SB & 3D (Why I’m excited to be in Eugene Soh’s virtual gallery project)

to enter and see IATB in an exhibition with other artists, click here.
Here is the extremely short version: from 2002 until 2008 I was involved with a visionary virtual reality project that combined educational practices with gamemaking and multimedia. However, the spiritual captain of the project was part Disney, part Microsoft and part Sex Pistols. An unexpected death, treachery, incompetence, inexperience, bureaucratic boondoggles and more made my life “interesting”… I have pages of notes about the events and the spirit of the times. We were doing things like Youtube and Second Life before they started. The project was so close… and yet so far away. (Actually, now that mobile technology has settled down, I hope that the lessons and products of that experience can be revitalized. But that’s yet another story.)
In 2006, as a way of showcasing our technology,  I entered a gamemaking hackathon. A theme was given on a Thursday morning and the next day at five the results were judged.The theme was something about healthy eating, I think. Working with my programmer in Hong Kong, we made a game in which the viewer learned about the calorie count of certain foods. The player competed with an AI character.  It was fun to do.
However, what I remember most was a team that made an incredible flash game. I don’t remember if they won or not, but I do remember two guys on that team very well. George Parel and Eugene Soh were full of energy, knowledge and bursting with creative ideas.
They still are.
I’ve been lucky to work with George and Eugene on a few projects since then. In 2008 I finally had to put the educational gamemaking project on hold while I waited for a programmer and the mobile device situation to stabilize.I put more time into writing and art projects. George and Eugene (that dude from Singapore) however, have kept on doing remarkably creative things with IT, art, design and more.
Virtual reality may seem to be an artificial place, but the gallery Eugene has created fills me with memories and hope. I am honored and very thankful for I Ate Tiong Bahru to be on display in
IATB in virtual gallery
Cheers, Eugene! Cheers, George!

Ebooks: Born to Click (1 of 3)

visit for parts 2 and 3 of this post, as well as information on art, books and ebooks

This informal essay is my way of marking the end of a certain era in ebook history. It’s part snapshot, part reference materials, part journal.At the end of this post are notes about me, my experiences and my books.
Thanks to Doug Rolph for his insights on economics, Eric Hellman for his input and my dad for having taken care of our family by selling books.

το πνεύμα του Ιανού

After I finish writing eight books, I will begin marketing. Until then, I’ll probably study the ebook world less and hopefully do more writing, arting and engaging with Life. When it does comes time for me to contribute to the marketing conversation, I hope I have something to say. For now, I present the following notes, quotes and thoughts as a means of punctuating a phase in the development of ebooks as I have seen and experienced it.

This is an exciting time. The ebook delivery platforms are finally stable, self-publishing has proven to have great value and a number of services have recently appeared that shorten the distances between readers and authors. It seems to me that indie ebooks and ebook marketing are about to enter a new era.

This blog post makes little mention of traditional publishing. This is simply because, as much as I would like to enjoy the benefits of being a Big 5/6 author, that fruit is not now within my reach. I am however, considering joining the Author’s Guild.

Although I’ve done almost no marketing, I have studied the environments in which ebooks are created, presented, bought and sold. Some observations:

1. Except for uploading, nothing about ebooks is easy.
Writing is the anti-social social media, full of long, long hours of pressure-filled solitude. Assembling an error-free book is never simple. The social part, finding an audience, is an immense challenge. I respect all of the authors mentioned in this post for they have successfully met these challenges and more.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
Stephen King

Based on my experiences, the work breakdown of an 88,000 word novel looks something like this: 1000 words a day (88 days) or, more likely, 500 words a day (176 days). Call it 200 days to prepare something for a proofreader. Two months for corrections, art, and ebook conversion. So, a book takes about 300 working days to finalize. About…
And then there are the thousands of actions needed to connect with readers… The title of Guy Kawasaki’s excellent book says it all: APE, meaning Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

This document, by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, is a data-based analysis of the ebook market. Highly recommended, it covers topics important for newbies and veterans. It touches upon issues like word count, pricing, marketing and more. For instance, his research shows that the average bestseller on Smashwords is 100,000 words, and the average romance is 112,195 words. (There are more links to resources at the end of this post.)
Very few traditionally published authors became bestsellers; the same is true for ebook publishing. My goal is not to become a bestseller, but to connect with the largest possible community of people who enjoy the art of reading.

2. A great writer or a great marketer…
….or, the frustration of being caught between not doing enough writing and not doing enough marketing. A writer writes, a salesman sells.
Self-publishing does not equal self-marketing. Spending money wisely on promotion money means income and time to write. (See the links below)
Twitter, Goodreads, FB, LinkedIn and blogging? All have their advantages and disadvantages…

3. There are no independent, hugely successful ebook-only self-publishers.
Note: Two days after this post went up, I became aware of this great piece by Dana Beth Weinberg on Digital Book World. Thank you Jacqueline Church!

Amazon is huge, Apple is huge, Kobo and Smashwords are very big. Unless you are selling from your own website or the back of your car, you’re not truly independent.

OK, A bit of an attention grabber there…but the author’s need for a partnership with Amazon and ebook distributors is a dependence that cannot be overlooked. These “automatic partners” will always protect their interests first. They call the shots. Amazon is a business, not an author.

Amanda Hocking is a hugely successful author. At one point, the average daily sales figure of her self-published ebooks was 9000. Again: average DAILY book sales: nine thousand! Her success was based on hard work, technological first mover advantage and an indirect tie-in with Hollywood.
-the successful and pioneering integration of ebook readers into tablets and mobile as well as the launch of the Kindle (2007) and the iPad(2010)
-the large demographic of young women who bought readers and tablets
- the fact that, having written many books, Hocking could quickly provide a new and large market with a variety of new titles
- writing books about the paranormal when Hollywood is pushing the same cannot hurt. Twilight, the hugely successful series of movies about teen vampires began in 2008. Hocking’s first book, My Blood Approves, began selling in 2010.

