I was totally ready for the presentation on Thu 23/11/2017! I really was! All I needed to do was to check in with Mr Bharat, who hadn’t replied me since Thu 9/11/2017, during which I discovered that the location was not available…
… Hence, I instantly asked Lei to suggest another location, and she suggested the space outside the Foundation 2D Room, somewhere I obviously had better luck with. (Note that from here on out, it becomes more process-based, since a lot of the documentation is on the improvised setup.)
She also mentioned that I would probably need to change my object due to the smaller width of the corridor, and so again I had to go back to the basic requirements and re-evaluate my setup based on the things which I needed which were site-specific.
Now that I couldn’t use the site-specific benches, I needed to re-evaluate my subject, a material object which is
identical in spatial form,
in close proximity to each other, and
able to be interacted with
and now, additionally, also fairly thin and small, since the throw distance was very short and I still needed space for people to interact with the objects.
There weren’t any site-specific objects I could use, so I decided that I would need to make the object on my own. The layout practically begged for something to pinned to the wall, and when you talk interactive, why not paper to be drawn on? It’s not exactly unmoving, but I could at least have the 10 minute video show how the paper got there, showing its temporal part of not always having been there, as opposed to the current present which shows that it IS there. Also, it’s thin enough to fit the narrow corridor. The downsides are that it doesn’t have the same effect as the basement foyer’s benches, in that it’s not something which is permanently there, and already has some form of established identity, but at least it was suited to the area.
The final setup turned out surprisingly well, likely because of the small scale of the space such that it was much easier to deal with.
If I had better resources, I would have liked the video to span from the putting up of the paper, all the way to the present, rather than cutting off abruptly once my camera couldn’t record anymore (i.e. a live transmission running about 2 hours behind real time, not that I would know how to set that up).
In the end, it was surprisingly not as hard as I thought it would be to change location, which I think was mostly because I had already stated the main criteria I needed rather than specific objects, such that I could figure out what I could replace it with easily. (Also, Lei’s advice was incredibly helpful where I was at a loss on where to even start looking.)
In the interest of time, I also ditched any plans to actually teach properly, and went with the fastest crash course I could, so I mostly feel like everyone didn’t really understand the metaphysical concepts I was trying to portray. But I suppose it’s alright because I do feel like I did what I could with the available time and resources, and it looks like everyone had fun:
(Also, a lot of shadow puppeteering happened)
Also thanks Ryan and Lei for helping me carry all my equipment T_T Especially Ryan for helping me reach the projectors, push the metal cupboard back, and carry my 2 projectors and DSLR camera set back to Hall 2 Block 6 Level 2, i.e. a route with many, many, many stairs.
I decided to switch up and get out of my comfort zone by working with live, 3-dimensional, interactive things than what I’m comfortable with (read: drawing, animation, painting, etc), and it’s been a real eye opener. Mostly because my soul is broken.
Since I had been steadily and extensively working on my original plan until it had to be drastically changed 1 day before the presentation, I’ll attach both the original plan (here, in Part 1) and last-minute improvised plan (in Part 2). As this project was more trial and error process-based in terms of setup, there’ll be less summarised points as opposed to talk on the setup process.
For me, I have a difficult time working with anything that’s 3-dimensional in nature simply because I have difficulty noticing or controlling problems (i.e. anything technical, physical, etc). For the sake of learning, though, I decided to at least have a go, so rather than an emphasis on laborious handiwork like animation, I’d have a simpler subject, but with a more complex setup process (see more in my post on the Blue Sail, which was sort of what I was trying to emulate).
The difficulty is elevated by that the available spaces in ADM tend not to be exhibition areas specially catered for presentations, and as such I’d have to improvise greatly, and the setup would vary rather wildly depending on where I choose.
My concept was based around the philosophical antipodes of endurantism and perdurantism. It’s a relatively new concept to me as well, but to sum it up (I also made little placards of this to put up):
I originally considered having an opinion which leans towards either, but realised that
It doesn’t really matter, because no matter which way you perceive reality the tangible outcome is still the same
I can’t make a stand since both make sense to me equally: in a way it’s true that only the world in this very moment in time exists at any point of time, but in a way the world also tends to be a culmination of what happened in the past, now, and what will be
Hence, I decided to just try and present it as best as I could, and let people just learn about it, form opinions on their own if they want to. In fear that I wouldn’t be able to explain properly, or that people wouldn’t get it, though, I made little placards of sorts so people could read it on their own, or maybe better understand through images than me talking.
