A Blip in Time
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
“The flesh is at the heart of the world”, says a philosopher. How then are we, of flesh, of heart, to navigate a new world built on points and pixels? Like an adventurer, an archaeologist, an anthropologist, a wayfinder, a gardener of odd crops, a collector of strange things, 12 artists unravel the trajectories of this accelerated progress. With the library as refuge, the artists use art as an intermediary, a cathartic tool to expose and remap the anxieties around emerging technologies and the very human propensity for the familiar.
From 1 to 14 April, the Jurong Regional Library is hosting an ArtxTech exploration by 12 artists amongst its books, shelves and reading corners. Since February 2021, these 12 artists from the all-women arts collective Fertile Art Refinery have been learning new tech skills for the first time in a collaboration with the National Library Board's MakeIT space. The exhibition is a culmination of their exploration into digital fabrication, robotics, coding, projection mapping and more.
Agatha Lee “Agy”
Embroidery has a long history as a story-telling medium. Traditionally regarded as women’s work, the act of drawing with needle and thread has allowed communities to record history, personal experiences and cultural stories through various motifs on fabric.
The artist, Agatha Lee “Agy” uses both hand stitch and free motion embroidery in her work to translate observations of her surroundings into textile collages and 3D pieces. As an advocate of slowing down, she also uses these techniques as a form of meditation to reconnect with herself and process the demands of daily life.
In this piece of artwork, the artist compares the use of old (handstitch) and new technology (ie 3D printer) in the creation of embroidery on textiles. She attempted to replicate the patterns from her own embroidered garment and asked questions:
Whether new technology can mimic the meditative process of embroidery
Whether we are able to replicate and pass down generations of embroidery motifs using new technology,
Whether a person who uses new technology to create embroidered pieces can be called an artisan
Medium - fiber
Technology - 3D printing
" sometime in... "
In response to the anxieties leading to seeking comfort in spaces or ideas that we might be conditioned to feel uncomfortable in;
Through hand-drawn animations, which involves a process of redrawing the previous frame in slight differences to show the movement in time, I wish to explore the idea of little changes, and the effects of them.
Following character(s) that travel through a multitude of actions that are anxiously repetitive and seemingly mundane, in an empty space, these drawings are a mediation of lost characters that are learning to navigate in their perspective.
It might be the lack of geographical reference that causes these anxious movements, or perhaps there might be an energy under the city, maybe an ancient one, that moves these characters.
Its empty state of environment allows room for interpretation and “relocation”.
Rolling of Tissue Paper
Cynthia Delaney Suwito
The presence of toilet paper seems compulsory these days in every toilet, every building and every city. Though its invention was not until the 19th century, many city dwellers have never lived in a place where this object is not readily available. We tend to not think too much about toilet paper’s presence, only its absence.
The toilet paper, in my opinion, signifies more than our needs but also the existence of a modern city civilization. A toilet paper rolls when there are people around. The busier or populated an area is the faster it rolls. In a circular motion just like a clock, the rolling of a toilet paper has the ability to roughly measure human activity in a certain area.
In this interactive installation, viewers are allowed to interact with each roll, creating a drape of toilet papers that is ever-changing. Just like an actual toilet paper in any bathroom, a change suggests that a space is haunted with people and life.
Reclaimed wood kindly sponsored by CREUSE
A Letter to Us
A holographic installation by TechneFractals presents words created together with library participants from the artist’s typography and lettering workshop on the Go Library channel.
Video calls are exhausting. Although we are physically in touch with our body, we experience the lack of an emotional connection with the person on the camera, thus reducing the need for us to react physically or emotionally to the other person. It causes a disruption to yourself, and our ability to transmit and express fully to the other party. it exposes the downside to how we are limiting our own body to experience the sensations and psychological connection with the other person.
Glorious Years is a contemplation on feminism, struggle-freedom-power, and the passing of time. A slow-rotating pink sculpture made with discarded materials commonly found in the home, this artwork seeks to encapsulate the feelings of perseverance, possibility, and timelessness.
The title of the artwork is from Glorious Years, a song by Hong Kong band Beyond, which is inspired by the apartheid struggle in South Africa. Elements in the artwork include a line from the above-mentioned song, the Burmese name for a tumbler toy, and mirrors engraved with freedom tattoos of female friends.