E.L. James’ book phenomenon began in the fan fiction chat rooms for Twilight. The characters in Fifty Shades of Grey were originally the characters from Twilight. Could Master of the Universe, as her series was originally called, have achieved its success without an existing network of thousands of Twilight fans?

These two women made their mark upon society in two different ways. As shared, collective book-based experiences: WOW!
However, the writing is…”not terrible” or worse

I remember SF/F authors complaining (back in 2011) that their readers hadn’t switched to e-books yet, casting jealous eyes at the outsized romance audience. But as readers did move across, we saw people like David Dalglish and BV Larson breaking out, and the rest of “genre” fiction soon followed.

There are “indie success stories” about authors who “rode into town” on the backs of traditional publishing. Funded by Big 6 money these “indies” were advertised and publicized, sent on book tours and given things like business cards. Possibly, audiobooks were made. Hundreds, if not thousands, of their books were given away, many to reviewers.
As the ‘first mover’possibilities of the ebook market became clear and realistic, these authors, knighted by the Big 6 and armed with credibility and connections, rode onto a battlefield with little opposition… Undoubtedly hard work was involved, but to label them as indies brings to mind the quip about George Bush: “…was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

There certainly are “ebook only” indies connecting with many readers and enjoying sales. I just don’t know of any. (FOUND SOMEONE: LINDSAY BUROKER Please tell me about others! them! Somewhat related to this, are there any “ebook only” awards?

Here, authors talk about their sales experiences.

4. The ebook world evolves to reward the reader; the prepared author benefits from this.
Fan fiction. Goodreads. Ebook readers on mobile phones. The mashup between big data and metadata. Entrepreneurs with vision who see ways to connect authors and readers in a new ways.

It is an exciting time.

Ebooks: Born to Click, Part 2 of 3

visit for parts 2 and 3 of this post, as well as information on art, books and ebooks


SPOKEN: Musical portraits of artists

The following is free-association as portraiture, as well as a way to give some ideas to Tommy J, the musician who is creating a soundscape for SPOKEN.

SPOKEN, by Eugene Soh and Stephen Black,  is a virtual art exhibition/text project curated by Helium. Learn more about it here.













(Could not find a SADATO song called NAKAI)















































The music of neighbors

-I once stayed in apartment on 11th Street and two musicians lived on the other side of the wall. They were/are brilliant and, among a zillion projects, released music as Cibo Matto. (And yes, somewhere is a video I shot of Love is a Muscle, which was one of the most beautiful concerts I have attended.Love is a Muscle was a working title, or a side project or something like that, before Cibo Matto. The show was at CBGB 13 or whatever it was called. Marc Ribot and Dougie Bowne and Yuko Honda…who else? The soundcheck was a gift…Marc Ribot asked the others if his guitar was too loud… that care, that intelligence yinyanginging into funk with all kinds of sweet beats and rock music and rainbow lyrics…at one point Dougie played drums with his hands…
-When we had the SPP Gallery happening in Tokyo, the man downstairs practiced violin every day, starting at 4PM. He was gifted and played classical music professionally.
-Another apartment in Tokyo: a koto teacher who gave lessons from her home.
-Aliwal Street, writing while there a silat Melayu competition was happening next door, at the Malay Cultural Centre. Percussion and yelling as I tapped the keyboard.

Now in Bali; either an experimental electronic musician or a gamelan player creating soundscapes. I hear what I can only describe as being sweet, deep, melodic tones. Very different from the children’s band that “plays” marching music during the mornings when school is in session.

The Thumb-shaped Kway

I’m a kway, you’re a kway. (Occupy Tiong Bahru: February 18, 2012)

The small front room constantly played Hong Kong martial arts movies dubbed in Mandarin. This was a piece entitled Mother Tongue, by Green Zeng. In the room next to that was the Belly of the Beast, by Mark Wong, whose piece featured a small black teddy bear playing a deathmetal sound artwork with a deep voice growling the “..for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health’ lines read at weddings. The growling was accompanied by the sound of a pounding heart, droning guitar and an occasional scream. I was in the kitchen, serving kway.
It was great to interact with so may people. I gave out 200 pieces of way.
My project was simple , a collaboration with Kim Lam Hong Confectionary, a family that has been making kways for at least three generations. By next week we will created a kway with a design based on my thumb.The thumb kway will be an edible sculpture. It may also symbolize individuality, cultural identity and gentrification.And yes, there are prints for sale. There is more information here:
What follows are the notes which I did not refer to/read from..Please note that these are my personal notes, a kind of rough draft , and that I have not credited the sources. THESE ARE NOTES, NOT A FINISHED SPEECH/TEXT//a work in progress….

I’m A Kway, You’re A Kway

Five parts: self –introduction, history of kways, description of this project, conclusion, eating…

Jokes….(…are there any jokes about kway?)

What is small, red and whispers? … A HOARSE RADISH…”

“What do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? Hot cross bunny.”

“Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.”

“How do you make an apple turnover? Push it down a hill.”

“Two peanuts walk into a really rough bar. Unfortunately, one was a salted.”

“Waiter, waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup? I think it’s the backstroke, sir.”


American from Ohio, artist, writer, photographer, video maker

In Asia for a long time, Singapore since 2002.

mention Book Merah,Tiong Bahru book and Its May publication

KWAY HISTORY( from Wikipedia)

Kuih (also kueh, kue, or kway; from Hokkien: 粿 koé) are bite-sized snack or dessert foods found in the Malay Archipelago as well as the Southern China provinces of Fujian and Canton. Kuih is a fairly broad term which may include items that would be called cakes, cookies,dumplings, pudding, biscuit, or pastries in English and are usually made from rice or glutinous rice.

