Joseon Korea—Court Treasures and City Life

The Sun, Moon and Five Peaks on a 6-fold royal screen at the Joseon Korea—Court Treasures and City Life exhibition at the ACM. The sun and moon represent the forces of ying and yang, while the five peaks represent the five elements.

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) has just launched a new exhibition titled Joseon Korea—Court Treasures and City Life. The exhibition is an intimate inspection of 500 years of the Joseon (1392 –1897) period which inimitably shaped modern Korea. It features more than 150 artefacts and treasures from the National Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum of Korea that depict various facets of the vibrant Joseon era, and took three years to prepare.

Fans of K-culture will find the showcase familiar, as many of the exhibits shown have inspired Korea’s pop culture from period drama series to contemporary arts and aesthetics.

The opening ceremony started with a performance of “Story of the Rabbit”, a highlight scene from Sungungga, one of the five surviving stories of the Korean pansori storytelling tradition. It’s accompanied by musicians playing on traditional Korean musical instruments.

The exhibition was officially declared open by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms. Grace Fu, and Dr. Yi Young-Hoon, Director-General of the National Museum of Korea.

Minister Grace Fu and Dr. Yi striking a Korean drum three times for the opening.

We were also treated to several traditional Korean dance / music performances before viewing the exhibition.

Traditional Korean Performance

Interesting traditional Korean instrument. Don’t know what it’s called, it looks like a Guzheng but played with a bow.

Here are a few of the exhibits on display at the Joseon Korea—Court Treasures and City Life, which will run from 22 Apr to 23 July 2017 at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Tickets costs $10 for Singaporeans and PRs and $15 for tourists.

Cujangbok: King’s Robe with Nine Symbols (Reproduction, Late 19th/Early 20th Century)

Jeogui: Queen’s Ceremonial Robe (Early 20th Century)

A section of a hand scroll depicting King Jeongjo’s Procession to His Father’s Tomb.

Another view of the handscroll

Wrapping cloth (bojagi)

A painting showing the Magistrate of Dongnae (present-day Busan) welcoming Japanese envoys at Waegwan, the compound where Japanese envoys and trade workers were restricted after the Imjin War (1592-98).

Gathering of Elderly Officials at Bureau of Music (18th Century)

Portrait Album of Successful Candidates of the Deungjunsi Military Examination

Used to prepare ink for writing or painting, water droppers were standard equipment on desks in a scholar’s studio. Much attention was paid to their aesthetic qualities, and they were made in a wide variety of designs.

Buncheong Bottles (15th Century)

Child’s Jacket (Early 20th Century)

Bridal Robe

Ritual Vessels—Elephant and Ox-shaped (17rh Century)

Yangban Household Furniture


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Tango With a Whale at the National Museum of Singapore

Re-creation of the Indian Finn Whale skeleton under the Glass Passage

Starting from April 22, visitors to the National Museum of Singapore who are taking their architectural tours will have their experience enhanced with Google’s Tango technology.

Visitors to this Tango-enabled Architectural Tour will be given a Tango-enabled phablet to use at six key locations within the museum. Using augmented reality (AR), computer vision and indoor location mapping, Tango transports the visitor back into the early days of the National Museum.

Raffles’s Bust under the Rotunda

Clay tiles that used to cover the museum’s floor

Under the museum’s rotunda, users can see the marble bust of Sir Stamford Raffles, as well as the clay tiles on the floor. Over at the back, visitors can see a 3D model of the entire museum on the phablet from different angles by walking around it. Activating the Time Slider view will allow visitors to select the different milestone years and see how the museum has evolved over time, including the construction of the new wing in 2006.

Time Slider

3D Model of the National Museum

The highlight of the tour is the virtual re-creation of the Finn Whale skeleton under the Glass Passage on level 2. The 42-feet long skeleton occupied that space between 1907 and the 1970s before being returned to Malaysia. With the tap of a button, visitors can also see the whale with its skin, see it move, and listen to the whale’s calls. They can even take selfies with it!

The Indian Finn Whale with skin on.

Walking under the whale

The hour-long Tango-enabled Architectural Tour will begin from 22 Apr. Registration is free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a minimum of 5 and maximum of 15 people per group.

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The Universe and Art

Space Investors by Jules de Balincourt (2015). This artwork is also used for the marketing visual for The Universe and Art exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

For centuries, humans have always been fascinated by the universal and what lies beyond. We even make use of celestial objects like the stars to help us find the way, or to attempt to predict the future.

The Universe and Art is an exhibition which explores this fascination and present the global views of the Universe through the centuries. It weaves a rich constellation of Eastern and Western philosophies, ancient and modern art, and science and religion, to explore how humanity has contemplated its presence in the Universe. Continue reading

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Final Week of i Light Marina Bay 2017

The Body of the Sea by Danny Rose (France) at twilight.

This weekend (26 Mar 2017) marks the end of the 2017 edition of the  i Light Marina Bay festival. I made a few more visits to the festival after the media preview so that I can see and photograph the installations which were either not ready then, or we didn’t have time to cover. Continue reading

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i Light Marina Bay Preview

The Colourful Garden of Light by TILT (France)

i Light Marina Bay, Asia’s only sustainable light art festival is back for its fifth round. Starting from this year, the popular festival will now be an yearly affair, instead of bi-yearly as with the previous rounds.

Held from 3 Mar to 26 Mar, this year’s i Light features 20 sustainable light art installations around the Marina Bay area. The theme from this year is “Light and Nature”. Along with a few other local bloggers, I was invited by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for a special media preview yesterday (1 Mar 2017). Continue reading

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The Supermoon Which Eluded Us

The Supermoon of November 14, 2016 setting behind a block of HDB flats.

