Student Showcase: An Exploration of Identity, Agency and Representation at NUS Central Library

Step into the NUS Central Library, and you’ll catch some arresting exhibits, put up by students and faculty from the NUS Communications and New Media’s (CNM) Cultural Communication and Creative Expression module. Emerging from a 13-week course that got students visiting cultural spaces, museums and media organisations to understand the variety of mediums through which culture is portrayed, the exhibition showcases several important themes:

  1. Singapore Identity and Representation
  2. Story Telling through Culture, Agency, Structure
  3. A Woman on Strings
  4. Vietnamese Woman: Painting Augmented Reality

1. Singapore Identity and Representation

A combination of field trips, library resources and classroom learning on concepts such as Representation, Agency, Power, Structure, Othering, Identity, Erasure, Voice and Perspective guide students to create a compelling vehicle for communication. The resulting exhibition, immediately available at the lobby of NUS Central Library, demonstrates the students’ creative interpretation of the different cultural facets of Singapore, all done through storytelling, visual art, film, photography and the interactive technologies of web 2.0.

The things that people pay attention to when looking at Singapore

2. Story Telling through Culture, Agency, Structure

The exhibition is fundamentally an exercise in storytelling in which students produce a customised experiential Digital Book from start to finish. Students weave together key milestones like story development, text design, editing, proofreading, page layouts, colour correction, cover design, photography, art direction, and creating the Digital Ready-to-Print File.

Because CNM has always focused on real-world impact and community development, students undertake intensive research into cultural identities and the impact that policies have on them. Eventually, such research are compiled into a storytelling format for the digital book medium, where innovative multimedia can be added to increase engagement.

Multi-ethnic Singapore represented in four tiles

3. A Woman On Strings

Amrita Deshpande’s photo exhibit, uniquely dangled from the ceiling, tackles the issue of women’s identity. Women are often labelled in terms of their looks and judged from the clothes and ornaments they put on. These symbols may go on to define the woman’s character and identity. Most of these symbols are culturally-rooted. Some are cultivated by -isms. A few are her own confused symbols while others are blindly inherited. Her identity is thus built on an other’s perspective.  The exhibit questions if there is a space in the contemporary world for her to be her own self? Or will she always be on strings that will define her at the expense of her own voice?

4. Vietnamese Woman: Painting Augmented Reality

With the rapid advance in mobile technology, handheld devices are set to replace clunky computers. The wide and often free availability of apps makes it easy to create new media for new purposes.

The Painting AR experiment showcases one such application. It allows media producers to tell a story using multimedia connected via mobile technology. The painting, which is a traditional medium, thus comes into the context of new medium via this experiment.

Augmented reality in action

The thought-provoking exhibit seeks to combine diverse elements of storytelling, a painting and a mobile augmented reality app into a unified experience.

Engage With CNM Students During Lunch Breaks and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Open House

Hear directly from the students’ inspiring experience in developing their projects during Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Open House on 20 May.

Students will also be available at Lunch Breaks on the following days:

watch this space for more information


Edited by Mohan J. Dutta & Raka Shome, National University of Singapore

International Journal of Communication

We are inviting high quality papers on mobilities and communication from interdisciplinary scholars working in the Asian context.

The global movement of capital, commodities, and labor is constituted amid political and economic structures that render salient certain meanings of mobility while at the same time erasing other possibilities for interpreting mobility. Further, the global movement of capital, while enabling and encouraging mobility for some, also render many others immobile, disconnected/erased from the possibilities of movement. To that extent, mobility and immobility are not binaries but are interrelated—an interrelation that expresses and captures the numerous desires and violences of globalization. The figure of the migrant and the various processes of migration make these relations visible while rendering invisible other imaginations of migrancy. Linked to this are mediated and communication practices—such as technology, films, music, social media, remittances, cultural commodities, and more—that play an intrinsic role in shaping and informing various types of migratory movements or lack therefor. Additionally, the transnational migration of communication practices themselves constitute new forms of mobilities and immobilities, agency and identity formations, imaginations and desires.

