This year’s Singapore Art Week (SAW) is poised to be the most exciting one yet. The week-long culmination of creativity and art has returned for its ninth annual edition with over 100 programmes and more than 300 independent artists and curators‚ reimagined to adapt to both the realities of today’s world and the evolving perceptions of how art can be consumed. Presented in a complementary blended format, audiences can now experience art in galleries, everyday spaces—and for the first time, digital events that transcend time and space.
“AR is a tool for artists to express fascinating digital environments and invite audience participation”
With programmes blurring the lines between physical and virtual formats (some events sit in either category, while others, like Asia’s first drive-through exhibition Moo Moo Park, occupy both spaces), art enthusiasts will find creative exploits wherever they turn, whether its the bus stop they’re waiting at or their computer screen. In particular, don’t miss the 360° view function on SAW’s digital exhibition website which allows visitors to explore virtual events in depth.
“This year’s programmes are a reminder that there are so many possibilities and new modes of encountering the arts. Audiences are no longer confined to a physical location or the conventional white cube,” says National Arts Council’s (NAC) visual arts director Tay Tong. “Navigating the uncertain waters of the pandemic has showcased the resilience of the arts community as they have quickly adapted to these extraordinary times. The creative energies in exploring new ways to make and present work amongst artists, curators and presenters has anchored this year’s SAW.”
Part of this year’s freshness, Tay shares, comes from several digital commissions that viewers can enjoy without leaving their homes. “Celebrating SG Artists by Filmat36, for example, is a collection of videos that archives the contributions and journeys of seven second-generation artists in Singapore, while RESET—organised in partnership with Art & Market—presents a series of talks that focus on problems and solutions in the local, regional and international art scenes.”
When it comes to programmes that can be experienced as phygital hybrids, one boundary-pushing installation is Inner Like The OutAR, an interdisciplinary audio-visual experience subtly examining the human population’s tendency to commodify nature by combining augmented reality, set installation and sound design to imitate the magic of nature. Most significantly, it is the first exhibition of its kind to use Web AR, also known as augmented reality accessed via web browsers.
This installation is an amalgamation of talent—featuring psychotropic environments built digitally by artists Reza Hasni and Siah Tiong Hong with set design by Tina Fung (Space Objekt studio) and sound design by electronic producer Intriguant. As a whole, it was brought together by curator and writer Tulika Ahuja of MAMA MAGNET.
“There is a great variety of programmes available for SAW 2021, meaning that there is something for everyone—from those who love the visual arts to those venturing into the arts for the first time”
“AR is a tool for artists to express fascinating digital environments and invite audience participation. For instance, in one installation titled “Forest Simulator”, audiences can choose to enter four different forest environments and control the colour and size of the flora and fauna, like the wings of a butterfly,” shares Ahuja. “The use of AR on a web browser, in particular, has allowed us to build a complete custom experience from scratch. We also believe it’s more accessible to audiences, as no app downloads are required to interact.”
“It felt natural for us to create an experience that mirrors our transition back to living in harmony, creating room for reflection on our human nature. It was important for us to feature both nature and technology, because that co-existence is the reality of our current time,” Ahuja adds.
Another standout experience to look forward to is one you may stumble upon without even realising that its part of SAW. Taking over Funan Mall, Creative Unions by Neighbourhood is Singapore’s very first mall-wide art activation. Housed within several fashion, food, tech and lifestyle tenants, this art-meets-retail programme offers up unique shoppable experiences designed to enrich your understanding of the arts.
“There is a great variety of programmes available for SAW 2021, meaning that there is something for everyone—from those who love the visual arts to those venturing into the arts for the first time.” says Tay. “This year, staying connected is integral. While the mediums for the art experience may have changed, the spirit of engaging with art absolutely hasn’t.”