17 December 2018

NORAD Santa Tracker shows Santa in 3D, rendered by NVIDIA GPUs

Source: NVIDIA blog. From the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly, “Merry Old Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast is one of the earliest drawings of the holiday icon the way he is depicted today, complete with red suit. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under public domain).
Source: NVIDIA blog. Merry Old Santa Claus by Thomas
Nast from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly,
is one of the earliest drawings of the holiday icon
showing him the way he is depicted today, complete with
a red suit. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons,
licensed under public domain).
Once a year, NORAD - the North American Aerospace Defense Command — tracks Santa using Cesium. The open-source WebGL globe and map engine maintained by Analytical Graphics is widely used for visualising fast-changing data.

When paired with the latest Internet browsers, WebGL can take advantage of NVIDIA GPUs to render detailed images based on NORAD’s real-time data.

Hannah Pinkos, Software Developer, Cesium said, “It’s really fun that the app that I work on gets visited by millions of children. I would have loved this when I was growing up, to be able to watch Santa in 3D.”

Footage of Santa’s travels has been upgraded over the years, most recently with a particle system that lets viewers see a trail of snow and sparkles behind an animated 3D model of Santa as he flies across the globe. The NORAD Santa Tracker draws more than 20 million visitors each December 24. Today, they can even zoom in as Santa travels. This year, the sparkles and snowflakes will be visible on both the desktop and mobile versions of the site.

NORAD began tracking Santa in 1955, when a newspaper ad misprinted a call-in number for Santa. Callers ended up reaching the operations hotline at the Continental Air Defense (CONAD) Command Air Operations Center – the predecessor to NORAD – in the US.

Colonel Harry Shoup, then director of operations, had his staff use CONAD’s network to track, and report on, Santa’s progress to children calling the number. The tradition continues every year, with military staffers answering phone calls from small children.

Today, NORAD shares this information through the web, a dedicated mobile app, and social media. The NORAD Santa tracker page has more than 1.8 million followers on Facebook. More than 1,500 staffers run the hotline, which receives around 150,000 calls each year.

NORAD’s efforts over the past six decades have yielded these insights:

- Typically, Santa begins his journey in the South Pacific. Then, as night falls, he travels to Australia and New Zealand, before continuing west.

- Data also shows he likely has rosy cheeks from riding his sleigh in cold weather, and weighs about 118 kg (before milk and cookies).

- NORAD tracks Santa through the infrared signal from Rudolph's red nose.

The Santa Tracker webpage lets children explore the North Pole all through December. On Christmas Eve, as soon as Santa’s sleigh takes flight, site visitors can find live updates on his location and footage from Santa cams stationed around the world.

For live updates of Santa’s location throughout Christmas Eve, follow @NoradSanta on Twitter.

Call the hotline at +1 877 HI NORAD (translates to +1 877 44 66723; Skype calls accepted)

14 December 2018

KEEPERS Red Letter Sale to showcase Singapore designer brands

The largest Singapore designer sale will be returning in 2019, larger than before, with over 50 designers offering up to 90% discount.

The sophomore edition of the KEEPERS Red Letter Sale will see offerings from favourite accessory brands, publishing houses, home and décor labels, fashion and footwear brands as well as a selection of food and beverage partners to keep shoppers energised. Shoppers will be able to:

- Explore local tales and fables at Epigram Books

- Create their own scents with local perfumeries Artisan of Sense, The LAB Fragrances and SIX

- Try out eco-conscious and natural skincare labels such as Alcheme Skincare, which offers a free skin consultation for a custom skincare blend, Frank Skincare, a small-batch luxury skincare brand that is made entirely in Singapore, and RE:ERTH, powered by exclusive nature-derived active ingredients such as Japanese white turmeric (Curcuma zedoaria).

- Enjoy Nodspark's non-toxic vinyl nail wraps. There is a S$4 discount off the next purchase for every eight empty Nodspark packaging sent back to the retailer.

Ladies' fashion brands at the sale include A.Oei Studio, Aijek, Ans.ein, Dotted Line, GINLEE Studio, Hansel, Max Tan, Run After, Sabrina Goh, The Form, Triologie, Twotaels Co, Vilry.co, Weekend Sundries and Whole9Yards.