Chinese kuih, written as “guo” (粿) or sometimes as “gao” (糕), are usually made from ground rice flours. Many of the kuihs are made especially for important festivities such as the Qingming Festival or Chinese New Year, however many others are consumed as main meals or snack on a daily basis. Example of these kuih include:[1]

Red tortoise cake (Chinese: 紅龜粿; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Âng-Ku-Kóe) is a small round or oval shaped Chinese pastry with soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre.[1][2] It is molded to resemble a tortoise shell and is presented resting on a square piece of banana leaf. As suggested by its name, red tortoise cakes are traditionally red in color and has a sticky chewy texture when eaten.[3] Red tortoise cakes are shaped like tortoise shells because the Chinese traditionally believed that eating tortoises would bring longevity to those who are eating it and bring about good fortune and prosperity.[4][5] Considered to be auspicious items, these sweet pastries are especially prepared during important festivals such as Chinese New Year as offerings to the Chinese deities.

Red tortoise cakes are also prepared for occasions that are culturally important to the Chinese such as a newborn baby’s first month or birthdays of the elderly. Eating red tortoise cakes during these times are meant to represent blessings for the child and longevity for the elderly.[4][6]In modern times, red tortoise cakes continue to be important food items during Chinese festivals in many countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, China and Taiwan. However, eating red tortoise cakes in these countries is no longer restricted to special occasions for red tortoise cakes are also commercially available in many pastry shops and bakeries.

There are two main components in red tortoise cakes, the skin and the filling. The skin is made mostly from glutinous rice flour and sweet potato whereas the fillings are made from precooked ingredients such as mung bean or grounded peanuts and sugar. After kneading and molding the ingredients together, the red tortoise cakes are steamed on a piece of banana leaf. In countries such as Singapore, these pastries are popular snack items and are especially popular with children because of their sweet and savory taste. In fact, many bakeries in Singapore have created red tortoise cakes in a variety of assorted flavors, including jelly and red bean, to cater to all tastes and preferences

n Chinese culture, the color red is traditionally used as a symbol of joy and happiness whereas the tortoise symbolizes longevity, power and tenacity.[2][7][6] As such, red tortoise cakes are of a high cultural significance and value amongst the Chinese people. They are typically associated with auspicious occasions and are especially prepared during birthdays and religious festivals to symbolize blessings and good fortune.

[edit]Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important festival in Chinese culture as it represents the start of a new year for everyone where people could reconcile and welcome the new year in hope for peace and prosperity. During this festival, the Chinese people would pray for good fortune and sweets such as rice cakes and red tortoise cakes are offered to the Chinese deities on ritual altars. These ritual offerings are made in the hope that the sweetness from these cakes will leave a sweet taste in the mouths of the deities and they will bless the people with a prosperous year ahead.[5][4]

[edit]Jade Emperor’s Birthday

The Jade Emperor is one of the most important gods in chinese folklore. He is believed to be the ruler of heaven and his birthday falls on the ninth day of the first lunar month.[5][8] To celebrate his birthday, the Chinese people will conduct prayers in his name and prepare food within Chinese temples or Chinese households as ritual offerings. In Chinese culture, red tortoise cakes are considered must-haves amongst the food items that are to be offered to the Jade Emperor on altar tables.

Because the number 6 is considered an auspicious number in Chinese culture, red tortoise cakes are placed on the altar table in multiples of six such as 12, 24 or 36 in the hope that he will bless the people with good fortune and prosperity.[5]



I’m OK, You’re OK Seventies best 15 million copies Dr. Thomas Harris
Perhaps mention the history of OK, the word itself…O Kway!I’m Ok, You’re OK… a Seventies reference/..Another Seventires reference, Planet of the Apes.Ape shall not kill ape. Kway shall not kill kway

1.Joseph Beuys and other artists who work with the community to create projects.

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet.3

The planting of seven thousand oak trees is thus only a symbolic beginning. And such a symbolic beginning requires a marker, in this instance a basalt column. The intention of such a tree-planting event is to point up the transformation of all of life, of society, and of the whole ecological system…4

From the 7000 Oaks Project

2. Ferran Adria/ El Bulli and Documenta 12

The mystery of Ferran Adrià’s role in Documenta 12 has finally been solved. As La Vanguardia reports, the star chef will participate from afar, by keeping a table for two open to exhibition visitors at his restaurant El Bulli on the Costa Brava, outside Barcelona, every night of the show. The lucky two will be chosen randomly by Buergel in Kassel and offered airfare, along with a meal at El Bulli. The award-winning restaurant, which is fully booked for the next year, will officially become an auxillary site of D12—known as “the G pavilion”—during the hundred-day event in Kassel. “Instead of us coming and cooking here (in Kassel), which was impossible,” Adrià told reporters, “we transferred Documenta to Cala Montjoi”—nearly a thousand miles away from Kassel. “Cooking cannot be ‘musefied’—it is an artistic discipline that needs its own scene,” explained Adrià, who admits that some might be disappointed by his no-show in Kassel. “In the end, the visitor decides what is art and what is not.”


At first , the following ideas were considered:

A new food based on the traditional foods of Tiong Bahru.

Work with traditional food makers and the new chefs in the neighborhood- perhaps a simple molecular version of a traditional dish

Sustainability, local produce.

Challenges: worst time of year- Christmas and CNY

KWAY moves to the forefront because the other ideas are too logistically complex.

Louis and Lim Lam Hong in my neighborhood, friendly and openminded second/third generation

New flavors and new designs

CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge. CNY is/was a challenge!!!!

Design, however, moves forward as this I can do this by myself.

Tuesday new design will be ready

Premier next week

Ongoing project

THUMBPRINT symbol of individuality , yet anonymous

Hong Guan Tan worked on the design as well as the red dot poster

The business man Mr. Hirst.

The world’s biggest show.

To take in the whole work I’d need to hike to the dealer’s two other venues in Manhattan, and then fly to Gagosian branches in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Athens, and Hong Kong.

Hirst, the British art star who turns 47 this year, has spread 331 of his signature dotted canvases, out of some 1,400 he made, across Gagosian spaces around the world.

By appropriating Hirst’s commercial designs, kway is decontextualized from tradition and becomes associated with a sophisticated successful art practice, ie “edgy.”


