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People April 10, 2014   |  by

Straat Smart: Eugene Soh of The Web Art Show

Artist Eugene Soh has traveled extensively both for work and play. His next project, an exhibition titled “The Web Art Show” takes place in his favorite place in the world – the World Wide Web. 

By Kim Hana
Images courtesy of Eugene Soh  

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People may know Eugene Soh for “The Last Kopitiam”, his irreverent take on The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci or “Celebrating the Birth of Venus“, another piece of his that’s a humorous take on yet another classic that even bagged him the Finalist title at the Sony World Photography Awards in 2013. But Eugene’s first love has always been technology, and the interest in photography stems from that. Not one to shy away from unconventional ideas, Eugene will be curating and organizing “The Web Art Show”, Singapore’s first virtual exhibition that launches on April 19th. He tells us more about the domains which he inhabits. 

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Let’s talk about The Last Kopitiam, which, by the way, is one of our favorite pieces of yours. We take it that Maxwell Food Centre is one of your haunts?
Well not exactly. Maxwell was chosen for its architecture. The Last Kopitiam is a spin-off The Last Supper. I thought, where would Singaporeans have their last supper? Most likely a hawker center. So I scouted a few hundred hawker centers in search for that perfect symmetry until I saw Maxwell. Even the two pillars in the background mimic the three windows in The Last Supper.

Any famous hawkers in there?  
Tian Tian Chicken Rice was one of the hawkers featured. They were surprisingly happy to do it. They wanted to take off their apron and I was like, no, keep the apron on! They even made us chicken rice for free. 

Perks of the job, hey? You’ve had some pretty good perks on the job, for instance getting to travel to Uzbekistan?
Yeah this magazine, Sports+Travel, commissioned me to make a trip to Uzbekistan to film a documentary. The documentary was about my trip. They literally said, go there, have fun, and have fun filming yourself having fun.

What are some other fun things you do when you travel?
I make it a point to do the Visa-Matt Harding dance in each country I go to. I compiled a video of me doing the dance in 16 countries to showcase at my solo OCBC exhibition in 2013. I travel quite a bit with my sister, Jane, and we like taking pictures to document our trips.

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But still, your favorite place in the world remains the World Wide Web. 
Yes. If I’m not anywhere, I’m on the World Wide Web. My interest has always been in technology; I program games and design websites. I used to be an avid gamer, I played a lot of first-person shooters. I like the idea of entering another world and seeing that world through the character’s eyes. I was inspired by this for Gallery.sg.

On April 19th at 7pm, Gallery.sg will be the place to be. Tell us more about The Web Art Show.
Gallery.sg is a virtual gallery which will feature the work of 15 artists from the Web Art Movement Singapore. The Web Art Movement started in January last year when I acquired 56 one-worded .sg domains and offered them free-of-charge on webart.sg. Artists world-wide could adopt them and exercise their creativity with them for a year.

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You’re like a new-age art patron of sorts. You’re funding other artists and giving them a platform to showcase their work.
I call this a “Blackhole Project”. It’s really cool and it sucks your resources – you never know when you’ll get returns and where it will come from. When I first told my siblings about it, they thought I was crazy. That was a year ago. Now I’m sitting on 56 .sg domains and will be organizing Singapore’s first virtual exhibition!

What would a “visit” to the Web Art Movement “exhibition” entail?
There will be virtual wine – especially on launch night. Upon entry, you see the works in the gallery. If you look down, you’ll see your feet. You’ll only see yourself if there’s a mirror. You can mingle with other guests by chatting with them. Gallery.sg will be a virtual, social experience.

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Sounds fun! What would we be wearing? 
Females will be in cropped tops and pants. Guys will be in one-piece pantsuits with the words “Gallery.sg”.

Gallery.sg will officially ‘open’ on April 19th, 7pm to 12am (GMT+8). The whole world is invited to attend this virtual event. Perfect for time-poor contemporary lifestyles, Gallery.sg enables visitors to visit the gallery at their own convenience online wherever they are in the world.