Men can look forward to local labels such as Ashenfeld, evenodd (both menswear and womenswear) and Graye Studio (a unisex label). Peas and Plums also covers kidswear.

Source: KEEPERS. Poster for the event.
Source: KEEPERS. Poster for the event.
Get swimsuits and lounge wear from K.BLU ad Kenzlily. Queenmark scarves will be on sale, and Rocket Eyewear’s travel-inspired shades. Shoes will be available at Anothersole and The World at Your Feet.

There will be accessories galore, from Desti Saint’s leather clutches and bags to Gnome & Bow’s storytelling bags and wallets, It Takes Balls’ hand-knit bags and Ling Wu’s bags of exotic leather. Round out the look with Blithe & Merry’s tassel earrings or Eden & Ellie’s beaded jewellery, pearl and semi-precious gems with Stones that Rock, and Carrie K.’s meaningful modern heirlooms.

Carrie K.’s Modern Heirloom collection is a contemporary twist to Singapore's multicultural, heritage stories, inspired by the Peranakan tiles. Carrie K. Hexa Rings come in auspicious Pink Amethyst, Amethyst, Sky Blue Topaz, Green Amethyst, White Topaz, and Red Garnet, all part of the CNY 2019 Zodiac Lucky Colours series. Each hexagon-shaped gemstone is custom-cut and bezel-set.

Refuelling stations will be operated by Demochoco, Fossa Chocolate, GTCL, Intermission Bar by The Projector, Spatula & Whisk and Wine & Philosophy.

 KEEPERS works to foster greater appreciation and desire for craftsmanship and independent design in Singapore. Through regular events at the National Design Centre, KEEPERS offers a platform for designers and craftsmen to connect with the public.


The Keepers Red Letter Sale will be held from 11 to 13 January 2019 on levels one and two at the National Design Centre, from 11 am to 7 pm.

East, Hong Kong offers eco-conscious year-end festivities

City-centre hotel EAST, Hong Kong has eco-conscious decorations and lively celebrations all lined up for the festive season this year.

EAST's Christmas Village, a tradition started in 2014, sees the hotel finding creative ways to recycle resources into previously disused objects. This year, the EAST team have scavenged the city’s streets, collecting fallen logs from Typhoon Mangkhut to craft into Christmas decorations. For these creations, the team collaborated with students from Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS) – the only school in Hong Kong to deliver an English curriculum to students with additional learning needs.

Source: Swire Hotels. The Christmas Village at East, Hong Kong.
Source: Swire Hotels. The Christmas Village at East, Hong Kong.

Feast (Food by EAST)

EAST’s café, Feast (Food by EAST), will be offering festive feasts on 24 and 25 December with sittings from 5:45 pm to 8 pm and 8:30 pm to 11 pm. The menu will be served semi-buffet style, with a variety of antipasti, such as freshly shucked oysters and king crab legs.

Main course options include traditional favourites, such as slow-roasted turkey and roasted grass-fed beef tenderloin.

For New Year’s Eve 2019 on 31 December from 6 pm – 10:30 pm, with highlights such as whole poached Boston lobster and roasted grass-fed beef tenderloin.

Sugar (Bar.Deck.Lounge)

The party continues at Sugar (Bar.Deck.Lounge), EAST’s rooftop bar. Themed City of Stars, the New
Year’s Eve celebration will draw inspiration from the box office hit La La Land, combining
drinks, jazzy tunes, and sweeping views across the city.


The Feast Christmas menu is priced at HK$728* per adult.
The Feast New Year's Eve menu costs HK$668* per adult.
Make reservations at Feast (Food by EAST) at +852 3968 3777

Make reservations at Sugar (Bar.Deck.Lounge) at +852 3968 3738

*Prices are subject to 10% service charge.

