Project 02: Dictionary Inspiration – Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance


I’ve previously mentioned that I want to extract elements from films that depict the creative and destructive capabilities of human beings on Earth. I want to create a summary of us using our own films. How accurate can staged scenes represent us. The films listed below are the ones that I’m interested in structurally to create my film collage. I will push the format further beyond just film footages that are edited and mashed together.


IMDB’s summary

Koyaanisqatsi is a documentary (of sorts). It is also a visual concert of images set to the haunting music of ‘Phillip Glass’. While there is no plot in the traditional sense, there is a definite scenario. The film opens on ancient native American cave drawings while the soundtrack chants “Koyaanisqatsi” which is a Hopi Indian term for “life out of balance”. The film uses extensive time lapse photography (which speeds images up) and slow motion photography to make comparisons between different types of physical motion. In one of the first examples, we see cloud formations moving (sped up) intercut with a montage of ocean waves (slowed down) and in such a way we are able to see the similarities of movement between these natural forces. This technique of comparison exists throughout the film, and through it, we learn more about the world around us. The film progresses from purely natural environments to nature as affected by man, and finally to man’s own manmade environment, devoid of nature yet still following the patterns of natural flow as depicted in the beginning of the film, yet in chaos and disarray. Through this, the film conveys its key message, which is Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance; crazy life; life in turmoil; life disintegrating; a state of life that calls for another way of living.


And then there’s also more films like this.


An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.


In this cinematic concert, mesmerizing images are plucked from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques. The result is a chronicle of the shift from a world organized by the principles of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic and the virtual. Extremes of intimacy and spectacle, tragedy and hope fuse in a tidal wave of visuals and music, giving rise to a unique, artistic experience that reflects the vision of a brave new globalized world.

Project 02: Dictionary – Film : Our Images

Last week, I had the idea of utilizing and integrating film into the dictionary without any direction in terms of topics. This week, I’ve  finally settled down on the topics that I’ll be really interested in for my upcoming FYP. I want my work to be existential, to be about human’s capabilities for creation and destruction and how new media, in its rawest form, can be both detrimental or beneficial for our idea of what existence is about.


My transition from annex 1 to annex 2 sees a change in direction where initially, I had a bunch of categories and keywords revolving around the medium of film at face value. The meanings of the films itself eclipsed the entire idea and intention of even creating the dictionary itself. Why would I need to create a dictionary referencing films to a specific word and idea? Not the kind of intent I’m looking for. Probably been done to death already.VC mindmap-01

Throughout the week, I constantly sought inspiration from different sources and what captivated me the most was the idea of Synecdoche in linguistics. The way the word “sails” refers to the entire boat and so on. Then I was thinking, is there a way to create a synecdoche of humanity without becoming minimalistic in a way that the meanings , feelings and auras are lost.

I somehow stumbled upon the information about Voyagers 1 and 2, the Pioneer exploration ship and how Carl Sagan was involved in the creation of very specific artifacts to represent humanity as a whole.

This below is from the images on the Pioneer Plaque on board of  the 1972 Pioneer 10and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft, featuring a pictorial message, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 is intercepted by extraterrestrial life. The plaques show the nude figures of a human male and female along with several symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft.

The symbols on the top left are hydrogen atoms and the size of humans in relation to the spacecraft are explained.


Sounds on the Voyager’s Golden Records. I think the current year’s graduation show promotional materials are inspired by this.

The pictures that were put on the voyager spacecraft. If the human race manages to kill itself, this is the only thing other life in the universe will know about us. This would be the imprint we leave on the entire universe.

Voyager Media

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After going through all of these, I felt like the logical thing for me to do is to use films to represent us. Majority of films are our worlds replicated in an idealistic way (or the other way round) and allow us to dive deep into that sort of fantasy for escapism . However, there are many truths in relation to real life that are inescapable. Our destructive and creative capabilities are what make us human and through film footages, I hope to create an experimental video collage of films addressing those ideas. In a way, it will be a visual dictionary of human existence.

Current ideas about deliverables,

1)Experimental Film Collage,

2)A booklet for dissecting the video

Will keep brainstorming to float the idea better.

The Library of Babel : A library of every possible combination of words and alphabets

This is simply amazing

You can go ahead and try entering your name into it and it’ll be in a specific section, chamber, wall and volume of a book that’s not generated. That means if you come back and check on the same page again, your name will still be there. It’s the universe in this library.


Screenshot 2016-04-02 11.38.01







The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence – in short, it’s just like any other library. If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 104677 books.

Project 02 – Dictionary direction – Film Dictionary

For this project, I’m looking to dive deep into films to create a visual dictionary. With the list of specific words that I have chosen, I seek to find movies that are associated with the words and bring out new meanings through dialogues or objects. So far I’m still looking for methods that are further than appropriation and looking to draw out various elements in films that are not face-value and details that are usually overlooked.

