Republic Polytechnic’s STA students bring to life an enchanted forest for visually-impaired audiences

RP’s graduation showcase, titled Symbiosis 2.3: Together in Elec3.0 Dream, returned in full physical format for the first time in three years.

Amanda Tan

Published: 31 March 2023, 3:25 PM

On Tuesday night (Mar 28), the culmination of countless hours of hard work from the talented students at Republic Polytechnic’s School of Technology for The Arts (STA) was on full display.

A total of 40 awe-inspiring final-year projects were presented as part of their graduation showcase, aptly named Symbiosis 2.3: Together in Elec3.0 Dream.

The experience returned to its full physical format for the first time in three years and saw proposals across various technological mediums, from stunning visual displays to interactive experiences that engage all senses. 

Here are some projects showcased:

Desa Baskoro

From the Diploma in Arts & Theatre Management (DATM), students Mohamed Isyarrudin, Haney Insyirah, Johann Matthew, Dilaisya and Abdul Asim banded together to stage a sensory performance for their client, Dialogue in the Dark Singapore (DiDsg). Its objective was to increase social awareness, and encourage inclusion of both sighted and visually impaired people.


The students held their performance at the school’s Black Box. PHOTO CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


Earlier this year, in January, the students staged a show day where both sighted and visually impaired individuals were invited to participate in the 45-minute performance.

Titled Desa Baskoro, which means The Village of the Midday Sun when loosely translated from Indonesian, the production invites audiences to assume the roles of explorers who go on an adventure to discover a hidden village amid an enchanted forest. However, their excitement will soon turn to fear as they find themselves trapped by the villagers, unsure if they will ever make it back home.

Beyond the immersive storytelling, the students shared that they spent weeks on end crafting the intricate set to fully evoke the use of the other senses as the production was also catered for the visually-impaired. To ensure the show remained exciting for the sighted, audiences were given blindfolds.


A mockup the team made before embarking on the full-scale set. They relied on mostly recyclables to make the props and set design as they had no budget to work with. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN


Every element was carefully considered, from the hand-picked plants that added a touch of natural beauty to the space, to the handmade flooring that added an extra layer of texture and depth to the performance.

“Does it feel like a plant? How it looks doesn’t matter at all. It’s all about touch and feel,” explained Mr Abdul Asim, on how the team went around picking suitable flora to use. Through the use of live foliage, the natural aroma also helped to replicate the atmosphere of a forest.

Audience members were also invited to try Indonesian goodies, such as coconut candy Dodol, which the team distributed prior to entering the set.

The idea to produce such a culture-centric storyline came from another team from Diploma in Sonic Arts (DSA) who collaborated with them to produce the sound effects and immersive surround sound system that further enhanced the narrative.

Probed by their project supervisor to create an educational yet thrilling experience, the team found themselves gravitating towards folklore – specifically about the Alam Bunian, spiritual creatures who live in the deep forests. Their DATM counterparts then worked off that idea to craft the extensive storyline. 

Comprising students Ruzana Jambre Khan, Sarah Bte Mohd Salleh, Sean Teng, Amos Lee TianLi and Pan Yi En Adriel Jonathan, the DSA team went to great lengths to ensure the most authentic audio could be used.


They were one of the few DSA teams who worked with peers from other diplomas. PHOTO CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


Ms Ruzana Khan shared that they sought help from the school’s interest group Gamelan Naga Kencana to record a gamelan performance. 

As for other ambient sounds like the cries of mythical creatures, Ms Sarah Salleh utilised sample sounds of different animals and mixed them together. 

Working in tandem, both teams shared that while there were initial instances where they “couldn’t really see eye to eye”, upon trying to understand each other’s perspectives, they were able to reach a compromise.

While it undoubtedly took a lot of hard work, to see their efforts come to fruition to produce something “so authentic and meaningful” was a rewarding experience. They added that they received positive feedback from not only their industry partner DiD, but members of the public as well. 

While there are no concrete plans as of now, the students do hope to restage the performance soon as it’s something that has yet to be attempted by others in the industry.

Breathing Space

Another team from DATM, consisting of Lorraine Faith Vamadevan, Deniola Jonamy Pelegrino, Fatmah Bte Mohamed Faizal Khan, Asyira Bte Ismawi and Nur’Ain Bte Mohamad Yusni, worked with Poetry Festival Singapore to formulate and construct a poetry installation.


One of the interactive elements included a puppet box activity. PHOTO CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


Called Breathing Space: Of Love & Choices, the installation translated five poems about love and decision from an anthology and combined written word with light, sound, and set design. Its aim was to make local poetry accessible to Singaporean youths by creating an immersive experience that showed the power of words and poetry.

Speaking on the choice of theme, Ms Asyira Ismawi said that the team felt love is “the most relatable to people (their) age”.

As for the five poems they chose – Love Voyage by Faridah Taib, #lovetoday by Amira Yunos, Discussing Nationhood by Cyril Wong, Advertisement by Dan Ying, and Questions by Harini V – they wanted to showcase works in different languages to expose visitors to the varied facets of local poetry.

The team added that it took a few weeks of trawling through the anthology, analysing various interpretations of the poems before deciding if they were suitable for the installation.


The installation was split into five booths representing five poems, and included set design, activities, and dramatised readings. PHOTO CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


During the exhibition earlier this year, visitors were encouraged to not just admire the design and interact with the activities, but to also read and understand the poems.

After experiencing the other zones, the team members would direct visitors to the zone representing Questions by Harini V., where they were encouraged to take a card and craft their own poems or pen down their interpretations of any of the five poems.

Ms Asyira Ismawi added that she was heartened to see so many youths reaching out to the team to share their personal experiences with love. 

“We felt very connected to them,” she said.

The members all agreed that through this project, they’ve also grown more acquainted with the art of poetry.


Prodded by the burgeoning number of accidents caused by cyclists in recent years, students from the Diploma in Design for User Experience came up with RiDAR – a bicycle attachment designed for delivery riders to help them avoid accidents while navigating through walkways and crowded areas.

It took Soh Lin Han, Koh Kok Yang, Cheong Siu Kei and Muhammad Rasul Adam B H six months to finalise their concept and bring it to life with a prototype.


Their project was a submission for Braun Prize 2022, a design concept competition. PHOTO CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


Using a LiDAR sensor, GPS, and object recognition, the smart screen detects and displays pedestrians in the area within a 10m range. It warns the rider to take appropriate caution such as slowing down, also automatically alerting pedestrians with lights and sound via speakers should the rider go near them.

They also managed to produce a proof-of-concept where they showed how through a micro:bit computer and ultrasonic sensor, their product can accurately detect the distance between a pedestrian and the device.


Each member drafted a concept upon identifying the issue. Mr Siu Kei’s idea was chosen in the end as his idea featured a unique technology, LiDAR, that would benefit the safety of the target user. It was also an idea capable of being developed within the team’s resources and skills. IMAGE CREDIT: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC


On their experience bringing the product to life, Mr Lin Han shared that while they derailed from the topic quite often, it was enjoyable to get to know each member’s working style.

Mr Siu Kei added: “All you need is a few crazy people (to bring the idea to life)… the more effort you put in, the more you reap.”

RiDAR eventually won two bronze and one silver award at The Crowbar Awards 2022 for innovation in Applications, User Experience, and Mobile categories.

The full list of projects from the five diplomas under STA can be found on its website for Symbiosis 2.3.

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