp will be perpetually full. Strange and smelly things will grow in there.
Lam Yuen Kei:
Location: The High Court where justice is meted out for perpetuators of climate change
[Shown: people who are hanged for stealing water]
Lee Ying Lin:
50 years later… I’m imagining how it would be like in my dream retirement farm. In my imagination, climate change will make the summers in Australia even warmer than now, but maybe the effects would change it into a tropical climate, that is evergreen throughout the year. Picnics, horse-riding can still carry on.
This is a horrible picture of a window seat on the airplane. It’s my favourite place in the world because of the way it makes me feel, a reminder that I am but a tiny speck in the vast unknown. In 50 years’ time there may possibly be whiter clouds, given the progress of geoengineering. Somehow, I imagine the skies to be darker, perhaps more rain. I won’t see clearly because of the haze but I imagine myself still feeling excited about travel. In 50 years’ time there will still be too much of the world I need to see, but with climate change there will also be places that will be gone forever.
One of my favourite places is the rooftop garden at Orchard Central. It is especially magical at night, when the greenery is a deep dark green and the silhouettes of the water lilies are reflected in the fish pond. THere are lanterns switched on sometimes, and their warm glow battles the garden, creating a mystical and almost fairytale-like atmosphere.
In 50 year’s time, I imagine that the garden will no longer be an open-air one. The effects of global warming might have led the management to encase the garden in a plastic bubble, a greenhouse of sorts, to keep out unwanted UV rays, etc. The atmosphere in the garden will thus be a very sterilized one, lacking fresh air and the cool night breeze that I have come to love about it. I believe that it will be vastly different staring out at the vast expanse of the midnight-blue sky through a layer of plastic, compared to the unobstructed view that I enjoy now. The artificiality and the feeling of being in a controlled environment where nature is even more domesticated than it is now (the garden is currently man0made in itself) will be rather off-putting, and I fear that the mystical allure of the garden will be lost forever.
Sarah Lim Shu Hui
Images and sounds:
– Children consistently coughing due to persistent asthma attacks > must be the air
-The elderly have their eyes constantly watering due to the dust.
– Sound of the air purifier and air conditioning (not that helps).
– Air is more polluted that it was.
– Finally able to get salmon after so long because of shortages of salmon and sky rocket prices.
– Furniture full of dust from pollutants
– Unbearable heat in the day
– Global warming
– Water seems a bit more sour than normal > must be the acid rain.
– Food doesn’t taste that nice anymore > probably because of the pollutants.
Tay Ying Ying:
Betws-y-Coed, Wales, is my favorite place on earth because it is so scenic, nature there is so untouched, the air is always clean and fresh, and the people are so kind and loving. I remember meeting two strangers in Wales who were so generous to me, giving me lunch and sharing with me about their lives so openly. These two people are Father Damien and Dylan.
In 50 years, as climate change affects it, the mountains can perhaps not be visible due to haze. The air would be either too cold or too hot. There may not as as many trees and plantations and it would be a ruined place. Could I get back to Betws-y-Coed and it’s neighboring village Llanrwst? Maybe not. There may not be any more nature as we know it now! And it saddens my heart to think that Dylan will no longer be able to take those lovely walks up in the mountains with his dogs, in the very mountains which he calls home, in which is finds his refuge and strength.
What about the lovely Swallow Falls? Will there still be the lovely sounds and peaceful calm of water falling onto the bed of rocks? Or would it flood or dry up?
And the beautiful blue skies will be grey and perhaps never see the light of the beautiful sun.
Zoe Bezpalko, environmental engineer:
Papassus, my grandparents’ farm, southwest of France
In Papassus, the climate change already affected the environment, the seasons don’t change, spring and autumn disappeared. Animals like glow-in-the-dark worms disappear whereas some developed and spread like rats and cats. With climate catastrophes, I see poverty coming. I image the energy demands raining so much that pipe lines will be built everywhere and people will chop down the forest. Biodiversity of trees, animals and landscape will change to be a very monotonous view. We will have only one type of agriculture. Robots will take out all jobs forcing people to live in poverty and trying to survive in an artificial world. Very rich people will be locked down in fake paradises with no notion of local, sustainable resources, always demanding more.
Every single “virgin” natural place will be polluted by wastes. At my grandparents’ place a community of optimistic people decided to settle down and live in an autonomous society.
This week, I got two groups of students from Tembusu College here at the National University of Singapore, to voluntarily participate in my Apocalypse Workshop. The goal was for them to imagine a climate change apocalypse.
The first activity was called My Apocalypse. These were my instructions:
Name and describe your favorite place in 50 years as climate change affects it. (Write about it and draw it.) This could be a city landmark, the family farm, your apartment building, your favorite cafe, or any other place you feel like speculating on. Please be as specific as possible. Scenarios can be positive or negative. (Some questions to ponder, but please don’t limit yourself to these: What does it smell like? What plants and/or animals are present, if any? How hot or cold will it be when you are sitting there? How will you get there? Can you see clearly? Will your pet be happy living there? What is the color you see when you look up? Are there walls, and what are they made of?)