The night of 14 November 2016 is supposed to be the night when the moon is the closest to Earth in 68 years. The phenomenon is known as a Supermoon, and though it’s not rare (there were 3 in this year alone), the Supermoon of Nov 14 is the closest to earth. This has attracted a lot of interest, particularly among the photographers (myself included) who wants a shot of it. Continue reading

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Singapore Night Festival 2016—Part 2

The evil queen summons the dinosaurs in the performance of Invasion, by Close Act from The Netherlands.

The ninth Singapore Night Festival came to an end with performances by the aptly-named street theatre company, Close Act, from the Netherlands. They gave 2 different performances on last Friday and Saturday to a huge crowd at both Armenian Street and the front lawn of the Singapore National Museum. Continue reading

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Singapore Night Festival 2016—Part 1

Journey by NOVAK (UK) projected on the façade of the Singapore Art Museum (SAM).

The annual Singapore Night Festival returned last weekend at the Bras Basah precint, with a theme of “Innovation and Invention”. After the glitz and glamour of last year’s festival, the current installation is comparably lacklustre. Nevertheless, here are a few of the better shows I managed to attend and shoot on the first weekend. Continue reading

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My First Photo Contest Win

My winning shot, a shot of the ArtScience Museum and the Singapore Skyline.

I was delighted to receive a Facebook notification (and an email) from Fujifilm Singapore that the entry I’ve submitted for their photo contest has been selected as the winner! The prize was the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0R WR.

This is the first time I actually won something from a photo contest. I had previously submitted for other contests but the closest I’ve gotten is to be selected as a finalist. Also, I seldom submit for photo contests as I either don’t have photo that suits the theme, or I don’t really know how to interpret the given theme. In this case, Fujifilm Singapore has set a rather broad of “Lifestyle”. Initially, I don’t know what to make of it, but from reading the Q&A posted in the comments, it seem to suggest that anything goes. I happened to have a recent shot I liked and decided to give it a try.

The photo was taken during an outing with Jed, a photographer friend of mine, on the Helix Bridge. We were waiting for sunset, and for one moment, the glass façades two of the buildings of our CBD reflected the setting sun, giving a starburst effect. I have also used a 10-stop Neutral Density filter to smooth out the water. It’s shot on the Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens as a single exposure. Only basic adjustments were done in Lightroom during post processing. No blending or HDR was employed (I am no good at those anyway.)

It would be interesting to do a side by side review of the XF 35mm f/2.0 with a similar lens that I own—the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 and see how they fare against each other. I’ll post a review on this on Three Guys With Cameras once I get around to doing it.

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Goodbye, Funan. Thanks For All the Memories.

Funan Digitalife Mall, as seen from the junction of North Bridge Road and Coleman Street.

Today (30 June 2016) is the last day of operation of the Funan Digitalife Mall in Singapore. For over 30 years, it has been the go-to place to shop for IT (and later, photography) products. It’ll undergo an extensive redevelopment into a “experiential creative hub.”

Funan Digitalife Mall, seen from Hill Street.

Funan Digitalife Mall was built in 1985 as Funan Centre, the name being derived from Hock Lam Street (福南街) which it was built on top of. Over the years, it was renamed to Funan the IT Mall and finally to the current name of Funan Digitalife Mall.

Hock Lam Street, c. 1975

Hock Lam Street, c. 1975. Source unknown.

The mall has undergone several enhancements through the years,  and Capitaland Mall, the owner, has expanded the retail space in the mall, notably by building “bridges” spanning the atrium, on alternate floors.

View from one end of the mall interior, showing 2 of the “bridges” built to accommodate even more retail outlets.

I still remember frequenting the mall back when I was still in school, checking out all the latest IT gadgets. There was also the famous Carona Lemon Chicken Rice on its 7th storey food court which I liked. I have no idea where it went to now. Compared to the Sim Lim Square, which opened two years after Funan, it is has a far less dodgy feel, and has less of a “cheaters galore” reputation.

Entrance to the mall from the Hill Street side.

Another shop I used to frequent was the now-defunct John 3:16 Photo Supplies, where I got most of my photography gear from. The people there were friendly and I’d stay to chat with them for a while after buying my stuff. Recently, the mall also acquired quite a number of photo and camera stores, offering photographers a wider range of stores to choose from.

Several other shops I used to go to are no longer there today. They include PK Computer, where I used to get accessories and printer supplies, Suntronics and Fast Cable for various cables (they can even custom make cables for you), Computer Book Centre for all the IT-related books and South Asia Computer, which shut down in end 2013.

North Bridge Road entrance.

As we approach the last weekend of operation, I decided to drop by a final time and take some photos for remembrance. When it re-opens again in 3 years, we’ll see how different it’ll be.

External escalators provide easy access to the mall.

Despite the multiple renovations that the mall has received over the years, some parts remain largely untouched, like this entrance to Watsons and Nalan Restaurant.

The atrium of Funan Digitalife Mall, where events and road shows are always held. Challenger Superstore held a sale during the last month of operation at the atrium.

A view of the atrium from above.

Challenger Superstore, an anchor tenant of Funan Digitalife Mall for over 20 years. According to media reports, they will not be opening another flagship store, preferring to concentrate on online shopping as well as their branches in the heartlands.

Retail shops

View of the retail shops and atrium inside Funan Digitalife Mall.

Shoppers taking a break at the Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet.

A wall of thank you cards left by shoppers during an event held Funan Digitalife Mall to collect their memories of the mall.

An almost cleared-out Guardian Pharmacy at Funan Digitalife Mall.

Goodbye Funan. Thanks for all the memories. See you again in three years.

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