Over the past two months, we found ourselves spending an incredible lot of time at the Singapore Art Museum’s 8Q building. During the Singapore Art Week, we blasted open some wormholes a la Rick and Morty. Then a few weeks later we threw a farewell party for the museum building, which was set to close for renovation works for a few years. It’s been a wild start to our year, and we’re here with a recap for you.
SINGAPORE ART WEEK
Contrary to popular belief, interdimensional travel doesn’t just arise out of following Rick’s portal gun formula. Lots more work went on behind the scenes.
We wanted to highlight the value of art as experiences, as opposed to their usual status as museum artefacts. With this in mind, we felt that an immersive and interactive approach would be most important.
And so we thought of using Rick and Morty’s intergalactic portals as a starting point because, well, who wouldn’t want to step into one of these things? The art that Kult often brings to a formal museum space could be construed as almost from alternate universes.
For this event, we went the extra light-mile. We brought together artists and creative collectives to present not just one, but three portals: Emoji Land, the Isle of Good Deeds, and the Garden of Internet Delights. These worlds offered outworldly experiences visually while presenting tasks that enhance skills, broaden perspectives and offer insights that can be applied back on Earth.
The concept for Emoji Land grew out of Howie Kim’s surreal emoji collages, as well as our fascination with the idea of a life-sized board game that visitors could play with.
We commissioned Howie to bring Emoji Land to life. We also paired him up with Dude Studios to create augmented reality (AR) content that could be activated through scanning a QR code. Together, they created a life-sized Emoji Castle and a set of digital face masks.
Isle of Good Deeds is a space where a visitor’s task is incomplete until they have performed a good deed. We invited our long-time collaborator Ravi Manthovani to work with us for this, and once again also brought in Dude Studios. Using climate change as the context, we conceptualised a red-tinged world where the earth is overheated. If visitors generate wind into the microphones using the folded fans provided or any other means, the visuals on the projected artwork gradually turn into a calming blue colour.
The third portal opened up into the Garden of Internet Delights, a world whose name is derived from a digital artwork by Zxerokool. We asked Zxerokool if we could bring new life to his work by animating it, and then worked together with Ravi Manthovani to make it happen. The final piece was projected onto a screen to set the tone of the entire portal.
Against the backdrop of this projection, we invited a young theatre collective, Patch and Punnet, to stage an interactive theatre piece inspired by the whims and implications of living inside of the Internet. Complete with characters playing Instagram, Mr. Internet and Virus, the collective offered animated perspectives about the Internet to the forefront.
We devised a flow to the entire experience, with a set-up at 8Q Plaza introducing visitors to all three worlds. A large directional signage – created as a collage of Emoji Land, Isle of Good Deeds and the Garden of Internet Delights. Scanning the QR codes on our signage reveal animations, sound clips and hints to the adventures that await inside the portals.
MAD FOR SAM PARTY
A few weeks later we came back to the SAM @ 8Q building to throw a super badass Mad for SAM Party over the weekend of 16-17 February. This time, instead of just three rooms, we had the entire building to fill up. We brought in deconstructed graffiti, interactive theatre and projections, and far more.
The idea behind this was to show the energy of super young, youthful and new talent – in a way to have audiences already anticipating the return of a refurbished SAM, as well as hungry for more from the Singapore arts and culture scene. While we were only at SAM for a day during Singapore Art Week, this MAD Party happened over a span of three days.
We were inspired by the art direction of single-room experiences – music video style. We wanted to let creatives dress an assigned room according to their own visions and personalities, thus each representing a fragment of our subcultures.
Here is the brief that we gave to our creatives:
And who were our chosen ones? We gathered artists to represent various subcultures and advancements within their own artistic practices. Since many of them worked fluidly across mediums and fields, we believed that they would be able to defy the labels surrounding their subcultures.
Nicholas Leong and Teo Chong Wah were, to us, representative of the street and urban art scene. They created an installation titled “It Is What It Is”, which abstracted the forms of graffiti and connected that to everyday experiences.
We also got on board Sproud, a creative agency specialising in immersive video production. They presented “The B-Side”, which inquired into Singapore’s history through reimagining the legend of William Farquhar – a British Major General who claimed to have founded modern Singapore. They made use of holograms and a motion-sensitive voting system to question conventional notions of history and subvert conventional notions of how voting choices are meant to be confidential.
While Christopher Sim is not a musician, we saw him as representative of the Youth and Urban Music subculture because of how he documents their events and experiences through photography. Chris assembled together a room of music, zines and a flea market, and even brought in live sets by eight local bands: Sobs, Cosmic Child, Subsonic Eye, Live the Empire, Forests, susurrus, Terrible People and Xingfoo&Roy. Fun fact: this is the first time that live music has been played in the SAM @ 8Q building since its opening in 1996.
Haikel represents an emerging group of artists interested in the new media art field. He wove augmented reality and sound-reactive kinetic technology together with typography and words to create interactive experiences that explore the future of digital communication.
For the fine arts scene, we selected JOE. an anonymous duo who satirise their own practice. They created an installation inspired by the components of the human brain, compelling audiences to reflect upon how they engage with their environment.
Patch & Punnet, which also featured during the Singapore Art Week, presented an adaptation of their original play ‘Stupid Cupid’. It aims to de-stigmatize notions of failure through an immersive theatre experience.