I asked them to name the actual place (and not just write, “the world” or “the city”) because I wanted them to be as specific and detailed as possible. The participants were also more likely to choose different places and thus provide a wider range of descriptions.
The second activity was called Superpowers for the End of the World. These were the details:
If you had a superpower to navigate through what you described in Activity 1, what would it be?
Examples of superpowers can be the ability to: smell an incoming tsunami, be invisible to animals, turn into ice during a heatwave, or anything that your current senses and abilities can’t let you do right now. It can be an extension of your biological abilities, or a device that performs it. You can list more than one superpower.
I wanted to frame it in this way so that people will find it more fun and exciting and really think outside the box when it comes to climate change. Nothing like superpowers to get the creative juices flowing!
The last activity was called The Apocalypse Lookbook, where I gave them fashion design templates:
What will you wear to the apocalypse? Use the templates provided. Define the function of each wearable.
I let them do each activity for twenty minutes, and afterwards, they shared what they made to the group. These university students all had taken a class on climate change, or were in the middle of one. They came from business, economics, engineering, and communication majors. I also had one participant who is a professional environmental engineer.
Here are some photos from the sessions:
I’ve given lots of workshops in the past few years—this definitely yielded among the most imaginative results. I’ll be sharing those soon. Thanks to all the participants, and also to those from all over the world who sent their answers online!
(Seoul)—Last Saturday, a group of high school students from the docent program of the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Korea made their way over to the Changdong Art Studio for a talk and workshop with me and fellow artist-in-residence, Karolina Bregula.
After I made the students go on a scavenger hunt in my studio, we had homemade kimbap and tteokbokki for lunch. Then, I facilitated short workshops on drawing what they see in clouds, assigning colors to memories, and a blind smell test to dig through their memories.
For the color workshop, I thought the work of this student who matched color with pop culture was spot on:
I also loved this color palette of memories by another student:
Oh, and some used The Hug Vest as well.
All in all, a lovely and inspiring day with such intelligent women, who will soon be off to university.
With thanks to Ms. Sung-hee Cho of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, and the staff of the National Art Studio of Korea, Changdong. Also huge thanks to Ashlee Seo Hyung Lee, who translated for me during the day.
Annyeong, everyone! I’m starting another project.
During my first three weeks in Seoul, beyond the palaces, the museums, and other beautiful attractions the city has to offer, I learned to fall in love with their street food. I have started some drawing projects over the years, and so I came up with The Movable Feast: A Street Food Project, an interpretative illustration project that celebrates the joys and oddities of street food around the world.
Street food is arguably the most socially inclusive, yet sometimes unnoticed or taken for granted, of all cuisines. There is neither dress code nor reservation required. Everyone has to wait their turn. Street food is among the best things to eat when one is rushing to work, taking a break in between classes, or being too lazy to cook. It is cheap, easily available, and delicious.
The menu of street food can be simple (such as coconut juice and watermelon slices) or more complex and hard-to-find (such as escargot on the go, lobster sandwiches, and grilled tamales) This system includes a range of members—from the ambling taho vendor (Philippines), the seasonal bocadillo stall (Spain), to scheduled and franchised food trucks (United States). It is a mobile and complex system that consists of the producers of raw materials, the makers of the actual dishes, the transportation and infrastructure that bring them to the venues in which they are served, the governing bodies that allow their selling, and the vendors and consumers themselves.
Globalization and diaspora
In many ways, I have discovered that street food is a symbol of globalization and diaspora. Many of them hail from other countries, but with local flavor. Consider goroke, the Korean version of the French croquette. Or hotdogs in Iceland. Or shawarma in Canada. It is also a symbol of urbanization—as the population who move from rural to urban areas increase, so does the need for alternative sources and ways of distributing food.
Street food as identity
I believe that street food is a vital part of the culture and identity of a city. It is indicative of the sustenance immediately afforded by its geography. But more than that, it is a symbol of a people’s resourcefulness, creativity, and survival. They tell us stories about ourselves.
Eating and perception
Eating street food fires up all the senses, which are the center of my larger body of work. Street food conjures up memories of childhood and gives strangers a shared experience of a meal. These drawings themselves are interpretative; more than documenting what they are, I also draw how they’ve made me feel, and write the memory I have about them.
Follow the project’s Tumblr here.
P.S. Drawings up every Monday!
P.P.S. As I am based in Seoul, many of these posts will be about Korean street food, though I will draw all the other street foods I’ve eaten in other countries, past and future. But if you wish, you can submit photos of street food from your country and I can try it out and draw it. Or submit your own drawings, following the format I’ve started. The link to submit is here.
The Movable Feast, where eating means research. Thank you for checking it out.