Category Archives: Singapore

Stephen Black’s AR/VR/spatial computing experiences

SB with Bubiko Foodtour

Stephen Black: This post is a breakdown of my experiences with AR/VR/Spatial Computing. It starts with 2002, though I received a BFA in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology  well before that.

Before 2002, I lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Paris and Hong Kong, and worked in network TV, fine arts, photography and music. A fuller biography can be found here. But AR is the topic of this post...

2002-2007. In Singapore I worked as a creative director for a 3D game making company that was also doing something like Youtube,-- but three years before Youtube. Although I was not a developer, I learned a great deal about spatial computing, and taught 3D gamemaking in Singapore, including classes at the Singapore Science Center. It was during this time, that David Severn and I developed the Secret Donut World characters.

Vance

2007- 2014 Singapore/Bali: wrote novels, including a bestseller, was involved with 3how and researched VR and AR.

2014 SPOKEN, with Eugene Soh; a curation of a wide range of artists.

SPOKEN, a virtual gallery

2014 The Oculus signaled the emergence of VR, and I began notes for a book about VR cinematography.

2015 In Singapore, a chance meeting with Ender Jiang, the founder of Hiverlab, resulted in the opportunity to make my first 360 film.  Ender provided me with technical support and creative freedom and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. The resulting film, Beach Road, featured a soundtrack by Bani Haykal and Chen Yi Qi, and was selected as a demo VR film in the Hybrid Arcade session of the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival in November 2015, and was nominated as the Best Experimental VR Film in the VR Fest Las Vegas 2016. It was also fetured in a VR film festival at the Singapore national Museum. Beach Road was receiving a healthy number of views and comments before a technical change in Google Play took it off. At the time of this writing, Beach Road is on Veer and has received almost 5000 views.

360 films
Stephen Black, in the film he co-produced with Hiverlab

2016 The year began with discussing a VR startup idea with VCs in Singapore. Though the discussions went well, the lack of a prototype slowed things down. Shortly after, the release of ARCore and ARKit resulted in a halt to VR the possibilities of AR were assessed.

By April, AR had become the focus and the decision was made to become the "Pixar of AR": original characters, stories and software. With Sayuri Okayama, Bubiko Foodtour was originated.

Sayuri Okayama with a prototype of Bubiko

2017 Ipoh: demonstrations of AR, including what is probably the world’s first photo exhibition in AR. The photos also appeared in an ebook by Bubiko Foodtour.

Augmented Reality in Asia
article about Stephen Black/Sayuri Okayama/Bubiko Foodtour in Ipoh

2018 A presentation about AR was given at Sasin School of Business in Bangkok, later followed by two presentations and two workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, all at 80% capacity or higher.

Augmented Reality Stephen Black in Thailand
poster for Stephen Black's presentation about AR at Sasin School of Business
Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black
Stephen Black holding a Qoocam 360VR camera, as part of his presentation at the 2018 Maker Faire at HK PolyU.

2018 Lotus Mountain, a 360 film was shot and post production began including VR art contributions from Scobot and a soundtrack by Rei Shimizu. The film is at least 80% done and finishing funds are now being searched for. Lotus Mountain was supported by Kando, and 8K Obsidians were used for most of the shooting. Noted Chinese VR filmmaker Leo Wei co-directed and produced.

Chinese city landmarks
Shenzhen Civic Center at night, primary location for Lotus Mountain.
from Lotus Mountain

Bubiko at the Rise festival in HK

Hong Kong Comicon

2018 Cross-promotional and development partnership with Six Cats Studios (HK), focusing on their original IPs, Ollie and Charlie.

AR in musical education
The Dundercats, by Six Cat Studios.

2018 Presentations in Shenzhen, including Le Wagon and Tech Crunch Shenzhen.

Hummingbirdsday
Screen capture from an AR game by Dominique Wu.

2018 In a partnership with Hummingbirdsday Studios, Bubiko appears in an AR game demo with Green Bean Boy.

2019 Presentation at ARIA, MIT, resulting in, among others, working relationship with Novaby and UARexperience

2019 Toledo, Ohio. Presentations, including coffee shops, libraries and a collaboration with sculptor Jack Wilson for the Old West End Festival.