Special thanks to:
Alexia, Bee, Brent, Chantelle, Corrie, Eve, Hao Pei, Jaki, Kee Wee, Louise, Melissa, Oscar, Tien, Veron, Yu Xiang
“Not all who wander are lost”
A story of a cat, Chester, who will be playing “hide-and-seek” with individuals visiting the library space. In reference to a very cute and heart-warming story that had happened in Japan, a cat attempted many times to sneak into a library but failed. What is the cat trying to do in the library? What is in the library that attracts the cat to come? It seems to me a very small homage of what the cat in Japan is trying to achieve.
The cat can be anywhere. Be it at a corner or a small crevice of the bookshelf. This cat can also be around referencing books to children or even adults in a small world of literary fun!
Referencing on to The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, He is always disappearing and appearing at a hidden corner.
Exploring lightworks together with an acrylic sculpture that embodies the interior complexity of a cat in temperamental moods. Sensors will also depict on your approaching distance for Chester’s mood to surface!
between moo and you
An Installation and diptych painting.
between moo & you is a three part exploration between crafting, painting and technology, all within the realm of art making. This project is an expression of my interest in cattles and how much they have changed human lives. It is between ideas of exploitation, animal romanticism, shifting perspectives and pure empathy that sprouted the making process of the works.
The between moo & you installation is a reflection of factory farms, where cows there have never stepped foot on grass, constantly on machines that control their entire life. Portraying in a more visually mild manner, they appear to be flying cows, or even cows in heaven!
The between moo & you diptych painting is a dreamy landscape of a field in Yogyakarta, where I can only imagine cows freely roaming and grazing the field, in a way that benefits itself and humankind.
Building Time/(Re-presenting) Between Pudukkottai and Singapore
Although 4 years have passed in the completion of the film, the topics raised by the film are still pertinent issues faced by the migrant labour community.
Exhibiting a film outside of a cinema is where the artist, who was closely involved in the production of it, has presented the element of 3-dimensionality as a reflexive viewing experience. (Many thanks to Veronyka and Angel for the exhibition support)
Original Film Details:
Director: Vishal Daryanomel
Co-Producers: Vishal Daryanomel / Sharmeen Sifar
Language: Tamil, with English Subtitles
This short documentary features poet N Rengarajan, a migrant worker from Pudukkottai, India who sustains a practice of poetry as a way of life while working in the construction sector in Singapore. The film, structured around three of his poems, seeks to visually mirror the rhythm and tone of his writing. Together, verse and visuals strive to draw attention to the poet's acute illuminations of the realities of migrant life.
Previously screen at
- Singapore Writers' Festival,2017
- Freedom Film Festival, Citizen Cinema Singapore, 2017 (Selection)
- Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival, 2017 (In Competition)
- Independent Political Activism Short Film Festival 2018, Athens
- South Asian International Documentary Festival 2018, Seattle
- Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival, 2018
A Little Daydream Series
Teo Huey Ling
The artwork uses the cloud shape in a light-hearted and playful manner creating a whimsical visual language that invite viewers to interpret and imagine.
Much of the works are from the A Little Daydream series which uses the industrial method of slip casting. The cloud shape prototype is casted into plaster then slip cast with porcelain. It is a laborious multi-step process which involve knowledge in sculpting, plaster mould making, slip casting and kiln firing. The result is a translucent material after glaze firing. The artwork then assembled and lighted up showing the shadow and depth of the dedicated structure from within.
In this exhibition, some of the works are transformed, adding new components from 3D printing, servo power objects to programmable LEDs using the Micro:bit and makecode. Though the learning process is still in its infancy, the artist hopes that the digital attempt will push the boundaries of her practice as well as finding co-exist within to merge technology and traditional.
Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori observed that as robots become more human-like, they become more intriguing to us and have the power to elicit from us some very powerful emotional responses. There is however a certain threshold of humanness that the robot crosses when it becomes suddenly very repulsive. He called this phenomenon bukimi no tani, the “uncanny valley”.
This was the jumping off point for the artist as she contemplates our ability for empathy for the non-human and their endeavors to share this earth with us. Our human empathy naturally oscillates, flickers, alters, withdraws for the lion, the cow, the household lizard and the ant.
In an interview, Mori said, “We don’t know whether a mind will be formed when computers become really precise. Will a computer feel one day that it’s not in a good mood or that it doesn’t like this person or that? I don’t know.”
The uncanny valley manifests, perhaps not because we wonder if a very human-like robot feels when we look into its eyes, but if they care, the same unpredictable way we do.
The Resilience of the Lesser
Paper became fundamental to the accelerated spread of information, knowledge and ideas since its earliest forms over 2000 years ago. Its ancient usage continues into present time, proving to be an accessible material with qualities that make it more than a surface to draw, paint and make marks on, with much potential to transform into so much.