Here’s some references which I looked at to actually understand anything.
The idea of a 3-dimensional object instantly came to mind, where the concept already revolves around metaphysics and the material world (I will use the word “chair” to describe this object, since it was the first thing that came to mind for me).
To try to create a tangible difference where there was no tangible difference, however, was difficult. The general gist was to use different mediums to bring across the idea, and these were some things I considered to show the idea of temporal parts, and how the chair is interacted with across time, giving it an identity beyond what is currently seen, or the idea of the static, singular moment that the chair exists within.
Stop-motion photography (the temporal parts forming the chair’s identity, albeit in a less flowing form)
Timelapse videos (the temporal parts forming the chair’s identity)
Livestream (I will refer to it as “live transmission” from here onwards, since I realised there’s a difference) (the exact present as is seen right now. the downside is that the static nature of the present can’t be viewed well, where the continuous movement of the transmission suggests temporal parts as well)
Just photography (static, singular moment. the downside is that it won’t be exactly the present, so it deviates somewhat from the idea that only “now” exists)
I eventually decided on a video and live transmission, where the video would show another part of the chair’s identity through edited time, where one can see that the chair before them is only a part of what it is, has been, and will be. The live transmission, on the other hand, would show the entirety of the chair’s identity through real time, where it only exists as it is right now, in that very moment.
I also decided to go with a 4 by 3 aspect ratio such that it would focus more on the object than its surroundings.
Also, here’s a test of the live transmission. I decided to use fullscreenmirror.com because I couldn’t full screen the inbuilt camera for Windows 10, though it comes with the downside of having a social media sharing toolbar which can’t be disabled. (I also later learned that the school-loaned projector has an option to flip the display, so mirroring won’t be an issue!)
Object & Location
Next, I considered the object in relation to location. Since I had originally envisioned a chair, I went out looking for identical chairs in close proximity to each other in ADM. The general idea, though, was that the object just needed to be something people could interact with, to make it more interesting, and also such that the object could be “modified” across time as people fiddled with it. Preferably, though, it would have to be something immovable, so that the projection and object would still align properly.
I eventually decided on the Basement Foyer (outside the Foundation 3D room), because I noticed the benches there fit the aforementioned criteria. Also, it has a thriving nightlife, where ADM freshmen doing their homework tend to gather there, which gave the benches a special, time-based identity part.
I also took a test video, and quickly discovered my SD card was too inferior to take videos longer than 12 minutes. Lei suggested to just cut it to 10 minutes, which was probably a good idea since it was more than enough to get the idea across. Here’s a sample from 9pm during final project hell week, also edited to 4:3 aspect ratio.
Technical Issue Problem-Solving
Luckily, I had enough common sense to notice that my laptop required some form of adaptor to fit the cable. Also, I checked the projector specifications from the school’s equipment store, and discovered it only serves VGA, and no HDMI: as such, I was adequately prepared to look around for ways to counter that, eventually settling on:
Using an old home laptop which has a VGA socket
Buying a Type-C USB to VGA adaptor for my laptop
Since my installation involved digital projections, I also looked out for sockets. It’s rather startling to know that there’s only 2 sockets in this entire area.
Consequently, I drew up a sketch of the setup. It might seem like all I really need are 2 laptops and 2 projectors, but the drawing really helped me to realise that I would need a lot more accessories to address more technical and spatial problems:
The dry run also assisted in realising that
The VGA cables were too short to allow me to use the laptop webcam (placed in front of the bench) while connecting it to the projector (up on the staircase). I resolved it by 1. asking the school equipment store if they had longer ones (they didn’t), 2. purchasing a VGA to VGA connector, such that I could join 2 cables together.
I needed something to prop up the projector such that it would shine downwards rather than straight forward onto the ceiling. I resolved it by wedging random things like my wallet underneath.
I needed something to elevate the laptop webcam more, since it was too low initially. I resolved it by borrowing a chair and stacking random things underneath.
And with all the problems solved, I was ready for the day itself! Or so it seems….