SAP: Christmas a tricky time for retailers

The festive season is one the most challenging periods for online retailers from a logistical and customer experience point of view, says Jennifer Arnold, VP of Marketing, Asia Pacific Japan & Greater China, SAP Customer Experience (CX).
"Following the massive Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday period*, retailers have barely a month to ensure that they have enough stock for consumers to make purchases in time for Christmas. This is crucial because stock availability and quick delivery times are key factors in consumers’ completion of their online purchases.

"Our 2018 SAP Consumer Propensity Report revealed that more than one-third of Asia Pacific (APAC) shoppers abandon their online carts due to out-of-stock items, while 28% do so because of longer-than-expected delivery times."

"Online retailers may also consider offering alternative delivery methods to home delivery during the holiday period that may better suit shoppers’ needs, such as secure lockers and click-and-collect options," she suggested.

Secure lockers from Ninja Van in Singapore.
Secure lockers from Ninja Van in Singapore.
Arnold also noted that consumers are shopping for others and not just for themselves at Christmas. "The use of advanced analytics during this period plays a key role in anticipating what shoppers may want to buy for themselves versus what they want to gift to family and friends, allowing retailers to provide a more personalised experience with relevant recommendations, promotions and shipping options," she said.

"With 40% of Asia Pacific shoppers expressing a desire for a physical store to test products before purchasing according to our research report, online retailers can look to provide this tactile experience by setting up their own short-term pop-up stores or renting temporary space in an existing outlet.

"Alternatively, retailers can look to virtual or augmented reality technologies to help consumers picture how products will look and work in real life, as the report reveals that 39% of consumers would like this capability," she added.

*Singles' Day was on November 11. Black Friday followed on 23 November, with Cyber Monday on the 26th of the same month.

12 December 2018

How pushing the boundaries of art in the 1950s led to our art scene today

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. the first exhibition on the art form in Southeast Asia, is an eye-opening encounter with the beginnings and progress of art that moves beyond convention. 

Held in Singapore and organised by National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, Singapore, the exhibition features seminal artworks in the Minimalism movement from the 1950s to the present day. Visitors to the exhibition can view over 100 major works by 70 artists, including Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, Mona Hatoum, Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Haegue Yang. 

Instead of viewing a framed artwork on a wall passively, at a distance, Minimalism shifted the focus to the physical encounter with the artwork, and the space it occupies. As Frank Stella famously said, "What you see is what you see". The phrase is now inextricably linked with Minimalism, which as the name implies, is about stripping everything away until only the bare essentials are left.

Industrial materials, natural materials and repetitive shapes are some of the hallmarks of Minimalism. Materials evolved in the post-Minimalist period towards the use of soft and more fluid materials. Gravity and chance could play a part in the work.

A work in black by Rothko
A work in black by Rothko.

The theme is black to begin with. Some of the works nearest the entrance at the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery look to be almost completely black - and by different artists. Mark Rothko's No. 5 is a rectangle of black with a black frame; Ad Reinhardt's black artwork includes other colours; while Barnett Newman has his signature 'zip', down his Queen of the Night 1.

Patterns are next. Stella has two works on black, with equidistant lines spaced the width of a house painter's brush; while Yayoi Kusuma began with a black canvas and painstakingly added scarlet paint to create what looks like tiny black triangles on a scarlet ground (No. H. Red, part of the Infinity Nets series). Intriguing works on display at the National Gallery include:

Untitled, by Morris.
Robert Morris' Untitled. A collection of mirrored cubes constantly interact with the gallery space and visitors.

Mona Hatoum's Impenetrable. What looks like a cube made up of fine black threads hanging from the ceiling resolves into lines of dangerous barbed wire and a more chilling message. Hatoum often explores themes of conflict and violence. Here she plays on Jesus Soto's Penetrable cube works, which visitors can walk through, and conveys how violence can be inherent in everyday life.

Minimalist artists also used light in their installations. Neon Light Installations by Peter Kennedy is likened by the artist to being in the middle of a rainbow. The brilliant colours stand out against a dark blue background and reflect on the floor, while some may also hear a faint hum from the neon lamps.

Kapoor, forever known as the artist linked to the pigment colloquially known as 'the blackest black', has a geometric bowl shaped object on display. Void is clearly dark blue on the convex outside, but when viewed full on it is so black it is hard to tell if it is a flat surface, or a concave one. It is all about emptiness and infinity.

