This art exhibition, in short, is actually a collection of artworks done by artists (past and present) who have expressed their view during the ruling of the British empire. Singapore is one of the British colonies and therefore has a stake in this. However what caught my attention is not really the intention of the art pieces (whether it has a political intent) but rather the style that are expressed in some of the artworks.
The painting of Sir Stamford Raffles and Queen Elizerberth II are classical representation of a portrait painting done in oil paint. These are the norm we expected for a painting. What is uncommon is the painting below which has a touch of humorous art (like cartooning) but painted in a formal way. There is a story behind the handshake and it reminded me of a editorial cartoon except that it is missing a gag and punchline!
The painting of the bulldog below is done by Singaporean artist, Tang Da Wu. Most of us will see a bulldog…a dog of course, but this bulldog is actually a substitution of the British empire and it bleeded its influence on those who are under her…feet! There is an element of satirical cartoon in his artwork.
The drawing below serves as an educational material to inform the natives that punishment is equal under the law. This is obviously a comic strip or sequenctial art in my view. The question is, after looking at all the artworks, which one do you think is a serious form of art? Are there equality under the context of ‘serious’? Seriously…it all looked kind of serious to me:P
In this digital age, when one attempts to pick up a brush and paint, the feeling is like going backward in time to those days where artists can spend weeks and months doing a painting! You can spend all day working on a watercolour painting like any other art medium, but there is a limit to the number of layers you can apply with transparent watercolour. The more layer of paint you apply, the darker the colour becomes and the transparency decreases. You can rework and recorrect an acrylic or oil painting as many times as you like, but not really with watercolour. The challenge here is to acheive transparency and radiance in your painting, just like you want to taste a freshly baked cake straight from the oven! This medium requires our mind to be quick, accurate and be decisive when applying paint on paper!
I went to The Future of Us exhibition a week ago. It was promoted and shared on Facebook and there is a particular respond that prompted me to go book a ticket fast. Someone actually said,” The Future of Us shall stay but not the exhibition!” This statement pressed my urgency button and the next moment I was there all geared up ready to experience something great!
The Future of Us exhibition claimed multi sensory experience and in my understanding, it means it involves all our senses: see; touch; smell; hear; taste or more. For a while, I began to associate multi sensory experience to the likes of the Transformer Ride at the Universal Studio. The feeling is pretty awesome if you have taken that ride before. You experience 3-D imagery; movement; surround sound; vibration and even explosion in front of your face. That is the multi sensory experience that I know! Perhaps this is a bit off the map. Maybe something like the world you see in the movie Avatar would be equally impressive if our future environment looks like that. I wouldn’t mind if this is not the real deal.
The reality, however, is not anything like what I described but merely something similar to a polytechnic multimedia open house but just on a larger scale. The exhibition is more of a multimedia presentation at most combined with a touch of Science Center’s gadgets plus a few ‘high-tech’, mega size lookalike HDB flats that reminded you of visiting the HDB Hub! The content of the exhibition is not something alien or very futuristic that will send a ‘WoW’ here and there but gives you the impression that you don’t even have to step out of your house to work; play; learn; buy grocery or attend any function. Just imagine that our grandfathers who once lived in kampong and had embraced the ‘kampong spirit’, the future of us is the total opposite of this. Our future is ‘Ultimate Isolation’! The shopping malls are located not next, but within your apartment. You don’t have to attend a cooking class physically but your teacher will still mark your attendance because the projected hologram of yourself has attended the class. You can also experience the force of the Jedi! Raised your palm, the lights will turn on; palm facing downwards the light becomes dimmer; wave your hand in a circular motion and you hear classical music; do everything at combo and fast speed and you will see smoke coming out from the device (joking of course). These are just a few interesting example among others.
I may sound sarcastic but there is one that is worth praising. This is the best part. Nothing fanciful but plain swings for everyone to enjoy. That is the only place you see adults became a child and swinging happily away. There is a catch though. Everyone will need to swing as hard as they can to power up a generator that will puff out a foamy stuff! “ROAR” (sound) coming out from a constructed lion… Perhaps this is the multi sensory experience they are talking about!
The Future of Us exhibition is still worth a visit in my opinion. It is not all disappointment for me though it doesn’t live up to my expectation. I returned home feeling satisfied because I have gathered some potential ideas for my cartoon jokes. But seriously, is this the future for us? Do we really desire such a future? I don’t have the answer.
The Present Us
The Future of Us
Let say we all live in a perfect world. In the perfect world there are a perfect you and me and we are known as the perfect being. How does this sound to you? It sounds to me that we must be living in some sort of paradise that is without hated and sufferings.James Leong & Franken Doll’s Perfect World Today points towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) living with us. In The Future of Us exhibition, it seems that Singapore is moving towards this direction as well except that it (exhibition) is far away from anything perfect.
Start thinking now how is it like to be perfect then? Then think about the people you know who have a perfect career but may not have a perfect love-life; the perfect beauty may not have the perfect hubby and the list goes on. It is very hard to imagine the criteria to be perfect unless you have something to compare with. Maybe when we all lived in a perfect world one day, we won’t say the perfect word anymore!
Perfect World Today is a series of 8 preludes, culminating in the epic Perfect World Saga. The story is about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays an important role in the human society. The authors viewed human being to be unreliable at times of need and the existence of an AI, whether they are in the form of a human or a software, makes peoples’ life manageable and breathable. The story reflects on peoples’ dependence on AI not just as a helper, but as a member of a family such as your granny, son, pet, boss and even your lover!
I bought this comic book from James Leong & Franken Doll during the January Panelgraph’s meet. I must admit there is an urge to support fellow artists in our comics industry but what really makes me open my wallet is the art on the cover page. I am curious. I am curious what is the story behind those lovingly, heart warming and peaceful images. Frankly speaking, the images on the cover page is ‘disturbing’ to me when I first look at it. I love the art, no question about that. What disturbed me is the peaceful look on the child’s face (it reminds me of the Buddha when he is a young boy then) and his connection with the animals. Is the boy the main character in the story? Is he having some form of power to control the animals? Or perhaps the animals are his friend? I just want to know if my speculation is correct but as expected, you never know until you read it.
Perfect World Today is not the usual comic book you see on the book shelf. If you expect something entertaining and thrill to read, this is not the book you are looking for. If you think this is a story about a few animal friends in the human world, I think that shall disappoint you as well. If you want some thought provoking story that is challenging to the brain, yes, you come in to the right store!
The story has a surreal touch which may throw you back into the nostalgic 50s/60s setting of the western world in my opinion. It do has a feel of futuristic content (if you are in the 50s/60s era) that is not so advance in our digital age. Perhaps this is the beauty of Perfect World Today. It makes me realised that there is a perfect world for each generation to come. Perfect World Today is James Leong & Franken Doll interpretation of their perfect generation. What is a Perfect World for us then? I am looking forward to an answer in their next book.