Thursday, 28 June 2012

UP Singapore Urban Prototyping Weekend - Postcode Postcard

Over the weekend I was at UP Singapore where there was a great big data hackathon with interesting datasets from places such as Singtel, Taxi, LTA, etc. We met loads of interesting people, learnt lots, had fun experimenting with the data, and at the end of the weekend, Me and Yuta ("Team Jalan Besar") built this:

Screen shot 2012-06-28 at AM 07

The idea I had for the Postcode Postcard was to build a simple web app that aims to visualize the local mobile network data and other datasets in Singapore, and to render this into a physical postcard that can be printed on the spot and distributed as a real postcard that can be mailed to a friend who might not have an internet connection.


Many asked me why not just make it a visual on the iphone, but I feel the point of the physical postcard is because the people who need to see "big data" in this format are the ones who won't be online with their smartphones to see it. How can a smart city be smart if not everyone can understand it?



(Our entry won 3rd prize and we got a Playbook!)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Yangtze Scribbler - Spotted on Queen Street

Yangtze Scribbler on Queen Street

Yangtze Scribbler - SPOTTED AGAIN (June 2012)! Thanks to a tipoff by my friend Yuta (who also lives along Jalan Besar), I had a little walk around Queen Street, around the Bus Terminal and the Indian Church - and I found this on the side wall of the slightly run-down "Cambridge Institute". I can't believe I missed it before as I have many shots of the old market that is now being disassembled across the road from it, and I must have been standing right in front of this spot before but I just hadn't noticed it before! At night, the path along this wall is not very well lighted.

Its proximity to the station suggests a possible connection to.... Malaysia. Either the person commutes to Malaysia via the bus and thus walks past this path frequently - or the person lives in my area (Near Little India/Jalan Besar) and is also walking around like me. What are the chances that I would have ended up moving to the exact area as the mystery writer whose scrawlings I first discovered on a wall in Chinatown some years ago?

See Also:
Open Urbanism: Looking for the Yangtze Scribbler
Open Urbanism: Yangtze Scribbler on Victoria Lane
Singapore Memory Project Showcase - Tan Pin Pin's short on the Yangtze Scribbler

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Retroalimentacion (Facultad del Artes Gallery, UAEM)

Here are some images from our show "Retroalimentacion" at the Facultad del Artes Gallery, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.


From the Wall Text: "Retroalimentacion is a series of workshops and a sampling of digital art works by artists located in S.E. Asia sponsored by the Facultad de Artes de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, in Mexico. It is hoped that these events, including workshops conducted in Mexico by four artists/designers located in Southeast Asia, will be the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue about approaches to the digital medium between Latin America and Southeast Asia. The retro in the title recalls a return to a focus on digital art, a medium of expression that first bloomed at the dawn of the Information Age in the late 1990's. Although not as novel as when wide-spread computer and the Internet usage first sprung up in many parts of the world, the digital medium is being energetically explored by a newer generation of artists geographically located in regions of Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines who approach the medium with fresh insights, as well as by other creators located in the region with longer histories of international practice.

The theme of the workshops and exhibit is loosely related to the theme of feedback, feedback in games, feedback in audio-visual remixing, and in other interactive works such as hacked Kinect games, as well as through mediated social feedback. The alimentation in this event's title also hints of a desire to feed, to consume, an addiction to mediated reflections and immediate responses to actions. We are easily drawn into expecting continuous feedback, whether provided by human agents, such as comments in socially mediated software like Facebook, or taking the form of artificially programmed audio-visual responses. Feedback satisfies our sense that our actions have consequences, and this addiction is being harnessed for developing commercial design products and games.

But feedback can also be distorted creatively into noise. Audio and visual effects ripple out from electronic sources. Players intuitively follow paths through digital artifacts based on negative and positive responses to their actions. Feedback then becomes both a guide and a lure, noise and art effect."

Participating Artists:

Andreas Siagian []
Anne-Marie Schleiner []
Brian O'Reilly
Debbie Ding []
Kenneth Feinstein
Luis Hernandez Galvan []
Tengal Nolasnem
Vladimir Todorovic


Janitzio Alatriste

Opening Speech


The Director gave a short speech to the crowd outside before everyone burst inside. It was a small gallery with many projections and "interaction zones" so as a result the first half hour of the exhibition was quite chaotic and I mostly only have pictures of people's heads, arms and shadows...

Luis Hernandez Galvan




Luis showed a number of works projected on the far end of the wall and on a temporary wall in the centre of the gallery. One of them was an exact model of the HDB flat they had been living in Singapore.

As it was hard to take good photos of projections in the gallery, you should also visit Luis' website at to see more of his work.

Anne-Marie Schleiner




Anne-Marie showed two games, one more abstract video game involving rearranging cut-up bits of music made in different places, and another game about bees that she had worked on during the workshop with input from students.

As it was hard to take good photos of projections in the gallery so for more, do also take a look at more of Anne-Marie's work at

Andreas Siagian






Andreas spent days working on building an installation that amplified the sound of water being filtered through a series of boxes with the power of gravity, entirely from local materials found in Toluca. Even the PCBs were printed in Toluca, thanks to Relder's help!