Olafur Eliasson's Room for One Colour is completely empty, except for orange-toned lights that challenge our idea of visual perception. His message is not to accept things just the way they are. Everyone is turned one-dimensional and monochrome, like walking newspaper cutouts. The eye turns everything bluish after leaving the room.

John McCracken's Red Plank is ground-breaking for being placed on the floor, instead of on a pedestal or plinth. The glossy red plank has influences from shiny cars and surfboards in California in the mid-sixties. The surface comes from coating plywood with fibreglass, then layering polyester mixed with resin and pigment.

Rasheed Araeen created wall-mounted latticed forms that were influenced by industrial architecture and the geometry found in Islamic art. (3R+2B)SW and Basant are both acrylic on wood, created in the early seventies.

Singapore-born artist Kim Lim's ladder-like Intervals I plus II, has repetition as a key motif. The work can be displayed in different configurations, creating different light, shadow and textural patterns.

Kite Traps made of rubber strips, by Filipino artist Roberto Chabet. The work is a homage to Eva Hesse and made of rubber strips tied to a wooden frame.

A sculpture made of white thread: Kazuko Miyamoto's Male I. This looks solid at the top where the threads are denser, and seems to fade into invisibility at the bottom. The work links wall and floor, and interacts with a shifting play of shadows and patterns as the viewer walks around it.

The Monoha (もの派) movement in Japan was embraced by Minimalists as advocating the same principles as Minimalism. Monoha artists favour raw natural or industrial materials in their work.
There is a box made out of paper with a granite rock placed within, as well as boxes of concrete and wood, filled with concrete and wood chips respectively. The boxes are by Jiro Takamatsu, and titled Oneness of Concrete, as well as Oneness of Wood.

Pushing the boundaries further, Bruce Nauman is shown in a grainy video doing performance art, a revolutionary idea at the time. In Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square Nauman hitches up his hips as he walks around a square, showing how the moving human body can be used as art. The video is at the end of the corridor housing Neon Light Installations, providing a monochrome contrast to the colourful neon.

The ultimate in Minimalism must be the digital version of eight minutes of unexposed 16mm film, playing in a loop - all the viewer sees is the occasional dust mote and scratches on the film. The director of Zen for Film, Nam June Paik, is a friend of John Cage, whose well-known 4′33″ is the film where the performer(s) do not play their instrument(s) for four minutes and 33 seconds. The only sound heard is that in the room and from the audience. A major Zen concept is about emptying one's mind to focus better.

Everyday things are transformed on the Minimalist journey. The space under a chair is immortalised in resin. Three rectangles of thin porcelain are hung on a wall, curving slightly at the bottom, looking for all the world like three paintings on a wall, reduced to a tabula rasa made out of paper. The work by Liu Jianhua is indeed called Blank Paper, a canvas where viewers can project their own meaning.

A glossy white slab on the floor is not what it seems, either. Visitors might expect to see porcelain or perhaps polished stone, but it is in fact a slab of white marble, on which a thin layer of milk is poured so that it is just covered with the liquid. Titled Milkstone, this work by Wolfgang Laib treated the surface of the marble so that it would hold the milk better. The work represents tension between elements. The milk is perishable and must be replaced daily, while the marble is solid and permanent.

Ai Weiwei has two works on show: a ton of pu er tea, compressed into a cube, and an area about ankle-deep in one-of-a-kind sunflower seeds, each one created by hand. The porcelain Sunflower Seeds challenge the idea that 'made in China' means cheap mass production when each seed is individually hand-crafted. The number of seeds may refer to the huge Chinese population. The sunflower, which turns to the sun, was also used as an image during the Cultural Revolution to represent the people looking towards to their leadership.

Ton of Tea, on the other hand, builds on Minimalist cubic sculptures by Morris and Richard Serra that Ai would have seen when he lived in the US. The size of the work alludes to the large scale of Chinese tea trade, while the shape is very much about the traditional way of transporting tea in China - by compressing it into large blocks.

