​NTU President's speech at unveiling ceremony of Loop

Published on: 15-Aug-2019

Speech by

Professor Subra Suresh
President, Nanyang Technological University

Unveiling Ceremony of Loop

15 August 2019 (Thursday), 9.00 am
The Arc, B1 Foyer

Distinguished Guests 
Members of the NTU community 
Faculty, Staff and Students

I’m really delighted to be here to join you at the official unveiling of Loop. As Prof Kwok Kian Woon (Associate Provost (Student Life)) just pointed out, it’s a new public art displayed on our beautiful campus. 

The Loop was made for NTU, it was made by NTU students, faculty and staff, it was made possible by NTU philanthropists, and it is installed here in NTU, one of the newest buildings, actually the newest building on our campus, for all of us to enjoy.  

Loop has been designed to sit in this state-of-the-art building – named The Arc. As Kian Woon just pointed out, there are elements of the butterfly that are reflected in the aerial view of The Arc. If you can go onto our website, we have a corporate video, an aerial view of the campus, which shows this. 

It has also taken cues from The Arc - in its lightness and its fluidity – drawing inspirations from nature right here on our campus, and also elements of the sciences. 

The work features 1,200 “butterflies”, which you will find all around our lush campus grounds. These are not real butterflies. They sit fluttering in the breeze, on an almost invisible Möbius loop. Ling San, our Provost, being a Mathematician, looked at the equations of the Möbius loop, and how a strip, a rectangular strip, one end is rotated about 180 degrees when attached, that’s a unique mathematical feature which has been researched by dozens and dozens of mathematicians around the world. 

It was first discovered by the German mathematician Möbius, but it also has engineering applications. In fact, the same concept is used in conveyor belts. The same concept is also used in magnetic recording devices. So it’s very important to know that even though NTU is a technological university, while we pay attention to equations and practical applications, we also pay attention to the arts. 

The result of all these interdisciplinary considerations is that we have a wonderful 4.5-metre installation right here on our campus. As Kian Woon just pointed out, the Loop was conceptualised by three NTU students, now alumni, Jassmine Ng, Ker Ziyi and Kerin Ng in 2017. Let me express my gratitude and congratulations to you on the occasion of this installation. They were also advised by visiting artist and former faculty, Fabrizio Galli, and let me add my congratulations to Fabrizio for the input that you provided in the creation of this. Loop is also a collaborative work co-developed with NTU Museum. And I want to express my profound gratitude to Faith, for all her hard work and behind-the-scenes efforts in coordinating all this.  

Art provides a platform to challenge boundaries and traditions. It is a way of expressing, communicating and exploring the human condition. As I have said many times on different occasions on this campus during the course of more than a year and a half, the intersection of technology and human condition has never been more significant for humanity than it is today, in the very early quarter of the 21st century. That’s another reason why I’m really pleased that this is coming at the right time.  

Concepts presented by our students also become a reality, and this is an example of this. Loop is the sixth public art installation created by the NTU community, and is part of the NTU Campus Art Trail. Since its launch in October 2018, the number of highlights on the Campus Art Trail has grown from 42 to 57. 

Besides Loop, which we will be unveiling in a few moments, you will also see another new artwork in this building - inside the Student Hub room behind you. Titled Iris Zoo, named after Iris, the goddess of the rainbow in Greek mythology, this acrylic artwork by ADM Associate Professor Cindy Wang is her personal contribution to the space. 

Another notable addition on the campus trail this year is The Third Paradise by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. This live sculptural installation sits beautifully on the sloping grass roof of our ADM building, and represents harmony between nature and the artificial world. I am very pleased that the Campus Art Trail has also now been extended to cover installations at the National Institute of Education (NIE). 

Now Kian Woon talked about why the physical campus is necessary at a time of virtual learning and increasing emphasis on online learning, virtual learning, flipped classroom etc. They are all very important, especially for NTU, and we do that very well. But the intention is not to replace the physical. In fact, I want to give you an anecdote. When Sony introduced the Betamax in the 1970s, in competition with VHS tape for video recording, it was said in the media that now we can videotape lectures and watch them, we don’t need universities and professors anymore. Betamax did not make it into the market, VHS did, but it no longer exists, but professors and universities still exist. So I want to make that point.

These achievements would not be possible without the active involvement and hard work of the NTU and artist community, and the vision of our very generous donors. 

I would like to express my profound thanks to the late Dr John Cheung and his wife Dorothy Cheung for their generous contributions that enabled the production of Loop. I can’t think of a more fitting way for their support for the arts at NTU to be represented. John and Dorothy, whom unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to meet, were both former faculty of NTU and over the years, they had given very generously in support for many arts programmes. 

Both John and Dorothy Cheung have been recognised for their philanthropy through the 2018 Patron of Heritage Award from the National Heritage Board. Today, we are honoured to welcome the sister of Mrs Dorothy Cheung, Ms Doreen Lye, who is with us today for the unveiling. 

In closing, I want to say thank you all for coming here, especially I want to thank our donors, our students, former students, faculty and staff, for sharing their creative energy, innovation and passion, and for making our efforts in appreciating art on campus an everyday joy.

Thank you so much.

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