Venue: OCBC Centre Branch, 65 Chulia Street, Singapore 049513
Dates: 12th – 31st August 2013
OCBC Arts Card presents a collection of photographic and video works from emerging Singaporean artist Eugene Soh. In his signature irreverent and humorous style, Soh confronts pertinent social and cultural issues with disregard for convention.
Included in this presentation is The Overview, an interactive installation based on Soh’s own “Eugene’s Cave” theory. The installation delivers an “out-of-body” experience that bids the participant re-think his or her own sense of perspective and reality.
Also on display will be the artist’s seminal parodic works, The Last Kopitiam and Venus and Grace. Firm favourites with the public, these works have garnered the 2012 Crowbar Award and 2013 Sony World Photography finalist award respectively.
Organised by Chan Hampe Galleries and supported by Asian Art Options.
This series focuses on common issues discussed when my girlfriend and I talk about starting a family of our own. Photographer: Eugene Soh in collaboration with Fai A Gaffa, Kareen Chin and Campus Magazine
The Overview is an out-of-body experience, achieved through the dislocation of perception when the user sees himself or herself from a third-person perspective using a head mounted display and CCTV. This experience disorientates the user from his or her ‘normal’ mode of perception, presenting to the user the possibility to rethink basic and habitual activities such as the way he or she navigates space in relation to his or her vision with a new sense of self awareness.
The installation opens the user’s mind to an alternate reality by altering the user’s primary sense, the sight. This alternate reality that users experience feel ‘unreal’ because it is outside of their comfort and sensory zone, and they do not know if they can trust what they see at first. This temporary distrust of their senses is termed the “Unreal Reality”.
With this alternate way of seeing, the user can then reprogram his or her brain functions in terms of the instructions sent to the body. The mind is forced to start afresh, a tabula rasa, and re-experience learning to navigate with the body.
There are some experiences which the human mind cannot imagine until experienced, for instance, seeing a new colour or to be out of one’s body. Although the Overview does not literally take one out of his or her body, it simulates it. Almost all test subjects reported that they indeed felt the out-of-body experience, or an experience that satisfied their expectations of the out-of-body.
How it works: The user puts on a pair of video goggles. Through these goggles he will see a live video feed of himself from a CCTV camera in the corner of the room. The view switches automatically every 20 seconds between 6 cameras planted around the room. The user navigates the area in this vision and is encouraged to contemplate a new found sense of perception. The user will be directed back to the designated space if he or she walks out of the camera field of vision.
[Optional:] A second user can join in by wearing a second pair of video goggles. The two users may then interact with each other in various ways through games such as tag, or they could communicate with each other through speech. Having a second user or player join in the space greatly elevates the experience.
THE UNREAL REALITY: “EUGENE’S CAVE”
What is your reality? Simply put, your reality is the sensory signals to your brain which includes the signals sent from the eyes and ears. These signals are your only input channel from the known universe.
Think of yourself as your consciousness, trapped inside a cave which is your body. Your body is not you; but a vessel that you happen to control. Your sensory organs are like tiny holes at the top of this cave that let you peek out into the world. These holes are your sensory zone. The walls of the cave represent the sensations that we cannot sense with our bodies, e.g. infra-red light, ultra sound, radio waves or even dark matter, but we know they exist because of invented tools that indicate their existence. These human-invented tools produce output within our sensory zone, like a radio converting radio waves into audible sound.
Hence, altering your senses is comparable to altering your reality. This is where the unreal comes in: we have lived our entire lives inside these caves of a body that, to quote the Chinese saying, we have become like a frog living in a well – one that has lived its entire life gazing at a portion of a sky out of the top of the well and never knowing the true vastness of the sky. If the same frog were to step out of that well, the vast sky would look “unreal” to it, and it would temporarily distrust what it is seeing. In this case, the vast sky becomes the frog’s unreal reality. Therefore, if the walls of our cave were to crumble and our conscience is exposed to the true vastness of the universe, we will be just as overwhelmed as the frog coming out of the well and seeing the skies for the very first time.
There are ways to widen these holes in our cave, such as by enhancing our senses through the use of the drug Mescaline. Aldous Huxley describes the effects of the drug in his book, The Doors of Perception, where the author mentions his vision being enhanced temporarily (Aldous, 1954).
Users of the Overview experience the “Unreal Reality” when their primary avenue to reality (the sense of sight) is altered, rendering what they see unreal-looking. In a sense, the Overview simulates the closing of one hole in the cave and opening it at a different location on the cave. The minds of the users would be forced to re-learn basic things because their reality is suddenly changed and seems unreal. Their minds do not know if these new found visions could be trusted, and they start from a blank slate, a tabula rasa.
The WebArt Movement is a project where 36 high valued single word .sg domains are acquired and made available free of charge for web artists world wide to adopt and leave their mark. Once adopted the artist will have until 15 July to work on it, however he/she wants; in the spirit of freedom – forget “design principles” or “color theory”, there will be no constrains.
This is a reflection of the zeitgeist where the Internet is still very young. Singapore has one of the highest citizen connectivity to the internet in the world, one might expect these domains to have been snapped up long ago but no, it is 2013 and many were still available. So I selected my favorite ones,
“Wow, is it so easy to own a domain?” some people might ask when they see a project like this, and the answer is YES! I have always wanted a website growing up and I bought my first domain, www.eugenesoh.com, when I was 16, with my teacher’s credit card. My teacher was helping me. To be honest, figuring out all that domain system by myself was difficult, but after a while it gets easier. The other problem I had was that I didn’t have a credit card of my own. Today, I have a credit card and some cash to spare – the shackles have fallen and I am now free.
This is the project I’ve been working on for the pass 10 months – my final year project. Yes, I’m graduating! Yay! I’m really excited about this one – it is an art installation piece that will change the viewer’s perspective — literally.
How it works: The viewer puts on a pair of video goggles and through these goggles, he is able to see himself from a CCTV camera’s point of view. The viewer is then allowed to navigate the space freely through this new perspective. If he steps out of the field of vision of one camera, the video feed in his goggles will automatically switch to the next camera. The viewer will effectively be seeing himself live in third-person mode (gamers will get this).
I will be setting this up for testing for just one day, so feel free to come by the School of Art, Design & Media at the Main Lobby, this Friday at 15 March from 1pm to 6pm to try this out. It is going to be a whole new profound experience, being able to see yourself from a fresh new perspective.
Note: Because I only have 1 pair of goggles, only one person can try this at a time.
Here are some pictures from yesterday when we were testing it out at my house.
The above image is what the viewer will see through the goggles (without the word “viewer” and red arrow).
The cameras come equipped with infra-red night vision, so we can navigate even in complete darkness!
My CCTV technicians
The equipment (from left): Wi-Fi router, CCTV server, laptop, portable battery pack and everything else.
Thanks for lending me your Vagabond Mini, Jing Quek! It was my missing piece of equipment to get the viewer completely mobile.
The technicians trying it out.
This is all the equipment packed neatly and ready to be transported to the new test site this Friday. So come down to the School of Art, Design and Media from 1pm to 6pm to try it out!