So.. I’m A Kway, You’re a Kway

Ultimately, this project is about identity, especially the issues of self-identity and community identity.

Kways can function as signifiers of this neighborhood’s identity; kway is, perhaps, a symbol of what makes Tiong Bahru Tiong Bahru. This statement acknowledges the fact that food, especially the market, gives Tiong Bahru its character. Architecture also does this, of course, but because of conservation policies, the physical structures of Tiong Bahru are unlikely to change.

Kway shares the following characteristics with many of the foods which are associated with Tiong Bahru:

- Kways are created by second or third generation food makers.

These people have experience. Loyalty to, or at least a strong personal interest in, the food.

-Kway makers and traditional food makers are a part of the neighborhood.

- Kways are inexpensive…. rents increase.

Kways and other inexpensive foods not only are a value to everyone, they play a large role in the lives of those with small fixed budgets and/or low income.

To summarize, kway symbolizes the social and cultural environment of Tiong Bahru. When the price of doing business increases and the traditional customer base decreases, the kway makers are at risk. If a kwaymaker’s children decide not to continue, this means labor must be hired-yet another cost. If handmade kway in Tiong Bahru disappears, it may indicate a future in which mass produced foods or non-traditional foods become dominant.This project is not a rant against tasteless gentrification, it is a celebration of tradition, diversity and uniqueness using the colors, textures and flavors of kway. It is my hope that by increasing the awareness of kway and what it represents that Tiong Bahru can better define its identity and those characteristics which make it such a unique place.

Tables of Adventure, Woe and Joy

If you have followed even a small portion of the trail I have created on the internet, you will see that there are a number of detours and half-finished roads. Despite appearances, work is being done on all of them.


With this post I am jotting down notes about food, as an experience and as artwork. The most concrete example of my food/art projects is probably the thumb kway project which was the result of my involvement with the Open House project. Recently I have been rediscovering my past experiences with all types of food, reinterpreting them as algorithm-related data, settings for performance art and also as elements/influences upon my writing.

Related: I Ate Tiong Bahru, Furikake, Lina Adams Food/Singaporean Performance Art History, Melvina Tan’s  Jiak Muay

Eventually I will add photos, links, a structure and more, but for now, the following is what it is…

My Mom

-A great cook. Christmas, carrot cake on my birthday (lemon glaze). The carrot cake article in Kurashi No Techo. Bill O’Reilly once mentioned my mom’s lasagna on national television. My mom cooked for the sisters who lived in the convent near Regina Coeli School.

My dad

Oyster stew. Turtle soup. Buying Pinconning cheese on the way to up north. Ma Wilson’s cured hams. Driving at sunset to the Moose Lodge for an all you can eat fish fry, driving back on very dark country roads, my brother and I in the back seat with very very full stomachs. Catching bluegills, bass and pike, my mom cooking them.

My cousin Denny throwing pepper at me, got some in my eye. Gramma Black’s pie made from bananas, Grampa Black: Raisin Bran for breakfast. I tried to make a cake once and added a cup of vinegar instead a cup of water. I worked at Pizza Inn. Doug, before he died telling me about one summer weekend we got a pizza to go from King Cole’s or something like that. We both remembered the place, but couldn’t  remember the name. He used to work at Ponderosa.

Bob Hartman, the summer that Elvis Presley died. We caught salmon off the southern coast of Washington State, ate them hours later. I learned what Pinot Chardonnay was.

Rochester NY,RIT Cafeteria food and then trying to experience the egg rolls of every Chinese restaurant in the city. Buffalo wings and PacMan.

Toronto: Birthday cake, Iggy Pop and leaving Chinese food on the bus; something in oyster sauce.

NYC Pizza slices. The Polish restaurant before Faculty Party played. The Ukraine restaurant. Cous cous at Carl’s(?), eating with Arleen at the unexpected dinner with the Ecuadorean family that lived above the No Se No. Thanksgiving Party on the Bowery, driving back to Brooklyn in Ben’s classic Volvo after Indian food on 5th street: the Brooklyn Bridge with Frank Sinatra playing. The meals cooked in the basement of a flat on the Lower east Side and running out at midnight to get Haagen Daasz,Paella and canolis. The Spanish food artist. Eating and cooking spaghetti with a friend in the last stages of life with AIDS. He had introduced me to Japanese food and the magic of clear soup.


Revolving sushi counters.The coffee shop in the middle of pine trees and rice fields that sheltered us and our bicycles from a thunderstorm so big and dense it turned the afternoon into night. Selfies taken with flash and film,the ice sculptures they made behind the Hilton in Shinjuku, nearly every meal a visual composition. The feasts of food, sake and good company at Miagawas. The food experiences in Miharu and Fukushima… The cooking culture of Obama, Japan. Tsukiji market with the three star sushi chef, fugu with the 3 star French chef, takoyaki with my daughter and running out to buy her yakimoo when she should have been sleeping…


Berlin: the musician taking us to the gas station that became a restaurant.

Munich. Frim Price Koelling, talking about art and our time in Seoul at the Olympics and Trio and movies with optimistic themes; the perfection of imperfection.

Hong Kong Too much Peking duck, discovering a char siew fan place that impressed even my mainland Chinese friends. The little place near Hollywood Road where I would eat breakfast nearly every day.

Brunei… the colorful cosmos of jungle fruits in the market, noodles with Masui-san at the water village

Sevilla. Dinner at the El Bulli hacienda; “the best breakfast in the world”

Achatz Handmade Pies!

Joe and Burmese food, la phet, Peninsula Plaza

Bali: La Bruschetta and barbecued baby pig, the variety of vegetarian restaurants and the Warung Java across the street


Tippling Club, Secrets of Sushi by Kazuko and Chihiro Masui




SPOKEN Machinima Notes

CLICK here to see all posts related to SPOKEN.

