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9 March 2022 – Tracing Latencies at 136 Goethe Lab

Last week, we caught Tracing Latencies, an intriguing mixed-media show over at 136 Goethe Lab. It’s part of the Culture | Smart City project, a multidisciplinary collaborative initiative by EUNIC members in Singapore under the guidance of the Goethe-Institut Singapore. Curated by Dr Hoe Su Fern, the selection of works by 8 Southeast Asian participants contemplates the increasingly digitised conditions of urban life.

A highlight for us was How long is a piece of string? by the newly formed collective Mouse Click Click. The work seeks to physically realise the ways we consume and share data by printing out data from one of the artists’ 30 days of self-surveillance.

How long is a piece of string? also invites visitors to return on the exhibition’s last day to destroy the data, marking the end of its physical form.

Another standout was Irene Agrivina’s Transpollutant, which reflects concerns around air pollution in cities. It shows a live feed of Indonesia’s air pollution stats alongside plants in jars that produce fresh air.

Be sure to take the time to engage with bani haykal‘s WYSIWYNTK (What You See Is What You Need To Know), which is a speculative exercise on encrypting data as poetry. The tech-based works explore how AI reflects existing biases and our relationship with data and language.

Other works by Singapore artist Calvin Chua, local collective feelers, Bangkok-based Sornrapat Patharakorn, and even poet Cass Zheng examine urban phenomena like light and air pollution, surveillance, and our growing reliance on technology.

Overall, we really enjoyed how the show pinpointed uniquely urban phenomena and encouraged us to slow down from our busy lives to contemplate the issues. Equally admirable is how the show makes use of the entire space, extending from the main basement floor to side rooms, a kitchen, and a stairwell.

Tracing Latencies runs until 3 April at 136 Goethe Lab.


An earlier version of this article referenced that the exhibition was the result of an open call. This reference has since been amended.