This Way Up – a 7 shot narrative

For project 1, we were tasked to create a short film told with only 7 shots under the  theme “the seen & the unseen”.

Due to the limitations of shots, how I approached to best tell this story was to set limitations for myself.

These 2 things were set in mind before I even began pre-production, which was to keep the film within a single location & following only a single character.

Pre-production

I first came across this lift by chance in an industrial area & knew I wanted to use it as the location for this film. I figured having an unsuspecting character trapped within the confinements of this space would be something interesting to explore.

The character I came up with was a deliveryman who unluckily gets stuck in the lift while making a delivery. The genre I was trying to go for was a bit more towards something like a dark-comedy. But those are the hardest things to write.

However coming up with what happens next was the trickiest process, I spent a long stressful time trying to figure this out. But, long story short, I discussed the idea with a group of friends & bouncing ideas off each other definitely helped to come up with the idea you see in the film.

The key point that we made in the discussion was to play on the words ‘this way up’, as that was what is normally printed on the front of parcels as to avoid damaging the contents.

Placing that in the context of the lift, I figured it would parallel how the lift is also going up. Which led me to the final idea of the box being a controller for the lift.

Script

The script for the film was fairly simple, just a 2 page script of what happens in the film.

Location recce & test shots

I headed back down to the location to have a look at the lighting & the space. I also shot some test stills to understand the limitations of the space & to know what lenses to use for certain shots.


Test shots

Backup location

But as with every production, unfortunately after emailing the management of the building, they did not allow me to use this location for the shoot & I sourced for a backup location.

I planned to go forward with the shoot at the 1st location done in secret from the security & only kept this one as the backup location. I tried as much as possible to avoid using the backup location as it didn’t really suit the look I was trying to go for. (More on that during production)

Shot list

This was my shot list consisting of the 7 shots, it was crucial to have each shot progress the story due to it’s limitation.

My main challenge was the opening shot which I wanted it to be a 1 take shot introducing the character as well as setting up his predicament.

From a story point of view, the 1 take also symbolises the smooth-sailing unsuspecting deliveryman as he journeys into this magical lift. The first cut only happens when he trips over the box which sets things in motion.

Other considerations were also having the actor physically mimic the lift stopping shake in camera so that the stopping of the lift could be added later on in post-production.

One exception was my 3rd shot, I did 2 variations of the same shot, one handheld & the other, a still shot. This was in case I needed to add a digital camera shake in post.

Casting

I was initially going to do casting for this film, but it was quite fortunate that a classmate of mine worked with my lead actor, Christopher before.

I’ve seen Christopher’s previous work & he has also auditioned for a previous film of mine before. I knew he could convey the mannerisms & expressions of the character with no dialogue & would be a great fit for the role.

Fortunately it all worked out as he was free during the production dates & was interested in the story as well.

We met a couple days before the shoot for a rehearsal & also just getting to know each other better.

Production design

The box was crucial to this story, I had to find the perfect sized box as well as the little details that went on it, especially the ‘UP’ label. I designed a specific label for it to be placed onto the box, having it blend in with the box but at the same time being noticeable enough for the story.


Prepping the stencil to spray paint on to the box


Some fake labels which I created & printed on to sticker paper

Final box

Production

Production day was tricky! My plan was to shoot in secret while not alerting the security, I made sure the crew that came to the location did not sign in with the guards so as to not alert them.

I also specifically told my cast to wait outside the building & I would fetch him to bring him into the building.

But as with Murphy’s law, things that went wrong, went wrong. My cast ended up talking to the guards while waiting & revealed to them that we were shooting today & the guards wanted to confirm with the management whether we were allowed to shoot there.

I spent an hour trying to convince them to allow us to shoot there, but they rejected all our requests.

I initially felt a bit defeated & exhausted from trying to convince them, but my crew & I packed our stuff & headed over to our backup location.

We were supposed to start at 8pm & end around 12am. But we reached our 2nd location at 1030pm, started the setup & began the shoot at 11pm.


Production BTS

But thankfully, we managed to wrap the shoot by 1:30am. Only taking about 2 & a half hours to finish shooting as compared to my planned timing on the callsheet which was about 4 hours.

Extremely grateful to my amazing team which really came through for me & for giving me tons of moral support I needed especially when things went wrong. Also for the quick setup & assisting me wherever needed.

The change in location also ended up being a blessing in disguise as the padding of this lift helped create an environment that looks similar to the inside of a box. Also, since this location had no security, I was free to shoot here as long as I needed & had more time to do more takes & rehearsing with regards to how he plays with the box.

Since I was directing & shooting this film, this allowed me to also have more time to frame better while rehearsing at the same time.


Kiwiduck films!

Shots breakdown

Shot #1:

For the first shot, it was a continuous long tracking shot which I used to establish a couple of things.