2019 SXSW during the 10 day event attended seminars and developed personal connections with AR and VR practitioners.

W
With WWE championship belt

2019 AR presentation as part of GOBA-the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Premier of the AR and Bicycle Safety ebook.

bicycle safety
Bubiko Foodtour looks up while thinking about what to order

2019 As part of  Novaby’s presentation in the Tech in the Tenderloin Festival, the 3D version Bubiko will be making her public debut. The Black Hawk Jazz Club AR project by Novaby will also be presented-not to be missed!

We are now looking for funding for the Bubiko app... Stay tuned!

Furikake, a collection of stories about rice seasonings, by Stephen Black

The Author Show audio  interview with Stephen Black about Furikake.

Furikake is on Amazon here.

"a truly enjoyable reading, between a memoir and a travel diary in which one can easily recognize fragments of oneself.


- Carla Bonollo, whose Italian language blog can be found here.

Furikake is the Japanese word for the spices and ingredients sprinkled upon rice. It is one of my favorite foods, and in Clementi, i ate it often. I wrote this while I was living in the Clementi is an area of Singapore, and, for about two years, my three room apartment there was extremely cheap. More importantly, I became very good friends with a group who represented the diversity and tolerance of Singapore. In i ate tiong bahru, there is a short story about the day we met at an Indian temple for the memorial service of one of our group.

Clementi was close to the water and a park. There were great places to eat. Clementi is where I met Joe the Diver, who not only became a great friend, but also joined 3how on stage several times. Here is a story about one of those times.

At the i ate tiong bahru launch party, Joe sang a song...

Furikake was a challenge to write, for a few reasons. Ebooks were very new at the time. Amazon had just released the Kindle, but the take up in Singapore was very slow; if I remember correctly it was not possible to buy ebooks in Singapore at the time. And, of course, my writing style and topics are not exactly mainstream. Unkown writer, unknown publisher. Furikake was a commitment to the art and craft of writing; despite the odds against success.

A story from Furikake is here.

Furikake is on Amazon here.

PS There is a blog post with more excepts from Furikake. the formatting is strange, so I am not linking to it, but it can easily be found. The post also explains why Furikake once had the ugliest cover on Amazon.

Will Moths in the Attic play Singapore?

Will Moths in the Attic play in the ghost town of Singapore?

upcoming shows

Logan's Irish Pub

04/19/19

With special guest Tom Gorman

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnight

Fins Seafood & Grille

04/20/19

1801 Broad Ave, Findlay, OH 45840

630-930pmVino Bellissimo

04/26/19

2412 Cable Ct, Lima, OH 45805

8-11pmThe Blarney Event Center

04/27/19

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man/Woman of the Year campaign fundraiser

With Rob Vance and Jeff Stewart

601 Monroe St, Toledo, OH 43604

Doors 630; Music 7-10pm

$50 tickets go on sale April 1MIC BGSU - Open Mic Showcase

05/01/19

Bowen-Thompson Student Union multipurpose room, Bowling Green State University

1001 E Wooster St, Bowling Green, OH 43403

8-10pm

More details TBAGrand Rapids Town Hall

05/03/19

Bitter Sweet Music Vine concert series

Across the street from River Lures, 24287 Front St., Grand Rapids, OH 43522

11am-1230pmAmerican Winery, LTD

05/03/19

15119 US 20A, Wauseon, OH 43567

6-9pmThe Ottawa Tavern

05/03/19

With House ToursLord Whorfin & Excellent Enemies

1817 Adams St, Toledo, OH 43604

Doors at 8pm

All ages; Tickets on sale now $5 ($8 under 21)The Bourbon Affair

05/04/19

Kentucky Derby party

wsg Mike Bryce & Beau Hamman

121 E Crawford St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightArt and Performance Center of West Toledo

05/05/19

Songwriters Listening Room Series

2702 W. Sylvania Avenue, Toledo, Ohio

6-7pmNorthside BG

05/05/19

Bowling Green, Ohio

7-10pm

More details TBALogan's Irish Pub

05/10/19

With special guest Mark Poseler

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnight

(2nd Friday for this month only)TEDxBowlingGreen

05/11/19

Reception following TEDx event

Open to all TEDx ticketholders (purchase tickets here)

