The Different Facets of Random Blends And The Artists Who Made Them Possible

The Department of Communications and New Media (CNM, National University of Singapore) invites you to an annual showcase of student, staff and alumni explorations into the world of digital arts, culture and technology. Now into its ninth year, Random Blends continues to bring together compelling ideas and ignite conversations on communications and media frontiers. This year’s theme is no different. With Interceptions, we promote the role of media in asking urgent questions, investigating social issues, and presenting them in a new light. Random Blends 2017 will feature a bold medley of critical game art, data-as-art, biologically-inspired salon simulations, networked art performances and social media activism. Still curious about what’s in store? Here’s a snapshot of the exhibits and their equally amazing creators.

Random Blends Interceptions
Featured Works

Art Installation: Breathing Bags 

 Artist: Cindy Chan and Muhammad Zainuddin Bin Zahir

“Breathing Bags” is an interactive art installation that seeks to raise awareness on the harmful effects that plastic pollution brings to the environment, and also to challenge the status quo and societal norm of using plastic in our daily lives. The underlying notion: Do plastic bags still have a place in today’s society? In line with the theme of Pollution and Environment, ordinary plastic bags were used. Controlled by Arduino & programmed using Javascript, each plastic bag is selectively inflated and deflated in turn by two cooling fans. The outline of the “Breathing Bags” installation reflects the land and water regions within Singapore. The inflation and deflation of the plastic bags metaphorically symbolizes the lungs of the land suffocating; as more plastic waste is disposed, the environment continues to suffer.

Artist’s description:

NUS Alumni Cindy and Zai are part of a multi-disciplinary group of artists that explore art installations and differing interactive mediums as a form of art. The duo enjoys approaching a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered manner. Their attempts to involve the viewer often involve the physical, reinforcing their strong belief in the concept of form taking precedence over function in their works.


Documentary: Isabelle 

Artist: Leong Jia Yu, Lee Ken Kiat, Janeen Loh, Janell Tan, Christine Anne de Silva

This short documentary showcases the life of Isabelle and the special needs community in Singapore. Isabelle has Nager syndrome, profound deafness and a host of other physical challenges. She faces many difficulties in her daily life, but doesn’t let that stop her. She embraces life fully and is a living example of how people with physical disabilities can be much more than their labels. They are talented and abled people whose capabilities should never be limited by prejudice. “Isabelle” aims to challenge societal stereotypes and prejudice against people with special needs. Through the documentary, the artists hope to showcase the talent and passion of people with special needs, thereby communicating that they are not so different from able-bodied people in doing the things they love.

Artists’ description:

Jia Yu, Ken Kiat, Janeen, Janell and Christine are Year 4 Communications and New Media students. The group of 5 took the module “NM4883D, New Media Production and Public Engagement” despite having little to no experience with film making. However, through the module they learnt a lot about how new media can be used to engage people in the local community and create discourse surrounding pertinent issues in society.


Video Game: Cracks

Artist: Alden Lim, Kenneth Kwek, Edison Neo

“Cracks” is a surrealist adventure game which attempts to portray the concept of angst and how people deal with it. Sometimes angst pushes people beyond the realm of reality and sanity. Inspired by surrealist games like Kentucky Route Zero, The Stanley Parable and movies such as Memento and Shutter Island, this short game puts the player into the mind of a serial killer. Taking on the role of a soldier, the player wakes up to find himself in an enemy camp and upon doing so, manages to establish contact with his superior. The player must then follow instructions to safely get through the enemy camp and escape. However, the further he ventures into the game, the stranger things start to get.

Artist’s description:

Together, Alden, Kenneth and Edison form “MHATTEN”, a trio that aims to combine art and games to create playable works of art. With a focus on digital works, the trio takes on simple and uncommon ideas and attempts to create unique games that also exudes aspects from other mediums. To the three, no idea or concept is rubbish as every single instance can open numerous alternatives or expansions to achieve the set objectives and goals of a particular work.


