• Sarah Voon

ArtScience Museum, Singapore


The ArtScience Museum is hard to miss in all of its white glory, overlooking Marina Bay, with its huge flower shaped structure. Many think it is a theatre of sorts, but it is in fact a museum. I personally enjoy visiting museums when I travel, mostly to learn more about the local setting and its culture. But for modern museums, there are often visiting exhibitions that are always worth checking out.

In this case, the ArtScience museum had two roaming exhibitions on top of their permanent display - Future World: Where Art Meets Science. The first exhibition was the Big Bang Data exhibition, visiting from Barcelona, Spain. And the second was a Van Cleef & Arpels gem exhibition. The latter is an exhibition on inter-relationship between the science of mineralogy and the art of crafting the finest jewellery and gems. However, it was rather crowded and would most likely appeal to the gem connoisseurs rather than the younger crowd.

But Big Bang Data is something every millennial can enjoy. Data is intrinsically part of us, it is literally in our DNA. But it is also something we contribute to on a daily basis without fully grasping what it is. The Big Bang Data exhibition seeks to represent data in various art forms including installations, paintings and even through everyday objects. We know data exists... but what would it look like?

The first few installations show the visitor various forms in which data can be represented through art but as the visitor continues with the exhibition, the installations become more immersive and relatable. In a way, it is like how our ancestors dealt with data - it was quite in the dark, confusing, complex in so many way but as technology continues to progress, a lot of light is being shed on data and how we perceive it. Data is ever-evolving and the exhibition manages to convey that message across.

The photo below is a representation of the stock market in real time as our night sky. Each listed company is a star and the brighter or bigger the star is, the more activity is happening to that company in real time. Supplementary screens on the side show the different stock markets and market activity. But if the entire financial system is just too much for you to comprehend, just sit back and relax on the beanbags available and enjoy the beautiful starry ceiling.

This next art installation is something I resonated with the most. Two benches are placed at the back of the room and a large screen is in front of you. Sit down somewhere in the middle to feel the full impact of the voices speaking and singing all at once. The cacophony can be overwhelming at first, but not as overwhelming as the rush of emotions you will get, while immersing yourself in this installation. The artist manages to bring forward every human emotion and invoke a sense of being in the viewer through this art piece.

This next piece was rather shocking as there were over a million printed copies of pictures strewn across the room, only allowing for a narrow pathway through it. This parted sea of photos is actually photos uploaded onto Flickr (a photo hosting website) over the period of 24 hours sometime in 2011. The artist is trying to show the sheer amount of data being uploaded onto the Internet (on just ONE site!) in such a short amount of time. Should this piece be replicated in 2016, it would overflow to the next room.

This was another fascinating piece on data representation. Everything we do in life is computable in data. Including our most intimate moments. This painting of red, orange, green, yellow, black, grey, fuchsia, turquoise, and blue stripes is a representation of a couple's sex life over the span of a year. Red would represented sex with penetration, blue would represent sex with third parties, grey is sex without penetration, so on and so forth.

The exhibition is extensive and has a lot to see and take in. You would need at least an hour to go through everything.

I will leave you with this quote and also the below, which is your contribution of data to the exhibition. Visitors are encouraged to leave a note sharing what data means to them. Each shade of turquoise is a representation of your age group. The lighter hues are for the younger generation while the darker hues are for the older generations. Very evidently, many people in the Gen-Y age group have put up their cards while there are still plenty for the older generations.

The next exhibition we went to was the permanent Future World display, boasting 15 digital art installations and is very kid-friendly. Seeing as how it is the school holidays in Singapore right now, this section of the museum was packed with schoolkids, interacting with the different installations.

ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Ave, 018974

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