One was the character & him entering the lift, secondly was when we show the box which the audience may or may not take notice of, thirdly was when he places the box down & the lift stops, lastly was when he shouts for help & steps back.

Shot #2:

This is when the character tips over the box, I used a single shot for this to place emphasis on the box.

Shot #3:

The 3rd shot was to show the effects of the lift when the box is out of the character’s hand. I ended up using the handheld version of the shot as it felt more natural & the movement matched the character’s.

Shot #4:

The 4th shot was the moment of messing around & discovery of how the box works & relates to the lift. I had to let this shot play out for a bit as I wanted it to have this comedic element to it & also to control the pacing of the film.

Shot #5:

This was an important shot as well as it was the moment of realisation for the character & how he can use the box to control the lift.

Shot #6:

This shot was to show the character’s understanding of the box as he rides it all the way up to his desired level. However after reaching his floor, the lift doors remain closed. He figures maybe cutting open the box to see what is inside will help him understand what’s going on.

Shot #7:

The last shot happens outside the lift, as he opens the box, it correlates with the opening of the lift door, symbolising the box as the lift he is in. He looks inside & smiles, but it is never revealed what is inside the box. This was just to add a fantasy element to it & leaving the audience to wonder what is inside it.

The seen & unseen element of the film was how this unsuspecting label on the box that we usually never see ends up being of crucial importance to the mechanics of the lift. We journey with the character as he begins to see & discover the label as well.

Post-production

Final timeline

Sound design was crucial to this film as we never get to see the levels of the lift, it was important to convey the movement of the lift through sound.

The pacing of the film was also important as it had to have this gradual sense of discovery as we learn the truth about the box with the character. The climax had to come in in a way that felt just nice & ties the whole film together.

Before & After

With the colour grading, I went for something a little green-ish, this choice was to match the aesthetic of the lift as well as giving it a somewhat dark yet magical look.

Final film

It was definitely a crazy & fun-filled process leading up the final film, but it was all in good fun. Do enjoy the final film!

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 2 – “Morning Dip”

For our 2nd project we were tasked to create a composited self-portrait of a hyperreal fantasy world.

For my project the first thing that came to mind was to create something surreal & in line with what I have done for my first project.

After brainstorming & playing around with the other self-portrait images I shot previously, I couldn’t think of a concept that fit what I was trying to go for.

However, one of the images that I found & experimented on ended up something that I used to develop further into my final composite.

Before

Final Image

Artist Statement

The concept for this image was my heavy reliance of drinking iced tea or ‘teh bing’ every morning before I started my day. While most people rely on coffee to get their daily caffeine fix, I relied on good ol’ coffee shop teh bing to kickstart my day.

I can literally feel the rush of sugar & caffeine every morning once I take my first sip of this beloved drink of mine. So for my image I pushed this idea of drinking teh bing in the morning into a more surreal one.

Showing myself dressed up in standard 9-5 office attire, I am swirling around in a whirlpool of a cup full of teh bing. This represents the overwhelming feeling I get when drinking it every morning.

The title of my image is ‘morning dip’, representing the idea of instead of getting my morning fix, I am now literally swimming in this cup full of teh.

Leaving on the Ya Kun toast logo on the cup was to add this local context to my image. Leaving it on a blank cup would have made it look like normal British tea, thus the decision to leave on the branding so people would immediately identify the colours & relate it to the classic teh bing drink.

Technical Decisions

While the image may look simple in it’s final form, there were quite a lot of challenges I faced while in my process of creating this image.

Firstly, the masking of the whirlpool to fit into the cup of teh had to be blended so that it looks seamless & not stick out like 2 different images pasted on top of each other.

The adding of myself into the whirlpool was also hard as I had to match the lighting of the teh image with the lighting of myself in the original image. Also I had to create a subtle reflection of myself in the teh such that it creates the idea that it is a liquid & not just a cut & paste of myself into a cup. Lastly, I had to remove certain parts of my arms so that it looks like I am sunken into the liquid.

Using the clone stamp tool to duplicate the swirls of the whirlpool underneath my hands such that it looks like I am being pulled along with the currents of the whirlpool.

Finally applying an overall colour balance to give it this vibrant low-contrast milky look I was trying to go for.

Artist References

Aleksandra Kingo

I was inspired by Aleksandra Kingo’s photography & her use of objects on bright coloured backgrounds. The way she places them in such a way that plays with the subjects was a source of inspiration to how I wanted to place myself in the cup.

 

Visual Storytelling – Project 1

For project 1, the character I’ve chosen to represent is Su Li-Zhen (Mrs Chan) from Wong Kar Wai’s in the mood for love (2000).

Mrs Chan was interesting to me as a character to explore as she is an iconic character in Hong Kong cinema. This character also has a complex & rich story that goes past surface level characteristics.