Machinima are films made with gamemaking software.Wikipedia

Now in preproduction, the short film related to SPOKEN is an informative and entertaining analysis of the SPOKEN project as well as an introduction to the artists and/or their artworks. Two main characters, crowd (size to be determined, probably eight or less)

Now researching: – “Lens” options available using FRAP recording software in a world built with Unity Game Development software. - Oculus is on the cutting edge of new cinematic experiences: - Video games: Art?

SB Film-related min-bio

-Graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, BFA in Photographic Illustration, minor in Film/Video Film Video Arts(NYC) Scheduling/Equipment Loan Administrator

-Video Artist with extensive exhibitions, mainly in Japan Independent

-Director/Producer topics include Kenzo’s Career Retrospective (Himeji Museum, venues in Paris), music videos, collaborations. Extensive documentation of butoh, the Japanese dance art form

Clients include: CNN (Worldbeat program), Fuji TV (scriptwriter/AD/producer for NYGO,MTV, many smaller independent projects

Promo producer for Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Films . Based in HK, videos  targeted for Chinese, Indian Thai and other Asian markets Promo department manager for Channel News Asia (Fox). Responsible for major branding projects, hiring of staff and the on air promos for six Fox-owned channnels

-Director of Photography for Bubu Again, the directorial film debut of Japanese movie icon Kumiko Akiyoshi

-Public and by-invitation only course work with Robert McKee, legendary teacher of Hollywood  screenwriting

-Reported upon the production of the Tsui Hark/Jet Li film Flying Swords of Dragon Gate for website

-Artist, photographer, producer of music and events, author of several books including I Ate Tiong Bahru, Obama Search Words  and Bali Wave Ghost.  

SPOKEN: Notes about Curatorial Approach, Implications of Art/VR, and more

CLICK here to see all posts related to SPOKEN.

All are welcome to view these notes, but this is more of a scrapbook of ideas than an edited, unified post.

Thanks to an original post on Google+ by Jim Hanas  I found  Jennifer Tobias’  excellent article about conceptual art and the dematerialization of books/art.

Comments by Andrea Philipps and Dennis McCunney on Google+ were also helpful.

Excerpt from


the referenced article:

Probably the single most important thing that librarians, authors, and publishers should pay attention to in this parallel paradigmatic shift is the fearlessness with which Conceptual artists approached and appropriated other forms of working and creating. As Lucy Lippard states in the introduction to the reprint of her book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object:

Perhaps most important, Conceptualists indicated that the most exciting “art” might still be buried in social energies not recognized as art. The process of extending the boundaries didn’t stop with Conceptual Art: These energies are still out there, waiting for artists to plug into them, potential fuel for the expansion of what “art” can mean. The escape was temporary. Art was recaptured and sent back to its white cell, but parole is always a possibility.

Just as artists look to archives and libraries for their raw material, so too can librarians, publishers, and other representatives of print culture turn to artists to help think about the seismic changes that are disrupting the information landscape. Many of the foundational documents of libraries – the mission statements and collection development policies, written in and for another time – have calcified. Perhaps it’s time for librarians to seek parole from their own institutional stasis and create those documents in the spirit of Sol LeWitt’s instructions or Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ certificates of authenticity, setting up flexible parameters that could be executed with the input of others to produce varying results. This “process of extending the boundaries” – a counterintuitive move for a profession based on classification – might just be a way forward.

 Dennis McCunney:
I think the key is the decoupling of the content from the container. The question becomes “Is the library inextricably bound with the container?”, and I think the answer is clearly no. The functions a library performs aren’t dependent on the container, and are all about classification and availability of the content. Some libraries recognize that and are moving in that direction. the NYC Library system, for example, is the second most visited library site in the world, after the Library of Congress, and is big enough to do internal development of digitally oriented systems, instead of relying on third parties. (Like, I don’t believe the rely on Overdrive for ebook lending fulfillment.) Conceptual art is only tangentially relevant. Yes, it was intended to expand the idea of what art was, but art is a moving target. How much of what we think of as “primitive” or “folk” art now was seen as useful stuff needed to survive by the makers?

new topic

1. From an email from Andric Tham, producer of JUMPTHECUT (9:34 AM, July 23,2014.At the time of writing, AT unaware the contents of his email would be shared.) I guess the only feedback I have is that it feels rather like a novelty. 