Virtual Reality: Depression (Prototype)

Artist: Ryan Chong, Clarissa Chan, Dylan Ho, Jasmine Moh, Lee Yee Hueh, Samuel Cho, Wayne Ng

“Depression” is a Virtual Reality video prototype inspired by games such as Depression Quest and That Dragon Cancer. With the increasing availability of Virtual Reality experiences to the masses, the artists hope to leverage on the unique aspects of this emerging medium to help audiences gain empathy, and eventually be motivated to understand more about Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as an illness and the plight of patients suffering from MDD.

Artist’s description:

Armed with knowledge from their module NM4210: User Experience Design, Communications and New Media students Ryan, Clarissa, Dylan, Jasmine, Yee Hueh, Samuel and Wayne were inspired to utilize Virtual Reality as an interactive experience to create a project that raises awareness on social issues, and chose the topic of Depression in the hopes of reducing social stigma for patients.


Online Interactive Visual Art: Trigger

Artist: Yvonne Wong

“Trigger” explores various ways of combining aesthetic and technical aspects of new media to portray what is meant by “agitation”. Each onscreen window responds uniquely to user interaction with a variety of elements such as clocks and colours, thereby closely examining the multifaceted manners in which emotions can be triggered. Users are in for a pleasant visual/audio surprise as they discover what lies underneath the dull unassuming exterior. In the project, the eight various elements portray differing stages of the human mind. Changes are in tandem with the user’s’ on-screen activity, reflecting the fine line between the external and internal workings of an individual. From a colourful implosion and clockwork movements to a blatant rebellion of the yes and no, daily aggravations of one are reflected as experienced in everyday realities. In another example, the trigger of mouse movements reveal more than meets the eye and inform of the complexities experienced in daily life feeding into the overall exhibit’s theme of hidden truths facing contention with the facades of portrayal.

Artist’s description:

Yvonne is a 4th year student at NUS, majoring in Statistics at the Faculty of Science. She enjoys Chinese New Year snacks all year round. Yvonne enjoys short stories and good reads when she isn’t being crushed by the pressure of Final Year thesis-writing. She took the module NM2207 on a whim, but grew to really enjoy the sessions and the freedom to explore and create meaning from her digital work.


Board Game: The Struggle

Artists: Valerie Goh, Wang WeiHeng, Christine Anne de Silva, Low Yee Ching

“The Struggle” is a board game set in the time period of 225 BC in Ancient China where a state of unrest brought on by an arrogant and corrupt Zhou government. It attempts to depict the political struggles residing in that particular era between the government and people against them. In the game, player takes on the role of either the rebels/government, each with their own unique traits and advantage as they compete with each other for to conquer the entire nation. Using a system whereby the numbers of control points the players are able to spend to control a certain province is tied to certain consequences which may help or harm the player; we aim to portray the idea of decision making and consequences, as well as the concept of making sacrifices for progress. The game was inspired from popular board game “Risk” and “Twilight Struggle”, where elements of war strategy and empire building were the basis for the formulation of our game.

Artist’s description:

Christine, Wei Heng, Valerie and Yee Ching are Year 4 Communications and New Media students with an interest in game design and game creation. NM4227 Playable Art provided the team with great insights onto the entire process of game creation, be it a physical game or a digital game, from conceptualizing the idea all the way to design and technical coding while creating the game. It was an indescribable experience for them to see the fruits of their labour after completing the games and intrinsically rewarding to see players deeply captivated by what the team has created.


Later in the evening, we have also arranged for a performance by Dr. Alexander König. Dr. König is a media theoretician and audio-visual artist from Berlin. His performance is titled “CPHE Simulacron,” or, in full, “Cybernetic Pre-Established Harmonic Engine Simulacron.” It is an exploration into digital technology as well as aesthetic concepts. Through real-time simulation with audio-visual effects, Dr. König will manipulate more and more number of particles which, over time, react to the simulated environment itself, thus shedding light upon the inner dynamics of the simulated particle system. The exercise will be a self-regulatory one, and is expected to to lead to an exploration of the frontiers of physics.

Come join us at Random Blends 2017 and expand your mind and perspectives.


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