Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Articles from the “Report” Category

Photo via flickr, @aigle_dore

The Pursuit of Inner Solitude

Posted on November 2, 2013

The growth of cities have seen the shrinking of work spaces and living spaces. As more people attempt to capitalise on where opportunities are to be found, cities get painfully packed. Industrious planners have toiled for years to compact as many brilliant minds as possible into smaller square feet of space. Without a hinterland to run to, it could be difficult to find a quiet place to muse, to work and ponder.

However, escaping inwards could be an answer to find a quiet space within where you can come to yourself, clarify your thoughts, or just sit in awareness. This ‘retreat in daily life’ can be taken in a closed room, or a noisy bus. Nonetheless, free meditation support groups have asserted that if one can achieve just ten minutes of stillness, it is beneficial for rooting oneself in the causes that one lives for, gives greater impetus, increased motivation to strive for the end goal you have in mind, or achieving a greater awareness of self.

An increasing number of youths have also embraced meditation or forms of meditation as a compass to guide them through life. Even though, doing nothing in the midst of meditation is one of the hardest things to achieve in our rapidly paced, urgent world. Never mind also that attention spans are becoming shorter (see article by Daylon Soh—Death to Brainstorming.)

25 year old Kiyoko Ong, a member of Singapore Soka Association said, “Most importantly, it teaches me to respect all human beings as everyone has buddhahood or Buddha nature in them. That’s the first step towards compassion.”

Upon examining some religions and belief systems, one finds that meditation, or some form of pursuing silence, quiet, reflective thinking, is the basis of most of the worlds’ oldest religions. Here’s a look at how different belief systems embrace the pursuit of inner solitude.


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Photo by Daylon Soh

Death to Brainstorming

Posted on October 21, 2013

“Creativity is dead.”

Carl walked out of another fruitless brainstorming session feeling despondent with more questions than good ideas that address the clients’ brief. Carl, an award-winning creative director at an upstart advertising agency, had been mulling over the brief with his colleagues, some of the most brilliant minds in the industry.

“Those mental blocks get to even the best of us,” Carl lamented to himself as he left the office for a quick smoke.

He understood well that the quantity of ideas matter more than the quality of ideas — at least at the beginning. “Perhaps we just need to give the team more time to crack the brief.”

Times are changing as we live in an attention deficit culture. The audience craves instant gratification and quick fixes while their brains unconsciously filters anything that resembles an advertisement. According to the latest statistics verified by the Associated Press, a modern audience average attention span has decreased from 12 second in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2012.

The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.


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A Night at the Museum

Posted on October 12, 2013

Oh how the Night Festival inaugurated by the National Museum of Singapore has evolved. By evolved, I refer to the growth and diversification of its audience demographics; as well as the development in its programming. The Singapore Night Festival has developed into one of character, scale, grandeur and vision: and it can truly helm itself as one of the annual peaks one looks out for in the calendar. It was marketed consistently across the nation’s paper spreads, as well as along the transportation lines and systems. Furthermore, it was an intrajectory collaboration between not just statutory boards, but arts hubs, performance collectives, visual artists and bands as well. Held over 2 weekends in August, the Night Festival managed to not just draw in the crowd, but make a unique statement about what constitutes successful and long-term festivalisation.

Projection mapping display at the National Museum.

Projection mapping display at the National Museum.


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Co-working: Making Space for Collaboration

Posted on August 15, 2013

Japan is a country comprised of 146,000 square miles (or 378,000 square kilometers) of land, just 4% of the total land area of the United States of America (USA). Despite having limited land, Japan houses a population of more than 127 million, a figure slightly over 40% of the population in USA.

In the last few decades since post-war Japan, the Japanese have proven the value of making the most out of their land. Mistakes become costlier as there is very little spared to waste. On this land, perfection is the end pursuit and quality became synonymous with the words, “Made in Japan”.

When major city-centers around the world become epicenters of concentrated economic activity and continue to attract immigrants in droves, centralized real estate becomes a premium. The ability to fully maximize the productivity of every inch of working and living space seems like a sound approach to moving forward.

Yet, as cities grow and become increasingly populated, the opportunity to address this challenge by transforming our living and working spaces should not come at the cost of human liveability or workplace productivity.

In land scarce Japan, each dining-in patron only has 50cm-wide seating space at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tokyo, Japan’s capital city. | Source: Flickr, cabon33

In land scarce Japan, each dining-in patron only has 50cm-wide seating space at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tokyo, Japan’s capital city. | Source: Flickr, cabon33

“Space is the ‘body language’ of an organization,” says Chris Flink, a partner at global design consultancy, IDEO, and associate professor at Stanford University. The quote appears in the book, Make Space, by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft, with the following sub-header:

“Intentional or not, the form, functionality, and finish of a space reflect the culture, behaviors, and priorities of the people within it. This suggests that a space designer is simultaneously a cultural translator and a builder. That said, space design has its own grammar that can be tweaked to bolster desirable habits.”


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Jumaldi Alfi, Night Walking (The Swimmer)
Jumaldi Alfi, Night Walking (The Swimmer) (2013) | Photo by Grace Astari

Indonesia’s ArtJog Defies The Art Fair Norm

Posted on August 7, 2013

Business seeks opportunity, and in the art world, it is no different. When Art Basel Hong Kong hosted its first event this May with 60,000 attendees, it signaled the emergence of Asia as a powerful force of influence to the global art market. The Guardian rightly points out that this is more than a geographic addition to the art calendar, rather the shift is “reminiscent of the migration of the art markets from the European capitals to New York in the early 20th century.” Hong Kong may boast the third largest sales, but art centers in New Delhi and Singapore are equally ambitious. The growing interest in contemporary Asian art is buoyed by the abundance of regional spending power, and collectors in Asia are seeking the acquirement of their national stars, local artists of repute and international names, often skyrocketing auction valuations.

In the city of Yogyakarta (Jogja), widely known as the cultural heart of Indonesia, there is an annual art fair held in the summer, replete with fringe events, workshops, talks and studio visits. Art Fair Jogja or ArtJog celebrates its sixth year running this July (6–20th).

From the outside, this local, artist-run event appears like any other major gathering of art culture, however it’s vastly different to its institutional counterparts.

No well-lit, branded plaques exist between works of art to delineate ownership and commercial association. Works are hung by curatorial vision and artists are displayed democratically, the emerging beside the established. No special attention has been taken to fetishize an artist’s brand.


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