Final composition

The story of Mrs Chan in the film is that she finds out her husband is cheating on her with Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) wife. Together, they re-enact the scenarios of what their spouses would do together but in the process end up falling in love with each other. Throughout the film she is often seen being lonely because her husband always goes on his long business trips.

For the framing of my composition, I use negative space to create the sense of isolation that the character feels. I asked the model to pose with a gaze, her line of sight looking towards something we cannot see. This is to make the viewer have this feeling of expectation, like we expect something from the opposing direction, but there is nothing there. This is to help empathise with the character’s feeling of loneliness & longing from her husband who goes on his work trips. This is further pushed by the model’s pose which is more closed up & reserved.

For the props in the image, I used 2 red chairs, this was to symbolise a couple & also feelings of romantic love. But also to create a sense of organised imbalance in a composition that if without the model, has become the potential to become something symmetrical.

This was to show Mrs Chan’s battle of loneliness as she dealt with the absence of her husband.

With the lighting I used & the perspective of the alleyway, there is a leftward dynamic of implied leading lines towards the character, bringing focus to the subject.

I wanted to let the viewer reinterpret the image on 2nd glance, bringing attention to the profile of the character with the word “li” on her face. Which is the Chinese word for strength.

In terms of Culture, it shows through in Chinese drama movies. The male protagonists are supposedly the weaker character yet the female protagonists are also weak because of their lack of power. In conclusion, everyone is weak.

Even though the inner strength of the female is supposed to show through, this is one major difference between Western and Eastern cinema. In western cinema, the culture is very masculine and strong; therefore, the movies depict a strong male with a secondary female character who may or may not be strong, but never as powerful as the man.

In Asian dramas, what is unseen is sometimes more powerful than what the audience is visually shown.

This is why, even though women in China in the 1960s were not able to make the choice to leave their husbands, the audience sees the internal struggle of Mrs. Chan throughout the whole movie and settles for her being the stronger character among the two protagonists.

Hence, I have chosen to show explicitly in my composition what was originally the subtle part of the character in the film with the word “Li” on her face.

These were some of the aesthetic choices made to create a narrative in the composition that tells the story of the character Mrs Chan as well.

The 2 main colours in the photo are red & green, they are complementary colours. Red evokes an emotional response, red is commonly associated with intense feelings like danger or wrath & is used in danger signs. But red also brings attention to the subject.

In Chinese context, red also stands for prosperity, but also sexuality and lust which complements the narrative of the image. In the film, Mrs Chan & Chow Mo-Wan’s feelings grow for each other, but their relationship never becomes a sexual one. They never have sex in the film nor do they kiss each other.

Using red as a colour on it’s own is flat, I brought in greens to complement the image as green evokes a completely opposite response to red.

Green is commonly used in symbols of safety & security, but green can also stand for envy & jealousy in an Asian context.

When used together, it creates & allows the viewer to experience the same kind of emotional conflict the character is feeling.

It was a challenge to show such subtle nuances of the character visually, but it was a challenge to learn how to push the semiotics of an image to create more powerful looking images that tells a story solely on visuals.

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 1 – “Trasher”

For our first project we were tasked to create a self-portrait that was a reflection of an exploration of oneself.

“Trasher”

Artist statement & concept:
The concept that I had in mind when creating this image goes back to my own personal history as a skateboarder. I have been skateboarding for almost 7-8 years now.

I first started skating at the age of 14, this was when I was first exposed to the whole skateboarding scene in Singapore & also how I first started discovering about the town area, mainly the Somerset & Orchard areas.

I was skating mainly at the famous Somerset skatepark where I was exposed to a lot of these so-called rebels or rejects of society in Singapore. Skateboarding as a sport in Singapore is already quite uncommon & it comprises of a very small community of people. The general public tends to label us skateboarders as people who smoke, we are rowdy, always skating at street spots and causing damage to public property. There were times where I was even chased away by security & even got screened by the police. It was almost like we branded as criminals.

But as a skateboarder myself, I was exposed & was experiencing a completely different perspective of the skateboarding scene. While society tends to shun us & brand us as these so-called criminals or rejects, what I saw in this beloved sport of mine was passion.

People are using skateboarding as a way to escape their own troubles or worries of life. As cliche as it sounds, the moment I stepped on to my board, everything is gone in this temporary moment. Skateboarding to me is freedom, not just giving me the literal freedom while riding. But also in it’s freedom of expression, I was able to dress & do whatever I want & not care what people think.

It was in fact through skateboarding that I discovered my own path as a creative. Skateboarding is deeply rooted with art, design & films. It meant a lot to me & probably many other people as well. It was freeing for us & it is quite sad to me that people judge us & give us certain looks as we ride our boards minding our own business.