Xin explores the limits of those abilities in the intricate and precise machine cuts by laser to create these delicate layered paper posters. A parallel is drawn between the notion of a library as a public repository, held on bound paper filled with thoughts. In this instance, the removal of material is the act of recording, creating a gauzy film that maintains structural integrity by design. This dichotomy is an intended allegory of women, who needed resilience to survive in patriarchal society, alongside expectations to be gentle, submissive and “less”.
The inscribed quotes were drawn from books authored by women that inspired Xin with their leadership, to hopefully empower and encourage in these trying times. She juxtaposed the insubstantial material with words of great weight, to symbolise innate strength and wisdom of the feminine.
Known for her meticulous beaded artworks, which took her months to complete, Xin constantly questions the value of art and craft. With the advancement of technology, the artist sees it as a tool in art-making but not a replacement for the hands that have the tacit knowledge.
Agatha Lee "Agy" is a textile artist transforming textile waste into creative wearables and art using free motion embroidery. Agy's work looks at slowing down and making the invisible visible. She is also passionate about creating environmentally aware communities, and one of her long term projects is getting people to reevaluate their relationship with clothing, and transforming it into a positive one through upcycling and repair. Agy was instrumental in setting up Fashion Revolution SG and the clothing repair arm of Repair Kopitiam, a community repair initiative, and holds workshops, talks and installations.
Anna Chan is a visual artist working with a range of medium from paper to digital, and maybe things in between; contemplating space and place. She exhibited her first solo at Peninsular in Singapore, and has been part of various group exhibitions and enjoys working in multi-disciplinary settings.
Chan graduated with BA (Hons) in Fine Arts, with a prior background in Design Communication.
Cynthia Delaney Suwito’s practice explores the subtleties of everyday life and the experience of time. Based in Singapore, this Indonesian-born artist takes inspiration from simple materials, such as instant noodles, and everyday situations, such as filling out forms. As we pause in front of her works, the meanings we attach to seemingly ordinary items and the stories we involve them in, slowly unravel. Her works breathe life into these familiar objects, enabling people to see and value the beauty and significance that is overlooked in their daily lives. She hopes that her works can invite people to reflect on their own daily activities and see things with different perspectives and new approaches of thinking.
Born in 1993, Cynthia completed her Bachelor in Fine Arts, First Class Honours, at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. Internationally, Cynthia was featured on BBC Asia and Channel NewsAsia and was in the 2017 FORBES 30 under 30 Asia in the Arts. In Indonesia, she exhibited at 2017’s Body-Out and 2019’s Media Art Globale, both in Jakarta, as well as the Bandung Contemporary Art Award Assemblage in 2019. In Singapore, Cynthia was a finalist at the Harpers Bazaar Art Prize 2015, exhibited at the 2016 Affordable Art Fair, The Only Paradise is Paradise Lost in 2019 and The Hours After in 2021.
Eunice Lacaste (b. 1989) was born in Manila and grew up in Singapore. She is a PhD candidate at the Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design, and Media and had her MA in Asian Art History at the Lasalle College for the Arts. She is currently researching how digital technologies can be implemented in art practices in Singapore and across the region. As an emerging practitioner, she intends on decompartmentalising the aesthetic and the ethical, only to repackage them together in a more inclusive approach. Eunice is part of the Substation’s Artist Associate Program with Fertile Art Refinery and is also a member of Wuwei Performance Series’ committee.
Illa Haziqin (b.1995) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work exhibits the nature of transforming or the process of becoming another. She delves into personal relations around her, reflecting such matters into her own being. Through her works, she reassembles herself through a multitude of bodies, depicting transformed bodies of old and new through a series of photographs and live performances. Illa has performed in 3 of the Wuwei Performance series from 2018-2020, with live performances that pushes the limitations of the human body, questioning the normalized ‘uses’ of the human body and its social stigma. She has exhibited locally in Objectifs gallery, as a response to Amanda Heng’s work ‘Walk with me’, Coda Culture, and the Substation.
Jennifer Teo is a cultural worker, whose main focus is activism, collaborative artmaking and curating. She is co-founder and director of Post-Museum, an art and social space in Singapore. She has participated in numerous exhibitions/projects, and has collectors internationally.
Jessie Lim (b. 1980), is a self-taught artist/traveller who questions about city situations and spatial issues with the fast-paced city where she stays in. Her work explores the human relationship between cultural spatial spaces.
She is also one of the performance artists for Yeo Chee Kiong's "Sexy Shadows and the City" (2016), contributing to a local zine "Notions" and exhibits "Images from our Imaginations" (2016) at Early Literacy Center. Working together with Singapore After-Care Association, she took part in their street piano art collaboration "Play Me, I'm Yours" (2016) and contributed artwork to their 60th anniversary planner, namely "Connections".