I first encountered the concept of stream of consciousness in my study of modern literature, and for some reason it was the first thing I thought of when it came to creating a video based on sound. It’s easy to express that flow through words, and my dreams move by means of flowing images, often only so sparsely interlinked to form a bizarre narrative. What about sound? What if your thoughts were defined by sound, such that each sound flows into each other to create a stream powered by such?
With that in mind, I did a quick survey among fellow choir mates to figure out if that was actually a thing.
“I usually think in dialogue”
“i’ll hear myself think apple then i’ll see the image of an apple”
“when I am thinking I use sound, when I am memorising I use image”
“read up on the Whorfian hypothesis”
“when I think its always visual, sound comes when it’s like applicable”
What I got out of it, really, is that it’s not implausible. Plenty of people think through sound, though for some it’s only an accessory. (Also, I DID read up on the hypothesis, and it was somewhat helpful in my understanding!)
Consequently, for my sounds I tried to create a coherent soundscape which would have the sounds flowing into each other naturally, even if it seems to be incomprehensible when seen altogether. Here’s a table of the sounds, and the logic behind the association.
Based off setting directly
Thematic similarity (transport)
Thematic similarity (transport)
Similar/chronological sound (glass shatter of crash, falling glass)
Timbre (tinkling of glass and tinkling of chimes)
Sound connotations (ephemeral sounds)
Sound type (musical quality)
Tempo (bass of the song, beating of the heart)
Similar/chronological sound (beat of heart, ball hitting ground)
Thematic similarity (ominous cawing with thunder and vampires)
Pitch (same pitch, D4)
Sound connotations (airy fairy sensation)
Sound connotations (melancholy)
Sound connotations (melancholy)
NA. Sequence breaker
NA. Real life sequential sound
The sounds were a mixture of mostly recorded sounds with some downloaded ones: where possible/necessary, I provided sound myself, e.g. Bus, Choral, Song, Organ, Bowling, etc. There was fairly little sound editing, other than fades and crops, and just specific timing as to when to have the sound come in.
For the video itself I used 2 styles, that of live action and animation, to highlight the disjunct between the real and unconscious world. In the unconscious world I had intended to use various styles to highlight the bizarre and incomprehensible nature of the stream of thoughts, which was minimised after Lei suggested that it might be too much. Overall, though, I focused on the transitions, making each scene short and simple but with elaborate transitions into the other scenes (mostly because it was difficult to link such unrelated scenes together) (I referenced this, by the way).
As the guiding force was the sound, I went with images which would likely instantly be associated upon hearing the sound rather than anything particularly abstract (e.g. cawing = crows). The main style was black (actually dark brown) and white solid shapes, such that I could easily transition by flipping the positive and negative spaces. I DID deviate, though, especially for scenes which required some level of detail, which couldn’t be expressed properly through solid lines due to an unstable form, or required colour for easier comprehension.
My process was as follows.
Draw key frames in Paint Tool SAI (it’s lightweight, so it’s good for animation in that I don’t need to focus too much on great key frames anyway)
Create short frame animations for each event/asset (e.g. pins turning into crows, moving lips, crows flying) in Photoshop
Import and layer together in Adobe After Effects (mainly to determine things like framing, position changes, scale changes, etc)
To prevent it from becoming too clogged (since I have many elements), I did each scene in a different composition, before importing those compositions into the final composition. I did a lot of RAM previews to ensure the timing was right, too.
Sample of key frames, where I only had 5 for the vampire. Note the lack of eyes, which is because I had already established this would be a looping sequence, while the movement of the eyes is separate from that of the movement of the vampire and hence requires a separate frame animation (I would later overlay the two.)
Sample of short frame animations which were layered together to form the scene. In distinguishing elements, I was able to create a rough estimation of the likely timing, then use Time Remapping/Time Stretch to make minor adjustments, instead of prepping elements from scratch in After Effects.
The layout was meant to resemble an umbrella, where I paired off “similar” images to be on opposing sides (since umbrellas are mostly symmetrical). Also, each photo has a differently-coloured umbrella to make rainbow colours ?
1st set: Internal and external of umbrella
I did close-ups to focus solely on the qualities.
Indigo: Colour of mystery. Shows the internal structure of the umbrella, complex and incomprehensible.
Yellow: Colour of clarity. Shows the external of the umbrella canopy, how it is water-resistant and simultaneously translucent.
