Art What! Arts Preview

Art What!: Days — and counting Viewing Party by OH! Open House

 
Screenshot 2020-11-26 at 7.40.25 PM

Even though OH! Open House’s signature tours haven’t been able to happen this year due to the coronavirus, the team has been hard at work finding alternatives to the norm, resulting in the digital exhibition Days — and countingcompletely free to view online. Framed around the narrative of a sleeping man’s dreamscape, the exhibition takes audiences on a (digital) tour of this dream, journeying through a retro video game-like world to view artwork from artists such as Hunny & Lummy, Kevin Fee and Pat Toh.

While the experience itself is rather fascinating (there’s a familiar, tongue-in-cheek ‘man in pink’ character), and a well-curated selection of digital art responding directly to the feelings felt during the lockdown, OH! Open House has almost always been about the live experience, something the digital experience alone can never completely replicate. As a result, over the last weekend, the team has also been experimenting with their all new ‘Viewing Party’ experience, with a series of workshops intended to ‘guide’ audience members through select artworks, led by volunteers who share their own research process and additional facts and knowledge, whether it’s about the process of artmaking in a pandemic, or one’s psyche in a lockdown.

We found ourselves attending assistant curator Kirti Bhaskar Upadhyaya’s viewing party on a Saturday afternoon, in an almost hidden space nestled in one of the shophouses along Circular Road. Making our way to the entrance via the back alley, we were introduced to a very cosy space, almost like a living room, with throw pillows and a soft rug on the floor, cushions for up to five audience members to sit, and postcards and photos stuck up on the walls. In front of us, there was a small setup with a clunky television similar to the one framing the online experience, along with a big, blank wall, where Kirti projected her laptop’s screen onto. 

During the viewing party itself, Kirti adopted a casual, laid-back tone, taking us on a journey through time as she unpacked the very definition of the word quarantine, and how Singapore has dealt with potential outbreaks and diseases through history. Delving into her research process, not only trawling through archives, but also keeping abreast of all the information about COVID-19 being produced and published, Kirti began with the accounts of St John’s Island as a quarantine station for cholera, taking us through the different ways the mass media portrayed it as a pleasure island, and the contrasting oral opinions of those who actually lived through it, and how they seemed imprisoned on it.

Ang Kia Yee’s I am home

With that in mind, we went into two of the works proper, with Ang Kia Yee’s I am home and Tristan Lim’s Warpings. Viewing the two works on the big screen was a significantly different one from being home and looking at them on our laptops, and gave the works new power and impact. A short, simple discussion of each work followed each viewing, as viewers shared their thoughts and reactions to the piece, and eventually, brought us to a close. 

Tristan Lim’s Warpings

While the live viewing parties aren’t available anymore, the session certainly showed how much potential they had as a medium for art viewing, elevating the home viewing experience to a ‘tour’, giving us a good break away from pure digital events, and a reason to reconnect with the real world, in person. There is plenty of space for development for the form, something we’ll hopefully see more of, with more audience members akin to their usual tours if and when they return, especially once the subsequent seasons of Days — and counting rolls around. For now, be sure to check out Days — and counting online to experience the first season of works, and support OH! via donations to help them keep up the good work, and look forward to how else they’ll grow and evolve their experiences in future. 

Days — and counting’s first season, Walls Crumble, is available on their website here Donate and support them here

 

 
Screenshot 2020-11-21 at 11.08.48 PM

Even though OH! Open House’s signature tours haven’t been able to happen this year due to the coronavirus, the team has been hard at work finding alternatives to the norm, resulting in the digital exhibition Days — and countingcompletely free to view online. Framed around the narrative of a sleeping man’s dreamscape, the exhibition takes audiences on a (digital) tour of this dream, journeying through a retro video game-like world to view artwork from artists such as Hunny & Lummy, Kevin Fee and Pat Toh.

While the experience itself is rather fascinating (there’s a familiar, tongue-in-cheek ‘man in pink’ character), and a well-curated selection of digital art responding directly to the feelings felt during the lockdown, OH! Open House has almost always been about the live experience, something the digital experience alone can never completely replicate. As a result, over the last weekend, the team has also been experimenting with their all new ‘Viewing Party’ experience, with a series of workshops intended to ‘guide’ audience members through select artworks, led by volunteers who share their own research process and additional facts and knowledge, whether it’s about the process of artmaking in a pandemic, or one’s psyche in a lockdown.

We found ourselves attending assistant curator Kirti Bhaskar Upadhyaya’s viewing party on a Saturday afternoon, in an almost hidden space nestled in one of the shophouses along Circular Road. Making our way to the entrance via the back alley, we were introduced to a very cosy space, almost like a living room, with throw pillows and a soft rug on the floor, cushions for up to five audience members to sit, and postcards and photos stuck up on the walls. In front of us, there was a small setup with a clunky television similar to the one framing the online experience, along with a big, blank wall, where Kirti projected her laptop’s screen onto. 

During the viewing party itself, Kirti adopted a casual, laid-back tone, taking us on a journey through time as she unpacked the very definition of the word quarantine, and how Singapore has dealt with potential outbreaks and diseases through history. Delving into her research process, not only trawling through archives, but also keeping abreast of all the information about COVID-19 being produced and published, Kirti began with the accounts of St John’s Island as a quarantine station for cholera, taking us through the different ways the mass media portrayed it as a pleasure island, and the contrasting oral opinions of those who actually lived through it, and how they seemed imprisoned on it.

Ang Kia Yee’s I am home

With that in mind, we went into two of the works proper, with Ang Kia Yee’s I am home and Tristan Lim’s Warpings. Viewing the two works on the big screen was a significantly different one from being home and looking at them on our laptops, and gave the works new power and impact. A short, simple discussion of each work followed each viewing, as viewers shared their thoughts and reactions to the piece, and eventually, brought us to a close. 

Tristan Lim’s Warpings

While the live viewing parties aren’t available anymore, the session certainly showed how much potential they had as a medium for art viewing, elevating the home viewing experience to a ‘tour’, giving us a good break away from pure digital events, and a reason to reconnect with the real world, in person. There is plenty of space for development for the form, something we’ll hopefully see more of, with more audience members akin to their usual tours if and when they return, especially once the subsequent seasons of Days — and counting rolls around. For now, be sure to check out Days — and counting online to experience the first season of works, and support OH! via donations to help them keep up the good work, and look forward to how else they’ll grow and evolve their experiences in future. 

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