104 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

530-830pm

Bowling Green Farmers' Market

05/22/19

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

530-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-900pmMayflower Arts Center

05/23/19

Cory Breth Album Fundraiser

Zack Fletcher solo performance

with Cory BrethThaddeus Williams & Abbey Bower

9 W. Main St., Troy, OH 45373

7pm; $10 tickets on sale nowFins Seafood & Grille

05/25/19

1801 Broad Ave, Findlay, OH 45840

630-930pmOld West End Festival

06/01/19

Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum stage

2501 Robinwood Ave, Toledo, OH 43610

Noon-1pmLogan's Irish Pub

06/21/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightThe Phoenix Brewing Co.

06/27/19

131 N Diamond St, Mansfield, OH 44902

730-1030pmWild Side Brewing Company

07/05/19

24194 Front St, Grand Rapids, OH 43522

7-10pmBowling Green Farmers' Market

07/17/19

With Mark Poseler

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

430-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-930pmFirefly Nights

07/19/19

Downtown Bowling Green, OH

600-645pm

More details TBALogan's Irish Pub

07/19/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightSummerfest at Southgate Lanes

07/20/19

9700 N Dixie Hwy, Bluffton, OH 45817

Details TBALogan's Irish Pub

08/16/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightHoward's Club H

08/23/19

210 N Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

Details TBABowling Green Farmers' Market

09/04/19

With Drew Joseph

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

430-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-930pmLogan's Irish Pub

09/20/19

With special guests Cory Jolly and Mike Bryce

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnightArt and Performance Center of West Toledo

10/06/19

Zack Fletcher solo performance

Songwriters Listening Room Series

2702 W. Sylvania Avenue, Toledo, Ohio

6-7pmLogan's Irish Pub

10/18/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightLogan's Irish Pub

11/15/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightLogan's Irish Pub

12/20/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnight

Publishing as a Discourse Marker

From Wikipedia: In Practical English Usage, Michael Swan defines a discourse marker as "a word or expression which shows the connection between what is being said and the wider context". For him, a discourse marker is something that either connects a sentence to what comes before or after, or indicates a speaker's attitude to what he is saying. He gives three examples: on the other hand; frankly; as a matter of fact.[5] Ian McCormick's The Art of Connection[6] outlines nine classes of connectives based on their purpose:

to provide a sense of where something is in relation to something else;

to supply a sense of when something is happening;

to compare two ideas and express similarities;

to contrast ideas English provides many examples to signal the notion of difference;

to present additional or supplementary ideas;

to indicate that a point in a discussion has been conceded or already taken into account;

to demonstrate a sense of logical sequence;

to offer an illustration or an example;

to deliver a summary of the ideas discussed.

McCormick points out that "FANBOYS" is mnemonic to recall co-ordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

5.30 – 7.00pm

Publishing Independently

What is the potential of self-initiated publications as a form of artistic collaboration? What are the benefits and pitfalls of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and how does it contribute to the cultural field? This panel will explore recent developments in self-publishing and what necessitates these forms of independent production.

Speakers:

Ringo Bunoan (Philippines), artist and co-Founder, Art Book Philippines

Savannah Gorton (Germany/Denmark), curator and co-Founder, Friends with Books

Beatrix Pang (Hong Kong), Founder, Small Tune Press

Stephen Black (Around China) artist, writer and Founder Book Merah

Moderated by Shubigi Rao (India/Singapore), artist

Uber Return Trip

The squawking stopped when the door opened. The biggest crow stared with its mouth open, then hopped in. It saw a grain of rice on the floor; it ate it. Two males walked closer, then flapped their wings to get inside.

Seven loud crows are now in the car. There are no more grains of rice. The door closes. The car’s voice sounds like a smiling British actress, "Good morning! Where shall we go today?” Beaks become fast yellow scissors, cutting the air into shrill shreds of anger, hunger and fear. The car drives off.