2nd set: Umbrellas as alternative items
I did mid-range shots because the context was somewhat important.
Green: Colour of health. Orientation is upright but flipped canopy, context is kitchen, with utensils and cutlery on top (it becomes a table!)
Orange: Colour of adventure. Orientation is upside down, context is water body, with a soft toy (just imagine it’s a person) on board (it becomes a boat!)
3rd set: Portrait orientation
There was nothing much linking them to each other but orientation, but I like to think it’s a contrast thing, like time (night vs day) and people (presence vs absence).
Red: Colour of passion. Meant to show umbrella thematic association: intimacy (in sharing the umbrella), concealment (in hiding the face), protection (in both begin sheltered)
Blue: Colour of sadness. Meant to show the physical quality of portability, where it is located in its typical location, outside the door (where you would casually take it while on your way out)
Poster: Umbrella Uselessness
Purple: Colour of “finality” (the last colour of the rainbow), identifying this as the last photo to look at, in a way
Overarching idea: Undermining the umbrella’s usage by showing a situation in which it’s entirely useless, a situation so bizarre it makes people pretend they don’t see me and makes me feel stupid
It’s not raining
The umbrella is wet on the inside
WhatsApp message formatting to show informality and ridiculousness, and how this is typically the kind of thing you’d send to your close people (pictures of stupid things that make them roll their eyes)
As usual, some process shots and stories can be found here.
From the moment everyone started putting up photos, I started calculating to see if I could actually not fail. What a piece of work is a man!
Here’s the final arrangement.
I don’t really know where I got this idea, it came out of nowhere, mostly. I suppose it was mostly based on the theory of positive and negative spaces, and how I’ve used a similar technique when doodling: draw a full fledged form, then use a penknife to cut out parts of the paper, leaving a still intact form, though missing certain parts.
Key Concepts & Ideas
If all of this is too long, I think this quote from Atonement by Ian McEwan is a pretty good summary as to explaining the feeling of infiniteness and nothingness which led me to this form. If not, then proceed ahead.
Humans are multifaceted creatures ruled by change, where there is no derivable self from our flawed perspectives. Where the identity reshapes itself eternally and is too extensive, there is no way to express it tangibly. How can anyone comprehend me from only what they can discern? How can I know the unfathomable depths of my inconceivable lump of flesh? How can 3 photos capture the entirety of an intangible soul?
All that is visible is only what is perceived, but there are many things which cannot be seen. While it is easy to extrapolate and imagine you know what is in those fragments you can’t see based on what you CAN see, there is no certainty; there is only assumption. Consequently, in the lack of an ability to consolidate and present everything, I purposefully took a single photo, and presented pieces in a way that would make people assume it’s “me”, where that can still not be an absolute certainty, though it is likely.
Consequently, the final display has the photos at appropriate distances from each other to provide the idea of puzzle pieces in the right places.
To add onto that, I fall back onto presenting “nothing”:
It’s very simply a view of me outside my room, where I attempted to, minimally, ensure each photo provided sufficient context. Photo A shows that it is night, and that my hair is wet; B, the laundry pegs and distinctively hall railing; C, bare feet standing comfortably. (Also, not incredibly clear, but a towel is draped over my shoulders.) As I mentioned in the tutorial, it’s meant to give insight into a regular occurrence in my daily life, that of me tending to shower at night before hanging my hand-washed clothes outside, where I am often too lazy to wear footwear (it’s really a very, very short distance and I refuse to expend energy on something so unnecessary). There’s a lot I could say, like how I’ve developed all these little habits of air drying my hair versus blow drying, or draping a towel, or showering only at night, or not wearing shoes… But no matter how you analyse it, it’s literally just me doing something ordinary. It could be special that I drape my towel around my shoulders and let my hair air dry as I leave my hand-washed clothes to dry at night in hall, or it could be meaningless.
It’s a reflection of the fact that I am a mere ordinary creature, one of many humans who believe they are “unique”, when we are fundamentally more similar than we think. I’m horrified by the state of the world! I’m depressed by the transience of life! I’m pained by the cruelty of humanity! We make infinity out of nothingness. That people express those feelings is sometimes a form of egoism, that “I am more human than another” simply because you assume you hold more depth of character.
