With the September school holidays now over I decided to bring the kids to check out Sensorium 360° – Contemporary Art and the Sensed World. I generally avoid going to such places during the school holidays because it’s usually extremely crowded. When we went, there was just the right amount of people to create some buzz without it feeling packed.
Sensorium 360° is an exhibition of Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art that explores the senses and its complexities. It’s not a dedicated children’s exhibition like the Children’s Festival, but there is plenty to fascinate little ones, and quite a few interactive installations that are suitable for kids.
The first installation we went to was The Overview Installation by Eugene Soh. Using a pair of goggles with screens embedded inside, you have a third-person experience of the self. You see yourself through the eyes of a CCTV camera and try to navigate your way through a maze that, without the goggles, would have been very easy to go through. In that state of augmented reality, a simple maze is not so simple anymore. It was amusing to see people ‘walking through’ walls as they struggled to make sense of their spatial position. It’s easy to tell who has better spatial awareness, and it doesn’t appear to be gender related.
Asher trying to go through the maze
What he sees on the screen in the goggles
The kids had a great time playing among…breasts! Haha! In noon-nom by Pinaree Sanpitak, the room is filled with cushions shaped like breasts (or Chinese baos, I thought). The artist wanted the reassert the significance of the female breast as a natural form the symbolises nourishment and comfort, as well as signifying the potency of the sensuous and spiritual feminine body. To touch, and be touched. Despite what the cushions were supposed to be, the boys had a great time pretending they were strange creatures living in a swamp.
The only one who fully got what it meant and was happy to just chill out and lie on the warm, soft, comforting breast was the still-being-breastfed Alyssa haha!
Alyssa chilling on a large boob
I was surprised by how much I liked Chicken Rice in the Border by Bui Cong Khanh. When I read about it while the boys were jumping around noon-nom I didn’t think much of it. But when we actually went to see the installation I found myself being very intrigued by this concept of food representing your mixed heritage. I wondered what would be the boy’s Hoi-An Chicken Rice – the dish that represented the artist’s Vietnamese-Chinese heritage. With their Hokkien-Teochew-Malayali-touch-of-Peranakan heritage, I’d be hard-pressed to find a dish that represents them. Maybe we can invent something!
Beautiful watercolours on this sheet describing the ingredients that go into Hoi An Chicken Rice
There were other installations that the boys really liked like Cage (a room full of lasers à la Matrix, very cool) and Twinning Machine 4.0 (a time-delayed projection of your image and movements). I also liked There is a tree in the heart of death and how the scents reflected the music, especially for La Paloma. It would be interesting if a dance performance incorporated this element of scent with each dance having a different scent blend.
If there was one criticism I have it would be that it is not clear how interactive the exhibition seeks to be, and how welcomed or unwelcomed young children are. The museum staff, full of good intentions, kept telling the kids not to do this and not to do that, even when they hadn’t gone overboard on anything, in my view. It could be a paranoia over young kids. The boys were told not to run in The Cage when they weren’t running, yet older teenagers who were running were not stopped. The boys were told not to linger among the hanging ropes, but adults were not stopped. The boys were asked (nicely) not to be to jump around too much at noon-nom when they were mainly crawling about, but there were teenagers who were literally running all over the place, racing from one end of the room over the cushions to another in a fairly dangerous manner that were not stopped too. It was a bit of a killjoy at times. If there was one thing the boys could have done better on, it was to speak more softly – something I’ll have to work on with them.
Still, Sensorium 360° is interesting and worth a visit. It is on at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) until 22 October 2014, and is free for Singaporeans and PRs.
The boys discovered their bottles would light up if they used it to interrupt the lasers
Zapping Alyssa’s foot
Ellery checking out photographs of the other exhibits in Transcendence. I think the artist was taking pictures, and might in time put up a photograph of people looking at pictures of pictures from the exhibit. Picture in a picture in a picture!
Trying to identify different smells
Smelling Ocean Mist!
Monkeying around in Twinning Machine 4.0
The kids & I