Nothing like a virtual swim through an ocean of trash to put things into perspective

It’s no secret that sustainability has become a trend these days. From greenwashed beauty products to the contrived new direction of the World Gourmet Summit, practicing sustainability has become a necessity to remain woke and relevant in today’s world.

For some organisations, though, sustainability has been built into their DNA from day one. Local not-for-profit arts organisation The MeshMinds Foundation was founded with the aim of enabling sustainable development through creative technology. Through various collaborations and incubation programmes, the foundation connects artists with socially responsible companies, to produce immersive art and experiences that meet those goals—and present them from a sorely lacking Asian perspective.

Their latest project takes a deep-dive into the realm of augmented reality (AR). On show from Mar 8-17 at the ArtScience Museum, MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood presents 20 multi-sensory experiences—the product of collaborations between local artists and the foundation’s leading technologies. Each of the works responds to and incorporates at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which range from caring for underwater life to climate action, to building sustainable cities. All of the AR fun is easily accessible via QR codes on your phone.

A Better Tomorrow by Andre Wee

The artworks range from role-playing games that have you fighting plastic, to meaningful AR experiences that put you in the shoes of the underprivileged. Andre Wee’s A Better Tomorrow reimagines Singapore’s heartlands and cityscapes in 2040, with intricate digital drawings that spotlight the use of clean energy, recycling and reduced reliance on fossil fuels, coming to life.

Also interesting is Andrew Loh’s Hold My Gaze, a simple piece with a substantial message. Using face mapping technology, audiences get to control the movements of an animated child’s face (masked by the print of a rainforest) onscreen. Keep your eye on the face and all is dandy; but look away or shut your eyes, and the forest gradually bursts into flames. It’s Loh’s powerful word of warning to all that we’ve been looking away from protecting our forests for too long; and that we shouldn’t get used to pollution.

Hold My Gaze by Andrew Loh

And finally, Discover Our Oceans by Warrior9 VR is an ominous four-part multi-sensorial experience sure to leave a sobering impact. First, take a walk through the artistic installations from local students, who’ve fashioned an underwater world destroyed by plastic pollution out of plastic itself. Then jump straight into the VR action, with a 3-minute and 90-second interactive journey deep in the ocean, where you have to fight trash to emerge on the other side. Wrap it all up with the installation’s AR experience, which lets you step through a portal into a sea thoroughly degraded by pollution. The plastic discarded around you correspond to you swiveling your phone around the space—guaranteed to have you leaving the museum with something to think about.

Discover Our Oceans by Warrior9 VR

MeshMinds 2.0: ArtxTechforGood runs from Mar 8-17 at Level 4, ArtScience Museum. Admission is free and more information is available here.