I’ve personally gotten these looks of disappointment myself. I felt defeated. Defeated from the love of own sport from other people who had no idea of how much it meant to me & the influence it had on my life.

With that experience in mind, this was what I chose to portray in my image. I am wrapped up in a trash bag, symbolic of myself being regarded as trash. I am lying motionless on the floor, almost like in a body bag as part of this crime scene.

Around me are my board, and other parts like trucks, wheels & my shoes have flung out of my feet. I lay defeated within this wide space to show how small & irrelevant I am in this stigma society puts us in.

The environment I am in is in a giant bowl of a skatepark, it’s marks on the corners resemble that of a large trash chute & the space creates this idea of the space of a huge dumping ground.

I put myself in this environment as I felt it was ironic that even though I am this literal piece of trash lying defeated in this massive dumping ground. But yet I am still lying in the comfort of my own ground within my territory which is that of a skatepark.

Hence the title of my self-portrait is “trasher”, this was intended as wordplay on the iconic skateboarding magazine otherwise known as Thrasher Magazine along with the word trash.

Technical decisions:
For the edit, I was trying to create this slightly desaturated with neutral colour tones, but yet also leaning towards a colder look for the photo. I have added these blue-green tone in my highlights to help push this visually.

I wanted this low contrast & flat look for the overall image, but yet at the same time, not losing this contrast on myself & the items that lay around me.

I did this by masking myself & lifting up the shadows, to allow my highlights on the trash bag to really pop out from the background. I also did masking to the skateboard & the parts, lifted up the saturation slightly to help bring that focus to it in the composition as these were the only elements in my photo that had colours.

Before

After

After receiving feedback during our critique presentation, I went back to make minor adjustments with the highlights & shadows present in my background to help push this image stronger visually. By pushing down these 2, it helped me as a subject in the frame pop out stronger as well as the colours of my skateboard parts become more prominent.

I made adjustments to the saturation of the background as well, tweaking it slightly to give it a more flat look.

Further edits after feedback

For my lens choices, I shot this image with a Canon 6D & a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens. This image was shot at a focal length of 42mm which I would say is something close to a 35mm focal length. As my image isn’t the usual close-up portrait, I didn’t want to use the usual 50mm focal length that would be used for portraits. Neither did I want the distortion that would come from using a wide angle lens or a 28mm focal length.

This image was shot at f5 to help keep everything sharp & in focus as opposed to using an f2.8 aperture which might have created unwanted softness in certain parts of the image.

Artist references:

1. Kyle Thompson

I love the surreal, naturalistic portraits Kyle Thompson creates. He makes use of everyday objects & common locations but creates something that is not only visually compelling but also feels out of worldly. The surreal feeling he creates was what I wanted to capture as well with my own image.

2. Alex Stoddard

Another photographer whose work inspired me was Alex Stoddard’s self-portraits series. Similar to Kyle, he plays with the use of objects & environment to create that I feel was something visually compelling & conveys a strong narrative behind the image.

Final Image:

And once again, my final image. Really enjoyed exploring different ways of doing self-portrait photography through this assignment. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to create something that was unlike the stuff I would typically shoot.

Onward to project 2!

 

 

 

Project 3: Ego

INTRO

For this project, the concept I have gone with is the exploration of myself during the production of 4 different short films I did in the past.

The first box being about myself & what or why inspired me to do this film, the situation box represented by that 1 key element of the film & the outcome was what resulted in the making of each of those films.

I first started this project by coming up with an colour plan to represent each row. This colour scheme I came up was determined by the colours that was most prevalent in each one of the films that I made.

1.Getting Back”

2. “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue”


3. “Chasing Tomorrow”

4. “Apology”

My colour plan:

ARTIST REFERENCE

I was inspired by the minimalist poster designs done by artist Peter Majarich. As I was creating designs inspired by my films, it was natural of me to adopt a style that was reminiscent of film poster designs.

PRODUCTION

For all the 4 rows, I was trying to keep consistent with the elements I chose to use within each box to properly represent what I did.

The 1st box of myself is being represented by an object instead.

The 2nd box is a key scene that takes place within the film with a consistent circle motif that also has meaning within the context of the film.

The 3rd box is what happened to me after the production of that film is represented by different versions of myself.

ROW 1:

For the first row, it was during the production of a sci-fi film titled “Getting Back” I did for a film competition organised by NASA.

For this whole row I adopted a triadic colour theory to create a harmonious and lively colour scheme representative of the light-hearted feeling in that film.

Me:

For the first box, the composition represents me finding inspiration for the film. For the colour scheme, I decided on using the colours of the NASA logo, which is red, blue & white. But I changed the moon to a yellow to bring focus to the person looking up at it. It is to show a guy looking at a cinema screen that looks like he’s looking out of a window looking out of space.