Communication is central to these above-mentioned processes. For example, technology firms are constantly developing new communication language through software that requires a constant flow of transnational expert workers who are often treated in problematic ways (in terms of cultural recognition and wages) in “host” nations. Similarly, finance capital globally circulates through communicative values and processes (including migrant remittances to their nation of “origin’—a process itself underwritten by non-western values of domesticity and familiality). Transnational movements of celebrities and popular culture (for instance, in Asia) serve diasporic populations in many parts of Asia that have implications for their migrant experience as well as the production of a transnational Asian identity. Disempowered and often stateless migrants (for instance migrant Bangladeshi workers in Asia) connect to or engage their music in their diasporic situations —to produce some sense of cultural security in an otherwise coercive exploitative condition (lacking decent food, shelter, wages and more).

Relations of gender, sexuality, religion, class and nationality are central considerations in these phenomena since migration itself is often wrought with gender and religious violences, discrimination and exploration of poor laborers, and the devaluing of peoples of particular nations in global migratory practices (for instance, White Europeans or Americans are usually seen as “expatriates” while the word migration is reserved for mobilities of non-western peoples even within non-western ‘host’ nations).

Communication Studies as a formal field has hardly paid attention these issues—issues that require urgent exploration from a communication perspective. Such an exploration will further move the field of Communication Studies into considerations of the many dilemmas and challenges of the 21st century that are grounded in the politics of migration.

This edited Special Section seeks to comprehend such phenomena, with specific attention to Asia. It will examine the interplay of communication (broadly considered)—particularly mediated practices—and im/mobilities, attending to how the intersection between the two illustrate the movement of people, labor, representations, commodities, technology and more, across global circuits of culture, economy, and geopolitics.

Submissions will be limited to 6000 words, all-inclusive.

We first solicit detailed abstracts of approximate 500-600 words.

Due: April 31, 2017. Please send abstract to Mohan Dutta at

Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by May 31, 2017.

Final papers due: July 31, 2017. Please submit to Mohan Dutta at

Please follow the author guidelines at


CHIuXiD 2017: Students’ Work On Sungei Road Flea Market Secure Second Place in Global Design Challenge

Land is scarce in Singapore. While modernisation has benefited a large swathe of the population, some parts of it are either forgotten or put aside. Take the Sungei Road Flea Market (see where) for example. With a history that’s just a decade shy of a century, the venerable market will finally be dismantled in July 2017. Its permanent closure threatens the livelihoods of vendors, many of them members of the pioneer generation who had helped build up the country from its swampy origins to its present first-world sprawl. When interviewed, some vendors were optimistic about future plans. Too many expressed resignation over the prospect of being forced to retire.

Options offered by the authorities may help, but a team of ambitious interaction design students from NUS Department of Communications and New Media (CNM) decided to take up the challenge of going further to ensure a sustainable future for the vendors.

Through exposure to theory and practice, CNM students learn to work with communuties to develop solutions that would not only be tremendously impactful, but also driven by social conscience.


When asked what inspired the team to even start the project, all agreed that it was a shared passion to reduce the amount of waste generated by Singaporeans. The team quickly realised, however, that they were not alone. Many like-minded Singaporeans were already doing their part in conserving the environment by reusing, recycling and repairing pre-loved goods. The team’s research eventually led them to the hub of used products that was the Sungei Road Flea Market. The market’s darker nickname- Thieves Market– is a misnomer, because vendors typically trade in goods that they obtain from different sources like unwanted/donated goods or the beloved karang guni (rag-and-bone) men who patrol residential estates.

The vendors contribute to the larger sustainability ecosystem by re-circulating goods back into the marketplace rather than into the junkyard and incinerators. The impending closure of the flea market inspired the team to create Sungei Treasures, a hybrid digital-physical solution that would help Sungei Road vendors to continue their business beyond the loss of the flea market.

Although toys are the solution’s main commodity, the team hopes to include other goods and products too. Initial tests have been positive, and aptly demonstrates CNM’s emphasis on drawing from the students’ different backgrounds and disciplines to co-create solutions.

Learn more about the team’s efforts to help stricken vendors overcome the challenges of losing their livelihoods.


The project’s potential did not go unnoticed by the international panel at The 3rd ACM In Coop International Conference in HCI and UX. After a grilling round of presentation and evaluation, the team secured a place in the top three global design projects. The achievement is all the greater because the CNM team represents the first Singaporean university to win accolades at the conference.

Join Assistant Prof Jude Yew and the team in their Indonesian adventure by visiting the gallery!

The team comprises Tin Wei Yang, Sharmaine Sie, Edward Chu and Joseph Cheng, and is part of the interactive design coursework overseen by Assistant Professor Jude Yew.

