Kristy H.A. Kang

Nanyang Technological University

Interfaces and Intentionalities: Adjacent Practices of Urban Media Art in Singapore


This presentation looks at how urban media arts transform Singapore’s public spaces and become sites for discovering an understanding of “place” – one of belonging or alienation.   It discusses how official and unofficial urban media art is used to curate public space in order to tell different narratives of belonging in Singapore by looking at two case studies. The first is local independent street artist Samantha Lo who uses the city as a platform to critique overdeveloped technological urbanism in Singapore and the alienation it creates. The other is the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s iLight Festival and related projects in the Marina Bay Precinct that show how the state uses urban media art to educate and engage the public about Singapore’s development, growth and global ambitions. These practices, one which is top down and the other which is bottom up, both use the city as a curatorial space to express divergent intentionalities and views of national identity. In Singapore, public space is a carefully negotiated curatorial practice between the state, artists and institutions whose adjacent practices animate the city and sometimes challenge its conventions. As such, public space becomes a potential platform, transforming urban geography into an urban interface where the citizen and the state express and reflect upon different intentions and understandings of place.


Kristy H.A. Kang is a media artist and scholar whose work explores narratives of place and geographies of cultural memory. She received her PhD at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC) and is Assistant Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Prior to this she was Associate Director of the Spatial Analysis Laboratory (SLAB) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC where she collaborated with urban planners and policy specialists on ways to visualize overlooked spaces and peoples. Her research interests combine urban and ethnic studies, mapping, animation and digital media arts to visualize cultural histories of cities and communities.  Her works have been exhibited and presented at institutions including the Getty Research Institute, The ZKM Center for Art and Media, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and received awards including the Jury Award for New Forms at the Sundance Online Film Festival.