This was representative of me watching various sci-fi films to find inspiration for this film.

Situation: 

I started off with a base colour of blue as the background for my 2nd box.

I added a pink circle that was representative of the sunset in the climax of the film & a yellow colour on the helmet to balance out the blue. These 3 colours created a harmonious triadic colour scheme which I adopted for this row.

Outcome:

For the 3rd box, the outcome of me making this film resulted in my crew & I being badly sunburnt after a 7 hour shoot at Tuas. I started by using a red to represent myself being sunburnt, then adding yellows & blues to complement the red, so that it wouldn’t be as striking within the composition.

ROW 2:

For the 2nd row, this was a film titled “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue” that I made for a 72 hour film competition.

Me:


Since I was working with a tight deadline for this film, I used an hour glass to represent the short amount of time I had to represent how I felt during the production of this film.

Using a split-complementary colour theory for this box, I used blue as the base colour of the hourglass with blue-green colours for the sand & the orange in the background to complement the blue so that it isn’t too harsh on the eyes.

Situation:

As the film that I made for this competition was more experimental & consisted of darker themes, I adopted an analogous colour scheme as I didn’t want the composition to appear too vibrant, but at the same time, keeping it easier on the eyes.

As the film’s central theme was about image & self-beauty, the circle was representative of a mirror or reflection that comprises of the protagonist who in the film was looking at herself throughout a mirror the whole film. This was to keep consistent the circle motif going for the 2nd box of all the rows that I have started for the 1st row.

Outcome:

The outcome of my team & I making the film which was an unexpected one as we won 2nd place for the competition which caught us all by surprise. I used split-complementary colours for this composition to bring attention to the yellow of the trophy which I wanted to be the main focus of the composition. But, at the same not wanting to make it too harsh, I then used red in the background & blue in my pants complement with the yellows.

ROW 3:

For row 3, it was the film I made for my diploma plus’ final year project titled “Chasing Tomorrow”. There was a major unfortunate event that took place just the day before I was scheduled to film due to last minute cancellations for the female cast that happened right after I had just paid $500 for equipment rental.

Me:

I used a complementary colour scheme of orange & blue-green in the first box of myself. This was to bring a striking focus to the camera that was representative of me having rented the equipment for the shoot.

Situation:

As this film takes place entirely at night, I used an analogous colour scheme as I wanted the composition to look as though the 2 characters are sitting in the moonlight. The analogous colours helps it to look calming on the eyes, just like the particular scene that takes place within the film.

The circle motif is used here once again as a visual representation of the moment where the 2 characters share a conversation under the moonlight.

Outcome:

For the 3rd box, me renting equipment plus the production of this film resulted in myself feeling like dying just right before the production of the film. I represented this by showing myself lying in a coffin holding the camera that I had just rented. Going with split-complementary colours, I used orange as the base colour to bring attention to myself and then using blue-green for the coffin & blue-violet for the background to complement with the orange.

ROW 4:

For the final row, this was a film I made for one of the projects for the Foundation 4D module. The film was titled “Apology”, as I made with a double meaning that serves both as a narrative short film as well as an apology to my girlfriend due to my own neglect of her during the busy school period I was going through at the time.

Similarly to the first row,  I adopted a triadic colour scheme for this entire row to harmonise the colours of the row as it was also representative of the melancholic feeling of this film.

Me:

In the first box, I used an unanswered phone to represent my own neglect of my girlfriend. The red was to bring focus of the phone, which is then balanced with the use of yellow of the buttons & the light blue in the background.

Situation:

In the 2nd box, the yellow from the buttons is now used on the protagonist’s clothes to bring focus to her. But at the same time, I used a reddish brown colour for the easel & the blues in the background & circle around her to balance the composition.

The circle motif was used here as a way to show how this film was centred around this 1 character that we follow throughout the film.

Outcome:

And for the last box, the outcome of me making this film resulted in my girlfriend & I making up. I used red on myself which was previously used from the phone I used to represent myself. The yellows used on my girlfriend came from the protagonist’s clothes which the film was centred around & was also how I represented her in the film.

These 2 colours were used to bring attention to both us in the composition. We are sitting together harmoniously as we made up as the result of me making this film, the blue-green in the hair & light blues in the background once again used to balance out all the colours.

CRITIQUE

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall it was a very fun project for me as I was able to touch Adobe illustrator again & re-learn creating vector designs that I felt were a major improvement compared to what I was doing back in year 1 of poly when I had a graphic design module.

I was also quite happy with how the designs came out especially for the 2nd box as I feel they can now be used as minimalist interpretations for my short films!