That Second Life has fallen out favor for things like Twitter is because people don’t really want virtual reality. They already have reality reality, and reality sucks, and technology was supposed to make it better somehow.
Of course doing something like that requires you to suspend your disbelief to some extent. And I’m not trying to say that this sucks. It’s great, what you’re doing, bringing art and tech together. It’s something I believe in.
But the medium is ill suited for art. There’s a lot of “chrome” in the interaction which makes it distracting (hence a novelty).
If museums elevate art, VR has a potential to “de-elevate” it, if you’re not careful. For the viewer, if not for the artist. It puts too much in between the art and the viewer, and for what reason?
The idea of tech and art coming together is to make art more accessible to people, which I feel is still yet to be achieved.
That’s just what I feel though. I think the artists are a great bunch though, from the looks of it!
SB reaction…
“Devaluation” point is very interesting and crystallizes some thoughts I have have had. For example, anyone could do this just by collecting jpegs without the artist’s knowledge. In the case of SPOKEN, we have full permission and consent from all artists. This legitimacy may be one of the more remarkable aspects of SPOKEN. (Introduce this idea: what if SPOKEN were a physical exhibition. The seriousness of the physical world: transportation costs, rent, printing cots, opening night party costs, etc. The real world-face-to-face conversations and social aspects of openings as well as the physical aspects of viewing art (alone or together) in a physical gallery.
Democratization of art through technology?
Devaluation or increase value? value of what? Art? Art experience? (Art experience is not relative to the financial value of art? The social value of art is  its greatest “value”.
A great conversation is absolutely unpredictable. Exchnges(information, histories and emotions,  disagreements and  resolutions…When two people have spoken together they have created a common memory in which the linguistic exchange is the core of a physical experience( SONG LYRIC????? something like We spoke beneath the stars?)
SPOKEN aims to have the unpredictability of a good conversation. The curatorial approach was meant to:
-document the life experiences of the curators as reflected through artists with whom they have spoken,
-showcase the artists and the artworks themselves
- perhaps most conceptually intriguing,  the curation was meant to create future conversations; ie SPOKEN is a talking point, the beginning of all sorts of conversations.
Andric Tham, email. 8:33PM, now aware that his comments may be posted here…
I like your comments, the discussion about conversations and what the “value” of art is.
I think I definitely agree with both of those points. Conversation/dialogue is why art matters. It’s why Banksy is considered an exceptional “artist”.
But inner dialogue is also important, and the intimacy that a physical exhibition creates (being with the art, with yourself, and at the same time around people) is a complex and profound dynamic, one in which both inner dialogue, dialogue between people, and dialogue between the artwork interact to surface certain ideas and thoughts. And a lot of it is subtle, sublime, transient.
I am not sure if VR can “recreate” that. Or maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe replication isn’t the point of VR, but escapism—the same way Google Street View is not a replacement for travel and playing Grand Theft Auto is not the same as actually committing a felony. It’s being transported to a place you are not physically in, that is actually alienating and discomforting, and maybe that works for a certain purpose.
That is the opposite of physical art venues, actually. Physical places provide opportunities ripe for people and artwork to talk to each other. And the design of it has that said purpose: white walls, soft lighting. It is… comfortable. You are to be at peace, calm, and to be with art.
VR is the opposite of peace and calm. It is dissonance. Digital/analog. Bytes/atoms. It is cold and harsh and bright.
Maybe it works for certain art. Art which shocks. Shakes you out of your comfort zone. Arrests and assaults you.
Andric Than,email, 9:15 PM July 23
Definitely something to think about.
SB 10:26 PM
That is the opposite of physical art venues, actually. Physical places provide opportunities ripe for people and artwork to talk to each other. And the design of it has that said purpose: white walls, soft lighting. It is… comfortable. You are to be at peace, calm, and to be with art.
Art gallery  as meditation space…or the softest soft sell ever? Yes, I should differentiate between museums, commercial galleries and “art spaces”.
Have you seen The Web Show in
I really really enjoy it, mainly for the space that Eugene created. It is vibrant, tacky, kitsch, gaudy and funny. The art itself would probably not impress me if it were hung in a real gallery, but in that virtual space, everything seemed just right; the space crackled with life. One part of the gallery is flooded!  “Outside” of the gallery is a landscape with a whale floating in it!  Carpeting like a Vegas casino, bright magenta body suits, text conversations on the left side”… as you wrote, it was the opposite of a physical venue”.
With SPOKEN, we are aiming for a Brooklyn warehouse art space meets white cube feel. The sequencing and arrangement of the images will have a logic unto themselves; once everything is in we can “connect the dots” a bit. Hopefully not too much as the SPOKEN experience should be as open-ended as possible.
Nhung Walsh, email, 12:51 PM July 24…
I enjoy and really appreciate Andric’s thoughtful note.
Although I didnt have many opportunities of seeing virtual exhibitions. But I agree that digital/electronic/bytes/atoms arts can shock. It’s another kind of immersion that is not supposed to calm you. Although for me, it does make me feel comfortable.
Right now I am in a Starbucks in Tokyo staring at the ceiling of a virtual exhibition in Singapore. After a while, I thought of a lot of things: whether I would ever be able to stare at a ceiling for that long in an actual physical space. People would think I am weird. Yet the ceiling is part of the space and therefore should be part of the artscape or even the art. In the exhibition I was looking at, there wasnt any artwork in the ceiling, but I did that just because I can. Even the virtual ceiling is an imitation of a physical space. But do we need a ceiling for a virtual exhibition? Or do we even need walls at all? Not talking about the artworks yet, the space consume you the way it’s not supposed to.
And how about conversations in an exhibition? In my hand there is a glass of virtual red wine and it moves with me as I walk inside the space. As if I was born with it. As if I wake up in a dream with it. Wine indicates social interaction, and we often meet people at the gallery opening day. But there was no one else in the gallery with me. I realized that I was talking to myself. Is this supposed to be like this all the time in a virtual space? And how about all of our discussions/conversations we have with each other around the art and the exhibition? Now as we have them via emails, can I think of them as invisible sounds that are bouncing around the wall of a virtual space? Just like the way we whisper with each other in a museum gallery? Sounds and noise help us to tracking and navigate space. But there is no sound here. It seems dont even hear my heart beat anymore. Although I was biologically sitting in a busy coffeeshop, I was not here. I was in the wonderful land of nonexistence, just by staring at a deceitful ceiling.
I dont think VR recreate a physical space. It creates a re-creation of a space that is not a space. But I totally feel at peace with it.
The following Powerpoint also appears  under the post featuring the collection of notes between Eugene and I.

2. Collective.. .Curatorial…. Chronology…. Geography… Technology
 -David Black (unknown)- Morimura (world famous) Perhaps these two are the extreme tangents of the conversation that is SPOKEN.
-A world map of where conversations were held, allowing for web-based conversations. Dial payphones to skype to Google Hangouts.
Perhaps SPOKEN is about the curation of symbols or moments…
The artists were free to contribute any image they wanted to know; the curation was not based on imagery. However,  the images will be  sequenced and arranged to create an optimum virtual gallery experience, one with a logic semi-independent from the “spoken” layer.
3. Nhung Walsh…writer of an introductory essay for SPOKEN
Nhung Walsh works with artists in Southeast Asia mainly in the field of Vietnamese contemporary arts. She is living in Chicago but works between Hanoi and other locations. Grew up in Vietnam, she has background in International Studies and History with research on the wars in Vietnam, politics of war memories, and the development of Vietnamese contemporary arts. She participated in cultural programs at UNESCO in Vietnam and worked with NGOs in various development fields in Vietnam before engaging in curatorial projects and cultural programs in Vietnam and the US. Nối Projects (‘nối’ means to connect in Vietnamese) is Walsh’s initiative with mission of connecting Vietnamese artists with interdisciplinary projects to expand the conversation of contemporary arts. Currently, she is studying Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
from an email:
I want to ask you quickly if there is anything written from the curator (you and Eugene?). And I am excited to read about this in your previous email: “- as you may know the artists on display have all spoken to the curator…and our curator is fictitious although the conversations the curator had with the artists are all factual… “
So I need to study the exhibition a bit better… Anything around these keywords “conversation”, “spoken”,  “virtually spoken”, “fictitious entrance”, “noise”, or something like that? I will get back to you soon about this after I know a bit more and study more about your project.
SB response: I must finalize the notes about Helium as curator.  Some notes were started in the Powerpoint here.
4. Gases, Space, the lungs, the throat, the mouth… shaping internal vibrations into external ones…internal meaning launched into space….ears as receiving dishes….all of this so automatic we have forgotten how magic it is… Robert Barry: Helium in the Desert
5. Helium as curator