The examples below are some that I’m interested in. They have successfully compiled a series of recipes that are unique to the individual films that they are representing. Food and drinks are some of the things that we tend to overlook in films in this case. However, they can easily encapsulate the aura or spirit of the film. In this case, we often associate Martini Dry with James Bond and White Russian to the laid back attitudes of The Dude in The Big Lebowski. GJ_COVERS_forshop_3 How-to-make-the-perfect-film-cocktail-MAIN Cocktails-of-the-Movies-Press-Image4

Calendar : Creative Direction

After reading up Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, I’ve gained some additional insights to time and relativity. We often regard time, the very moment that is in play right now the absolute “now” which is illuminated by a projector. The perceived “now” expires, becomes a dormant image and is labelled the “past” and the “future” gets illuminated and becomes “now” and the cycle repeats. Thus we perceive the world to operate in a one-way temporal arrow. While we always assume that this to be true because travelling backwards has not happened yet, physics indicate that it is not impossible. A cracked egg can potentially be un-cracked and spilt milk can be unspilt.


In this diagram we can clearly see the entirety of space and time which encompasses you and I sitting in our rooms typing our blog posts on OSS, the first Pyramid getting built (cliche) and the eventual heat death of the universe. IMG_1051

What does all these have to do with a calendar?

All that talk about linearity and time makes us think of how spacetime can be quantified within a certain framework, given how human beings always like to manage and solve things we can’t understand. We always manage to place ourselves as a bystander, an universal observer or a keeper that gets gratification from keeping everything under our control and having some sort of pre-empt to the vast forces of the cosmos. In a way, we want to be entities that are all-seeing and all-governing, the true masters of our existence through understanding.

While scientists are able to quantify and account for space and time in an orderly manner through relativity which accounts for the speed and distances between two subjects, the layman perceives time in a more psychologically driven way. This is partly due to our differences in terms of psyche and past experiences.

Time is one of the perceptions listed in our senses which is not based on sensory organs. Neuroscientists and psychologists studies indicate that human brains do actually have a system governing the perception of time which in particular is the suprachiasmatic nucleus that is responsible for the circadian (or daily) rhythm, while other cell clusters appear to be capable of shorter-range (ultradian) timekeeping.



In Singapore’s context, the lack of seasons can be both a blessing and a curse. The monotony that comes with the year-round heatwaves and occasion downpours can really put a ding in our ability to indulge ourselves in the atmosphere created by events throughout the year. The average person in Singapore would only hope for the monsoon to mark the end of a year.

So I mapped out once again some key points to the significance and meanings of passing a year here in Singapore. One of the ways that the majority of the working Singaporeans would choose to pass their time and making it meaningful is through work. Every day is a cycle and that cycle goes on to form an even bigger cycle. I wanted to focus on the mental manifestations of the ways people mark a year in Singapore.


At this point , there are various keywords that I’ve drawn out that I feel are important and crucial to my project.

-The Wet and Dry-ness of Singapore’s climate in a year.

-The dominance of digital information in Singapore.

-The Mundaneness of work culture.

-The perception of future based on past extrapolated data. 

-Our perception that with less significant events unfolding throughout the years,  each of the years feel shorter as we grow older.



An initial (silly? Idk) idea with the intent of creating a simple calendar that makes you work hard to use it. 


I used the Runic Calendar as a reference due to its format. It has this overview that’s quite similar to the conventional commercial calendar yet has this systematic approach that lets you lay out the entire year and see recurrences, patterns and allows you to draw relations between them.

I aim to create a calendar that merges rainfall datas from previous years/(months? Unsure and looking at the viability now) into a certain visual form that is comprehensive through a generative process. The calendar will be annotated with visual icons indicating important religious and national holidays. Through the visual datas, the user of the calendar will be able to extrapolate and determine the rainfall level on each day through a series of overlapping visual patterns. At face value these datas might not even be enough to predict weather without taking humidity, sea levels etc into account.  But is a way of instantly granting us the ability to account for something through a more analogous approach by looking into the past to determine the future. A rather old school approach that relies on your intuition rather than current digital technology like a fortune telling graph. 

As of now, I’m hoping to incorporate a textural component that improves the interactivity and in a way making it a traditional weather teller. 




Alexandra Roozen – Few

I couldn’t find any explanation for the intentions of the works yet but I am intrigued by the rows of paired squares that in a way correlate with each other to create a certain depth of the overall piece. I was wondering if there was some corresponding datas being input into creating this work. The placement of the squares seemed methodical yet random at the same time, as though there’s some relationships in play.

W- Typeflight - Sergi Delgado

W- Sergi Delgado

Similar to Alexandra Roozen’s work, I am intrigued by the generative look and feel of this typographic work which also does a number on your senses as well. The parallel curves are very much graph like and I’m contemplating ways that I can make use of this aesthetic.

Ancient Runic Calendar



Ancient Lunar Runic Calendar from Sāmsala (the island of the Sami or the isle of Ösel).

It is of 13 four-week months, consisting of 28 days each. The days read from right to left, like the Hebrew, and in every case the week commences with Monday and ends with Sunday.

Øsel is the name of the island when it was under Danish rule in the Medieval period, and the Swedish with the name Ösel. The ancient Greek – Phonicians and culture of the pre-christian Roman Empire likely influenced the Baltic and Nordic Runic scripts. People came to the Nordic and Estonian – Baltic areas with the Iron Age Indo-European people connected to the Early Roman Empire. This period is archaeologically named: The Roman Nordic Iron-Age. The people were likely the ancient Nordic Goths – a people that from early on merged with the indigenous people and that later were displaced from the areas they inhabiated in the Nordic by the Dacian people that came from Eastern Europe to the northwestern and the Nordic areas during the Medieval period.