Then there is a lamp, in a dark corner, just going on and off continuously. It is just you and the work, and maybe a sense of impending doom.


View pictures of exhibits on Facebook

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object.
Till 14 April 2019
At dual venues: Concourse Galleries and Singtel Special Exhibition Galleries at the National Gallery and at the ArtScience Museum, which houses the larger installations

There are two audio tours available at the National Gallery: Minimalism Highlights, and The More You Look At It.

Book a ticket

Hashtag: #minimalismsg

*The guided tour was sponsored by Singtel.

7 December 2018

Entries for Sony World Photography Awards 2019 to close January 2019

Photographers worldwide have under a month left to enter the 12th annual Sony World Photography Awards’ Professional, Open and Youth competitions, which are one of the most important fixtures on the global photographic calendar. The awards recognise the best contemporary photography from the past year and celebrate a wide variety of photographic genres. 

Scott Gray, CEO and founder of the World Photography Organisation commented: “Each year, the Sony World Photography Awards uncovers emerging photographic talent and gives established artists a global audience for their work. I look forward to seeing the entries and our esteemed judges’ selection.”

Submitted by photographers from around the world, the images cover a wide variety of topics taken from the 10 categories of the Open Competition, which is judged on a single image. Prizes include US$25,000 for the Photographer of the Year and US$5,000 for the overall Open competition winner.

Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins, who won in both the 2009 and 2018 Sony World Photography Awards said: “The media response to the awards was overwhelming, with extensive press and TV coverage all over the world. Apart from providing my work a huge international platform it has also brought my images to the consciousness of collectors, curators, galleries and museums… As a direct result of being part of the Sony World Photography Awards, my work was acquired by several private and public collections.”

British photographer Amanda Harman won the Professional Competition’s Still Life category in 2014, and her series A Fluid Landscape was shortlisted in the Professional Landscape category in 2018. Harman said, “Taking part in the Sony World Photography Awards has led to great things for me. I feel that being shortlisted for the 2018 awards - and receiving a book deal - for a series that I took with the Sony camera that I won at the 2014 awards has nicely completed a circle.

"The awards have undoubtedly helped me in my career, and I am excited for the next steps.”

British artist Alys Tomlinson won Photographer of the Year, which has led to her being represented by HackelBury Fine Art. "It has been fantastic to gain representation by a prestigious contemporary photography gallery and to see my work exhibited with them at fairs across the world. Adding to this, since winning the award I've also found a publisher for the series, and my book is due to be published by GOST Books in spring 2019," she shared.

The World Photography Organisation is a global platform for photography initiatives. Working across up to 180 countries, its aim is to raise the level of conversation around photography by celebrating the best imagery and photographers on the planet. The organisation hosts a year-round portfolio of events including the Sony World Photography Awards, the world's largest photography competition, and PHOTOFAIRS, international art fairs dedicated to photography around the world.

Sony Imaging Products & Solutions is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation that is responsible for its imaging products and solutions businesses, from consumer camera, solutions with a focus on broadcast- and professional-use products, to the medical business.


Open to all, submissions to these global and prestigious awards are free to enter. There are four categories, of which only one may be chosen:

Professional - Recognising outstanding bodies of work (closes January 11, 2019 - 1300 GMT)

Open - Rewarding the world’s best single images (closes January 4, 2019 - 1300 GMT)

Youth - Best single images by photographers aged 12-19 (closes January 4, 2019 - 1300 GMT)

Student - For photography students worldwide (submissions closed)
Key dates

• February 5, 2019 - Open and Youth shortlists

• February 26, 2019 - Open and National Awards winners

• March, 2019 - Outstanding Contribution to Photography revealed

• April 2, 2019 - Professional and Student shortlists

• April 17, 2019 - Photographer of the Year, Professional category winners and overall Open, Youth and Student winners

All category winners will receive the latest Sony digital imaging equipment and the overall competition plus Professional category winners will be flown to London, UK to attend the Sony World Photography Awards dinner on April 17, 2019. The awards’ winning and shortlisted images will be exhibited in London. Running April 18 – May 6 2019, the exhibition will also include exclusive new works by the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award, to be announced March 2019.