Inside the World’s First Interactive Art Exhibition for Dogs in Singapore with Sugar
October 2, 2017
The cacophony of joyous barks echoed down the stairs of the School of the Arts (SOTA) in Dhoby Ghaut as we eagerly made our way into the building. We followed the merry yaps and wound up outside the gallery on the second floor of SOTA. A cooling air-conditioned breeze engulfed us as the automatic glass doors silently glided apart, and we stepped into doggy wonderland.
Ever since news broke of the World’s First Interactive Art Exhibition for Pets that was going to be hosted in Singapore, RSVPs for the free event rained in like cats and dogs. The initiative was launched by Wellness – a popular natural pet food brand, in celebration of its 10th year anniversary.
The conceptualization of this unique idea came about from Wellness’ desire of curating a dif-fur-rent bonding experience for pet parents and their beloved fur kids. Wellness believes that our pets are more than mere animals.
After tens of thousands of years of domestication, cats and dogs have developed the same cognitive behavioral patterns as the humans that raised them. Each pet has its own unique personality with the ability of feeling complex emotions like joy, sadness, boredom, irritation, fear, anger and even jealousy. So like us, they require much more than just food and shelter, they crave activities that can stimulate their minds, bodies and souls.
PAW-sitive: Interactive Art for Pets by Wellness was thus born out of pet parents’ zealous quest of bringing fulfillment to their beloved cats and dogs. The exhibition was designed as a positive, engaging bonding experience for both pets and their owners, and aims to inspire, stimulate and promote holistic fun for the fur kids through experiential play.
Wellness worked together with local artists and created 10 art installations, each developed to offer a multisensory experience for fur kids to freely explore and interact with. Cat and dog behaviorists have been consulted prior to the event to ensure that each installation was constructed with the safety of the pets in mind.
PAW-sitive runs from 30 September to 8 October 2017. Admission is free but visitors are only granted access if they have managed to snag their tickets in limited time slots. Due to popular demand, Wellness has added more tickets per slot, so if you have not managed to get your tickets previously, you can try to do so again here!
The cat and dog exhibitions are separated into two rooms to keep things more convenient and com-fur-table for everyone on site. We did not get the op-purr-tunity to visit the cat exhibition as we attended the media preview with my Pomeranian, Sugar. We only explored the dog exhibition where it was chock-full of fun and paw-fect photo op-paw-tunities, and that was enough for us to confidently say that PAW-sitive is a howling success.
1. Heartstrings by Jes and Jalon
Besides fetch, tug-of-war is one of our dogs’ favorite games to play with us. Playing tug-of-war relieves dogs of stress, boosts their confidence and nurtures them mentally. It also strengthens their muscles while you get a good work out. Imagine a waterfall of tug-of-war with toys attached to ropes dangling from a fixture above. You can pull on the ropes closest to the you while the furkids within grapple and tug at the bobbing objects. My little Pom was more interested in walking around and inspecting each thingamajig hanging from the ends of the rope than wrestling with them, but still enjoyed navigating through the cascade of colorful toys.
2. A Whole New World by Adeline Tan
A dog’s visual perspective is usually located just a few inches above the ground, but A Whole New World elevates their outlook on life with a set-up inspired by the movie Aladdin. This installation gives them the illusion of whisking through the clouds on a magic-carpet ride while chicken drumsticks, steak, sweet potatoes and other various food favored by the artist’s dog materialize in psychedelic kaleidoscopic patterns amidst the backdrop of blue skies and fluffy clouds projected onto the wall. Disney’s A Whole New World sound track will be playing on loop at an auditory frequency specially tuned to a dog’s hearing range.
But let’s be real here, our dogs are not going to understand the connotation of this installation. This beautiful installment is meant more for the shutter-happy pawrents. Click away at your camera while your puppy obediently sits there in mild bewilderment. A photo of this fairytale-esque scene with your pooch at the center of attention is a great way to commemorate this extraordinary bonding experience. Photo-taking can be a little tricky here though. Lighting is dimmed to ensure the projection shows up on the wall, so a photo taken without flash will be rather grainy with lots of shadows. However, a photo taken with flash may completely obliterate the image projected on the wall. So you just have to play around with your camera settings, but try not to hold up the line!
3. Peek-A-Pooch by Jes and Jalon
A dog’s idea of a glory hole, this fenced up art installment has holes cut out in a fence for curious pooches to stick their heads through and marvel at the festoon of dog treats, toys, shoes and other paraphernalia that will induce goofy doggy joy located within a small cordoned off space. There is a full length mirror on the other side of the wall that will allow you to watch and photograph your inquisitive dog’s expressions. There is also a speaker located in a corner that plays sounds like the squeaking of a dog toy or the rustling of a treat bag to attract dogs. Each peep hole has been lovingly sandpapered down and smoothened out so that the dogs can safely stick their faces in without the risk of getting a splinter. The peep holes come in various sizes at different heights for small and big dogs alike.
4. His Master’s Voice by Vertical Submarine
Un-fur-tunately, the organizers were still working out the minor kinks in this installation when we attended so we didn’t get to try this out. Hopefully you can test out this intriguing exercise when you visit. It was conceptualized based on dogs’ keen hearing sense and their adoration of their owner’s voice. You can position your dog on the starting line and head to a booth with a microphone and call for your dog. The speakers which are hung overhead within various parts of the labyrinth will project your voice and guide your dog through this fun and innovative maze.
5. Doggyland by Joscelin Chew
This bone-shaped ball pit is the stuff of doggy dreams. As soon as I put Sugar into the sea of rainbow balls, she immediately sank in right up to her chin. It was amusing watching her stand up on her hind legs and paddle away at the balls like she was swimming. Some dogs who went in just made themselves comfortable and chilled out like they were at a spa, while others went mad with excitement, jumping around, diving and resurfacing from the ball lagoon. Treats are encapsulated within some of the balls, so the doggies with a keener sense of smell will be stimulated to dig around.
6. Woof-Roof by Joscelin Chew
You can take a breather from running around after your pooch in all the previous art installations at the Woof-Roof – a garden-themed dog zone that serves as a relaxation space. You can hang out and socialize with the other fur kids and pawrents in a giant wooden kennel on the soft faux grass with bone-shaped cushions littered about. A mishmash of sounds will be playing in the background composed in collaboration with sound artist, Ng Shou Jin. The background “music” comprises of songs intermixed with barking sounds and human voices broadcast from various speakers in the kennel like as though you are kicking back with your fur kid in a lively park where various sounds are coming from all directions.
You can also find shelves of Wellness products to purchase on site. So if your pampered pooch is feeling peckish or in need of a reward, you can conveniently grab a bag of treats and make payment at the Wellness booth.
Each time slot lasts 90 minutes. Do remember to arrive on time so that you and your fur kid can enjoy every single second together. Don't worry about hygiene as the organizers have very thoughtfully arranged for cleaners to be on immediate standby, and everything is properly sanitized after every 90 minutes session. Nonetheless, don't let this enjoyable event go to the dogs by presuming that the cleaners will clean up for you. Be a pawsome human and take the initiative to clean up after your own furry baby so that we can have more delightful complimentary events to come!