Conceptual Art, from Wikipedia

Tony Godfrey, author of Conceptual Art (Art & Ideas) (1998), asserts that conceptual art questions the nature of art,[3] a notion that Joseph Kosuth elevated to a definition of art itself in his seminal, early manifesto of conceptual art, “Art after Philosophy” (1969). The notion that art should examine its own nature was already a potent aspect of the influential art critic Clement Greenberg‘s vision of Modern art during the 1950s. With the emergence of an exclusively language-based art in the 1960s, however, conceptual artists such as Joseph KosuthLawrence Weinerand the English Art & Language group began a far more radical interrogation of art than was previously possible (see below). One of the first and most important things they questioned was the common assumption that the role of the artist was to create special kinds of material objects.[4][5][6]

Through its association with the Young British Artists and the Turner Prize during the 1990s, in popular usage, particularly in the UK, “conceptual art” came to denote all contemporary art that does not practice the traditional skills of painting and sculpture.[7] It could be said that one of the reasons why the term “conceptual art” has come to be associated with various contemporary practices far removed from its original aims and forms lies in the problem of defining the term itself. As the artistMel Bochner suggested as early as 1970, in explaining why he does not like the epithet “conceptual”, it is not always entirely clear what “concept” refers to, and it runs the risk of being confused with “intention.” Thus, in describing or defining a work of art as conceptual it is important not to confuse what is referred to as “conceptual” with an artist’s “intention.”

In 1956 the founder of LettrismIsidore Isou, developed the notion of a work of art which, by its very nature, could never be created in reality, but which could nevertheless provide aesthetic rewards by being contemplated intellectually. This concept, also called Art esthapériste (or “infinite-aesthetics”), derived from the infinitesimals of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - quantities which could not actually exist except conceptually. The current incarnation (As of 2013) of the Isouian movement, Excoördism, self-defines as the art of the infinitely large and the infinitely small.

It is sometimes (as in the work of Robert BarryYoko Ono, and Weiner himself) reduced to a set of written instructions describing a work, but stopping short of actually making it—emphasising that the idea is more important than the artifact. This reveals an explicit preference for the “art” side of the ostensible dichotomy between art and Craft, where the former, unlike craft, takes place within and engages historical discourse: for example, Ono’s “written instructions” make more sense alongside other conceptual art of the time.

The American art historian Edward A. Shanken points to the example of Roy Ascott who “powerfully demonstrates the significant intersections between conceptual art and art-and-technology, exploding the conventional autonomy of these art-historical categories.” Ascott, the British artist most closely associated with cybernetic artin England, was not included in Cybernetic Serendipity because his use of cybernetics was primarily conceptual and did not explicitly utilize technology. Conversely, although his essay on the application of cybernetics to art and art pedagogy, “The Construction of Change” (1964), was quoted on the dedication page (to Sol Lewitt) of Lucy R. Lippard’s seminal Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, Ascott’s anticipation of and contribution to the formation of conceptual art in Britain has received scant recognition, perhaps (and ironically) because his work was too closely allied with art-and-technology. Another vital intersection was explored in Ascott’s use of the thesaurus in 1963 [1] which drew an explicit parallel between the taxonomic qualities of verbal and visual languages, and which concept would be taken up in Joseph Kosuth’s Second Investigation, Proposition 1 (1968) and Mel Ramsden’s Elements of an Incomplete Map (1968)

Conceptual art and artistic skill[edit]

“By adopting language as their exclusive medium, Weiner, Barry, Wilson, Kosuth and Art & Language were able to sweep aside the vestiges of authorial presence manifested by formal invention and the handling of materials.”[16]

An important difference between conceptual art and more “traditional” forms of art-making goes to the question of artistic skill. Although it is often the case that skill in the handling of traditional media plays little role in conceptual art, it is difficult to argue that no skill is required to make conceptual works, or that skill is always absent from them. John Baldessari, for instance, has presented realist pictures that he commissioned professional sign-writers to paint; and many conceptual performance artists (e.g. StelarcMarina Abramović) are technically accomplished performers and skilled manipulators of their own bodies. It is thus not so much an absence of skill or hostility toward tradition that defines conceptual art as an evident disregard for conventional, modern notions of authorial presence and individual artistic expression.

In 2002, Ivan Massow, the Chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts branded conceptual art “pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat” and in “danger of disappearing up its own arse … led by cultural tsars such as the Tate‘s Sir Nicholas Serota.”[21] Massow was consequently forced to resign. At the end of the year, the Culture Minister, Kim Howells (an art school graduate) denounced the Turner Prize as “cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit”.[22]

In October 2004 the Saatchi Gallery told the media that “painting continues to be the most relevant and vital way that artists choose to communicate.”[23]

One of the criticisms of recent conceptual art in the UK is that the concepts or ideas have been weak. Writing in The Jackdaw magazine in 2013 the art theoristMichael Paraskos suggested that current conceptualist art retains the forms of historic conceptual art but is almost devoid of ideas. For that reason he suggested a new name for this kind of art, deconceptualism. Deconceptualism is, according to Paraskos, conceptual art without a concept.