For me, the challenge & major learning point from this whole project was the concept of colour theory. Previously when selecting colours for my designs, I would just go with what I felt looked good & not keeping in mind the rules of complementary colours, analogous colours etc. What I’ve learnt from this is definitely crucial to me, as not just for the use in graphic design, but for other areas of my work (e.g. film), I can now apply these concepts of colour theory to create more visually striking compositions.

Also, a big thanks to Joy for helping me throughout the process of this whole project (and project 2 as well), figuring out the colour schemes with me & always giving me suggestions & ways to improve my work. Even at times when I felt my work looked complete, her suggestions would catch me off guard & was something I would have never noticed. These little suggestions along the way actually helped me refine my work further & made it look more aesthetically pleasing in a way that I didn’t think could have been possible. I really appreciated all the consultations I had with her that helped me really create work that I am rather proud of.

It’s a bittersweet ending to end of the module but I’m glad to have learnt & created so much work that I never thought I could within this short period of time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project 2: Forrest Gump

As a huge lover of movies, the idea of this project definitely excited me.

For the final 4 quotes (highlighted below in bold), I have chosen them from different films that have inspired me & also based on how I could visualise them & reinterpret them in different ways.

The final 4 quotes:

“After that breakup, I just want to be a ghost, completely anonymous.” – Before Sunrise (1995)

“Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin’ the cemetery?” – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

“You don’t love me, you just love that I love you.” – mother! (2017)

“Every civilisation was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.” – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The main challenge I faced for this project was to interpret these quotes without applying any context of the films into the designs.

Through various feedback from my friends & Joy during this whole process, this project definitely pushed my conceptualising skills further & taught me how to think beyond & not give surface level interpretations of the quotes.

Here are my final 4 compositions & how I developed them:

1. Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise is one of my favourite & most inspiring films to date, thus it was natural of me to source there first for inspiration.

“After that breakup, I just want to be a ghost, completely anonymous.”

For my first draft, I started with using a prisoner’s ball chain as a visual representation of the breakup. Chaining a literal ghost down to the ball as he stands in front of a mirror to represent the part on being ‘completely anonymous’.

As mentioned before, when I started, I was approaching each quote very literally & just applied visual elements of the quote in to the designs. Through this feedback from Joy, I went back to rethink how I could give more meaning to this quote.

For the 2nd draft, from this quote the main takeaway was the part on being”completely anonymous”, so with that I removed the head of the man & replaced it with floating balloons. However, he is unable to escape as he is burdened both metaphorically by the ‘dead’ weight of the relationship as represented here by a woman as well as still being chained down by the ball.

Through consultations, I was asked to try exploring a different interpretation of the ‘breakup’ part of this quote. Instead of it being a literal breakup between a man & a woman, perhaps it could be a breakup between man & something else.

For the 3rd draft leading up to my final design, I decided to explore the relationship between man & greed. Using a pile of money to represent this physical manifestation of greed, I tried to arrange the elements differently to see which best fitted.

I tried to show a man who was trying to float up but instead was being weighed down by money. After the 4th draft, I decided that using the safe as a physical anchor created a lot of unnecessary distractions in the design.

For the final design, the man being floated up by balloons, is weighed down by the pile of money engulfed in chains. This was to signify that man can only be free when he breaks lose of the chains of greed that hold him down.

Also playing with the scale & size of the man & the huge pile of money. I was using it to show the overwhelming impact of greed & how little we as humans can be.

This was also the design that I chose to silkscreen on my tote bag. I felt that the minimalist design of this composition would fit better on a tote bag.

As I had previously exposed my screen with the first draft during the silkscreen workshop, I had to come back to redo the exposing process. The coating, exposing & washing was pretty straightforward despite it being a very time-consuming process.

Afterwards, I did a couple of test prints on paper to check the results. It smudged quite a little & I lost some details in the chains on the money, but since the texture of the tote bag was different, I decided to go for it anyway to see how it would turn out.

I was quite satisfied with the result! I think I was also quite lucky as due to the minimalist nature of the design, the risk of smudging & losing details on the tote bag wasn’t as high & I managed to get the result I wanted on my 1st try.

I went ahead to print my design on a 2nd tote bag which I have used as my final. The 2nd time turned out better then the 1st as I managed to get back some of the darker values in the balloons & as well as in the money. This also resulted in a better contrast between the money & the chains.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

For the 2nd design, it was relatively easier as I had not seen the film before, thus I was able to approach this quote without thinking of the context of the film.

“Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin’ the cemetery?”

After reading the quote, what I interpreted was a before and after scenario being played out. But, what I have done instead was to combine the visual elements into one design.

I did that by using zombie hands that are coming out of the grave & are literally grabbing & pulling a burger stand into the ground signifying how much they wanted the burgers.

For the 2nd design, the interpretation wasn’t an issue, but rather, the execution.

