I’m rather disappointed that there’s no Art Garden at Singapore Art Museum this year. The kids love it and we usually go more than once if we can. But we managed to check out Sensorium 360° the other day and there are some installations that are appealing to and suitable for kids. It’s an exhibition of Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art that explores how sensory experiences locate us in understanding the world and knowing the self and is on until 22 October.
I was there with Anya and her classmate and The Overview Installation was their favourite and they went through it at least 3 times! You have to put on a pair of goggles that replaces your normal viewpoint with an image streamed from closed-circuit televisions so you see yourself from a third-person point of view or from above or ‘god view’. I tried it too and it’s like a computer game and the effect is quite disorienting. A simple maze becomes extremely difficult to navigate!
Another favourite was noon-nom where the kids got to jump around and hide in a roomful of boob cushions. The kids called it the xiao long bao room and I can totally see the resemblance. The installation supposedly questions prevailing attitudes towards the female breast in order to reassert its significance as a natural form that symbolises nourishment and comfort, and emphasises the importance of touching and feeling as a means of reconnecting in human relationships.
Cage uses green lasers to create two virtual cages and is supposed to trigger instinctive responses of disorientation and even anxiety in viewers. The kids didn’t seem anxious at all and had fun trying to climb over, wriggle under or squeeze in between the laser beams without getting the light cut off.
In The Sensoroom, visitors can relax in a reading corner of specially selected books and participate in the activity stations that explore the senses of the human body. Some of the items in the touching station were missing and probably taken away by other kids (or adults).
There were a few other rooms that the kids didn’t find that interesting and one that was full of glass so I was a bit nervous when they were in that particular room. But we still spent a couple of hours there and I had to drag them away eventually. You can refer to the exhibition guide for more information about the different installations in Sensorium 360°. I like how all the installations challenge the way we use our senses and our perceptions.
My favourite was Twinning Machine 4.0 because I actually managed to take a photo of myself (taking a photo of myself). An interactive installation, the video captures the viewer and projects the life-sized image onto a screen, but with a few seconds’ delay, so it really feels like you are looking at a twin or a ghost of yourself.
I’m glad we managed to have a good time at Singapore Art Museum even without Art Garden but I’m really hoping that they will bring it back next year in some form or other. Sensorium 360° is until 22 October and there are programmes you can sign up for and worksheets for older children to guide them along.
Read more about Sensorium 360° at Mum in the Making.