Student Videographer: Do millennial women in Singapore struggle with work-life balance?

Millennial women in Singapore are financially independent, career-driven, highly educated. Yet, many of them play multiple roles of wives and mothers. In a report, 57% of working mothers listed work-life balance as a key challenge. Do millennial women struggle to balance their career and family? As part of their coursework, students from the Department of Communications and New Media hit the ground to find out more.

Random Blends 2017 Interceptions- A Fond Epilogue

On 24th March, the ninth installation of Random Blends opened to roaring success. Filmmaker and Guest-of-Honour Tan Pin Pin graced the opening ceremony, and the exhibition saw a total of 2,651 visitors over the weekend.

Random Blends 2017

Guest-of-Honour Tan Pin Pin (left) with CNM Head of Department Professor Mohan J. Dutta (right)

The theme for this year was Interceptions -which challenged visitors to invert alternative or silenced discourses and integrate fresh perspectives into the public consciousness. With that aim in mind, the Random Blends team put together an exhibition featuring thought-provoking artworks that used digital media to highlight social issues.

Random Blends 2017

Experimental Augmented Reality Game by CNM students ArtScience Museum

The exhibition also featured a dynamic programme of performances and presentations each day. For instance, visitors had the opportunity interact with projects helmed by students from NM4225 Design Fiction module, by combining elements of speculative thinking and science fiction to explore ideas related to emergent technologies and future scenarios. Audience interaction and experience with students’ prototypes challenged and stimulate new thought patterns, as well as to generate conversation and awareness about pertinent issues both present and emerging in society.

Experimental Augmented Reality Game by CNM students ArtScience Museum

On Sunday, a concert by migrant workers of Banglar Kantha- Dibrasham Cultural & Literary Forum was a captivating recital of poetry, music and dance. These performances gave the audience an insightful glimpse into the culture of the migrant workers in Singapore. By placing the workers in a space where they are not typically encountered this invigorating act shifted audience’s perceptions and empowered them to consider the social roles of these migrant workers in Singapore.

Banglar Kantha- Dibrasham Cultural & Literary Forum Performance at ArtScience Museum

The meaningful theme and curation behind the exhibition met with positive responses from visitors. NUS student Elysia Goh (22) said, “I believe that (Random Blends) was a good platform to showcase students’ talent. I was very impressed at their creativity in showcasing meaningful social issues behind every artwork and I also liked how we were able to engage and interact with the many of the art pieces.”

Working professional Tan Bing Yuan, 27, said, “The exhibition provided a space that allowed us to reflect on the marginalized and often forgotten population groups. My favourite exhibit was Cracks, the interactive game about a soldier who wakes up in an enemy camp. It provided the perspective of a depressed person through a plot twist, which could often be greatly alleviated if we could just show more concern towards them.” Random Blends 2017 would not be possible without the guidance of our artistic director Dr Marcia Nancy Mauro-Flude, production manager Eve Yeo, general manager Wayne Ng and mentors Tracey Hamilton, Dr Alexander König and Nick Smithies. We would also like to thank the CNM Department for their kind support throughout the journey.

We hope you enjoyed Random Blends as much as we enjoyed putting it together. See you next year!

For more information about Random Blends, visit our Facebook page and 2017 website .

Not enough of Random Blends? Check out CNM’s Official Gallery!

Research Talk – Social Marketing in India and Afghanistan: A Comparison

Dr. Sandeep Ghiya will be giving a research talk titled “Social Marketing in India and Afghanistan: A Comparison”, on 18 April 2017 (Tuesday). The talk will be held at the CNM Meeting Room, from 10 AM to 11 AM.

Abstract: The proposed talk will focus on experiences with Project Saksham in Uttar Pradesh, India and a consultancy with ASMO in Afghanistan.

Project Saksham was a four year project implemented by DKT India for the Futures Group led ITAP Project for USAID. The project aimed to promote oral contraceptive pills and condoms in rural villages, with a focus on C and D category villages with population between 1,000 and 4,999.

The Afghan Social Marketing Organization (ASMO) is a USAID supported Afghan managed organization operating across Afghanistan, promoting oral contraceptive pills, condoms, injectable contraceptives, oral rehydration salts, iron folic acid tablets and chlorine safe water solution.

