Imagine, play and explore in ArtScience Museum’s new permanent exhibition, Singapore’s largest permanent digital art gallery.
Funnest is a very troublesome superlative adjective to use, but I really can’t find a better word to describe my recent visit to the ArtScience Museum’s latest permanent exhibition. Enter FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science. The permanent exhibition which also happens to be Singapore’s largest permanent digital art gallery marks the ArtScience Museum’s fifth anniversary and runs from 12 March 2016 onwards.
True to the ArtScience Museum title, the exhibition is the culmination and interplay of art and science; despite both being commonly acknowledged as opposite ends of the spectrum. Collaborating with ultra-technologist group teamLab, the two establishments have created a massive digital playground (1,500 square metres or a quarter of the museum’s total gallery space) consisting of 15 major art installations for both adults and children to play and explore.
The museum also sought to create an exhibition for visitors to reflect and contemplate their own position relative to the natural world, other people and the universe. I was given a guided tour by ArtScience Museum associate curator Jerry Gunn.
Unlike most exhibitions where any attempt to come into contact with the artworks warrants a boot out of the exhibition space, Future World invites the young and old to engage and even co-create art. Future World is organised into four themes: Nature, Town, Park and space.
The adventure begins – in Nature – with a stroll through an interactive world of flora and fauna created entirely by digital technology. Once in the garden of sorts, flowers begin to form at the flooring where I stood. When I trample on the flowers, the petals begin to dislodge from the flower bud. I was also told by Gunn that any contact with the butterflies on the animated walls will ‘kill’ them. While many people simply come to the gallery to snap photos, the broader objective is for visitors to reflect on the intricate relationship we share with our surrounding environment.
In Town, kids and adults are invited to collaborate and create their own artworks. In a fictitious town based on Singapore, we are invited to fill the landscape with cars, buildings and spaceships of our own design. The kid in me emerged and I got to work with colouring my own spaceship in ridiculous hues. Upon doing so, we can have our drawings animated on screen, and turned into paper craft patterns! How cool is that? Occasionally, a dragon pops out to destroy the city. Visitors can collaborate to defeat the dragon by touching on the spaceships.
Moving away from the Town into Park, I was mesmerised by the Universe of Water Particles – a seven-metre tall waterfall created by digital programming. I was told by Gunn that this installation was made possible after months of programming and collaboration among physicists, programmers and artists.
The water particles are digitally programmed to produce an accurate water fall simulation that flows in accordance to the laws of physics, hence the uncannily real waterfall.
Finally, I ventured into the most-talked-about section of the exhibition – Space. In many ways, outer space has and will always be mankind’s final frontier (I quote Star Trek). Step into the heart of the universe in Crystal Universe and witness from within, the illusion of stars and galaxies in an elaborate light show. This installation is powered by 170,000 LED lights. Think Interstellar and imagine yourself in it. Thanks to teamLab’s interactive 4-D Vision technology, visitors can also ‘change the fabric of the universe’ using their smartphones.
Standing before the artwork, I found myself drunk as I lapped up every detail in the Crystal Universe. It’s one of those moments where you feel so insignificant in the vastness of the universe, so tiny in the grander scheme of things. But I’ve never felt more alive, and filled with hope. A quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist came into my mind; “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Frankly, I can’t think of any reason to dissuade readers from visiting the Future World exhibition. Catered to both kids and adults alike, there’s something to interest all age groups. This could be the best S$16 you will be spending, but be sure to read the descriptions at each of the installations so that you can have a deeper understanding and appreciation for this remarkable exhibition.
One of my takeaways from this exhibition was also the intrinsic relationship between art and science. American playwright Wilson Mizner once wrote “Art is science made clear”. Science can be used to create art (as seen in Future World) and at the same time, there is a certain artistic aspiration in mankind’s pursuit of science. Hence, we see that both art and science have roles to play in their respective habitat – they are not mutually exclusive.
Many thanks to ArtScience Museum associate curator Jerry Gunn for taking time off to give me a private tour. I enjoyed it terribly and I’m sure everyone else would.
P.S. I got over my embarrassing post and did eventually meet Julia Vasko in person. She seem to have gotten prettier. I shall not embarrass myself further (Laughs).
Adult : S$16
Concessions and discounted prices available for Singaporeans, senior citizens, students and children. Visit ArtScience Museum’s official website here for more details.