  • 1960: Yves Klein‘s action called A Leap Into The Void, in which he attempts to fly by leaping out of a window. He stated: “The painter has only to create one masterpiece, himself, constantly.”
  • 1960: The artist Stanley Brouwn declares that all the shoe shops in Amsterdam constitute an exhibition of his work.
  • 1961: Wolf Vostell Cityrama, in Cologne was the first Happening in Germany.
  • 1961: Piero Manzoni exhibited Artist’s Shit, tins purportedly containing his own feces (although since the work would be destroyed if opened, no one has been able to say for sure). He put the tins on sale for their own weight in gold. He also sold his own breath (enclosed in balloons) as Bodies of Air, and signed people’s bodies, thus declaring them to be living works of art either for all time or for specified periods. (This depended on how much they are prepared to pay). Marcel Broodthaers and Primo Levi are amongst the designated ‘artworks’.



Great examples of the power of words

There is no theme to this post, except that I like the way the words work.

Like ten pounds of mud in a five pound sack…

Comment made about an outfit worn by Dolly Parton.


Like selling a dollar for ninety cents…

Comment made about Amazon stock when it first went on sale…


… when the Okies move to California, the average intelligence of both states increases…

-Will Rogers

Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.

-Frank  Zappa


In a constantly changing world, not taking risks could be the most risky thing one can do.

-headline of internet article



Why I use Google+

Facebook is  a 500 pound shrinking party hat; Google+ is a custom-made, constantly updated digital Swiss army knife.

Google+ in action

Screen capture, July 1, 2014


I’m not really a techie, but I try to learn about tech stuff. Why? Because the internet is what is happening. Do I want to be famous? No. Do I want to be #1 on the top of a search engine result? No.

Do I want my artworks and books to be in front of like-minded people who are searching for ideas related to mine? Yes, yes, yes!

I was nicely surprised today that when I searched for a Singapore-based crowdfunding organization, Avvio, that my name came up close to theirs. This happened simply  because I think they are interesting and I shared that view on Google+.

So that’s it.

I could go on  about other Google+ advantages, but the above example is simple enough: you either get it or you don’t.

If you give it some thought, the example above is seemingly positive  and definitely profound. It is also the future, as long as there is Google and people who search.

Techies: Yes, I know there are a quite a few factors involved in the placement of search results. There is no guarantee that this sort of thing will happen every time. But we both know that my same post on Facebook went between a post of a cat and a promise of beautiful skin…and my post stayed there. Not only stayed there, but was  seen by an unknown-but-probably-small  fraction of the people I wanted to share that info with.

SPOKEN Press release, gallery+ finalized text

CLICK here to see all posts related to SPOKEN.
Press images soon to be available.


Spoken, a virtual exhibition curated by Eugene Soh and Stephen Black, features an eclectic mix of 20 artists, including Stelarc, Vincent Leow and Yasumasa Morimura. Spoken refers to the fact that the curators have spoken to the artists in the exhibition, a simple yet profound commonality. Spoken also features original essays and short stories written by Stephen Black. The venue for the exhibition is, the creation of Eugene Soh.
The official launch of SPOKEN will be September 18.

-Come back often (or sign up for updates) for  news of artist’s upcoming events, as well as interviews, videos and more…

Artist roster:
Mel Araneta, David Black, Stephen Black, Christophe Charles, Debbie Ding, Paul Dodd, Andrés García-Peña, Morvarid K,  Godwin Koay, Hans Lagner, Michael Lee, Vincent Leow, Paul Pereira, David Severn, Arleen Schloss, Eugene Soh, Stelarc, Lily Su, Liqing Xue, Morimura Yasumasa
September 18 Official launch
Closing: :xxxx
Go to Download a small file, answer a few questions, click and you’re in!
-An original concept by Eugene Soh, is unique, informative and entertaining.
-Visitors can easily walk through the gallery and chat with each other.
- pop up displays  provide information about the artists and artworks
- inspired by the Hawkeye Crates Art Space in Brooklyn, the virtual gallery features numerous architectural details as well as a few surprises.
- the artworks were the starting point for the layout and the gallery was created specifically for them. Lighting and information displays are dedicated to each individual artwork.
-The artworks are available for sale, prices upon request.
Contact *Stephen Black email: bookmerah “at” gmail

Text, stories and memory are part of the  SPOKEN experience.

About is a web domain owned by Eugene Soh. The first show at was the Web Art show, which opened in April, 2014. The Web Art Show featured 15 artists and one writer/artist, mainly Singaporeans. These artists were also owners of websites like,, etc.The Web Art Movement refers to the art and artists utilizing domain names from Eugene Soh’s collection.

The Straits Times, on the 29th of April, 2014:

“Although unique, the presence of under-scores the varied, exciting landscape of art galleries in the digital age and it points to how two models of galleries, online and offline, sometimes conflate.”

SPOKEN artists

CLICK here to see all posts related to SPOKEN.

-Come back often (or sign up for updates) for  news of artist’s upcoming events, as well as interviews, videos and more…

LINKS for artists

Arleen Schloss

Mel Araneta

David Black

David Black currently  has no online presence.

Stephen Black

Christophe Charles

Debbie Ding

Paul Dodd
Free downloadable music: h ttp://

Andrés García-Peñaés_García-Peña

Morvarid K

Godwin Koay

Hans Lagner

Michael Lee

Vincent Leow

Yasumasa Morimura

Paul Pereira

David Severn


Eugene Soh


Lily Su

Liqing Xue

Arleen Schloss, Mel Araneta, David Black, Christophe Charles, Stephen Black, Paul Dodd, Andrés García-Peña, Morvarid K, Godwin Koay, Hans Lagner, Michael Lee, Vincent Leow, David Severn, Eugene Soh, Stelarc, Lily Su, Liqing Xue, Morimura Yasumasa