The talk will provide brief overviews of the two projects, followed by a detailed discussion on the various means of interpersonal and mass communications that were employed to reach out to the target population in both projects. The similarities in approaches will be pointed out, along with a discussion on the differences. The challenges and drawbacks of both projects will be highlighted, along with a comparison of the geopolitical and other challenges faced in the two projects, inclusive of the difficulties in logistics and sales operations.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sandeep Ghiya has been working on reproductive health issues with a focus on contraception for over 18 years. He has been especially interested in the marketing and usage of provider-dependent contraceptives and the promotion of all forms of contraception in rural areas. Dr. Ghiya has worked on the design, implementation and documentation of various projects to promote family planning at international, national and regional levels with projects focused on India, Afghanistan, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Burkina Faso. He has provided consultancy to projects for clients ranging from Family Planning Association of India, DFID, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Concept Foundation, Palladium and Abt Associates. With post graduate degrees in public health and marketing management, he has been an active participant in the marketing of contraception in India. Dr. Sandeep Ghiya has also been a visiting faculty member at management colleges for marketing and general management related subjects.

Venue: AS6, 03-33, CNM Meeting Room
Date:  18 April 2017 (Tuesday)
Time: 10 AM – 11 AM

Student Showcase: An Uncertain Future Visualised and Explained Through Fiction

One of the many possible futures imagined by CNM students

Ever wondered what the world will be like decades, or even centuries from now? One thing is for sure, the inexorable forces of climate change is going to have an impact on how we live, where we live, and most importantly, what we are going to live for. In a unique exhibition of prototypes that challenge our fondest ideas, CNM students from the Design Fiction module explore the Frontiers of Ecological Interaction, and take you on a journey rarely imagined.

Science fiction-type storyworlds are presented through the creation of interactive, futuristic objects that aim to provoke important discussions on our precarious future. Learn how CNM students begin to explore today’s technology, and the issues that arise between man’s actions and the natural world, through interactive objects, performances and believable storyworlds.

Come see the exhibition, and tell us what is your own vision of the future…

Date: Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Time: 9:30 AM – 12:00 NOON
Venue: University Town main courtyard

Research Talk – The Design of Physical Rehabilitation Games: The Physical Ambient Abstract Minimalist Game Style

Mr Niels Quinten will be giving a talk on 13 April 2017 (Thursday), from 2 PM to 3 PM. His talk is titled “The Design of Physical Rehabilitation Games: The Physical Ambient Abstract Minimalist Game Style”, and will be held at the CNM Meeting Room.

Abstract: Physical neurorehabilitation is essential for a large number of individuals who have physical impairments and disabilities as a consequence of a stroke or multiple sclerosis (MS). Through neurorehabilitation therapy, people may regain the physical abilities they have lost or retain the physical abilities they have and thereby maximize their quality of life. Based on insights from previous research, we believe digital games can transform often tedious rehabilitation experiences into pleasurable game experiences, which may increase the intensity and length of time spent on the rehabilitation and eventually its efficiency.

However, the translation of neurorehabilitation therapy into digital games presents a number of challenges. One challenge is the integration of physical rehabilitation exercises into the mechanics and dynamics of a stimulating game. Digital games are difficult to design even without the rehabilitation context, and constructively adding specific physical exercises makes this even harder. A second challenge is digitally representing the exercises in a manner that takes into consideration the physical, cognitive and visual impairments of persons who have had a stroke or persons with MS. The physical, cognitive and visual skills needed to play an off-the-shelf game are often high, and may potentially cause difficulties for a target audience that does not fully possess these skills.

In this presentation, I describe how we created the novel physical abstract minimalist rehabilitation game style in order to addresses the above two challenges. Specifically, its design process as well as four resulting game artifacts is discussed. The results of this research present one possible view of how a digital game world can be constructed for rehabilitation games starting from physical exercises and game mechanics while taking into consideration a number of physical, cognitive, and visual impairments.

About the Speaker:

Niels Quinten is an interaction artist, designer and researcher. He is currently roaming through Asia in search of interesting and thought provoking conversations. Before that, he was a lecturer and research coordinator at the Leuven University College of Arts in Belgium. He received his PhD in audiovisual and visual arts at Hasselt University performing practice-based research on the creative design of physical rehabilitation games, his work has been published and exhibited internationally.





Venue: AS6, 03-33, CNM Meeting Room

Date:  13 April 2017 (Thursday)

Time: 2 PM – 3 PM