Nicole Phua, based in Singapore, is a performance artist who engages with the idea of life and death in her expressions. She was formally trained in Western painting at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore). She has done live performance art in several group exhibitions in Singapore such as ORTHODOX, The Only Paradise Is Paradise Lost, and Wuwei Performance Art Series, as well as several events internationally such as ASIA Live! Singapur #4 in Poland, Polyphony: Southeast Asia in the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts, Making Sense of a Tiger Attack in Studio Batur and Inikah Rasanya...(Neraka) in Komunitas Salihara Arts Centre. She is the founder of a loose collective in Singapore called therightbelief, a platform to showcase contemporary works by young artists.
Sharmeen/Sifar (b. 1981) Storytelling has been an artery of Sharmeen/Sifar’s practice for the last 18 years. She has used various mediums to communicate her thoughts and style, with video being her oft-used tool. She puts her camera and editing skills towards collaborating with various communities in Singapore, in hopes of visually presenting under-represented truths.
In the last decade, she has actively presented inter-disciplinary creative works and hopes to continue merging her lived truths and expanding her crafts. Currently, she is collaborating on 3 short films that are releasing in mid 2021. From 2018, she has been on the organising team of Freedom Film Fest Singapore.
Veronyka Lau (b. 1971, Singapore) is an English Lit grad, social and animal welfare advocate, martial artist turned artist. Arriving into art after advocacy, Veronyka began her journey by investigating feminine space as a vessel for power dynamics and resistance in “We have about 12 years left”. Her works since, often confront the acts of contestation in the feminine space and psyche. In her multi-disciplinary practice, she has worked with found objects, photography, film and other digital mediums. She is also known for her performance work with a local performance art collective.
Teo Huey Ling’s work includes drawings, contemporary sculptures and art installation. Being tremendously driven by intricate and laborious processes, the artist takes interest in learning and mastering technical skills to uncover the properties of the material she works with. She thinks that her work is the partnership between the material, bonded through sensuous understanding and spontaneous responses. Graduated with high distinction in both ceramics and drawings from the National Art School, Australia, 2006. Her personal work strives on the notions of ambiguities that shift the forms of the biomorphic shapes through repetition, overlapping and juxtaposition.
The artist seeks to find a connectedness with the role as an artist and hopes that art gives the power to engage the community and establish true belongingness through aesthetic-driven dynamics in forms and materials.
Xin Xiaochang is an artist whose work is informed by her cross-disciplinary background across art and design. Her artistic output mixes ceramics and other materials in sculptures, installations, and finely crafted media. They have been exhibited in numerous local and international shows, and several are now in private and corporate collections globally.
Xin continuously develops her interest in the amalgamation of art, design and craft. Her artistic practice engages with humour and play, constantly using Singapore as a context for her works.
In 2018, together with two designers Wendy Chua and Yuki Mitsuyasu, Xin co-edited and published The Machinist, a book documenting the stories of a lathe machinist and his community in the Jalan Besar district of Singapore. Notably, she was inducted into the committee of the Sculpture Society (Singapore) in 2014, a role that saw her active participation and organisation of activities and shows, curation of works, and overseas exchanges. Xin is passionate about art and design education from early childhood to higher learning. She currently heads NAFA talent development initiatives and lectures while continuing her creative practice.
Deborah Ong is a Singaporean artist who was lucky to have an artist for a neighbour when she was young. A graduate from Central Saint Martins, she has exhibited her works in both the UK and Singapore, and is active as a local performance artist and art educator. She was selected for the Clyde and Co. Award in 2014 and awarded the Young Artist Award by the National Museum of Singapore in 2012. She is a founding member of The Artists Company who are a group of artists who re-imagines what a company made up of artists can be. She has contributed to shows at Flaneur Gallery, the Substation, ION Art Gallery, Your Mother Gallery, Stamford Arts Centre, Chen Wen Hsi’s ‘Homecoming’, as well as an outdoor performance at Dhoby Ghaut Green. In her practice, Deborah has been working in the mediums of chinese ink, darkroom photography and performance sculpture and recently moving into digital technology.
For this exhibition, she designed the show’s graphics and manages the Fertile Art Refinery’s Instagram account.
A Blip in Time is presented by Fertile Art Refinery
Organised by Veronyka Lau
Curatorial Statement by Deborah Ong with Jennifer Teo and Veronyka Lau
Show Artwork and Social Media by Deborah Ong