This was a much more ordinary idea which didn’t involve me utterly neglecting everything we learned in class about framing and shot. The idea for the object mostly stemmed from right after the project brief was introduced, and I instantly remembered a photo which was once taken of me, back in junior college (the photographer was my classmate):
I feel like what struck me about the photo was the seeming tenderness of the hands, and the “purity” of the image. I have a thing against showing my face, especially where I dislike looking at my face, facial expression is far too unsubtle, and I seem to have difficulty making my emotions and facial muscles synchronise.
That’s also where I got the idea for paper.
Key Concepts and Ideas
Varying levels of attention (linked to shot scale)
Paper is rather omnipresent, from the flyers we ignore to the paper we use in Foundation Drawing. I tried to present a sort of spectrum of attention versus inattention, where the physical distance between the paper and I indicated varying levels of focus.
Photo P shows me far away, neglecting the paper in favour of a destination; Photo Q, me interacting with the paper, but not as an object in its own right as opposed to a medium for drawing and writing (also reflected in lack of direct touch as opposed to through a proxy, the pen); Photo R, me interacting with the paper directly (that’s the face I make when I’m casually focused on something). Another factor to present that is the “gaze”, where my eyes go from not even seeing, to looking at the marks of the paper, to the paper itself.
In the final display, I varied the photo orientation to reflect that spectrum, where landscape = distant, portrait = intimate. (Also why there’s that one photo which is 45 degree slanted, it was a canted angle on purpose to make it appear straight when physically placed that way.)
Versatility of paper
Again, I had difficulty choosing an object simply because there are many things in my life that could both qualify and not. So when I thought of paper, I immediately decided to settle on that, as it’s something prevalent in all our lives (have you seen the number of trees art students kill?), which takes many forms which I interact with on a regular basis.
As a result, there’s a proud display of paper in its various “edited” forms, from cut paper to marked and folded paper. (In all honesty, I didn’t particularly exploit camera angle at all, as opposed to merely aiming to effectively catch everything in the photograph, especially in the flat nature of the paper in Photo 1 and 2.)
The bed was a natural choice, in that I spend most of my time on it. I’m a very mundane person: my daily routine is genuinely mostly bed.
At first, I was very divided as to if I should use my bed, or the area below my HDB. The decision, however, was made for me when I woke up early to do my work, and decided I was too lazy to take the lift downstairs. Or even get out of my bed. As with Task 1, I attempted to “set up” the area and take photos with framing and shot in mind, but it felt unnatural, detached, curated. So I got back into bed and started taking photos with
Mostly to give that idea of lying down and just rolling around, without concern for proper shooting. At least it’d feel more intimate, in my opinion. (On a photography level, the shot scale is mostly irrelevant, but most things are extremely close by default.)
This was mostly unintentional in that things were far too close up for the camera to actually focus on it. Still, I like to think it worked out in my favour, in that it gives a feeling of just waking up, and everything being out of focus (especially where I wear glasses, but not to sleep).
My initial plan was to capture important aspects of my bed, without any repeated ideas. This also contributed to a few other photos, which eventually didn’t make it into the final product due to the presence of:
Time progression (narrative)
Again, this was not intentional, but happened to happen because I take photos slowly. Each photo has a timing on it (24 hour clock), which indicates a general timeline.
Going to sleep after doing work on the bed
Blearily waking up to the sight of my hand clutching my pillow
Looking up to see my phone alarm going off at the headboard
Looking past the phone to see the light on the ceiling
Looking at the foot of my bed to see the light streaming in from the window
In the final display I also varied the distance between each photo to indicate the amount of time between each photo (also why the 0100 photo was ridiculously far away from every other photo).
Everything above has mostly explained it, but to summarise, the Key Concept & Idea was the intimate and cosy connection between it and me, by providing a glimpse into a daily morning routine.
FINAL REMARKS & REFLECTIONS
All photos were left unedited simply because I opened the first photo in Photoshop, tried to put filters, and realised that I couldn’t find any good reason to edit the photograph whatsoever, in that nothing I did actually felt like it helped with what I was trying to convey, while the unedited versions actually brought across the sense of intimacy and normalcy I found important.
In the end, though, I feel like I’ve definitely tackled (or avoided?) the task in a really weird way, “curating myself” by “not curating myself”. For the next task(s), I’m vaguely curious to know if, when more divorced from the self, I’ll produce something which blends in seamlessly with everyone else’s.