Category: Media

What You See Isn’t What You Get

Look up ‘contemporary Vietnamese architecture’ online and be awed by the breathless streams of ‘green’ buildings that seemingly define this Southeast Asian country. Houses with trees growing out of them, dwellings wrapped up with greenery and even architecture made entirely out of bamboo — these were the images I took with me on my maiden visit to Ho Chi Minh City this year.

Imagine my surprise upon encountering a concrete jungle instead. I found a hyperdense environment overgrown with rows of narrow ‘tube houses’, and increasingly, boxy glass-and-steel complexes brought into being by the rapid economic growth of Vietnam’s largest city. The streets were swamped with motorbikes, many offering the only ‘greenery’ with their Grab-branded vests and helmets.

This chasm between Ho Chi Minh City IRL (in real life) and its representation in the architecture and design media a is a telling sign of how the proliferation of images has made us myopic.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #92 (Jul/Aug/Sep 2018)

Spectator Sport: The Cartoons of Sham’s Saturday Smile

1980-ST-06-21-p31
Straits Times, 21 June 1980, p. 31.

Die-hard Singapore football fans will proclaim the late 1970s and early 1980s as the best times for the national team. With the likes of “Gelek King” Dollah Kassim, the tough-tackling Samad Allapitchay, the Quah brothers and a then rising star in Fandi Ahmad, the team made it to seven consecutive Malaysia Cup finals and won twice. Their exhilarating performance on the pitch was captured in countless write-ups in the local newspapers, including a editorial cartoon in The Straits Times known as Sham’s Saturday Smile.

This creation of graphic artist Shamsuddin Haji Akib offered avid football fans fans like himself a punchline on Singapore football, bringing smiles to fans looking forward to Malaysia Cup matches every weekend. After a commentary on how the national team’s performance was being disrupted by coach Trevor Hartley’s ever-changing line-ups, Shamsuddin depicted him as a mad scientist who would not stop experimenting. Responding to various reported incidents of unruly behaviour amongst fans and players, he turned in cartoons with referees wearing helmets and Hartley learning the Malay art of self-defence, bersilat, to control his players.

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Stories For Sale

Over the past decade, Singapore’s local booksellers and publishers have worked to put the city-state’s literary scene on the map. Now, amid a revival of book and magazine publishing, its young creators take stock of the progress that’s been made and ready themselves for the challenges of the future.

➜ Read the full story in Ink’s Mabuhay (Oct/2017)