For the 3rd draft (middle), I decided to rotate the burger stand at a steeper angle, helping it to create the sense of pull as the hands are dragging it into the ground. I replaced the burger of stand to a clearer photo of a burger to create focus in the composition.

For the final design, I shifted the graves around to create more contrast at the bottom & angled the hands such that it engulfed the burger stand, creating leading lines that start from the bottom, follow up the burger stand & lead the eye to the burger.

3. mother! (2017)

Taking this quote from a more recent film that I’ve seen, I liked the lack of visual elements in the quote, thus pushing me to conceptualise deeper for the design.

“You don’t love me, you just love that I love you.”

From reading the quote, my main takeaway was the idea of pride & ego. The part “you just love that I love you” to me plays with the idea of someone who is so in love with themselves, that even the thought of a lover loving him gratifies him more so then the love itself.

For this, I used the animal of a lion who from my research are known to be the proudest of animals to represent the idea of ego & pride. I replaced hunted animal trophy heads with lionesses heads framed up on the wall. The repetition of lioness heads are representative of how many lovers, or lionesses in this case, the main lion has as well as to show how insignificant they are to him. The scale of the main lion was also significantly larger then the rest to represent his big ego & to create focus.

Through feedback from the 1st draft to the 2nd, it felt like the lionesses heads in the background were competing for focus with the main lion in the front. Also the wine glass was not as clearly shown. With that mind, I reduced the size of the lionesses heads as well as replacing the wine glass with a clearer photo of it.

To push this further, I reduced the half-tone intensity for the background such that it’s dark value doesn’t clash with the contrast of the lions as well as painting away some of the white values in the wine glass to create a reflection. I also added a darker arm chair for the lion to sit on, the dark value in the chair was also to draw focus to the main lion in the centre.

4. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Drawing inspiration also from another film that I’ve watched recently, the idea of applying a social context to this quote definitely excited me.

“Every civilisation was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.”

The part of the quote “disposable workforce” made me think of what animal is usually represented as the ‘hardworking’ or known as the ‘worker’ animal, that was of course the ox.

I placed oxen on a conveyor belt to represent how this ‘workforce’ was being constantly churned out at a consistent rate. I intended for this piece be quite meta as well, having the worker who is also an ox, in charge of the conveyor belt & having him literally watching more of himself get produced. Essentially making this whole process an entire loop.

The ox is on a robot body, to signify how this whole process is in fact quite monotonous & robotic as well. The supports that hold up the conveyor belt was actually Roman columns or pillars that I drew inspiration from my art history research paper. These columns are used as representative of a civilisation.

Playing with the alignment of the cows, I used this design element to represent the structure & monotony in the process depicted in the composition.

There weren’t as much changes from the 1st draft leading to the final apart from arranging the gears in the conveyor belt more clearly. I was asked to explore the inclusion of having more robotic parts on the 2nd & 3rd cow as it went down the production line, but I felt that would take out the message of consistency & monotony I was trying to convey with this composition.

Critique day:

It’s a wrap!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Line is Emo: Final Work

The final 6 emotions I have worked on for project 1 are euphoria, lust, amazement, despair, uneasiness & irritation.

The use of irony was the overarching theme that embodied my work. However for each individual strip, the irony is explored differently.

For some, it is the irony in the work itself, for the rest, it is the irony in the process behind the work.

Euphoria:

The emotion of euphoria I have created is like a bursting, overwhelming amount of happiness almost in explosive way.

The irony in this emotion was the process behind it. I started off by painting the paper completely black, then I used a floor scrubbing brush dipped in white to ‘scrub’ the paper.

The scrubbing method I used was very aggressive & random, using a lot of body movements & pressure to create the result.

It was the complete opposite of happiness as I felt more aggression when creating it. However, this resulted in a sprinkle, almost flaky like effect which turned out to look more euphoric to me.

Also the use of positive spaces & the colour black dominating the strip would normally be perceived as something more negative. But for my work, I turned that into something that is viewed as a positive emotion instead.

Lust:

When I think of the word ‘lust’, I do not view it as a positive emotion. As opposed to the word love that is connected to the feelings of happiness or something that lasts. Lust to me was something fleeting & temporary.

The emotion of lust I was trying to create resembles that of waves of the ocean or wind blowing through a large & open grass field. The dots seen in the strip resembles the look of dandelion spreading across the field.

This flow & wavy effect symbolises the emotion of something that can be blown away easily, resembling the passing feeling I was trying to go for when I interpret the word lust.

The irony in this emotion was in the use of white, empty spaces to represent a negative feeling. Normally, empty spaces created a light & less aggressive look to the work & would be used to represent positive feelings.

To create this, I used a piece of foam dipped in ink & used my hands to draw wave-like shapes. I was careful to spread the ink across the paper to create a ghostly effect & not something that was dark & contrasted.

