Draw Me A Sheep 6 - 17 Sept 2021 (Epilogue)
Draw Me A Sheep - a New Media Art exhibition with interactive components was a project conceived through a one-year incubation period, involving dialogues and consultations with the likes of AI Singapore (AISG) , and HAKONO.
This endeavor was realized through the generous funding, support and belief in the paradigm of ‘Research through Practice’ by Collaborative Lab initiative, of the Interdisciplinary Studies & Academic Enhancement, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).
I believe we've met the project objective of
1) providing the team with resources and support to better comprehend how AI is applied in our daily life. 2) Empower artists’ team by allowing us to materialize our proposal in a prototype. Why a prototype - rather than using real-time data as material, for the prototype we employed pre-recorded/collected data and fed into a customized programme to produce the interactivity and/or intended outcome. As such it is a experiment with the mechanics of computational creativity integrated with our individual concept in surveying the implication of media and technology in art.
3) Student-Artist Team became/were verse with the methodology of how AI can be employed and was employed in our works. The works were able to draw audience's attention and we were then subsequently able to confidently show the content/concept and application of AI in our works.
Below is a trailer of the work on showcase.
The project met with a road block quite early on when AI(SG) who was meant to be our key industrial partner could not continue with us. They did however in goodwill, provided a AI hands-on programming workshop and a couple sessions of consultation for our preliminary ideation period. Thankfully, in an unplanned discussion with NAFA's alumni and co-founder of HANOKO, we were offered a solution and ran with it - why not do prototypes of data driven artwork, just to test the ideas and see if they work. And so we did. In the end it worked perfectly. We got several feedback in the line of thoughts that the works felt raw, not yet refined, the ideas and concept was effective and overall possess potential. In my opinion, that sounds like a successful prototype and we are very encouraged by the turn out and feedback.
Another challenge, actually just a inconvenience was that I left NAFA as a full-time academic in the last few months whilst the project was in fabrication heading to exhibition stage. I did not want the students to feel abandon so I did not inform them that I was no longer a lecturer with NAFA. But that meant I no longer had access to equipment and NAFA's internal system to do AVO and such. Thankfully, Grace and Valerie provided me much assistance with that and the students had to take on a lot of the logistics organizing with Grace and Val. The students were very reliable and uncomplaining of these tedious tasks. And the other 2 year two students were doing their internship during that period, they too were committed and made effort to continue contributing after their internship work hours. The team were indeed working as a team all the way through! The final challenge was - hardware, to be more specific, incompatible IT equipment during setup. No a big obstacle, just a slight annoyance as to how come we were provided with such incompatible connections after we have provided an explicit list of items and were promised to get those items. On our part we should have check the borrowed IT items against our "wishlist" when we collected them. Easily enough to resolve this problem thankfully, we went to purchase the necessary missing or incompatible items.
Key learning aspects for stakeholders (Students, Alumni, industry partner and NAFA and project lead) - for students, to set up small group show independently and as an ECA - they have to manage their time and take initiative to take on multiple roles while still figuring out their project. Additionally, they had to find ways to communicate their ideas to non-art partners (when we were working with AISG), and learn to do research and application earnestly in a whole new topic area they were previously not familiar with, in a short time frame.
For Alumni and industry partners (Yang Jie and HANOKO), they were delighted very generous in sharing and helping their juniors trouble shoot and solve problem together. Our 5 artworks concepts and fabrication requires customized solution and so there was a R&D period, in which they were learning new information alongside the team while helping to resolve issues and materialized the artworks.
NAFA students, lecturers and kids and parents were our main audience. We had small handful of external visitors. Nafa students were very engaged with the works on show. As project Lead, I am fulfilled that after almost 5 years of leading the New Media Art, Fine Art's cross disciplinary elective module, my aspiration of providing an opportunity for students who have the interest and curiosity for trans disciplinary practice to realize and materialize their works came true. I have had hope that it could be a regular practice. That an annual of bi- annual New Media Art showcase of sort to demonstrate that using New Media art is not just a trend to teach or learn but that we are able to support students exploration in this direction of new media art practice.
Collaborative Lab team has been very supportive, starting from the time I present my proposal. The selection team saw potential in my overly ambitious proposal - in which I was blinded to, and guided me to reposition my goals to make the project achievable for the resources I have. When the proposal was accepted, the selection team were very generous to offer their time if I needed advise and help. Throughout the ideation to fabrication - they trusted us and provided timely drop-in to make sure we are doing alright. And during the final phase - exhibition setup and deinstallation, we have full support to organised the logistics, taking a huge load of us and especially for generously covering our logistics fee by NAFA's estates as we blew our budget slightly. With deepest gratitude, the team thank Collaborative Lab for this opportunity to realize our individual New Media Art projects and all the lessons that we got out of it.
Thoughts from Student-Artist, Zoya: Personally the process was pretty sporadic as I wasn’t satisfied with my ideation and felt like I had more to develop and look into. However I was satisfied with the final product as I feel I was able to produce something close to what I imagined. During the exhibition, watching people go through my work and understand what I wanted to convey was really rewarding.
Thoughts from Student-Artist, Charoenying Lapassorn (Pat): It was exciting to participate in a futuristic exhibition like this. The experiment all of us did with AI showed that this type of new media art is non-linear: the same medium can branch into anything from music to philosophical works. Additionally, it was great to experience how other collaborators work, too.