Archived entries for Randy Chan

When Two Universes Collide In A City

Take some time out on Sunday to catch the last day of Eccentric City: Rise and Fall, a paper city created out of a collaboration between Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami and Singapore design collective :phunk studio. This “eccentric” city was built out of paper buildings created using the traditional Japanese paper craft of “Tatebanko”, and each one of the buildings brings together the distinctive illustrations of the two collaborators and their vastly different cultural upbringings. On one side is Tanammi’s psychedelic works that are heavily influenced by his traumatic childhood experiences of World War II and growing up as part of the countercultural movement in the 1960s. In stark contrast, is the black and white work of :phunk whom depicted the technological city of Singapore they grew up in. Though the exhibition is small, the paper city is quite a sight to marvel at.

Besides the paper city with :phunk, Tanammi has also worked with local design agency WORK to produce two free issues of The Tanaami Times, a beautifully crafted newspaper that profiles all three collaborators and some of their work. The agency’s latest issue of its limited run WERK magazine, issue number 18, also features the work Tanammi as well.

Finally, here’s a video shot by the team that shows how each of the buildings in Eccentric City was built using Tatebanko:

A TATEBANKO (ECCENTRIC CITY : RISE AND FALL) from ferdi trihadi on Vimeo.

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Eccentric City: Rise and Fall
19 Aug – 19 Sep, 10am – 6pm
ICA Gallery 1, #B1-04, LASALLE College of the Arts

Talking Back To The State

National campaigns are a big part of life in Singapore. Even before independence, the government had began using all sorts of campaigns to create model citizens and to shape the city to its vision.

In the 1960s, Singaporeans were exhorted to eat wheat when rice was in short supply. The 1970s a Speak Mandarin campaign was introduced to encourage the Chinese community to use Mandarin instead of dialects. This was then followed by the National Courtesy Campaign in the 1980s where Singaporeans were told to be courteous to one another. Campaigns died down a little from the 1990s, but a significant one in recent times was after the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) when Singaporeans were encouraged to ‘Step Out’ and resume their daily lives.

A Straits Times article in 2003 counted some 200 documented campaigns between 1958 and 1995, and anyone in Singapore since the 1980s would have been exposed to an average of more than 10 national campaigns a year! But such campaigns have largely been a one-way communication from the state. A new exhibition, Campaign City: Life in Posters, finally gives voice to the target audience. Ten local artists were asked to re-interpret a national campaign that they remembered in the form of a poster, an essential marketing collateral before the day of television and the Internet.

Ian Woo’s response (left) to the 1970s campaign against the hippies culture (right) that even saw musician Kitaro sent home when he came to perform in Singapore with long hair.

While artists like Michelle Fun, :phunk studio, eeshaun, and Ian Woo re-appropriated old campaign posters, others like Messy Msxi, Zhao Renhui and Clare Ryan created new work in response to the original campaign slogans. The 1970s ‘Two is Enough’ campaign, which encouraged Singaporean families to stop at two babies, was the most popular campaign as Justin Lee, ampulets, and Randy Chan each did a poster for it. This campaign is arguably one of the nation’s few successes, so much so, that low fertility has become a problem for Singapore today.

While the posters are personal responses, when read as a collection, there seems to be an underlying sense of ambivalence and pessimism about these campaigns. Randy’s poster (below) was especially memorable, visualising the many campaigns in the form of a condom — a critique on how a protective nanny state not only denied fertility but life in this city too.

Yet, one cannot deny the iconic value the old campaign posters have left in our visual culture. They may never have been very effective in moulding society and its people in the way it was meant to, but it has certainly helped shape how we see this city.

Campaign City: Life in Posters
9 Sep – 15 Oct
Tue-Sun, 2pm-8pm
Evil Empire, 48 Niven Road

Review: Singapore Architect #245

sacoverIt was by pure coincidence that I chanced upon the newly-revamped Singapore Architect,and despite being only remotely interested in architecture, I forked out S$13.90 for the magazine that claims to be “the only magazine, produced and written by architects, for architects, in South East Asia”. Even though the magazine was all wrapped up, I was sold simply by its cover, the binding and the theme of this issue.

The theme of “process” comes out very strongly in its cover. Using a graphic, an intriguing choice for an architecture magazine, the building process is deconstructed to its individual components: the land, the crane and the pillars that  communicates the message in a clear and simple form. This deconstructive approach is also applied to the choice of binding: a stripped-down look — I think it’s called book spine stitching —that alludes to the process of making a magazine.

The coherence of the theme continues beyond its cover and into its layout beginning with a page, “Processing The New SA”, that is devoted to explaining the rationale and inner workings of the re-design. One detail I liked a lot was how I got to see covers that did not make it as it shows me the designer’s thought process. To top it off, even the magazine’s colour scheme follows the conceptual theme of “process” as it stuck to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black — the four process colours of printing.

sabind1The theme aside, I liked the new logo and how a third dimension as compared to the previous logo was added with the parallelogram. In a sense, architecture is about creating the 3-D form and the new logo communicates this very well. Moreover, the parallelogram behind “SA” acts as a very strong identifying symbol and is used at the end of all its articles.

Here are just two peeks at the inside, I especially love the left one where the page and text are unified  by the yellow colour because it is applied in a manner that serves as a hierarchy for the text too. While we would conventionally bold the sub-heads and separate the pull-out quotes, throughout this magazine, there seems to be a concious design choice of seamlessly highlighting them out instead with underlines, circles and in this instance, highlights. This is one trend that I’m increasingly seeing in publishing design, perhaps it just seems more poetic?

Published by Singapore Institute of Architects, the magazine’s redesign was done by Night and Day and its Creative Director is Kelley Cheng. Based on some Google searches, I believe Kelley is also the editorial director of another design/architecture magazine, iSH, and Page One. I am now wondering if Night and Day is actually the same  bar and gallery opened by her and fellow architect, Randy Chan.


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