Amazement:

Most people captured the feeling of amazement through the shapes of circles on paper. But for me, I instead used stronger body movements to create circular shapes overlapping each other.

The mixing of white & black to create the colour grey is also only present for the emotion of amazement. As amazement falls under the broader category of surprise, I wanted this piece to be the piece that ‘surprises’ the rest & would be the only one that stands out by the use of inclusion of the colour grey.

Once again, the irony in this was the use of positive space & filling up the strip to represent positive feelings.

To create this, I used 2 spoons, one in my left hand & the other in my right. I dipped one in black & the other in grey & as I did the circular motion, eventually the colours met in the middle & overlapped each other to create the colour grey.

Despair:

Despair to me was this empty feeling inside as well as a sense of hopelessness. The spots of paint around an empty white piece of paper was to create this scattered look.

Initially, a lot of feedback I received regarding this strip was interpreted as happiness. But, to me, the irony was in the use of negative space to create the sense of emptiness throughout the strip.

The process was also a completely opposite to the feeling I was trying to capture. The use of a toothbrush dipped in paint followed by flicking it on to the paper was reminiscent of an innocent child playing & having fun with a toothbrush.

Uneasiness:

When we are afraid, the tendency to overthink & have irrational thoughts is amplified. Hence my emotion of uneasiness mixes the use of positive spaces,  negative spaces as well as an overlap between the 2.

The harsh blacks gives this sense of overwhelm & the thoughts of our fears overtaking & consuming us. However, there are empty spaces as well to represent us questioning ourselves if we are overthinking our fears or if are they truly there.

The scratches throughout the piece was also to connect to horror movies where scenes where the monsters or demons leave their claw marks on the walls.

I created this piece by painting the lino board with black ink & placing the paper over it. I started with the full black square,  then moved on to other spaces on the paper & began using my fingers to scratch over them.

As I moved it around, the ink gets progressively lesser & the scratches become more prominent. I then cropped out the area that best had the mix of all the results combined into one.

Irritation:

My representation of the emotion of irritation was to create the trail left behind of when flies circle around something. That was one of the most annoying feelings I could think of & felt it was apt to use that feeling to represent the feeling of being irritated.

The irony was in the work where the use of negative spaces was used to convey a negative feeling.

To create this, I dipped a pair of old earphones into ink & dangled them over the paper. I used the earphones to ‘draw’ & circle around the paper in random movements to create the effect.

Final work:

From top to bottom: euphoria, lust, amazement, despair, uneasiness & irritation.

Overall, I had fun with exploring various objects to create the marks. It was challenging to derive of an overall theme to connect the works, but it was through the process of doing that I discovered the theme.

Learning the importance of conceptualising & thinking through before beginning a project is definitely an important process to have & can be applied even for other aspects of design work.

Mark Making Workshop

For class this week, we had a mark making workshop which introduced us to the basics of creating our own marks using whatever items we brought from home.

For myself, I brought a variety of items:

1. Cooked Cup Noodles

The noodles were an interesting item to experiment with despite it being somewhat harder to work with. It had an oily texture when I held it in my hand as well as the noodles sticking to the paper as I applied it with ink.

Here were the results it produced:

It created this sort of murky grey & hazy texture which looked rather interesting to me.

2. Foam wrap of fruits in supermarkets

Next, I tried using the foam wrap you would normally see used for fruits in supermarkets. The results was what I would expect, perhaps experimenting with the strokes would create a different mark.

3. Uncooked ramen noodles

I was curious to see what kind of results the uncooked noodles would create as compared to the cooked noodles.

I first tried dipping the ends in ink & brushing over the paper, it created interesting lines. However due to the fragility of the noodles, it broke easily & created quite a mess around.

Since the noodles broke, I tried using the broken bits & experimented other methods of creating the marks. Such as pressing the paper over the lino cut texture.

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Once again, as the noodles were very fragile, it broke easily under pressure & left me with white patches on black ink. I realised I could have replaced the noodles with other materials such as satay sticks for example to create a similar effect. As the satay sticks are much sturdier, it would leave less of a mess but allowing me to achieve similar results.

4. Drip Painting (Jackson Pollock inspired):

Last but not least, I was inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock & his signature drip painting style. It resulted into something a bit more abstract, perhaps experimenting with more colours (white or grey) would give the result a more interesting effect.

That’s all for this week & I will be back with more experimentation & trying out various methods for mark making!

Mark Making Artist Research

Prior to beginning on our first project which is to create six lines using a technique known as mark making. We were tasked to conduct research on various artists whose work would serve as inspiration for us when we embark on our own projects.

From there, I selected 3 artists whose work, style, attitude & beliefs resonated deeply with me & the kind of work I would like to create for this project. The 3 were, Cai Guo-qiang, Hilma Af Klint & Sol LeWitt.