Debbie Ding

Sun Cycle (see also previous post for more information):



The Singapore River as a Psychogeographical Faultline:





I showed two kinect-based works at the gallery. People seemed to enjoy it, especially the seeming "unpredictability" of the Sun Cycle (that eventually reveals itself to be quite simple).

Other Artists


A cluster of iMacs were in the gallery to show the video works from the other artists. This was one of them.

PS: If anyone else has other photos of the exhibition, please let me know at 04.48am @ gmail and i will add them or link them to this page as well! Thanks!

Getting Started with TUIO, Reactivision, AS3, and PD


Recently, a bunch of us were at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (Facultad del Artes) in Toluca, teaching a workshop and having an expocision there! Luis gave a class on Blender, Anne-marie taught about Gamemaker, Andreas taught about Pure Data, and I attempted to teach about TUIO/Kinect/Reactivision.

I say attempted, because I and Andreas did not speak much spanish (or rather we did not actually speak ANY spanish on arrival), and as I am a particularly longwinded and wordy person (with some incredibly longwinded and complicated ideas to communicate about the purpose and meaning behind interaction or programming), there were many things lost in translation due to the language barrier, despite the very kind attempts by some of the MA students such as Julio and Blanca (who tried to bridge the language and learning gaps for us by teaching the younger students a little bit more about flash and programming before we got there). But I hope everyone there still learnt something from my murmurings about tangible touch (and thanks to Janitzio for having us all there to teach as well!).





Some pictures from the part of the workshop that Andreas and I were teaching

The class was actually very sweet and it was lovely to go there and teach them all for a week, although there were truly some moments of utter exasperation of not being able to communicate an idea better as I simply did not have any common words to do so. In the end I also had to improvise and turn the class into a reactivation focused lesson because there were too few kinect sets in the classroom (I had only brought two from Singapore). I suppose I too have learnt a lot of things from this experience:

  1. it is truly very difficult to really teach programming to people who speak a different language to one's own (especially when simple pseudocode examples do not make any sense to them)
  2. its easier to teach a short workshop with opensource tools like pure data, rather than a program like flash that requires a licence, or with external hardware like kinect, because one really needs to have a day in advance to do a pre-setup session or installfest. i had not catered for this earlier unfortunately. also, that part about Flash files not being readable by more than the version before it (ie: Flash CS5 files are only editable in CS4 and CS5, but not CS3) really bothers me. (caveat: despite this drawback, i feel Flash is a pretty practical tool with its own commercial uses so i would still recommend learning Flash although its a little more bothersome...)
  3. it is very difficult to learn how to make a tangible touch setup AND to write the program if one does not have any basic understanding or grounding in programming. IN FACT LET'S JUST SAY ITS IMPOSSIBLE. this is not going to be the easiest "MY FIRST FLASH APP" to start with. perhaps i could eventually find a way to write a simpler tutorial, but at this point i suppose i don't have enough teaching experience to know how to make it understandable to someone with TOTALLY ZERO programming experience. it would take much longer. but i suppose maybe as i slowly accrue more teaching experience, i might also learn the mystical way of magically teaching anything to people who have zero knowledge of the thing that you are teaching about......


Julio and Blanca in a funny moment. The MA students really helped translate and communicate some of the things I could not say in Spanish to the rest of the class. Thank you so much guys!


at the workshop i tried to show examples in both as3 and pure data. having played a little bit with max and pd before, it was straightforward for me to figure out how i could start using pd and tuio from the examples provided although this was also my first time really using PD.

I am by no means some sort of ultimate expert on learning about TUIO (as these were things I had slowly figured out by myself on my own from reading on the internet and posting on forums) but I suppose one thing I've appreciated about this in the few years that I have been trying to figure it out is how TUIO is easy and consistent so that when you code up something, say for Flash AS3, you would then have a consistent way to refer to things and a flash app could be built for a touch table OR also used for kinect and it would still work immediately both ways for both setups (assuming you used the term TUIOCursor and TUIOObject consistently)

The difference between TUIOCursor is that a cursor is like a dot on the screen that is tracked and does not have rotational angle. There can be many many Cursors as well, whereas an TUIOObject is something that is already defined an object number and it is an object which has an "Up" or "Down" while on screen and can be rotated around and around. (There is also a TUIOBlob, but suffice to say since its been all pretty homebrew I rarely get around to calibrating my blobs)

Click here to view the full
TUIO + Kinect/Reactivision + AS3 Workshop Guide

- This guide is for Mac Users who use 10.5 and above.
- Windows users can also use the guide but some instructions may differ (such as the way one uses the Terminal/Console)
- Example start file available at
- Solution file available at
- Presentation built with slidedown

BONUS! - Getting started with TUIO and PD

To get started with TUIO and PD, download PD Extended from the puredata websitew.

Download the TUIO Client Reference Implementations for PD

Download reactivision and print out some fiducial markers to wave at your camera to test it

Open the programs in this order: reactivision > pure data > the tuio pd patch of your choice, and voila it should work out of the box when you wave a symbol at your webcam!

Screen shot 2012-05-25 at PM 01