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Terri went along to see what was new this year and found the stand out programme to literally be standing out of the screen – in stereoscopic 3D that is.

X:MEDIA:LABS Singapore 07

Reflections on a mental workout

Terri Dentry, Director of thinkRED film & media, attended XMediaLabs in Singapore as a participant in the mentored labs over a humid weekend in September. She shares a small taste of the experience …

Anyone who attended XML in Melbourne back in August will understand my current brain freeze. I’m still digesting the overall meal of the XMediaLabs in Singapore, unsure whether it was an experience of tasty idea bites on which I joyfully over indulged, or a collection of shiny red herrings that flew through my business plan. Whatever the verdict it has left a lasting impression, and some gems of information, red herrings or not, on which I will ponder for a long time.

Unlike many a high level conference, XML does not expect its participants to sit through hours on end of powerpoint presentations, she says with great relief. Day One was set in an auditorium, and did provide a ppt or two, but the presenters (which became our mentors for the following two days) were only given 15 minutes to present themselves, their work, and mandatorally some examples of what they were talking about.

After an introduction to the lab by host Isaac Kerlow, Dean of ADM at Nanyang Technological University, our home for the weekend, we were treated to a kick off to the day with style from Suhjung Hur, the founder and curator of Center Nabi (Seoul). Through her eyes we experienced from an artists point of view, the meaning and realisation of some of the Center’s intriguing installation works. Traditionally unable to realise works that immerse the viewer as a participant in their own interaction, Suhjung explained how the Center was conceived from the exploration of what a museum and exhibition would be in the 21st century. My favourite piece, in a series termed Connected, starts with a room full of 3-foot tall balloons that respond emotionally to participants mobile phone calls to them, encouraging the balloons to come closer, be fed and interact with each other. Nabi’s latest culmination, brings together the creative energies at the intersection between people, arts and technology in a forum that combined a showcase, a platform and a school for the works.

Geoff Lillemon and Anita Fontaine from the surrealist boutique design studio Champagne Valentine, showcased examples of how they earned the title of game and mobile art pioneers, while Anina, an international model with a self confessed love of technology from childhood days with brothers who expected her to just keep up, presented her self launched 360Fashion mobile blogging site, and accompanying exhibition of physical blogging, which she explained brought the fashion world closer to the online world by taking them out of the computer and onto the physical wall converting digital images to physical works and back again. Rounding out the design perspective was Ou Ning, an artist and co-founder of Get it Louder, a touring landscape of the changing face of Chinese art bubbling up from the streets.

With the design mentors off the stage we were allowed ten minutes for morning tea with three more sessions to fill out the day. Already the audience were itching for the one on one sessions where we were to be given the chance to explore our own projects under the guiding hand of these auteur’s for an hour a piece. But, with topics to come ranging under vices of R&D, New Geographies, and Business Plans, it was well worth our while to take our seats and keep taking notes before opening our mouths.

With a further eminent lineup including David Vronay, CD, Microsoft (Beijing), Jyri Salomaa, Director Research, Nokia (China), Felix Soh, Deputy Editor, Straits Times (Singapore) and Suresh Seetharaman, Co-founder and CEO, Virgin Comics (NYC, Bangalore) it is hard to imagine that there was more to the weekend than just the mentor sessions. But many of us were just as inspired by the meetings in the corridors and on the buses with members of the other project teams, many of whom were bursting at the seams with what will undoubtedly be the next Google of their fields.

Brendan Harkin, of more appointments and honours in digital media arts than could be listed in one paragraph, together with Megan Elliott, co-Directors of XML, graciously and patiently navigated the overall structure of the labs and should be applauded for their open ended style.

As soon as the remainder of those info bites finds its way into my conscious reality I am sure I will be inviting both Brendan and Megan to the opening party of my project teams “Google” launch, and if it does, it will certainly need to mark a large chapter of its development to XML.