At the border, the scanners, scales and sensors work perfectly: the car is determined to be empty. The car heads towards Kallang.

Fortississimo: Caw! Caw! Caw!

The crows' fury, the driver's perfection: Singapore.

The word “Singapore” in three poems

The Pompeii of Allegan County

Five black and white aerial photographs.

The first from before the dune buggy business;

a landscape of sand and tires being the fifth.

Your trees were eaten by a big shouldered city

and you choked on sand.

Now there's a panel discussion about your warm shoulders

and a frozen steamer shipwreck buys you meals.

“Show me the lions!“ you spill,

leaning on a dark afternoon of

Pistons and Cubs in a Main Street bar.

“TripAdvisor is poetry, but soullessly so.”

I disagree.

“Like this: killer crazybumpy dune buggy rides!”

We honk at cows, castles of Amway, and baby food mansions.

A cedar waxwing, whistling and sighing. Black River Street.

Cakes Alive.

Truck stop: Amish beards and dresses, Saugatuck couples and “visiting whatevers”.

At the Singapore Yacht Club: oranges and a selfie with clouds.

A bell made from a circular saw; buried in sand.

Loud and clear.

That kiss, in a ghost town of boats.

Loud and clear.

....................................

Dreaming Around

The pink room dream

The dream of a canoe

The family after-dinner badminton by the lake dream

Dreaming on Greyhound

Super 8 dream

Those save the robots dreams

Sakura dreams

My dream love

A dream of giving birth

The Singaporean dream

Goodbye dream, goodbye

I have a dream of reunions and forgiveness

The pink room dream

.......................................

Doug

Julie says 35 people are there,

there because they love you.

I would hide too.

You’ve got a divine chariot to catch

and those 35 whispering sleepwalkers

just want to touch you

one last time.

Doug: breathe...

That's a heavy thought,

easy to say as I watch the sky in Singapore.

But breathe again, Doug... please.

Now I remember: the King Cole Pizza place.

You're sitting there;

Lewis and Alexis.

Summer, Friday night.

They're boxing it up;

We’re smelling that pizza.

We’re 18 and we like it. Love it.18,18...

Hair’s lookin’ good.

Blue denim jacket,

the rock and roll Falcon’s outside.

You’re cool as Van Halen

Man, that pizza smells good...

red dot SAD (Stories, Art, Digitalia 2002-2017)

red dot SAD is a collection of stories, essays and images created during Stephen Black's fifteen years in Southeast Asia, mainly in Singapore. An American who has also lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Hong Kong and Paris, the book documents a creative life that knows no boundaries.

Topics include virtual reality, performance art, network television, food, music, photography, and art projects of all kinds. Physical locations range from an abandoned "haunted" hotel to facilities stacked with IT machinery, from wet markets and beaches to construction sites, the Singapore Biennale, and government built housing complexes. For those interested in Singapore and anyone who enjoys visual arts and well-researched, dynamic writing.

red dot SAD is also an experiment. Presently the book is about 150 pages. Eventually the book will be printed on paper. Those who buy the earlier editions of the ebook receive the updated versions free of charge. For more information on how red dot SAD is re-inventing Amazon and crowdfunding, click here.

To see the current list of topics, click here.

red dot SAD on Amazon

Reviews of i ate tiong bahru, Black's bestselling book are here.

Interviews with Stephen Black and descriptions of his other books are here.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

Hummingbird vs. Helicopter

The following is inspired by a piece by Gerald Leow on display as part of his solo exhibition at Chan+Hampe Contemporary until June 25.

On a material level, Manifold is simple: a dynamic, radiating metal sculpture made of copies of the same jagged line. These lines are like flattened appendages of a predatory insect, or sentences written in a spiky font. The pieces are colored asymmetrically; seven tones shifting between purple and orange. Manifold is bold, yet delicate-- an opening and a threat. Leow has been quoted as saying that he wanted to create works which are poetically violent. He has succeeded. Manifold is a beautiful but deadly tropical flower, 76 x 76 x 17cm.

