“Do you think technology could ever coexist with nature?” I asked Tulika.
“That’s the dream!” She chirped proudly.
After almost a year, Tulika Ahuja, Founder and Curator of MAMA MAGNET (an Arts Programming Consultancy), presents us with various perspectives of Man’s fragile relationship with nature through art and exhibitions, supported by the National Arts Council. The digital dynasty of augmented flora and fauna is the brainchild of artists Reza Hasni and Siah Tiong Hong, with Tina Fung (Space Objekt studio) as the principal set designer.
This isn’t your regular stroll in the park!
“Inner Like The OutAR”, is an audio-visual experience which combines augmented reality (AR), set installation, interaction design and soundscapes to paint a vibrant and abstract version of nature. The hazy psychotropic environment is a box bathed in lucid pink and green in the corner of Gillman Barracks. Instead of hearing cicadas and the crunch of dead leaves, a dreamy sound frequency sets the tone of this revolutionary AR experience.
While it felt like an invasion of nature’s privacy, it was also an eye-opener in making me realise how much we take the natural world for granted. Perhaps the most poignant moment was when I caught a glimpse of the swaying trees of the real forest outside when someone entered the room. It was ironic in a sense as visitors were walking into a forest, to see another forest; One that would leave them feeling like they were in a fever dream.
In four immersive AR forests, the seamless interdisciplinary installation uses Web Augmented Reality (AR) via web browsers to allow visitors to participate with various nature-themed interactions. QR Codes on the ground will lead you to reveal humorous, yet thought-provoking memes and mushrooms, multiplying as more people scan the same QR Codes.
For those who love games like Minecraft (me included), you might make a friend or two at the exhibition if you all scan the same code which grows more mushrooms!
In the centre of the room lies the “Inner”, which brings you one-on-one with real nature. The aroma of live moss hits you before you see the room’s interior. In this relatively natural abyss, whole leaves hang overhead and crunch underfoot while a log sits in the centre. The organic, yet deep-toned soundscape is composed by local producer Intriguant, who instructs the phrase “Sit back, Relax and Enjoy Nature”.
It’s difficult to find peace in chaos but that’s exactly what the “Inner” does.
Just like a terrarium, the “Inner” is surrounded by a one-way mirror which lets you peer into the lives of the other visitors of the exhibition. While this is an installation that needs to be maintained regularly, the ceiling lights have invaded the natural flora’s peace, emphasising the artificiality of space.
Inner Like The OutAR is not anti-technology. Rather, it invites visitors to come together and evaluate their relationship with nature and how intimacy is affected by technology’s presence. When you visit the exhibition, open your mind to the question: if nature is all around us, why do we need to augment reality to pay attention to it?
Singapore Art Week (SAW): Inner Like The OutAR, presented by MAMA MAGNET
Where is it: Gillman Barracks, Block 22 #01-33
When: From 19 to 31 January 2021, 5pm-11pm daily
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.