The “edginess” of the sculpture is literal; the aggressive shapes on the edges of the lines form negative spaces which complete the piece. These edges are appropriated from the font and logo used by Judas Priest, a heavy metal band. Leow, who studied sociology, has a body of work based on the logo and the conceptual possibilities of heavy metal subculture. With Manifold, however, the link to heavy metal is not obvious, thankfully. Appropriation can be a one-trick pony; what is insightful and magical initially can later become an unrewarding burden for both artist and audience.

The exhibition’s title adds another dimension. I am Time Grown Old to Destroy the World refers to a comment Robert Oppenheimer made in 1945, when he witnessed the detonation of his brainchild, the first atomic bomb. The phrase is from the Mahabharata, specifically the Bhagavad Gita. A passage of 700 verses, the Gita documents the exchange between Prince Arujuna and Lord Krishna as they discuss war, duty and moral confusion.

contemporary sculpture in Singapore

Manifold from Leow's exhibition at Chan+Hori Contemporary Gallery in Singapore

Southeast Asian artwork made of mild steel, automotive paint and western pop culture. It is real.  It has universal significance. Manifold is an artwork worthy of its most serious sources of inspiration: the Mahabharata and the atomic bomb.

…………………………………………30……………………………………

I am elaborating upon this essay, including other projects of Gerald's as well as some of our collaborations and personal experiences. The result will be included in red dot SAD which is updated periodically.

Self-portrait as a Game

Hong Kong 1995:

To pay the bills you work as a promo producer for Cartoon Network/Turner Classic Movies. At a wild party in a hair salon very early on a Sunday morning,  a beautiful Japanese woman says you should meet Seki, because, “he’s a genius.” You:

a. Get Seki's contact info

b. Thank her and misbehave

You show up at Seki’s. Your eyes immediately become glued to:

a.  Seki, a short, charming man with a moustache; part Mr. Magoo, part card shark

b. The wireframe model of a lens displayed on the monitor on his desktop.

c. The postcards of rabbits on the wall

The Handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain to China is over and you have become a freelancer. You get a job as a producer for CNN, a music program called Worldbeat. You  go to Singapore to cover the WOMAD Festival, with the help of a fantastic assistant and a great cameraman. As you get back onto the plane to return to Hong Kong, you think:

a. I ‘m never coming back here again.

b. What a fascinating multicultural, cosmopolitan first world country.  A truly desirable and charming place in which to reside!

You are now in Tokyo, to  set up and manage the six television channels operated by Fox, who have just set up operations in Japan. That contract ends and you write a movie script and search for  ways to produce the film. Eventually you have to leave and re-enter the country for visa reasons. You go to:

a. Shanghai

b. Singapore

Singapore is where has Seki set up his $3.2  million  startup. The company has two divisions: one is doing something like Youtube; a platform for user-generated video content. (This is three years before Youtube.) The other division is creating a 3D/VR software for game development. The software is educational and entertaining and you have never seen anything like it. Seki asks you to join him, for a reasonable salary and a stake in the company. You:

a. Join Seki

b. Return to Tokyo to make a film

October 24, Singapore Science Center. Two years after joining Seki, the gamemaking software will premiere as part of the  three-month long Planet Games exhibition at the Singapore Science Center. You set up a small table with an average-size monitor and big CPU. Next to you is a large maze made out of blue plastic sheets;  something called AR Pacman. You and the AR Pacman team are the only exhibitors in the Future section.

Finally after more than ten years of hard work, Seki’s dream is a reality. The morning of the premiere, Seki:

a. Dies from a heart attack

b. Announces plans for the IPO

...to be continued....

Tiong Bahru Mouth: A Couple Descending

iong Bahru Mouth is the name of Stephen Black's next book about Tiong Bahru. His first, i ate tiong bahru, is a bestseller and can also be found in all of Singapore's libraries. An audio book version, voiced by 
 Mirai Booth-Ong, is also available.The audio book, and a sample, are here.

If you are interested in food, Bubiko Foodtour is an up and coming AR character. Her Instagram account is here and she will soon be featured in AR game similar to Pokemon Go, a partnership with Novaby and UARexperiences.

Stephen Black's latest adventure involves the AR ONES, baseball, a movie and John Cusack.