Mnemosyne Research and Analysis on Scents

Mnemosyne was one of the Titans, daughter of Uranus and Gaea, and goddess of memory.

In ancient Greek Myth, Mnemosyne, the Mother of the Muses, is said to know everything, past, present and future. She is the Memory that is the basis of all life and creativity.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, the kings and poets were inspired by Mnemosyne and the Muses, thus getting their extraordinary abilities in speech and using powerful words.

The name Mnemosyne was also used for a river in the Underworld, Hades, which flowed parallel to the river of Lethe (which means forgetfulness). Usually, the souls of the dead would drink water from Lethe, so that they would forget their past lives when they would be reincarnated.

Research from here and here

Mnemonic Devices

The Method of Loci

The Method of Loci is a mnemonic device that dates back to Ancient Greek times, making it one of the oldest ways of memorizing we know of. Using the Method of Loci is easy. First, imagine a place with which you are familiar. For instance, if you use your house, the rooms in your house become the objects of information you need to memorize. Another example is to use the route to your work or school, with landmarks along the way becoming the information you need to memorize.

You go through a list of words or concepts needing memorization, and associate each word with one of your locations. You should go in order so that you will be able to retrieve all of the information in the future.


An acronym is a word formed from the first letters or groups of letters in a name or phrase. An acrostic is a series of lines from which particular letters (such as the first letters of all lines) from a word or phrase. These can be used as mnemonic devices by taking the first letters of words or names that need to be remembered and developing an acronym or acrostic.


A rhyme is a saying that has similar terminal sounds at the end of each line. Rhymes are easier to remember because they can be stored by acoustic encoding in our brains.

Rhymes are always read when we were kids so that we can remember basic terms, such as numbers, colours and music notes. One prime example would be the “Do-Re-Mi” nursery rhyme in The Sound of Music (0:50).

Chunking and Organization

Chunking is simply a way of breaking down larger pieces of information into smaller, organized “chunks” of more easily-managed information. For instance, telephone numbers in the United States are 10 digits broken into 3 chunks, allowing almost everyone to remember an entire phone number with ease. Singapore also does the same, where 8 numbers are broken into 2 chunks of 4.

Organizing information into either objective or subjective categories also helps. Objective organization is placing information into well-recognized, logical categories. Trees and grass are plants; a cricket is an insect.

Subjective organization is categorizing seemingly unrelated items in a way that helps you recall the items later. For example, relating how to drive a bike while you are going to learn about driving a car.

This can also be useful because it breaks down the amount of information to learn. If you can divide a list of items into a fewer number of categories, then all you have to remember is the categories (fewer items), which will serve as memory cues in the future.


Visual imagery is a great way to help memorize items for some people. For instance, it’s often used to memorize pairs of words (green grass, yellow sun, blue water, etc.). The Method of Loci, mentioned above, is a form of using imagery for memorization. By recalling specific imagery, it can help us recall information we associated with that imagery.

Research from here

Pleasant Scent – baby powder

I chose baby powder as my pleasant scent because it reminded me of my childhood days and how my parents embrace would have this powdery scent after they help me apply it on my body. The scent evokes comfort and calmness within me while i think of the tenderness of my parents when i was younger an it never fails to make me smile in nostalgia.

The image that i gathered from this scent would be something very big, soft and fluffy, maybe even squishy. Just something that is very comfortable to the touch and engulfs me.

Unpleasant Scent – Medical Inhaler

I chose a medical inhaler as my unpleasant scent because it evokes very scary memories of the times when i would get an attack and be unable to breathe. The physical and mental image of it would send shivers up my spine and make me not want to experience that feeling again. Although the inhaler is the instrument that brought me relief, I would only use it during those dire times. Looking at it now, I am always reminded of the medical rooms and the times when i had to desperately receive treatment from it to clear my airway.

The image gathered from this unpleasant scent is something that is very tightly constrained together, like when a snake suffocates its prey before eating them.


Recycled Plastic Art

Aurora Robson
The Great Indoors
18 September – 26 October 2008

Recycled plastic art, as the name suggests, refer to the making of artworks using discarded plastic. The act of recycling plastic has been ongoing in different industries, homes and communities, to turn discarded plastic into objects as plastic is not biodegradable. However, recycled plastic art takes an artistic turn to the action of recycling plastic. In recent years there has been a growing number of artists using plastic waste to not only create art, but more significantly, to create awareness of the importance of plastic recycling. Recycled plastic art comes in many forms, such as paintings and sculptures.

One example of an artist that uses recycled plastics in his paintings is South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi. He is known for transforming everyday, unassuming plastic waste into sought-after works of art. First he heats pieces of plastic with a heat gun, then applies the melted form onto a black plastic background that doubles as a canvas. By layering and positioning bits of recycled plastic, Buthelezi is able to create incredible portraits and mosaics that remarkably resemble oil paintings.

Sculptures made from recycled plastic can bring both aesthetic beauty and social awareness about how our usage of plastics have degraded the environment.

In UK, a mammoth installation in Bristol features life-sized whales, made from willow, swimming in a ‘sea’. This sea is made up of 70,000 recycled plastic bottles, used earlier in the year during the Bristol 10k run and Bath half marathon.

The sea of recycled plastic PET bottles symbolises the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on the ocean, including killing marine life, poisoning the food chain, and smothering the sea bed. The aim of the installation is to encourage the public to reduce consumption of single use plastics and to recycle, where possible.

Research from here

In-Class Exercise: Soundwalking



For this soundwalk, Jia Rong and I decided to take the sounds of how we interact with the different facilities of ADM.

My favorite clip from the soundwalk would be the one where I recorded Jia Rong eating a packet of almonds (Sound 8). There is a contrast between the sharp crunch of her biting an almond in half and the constant soft sound of her chewing a few almonds. In addition, the rustling of the packet and the opening of the ziplock on the packet is extremely loud as compared to the silent background, thus providing a form of emphasis.

This experience has provided me a more detailed perspective of how we perceive hearing and listening. What we usually hear as daily white noise of us interacting with the facilities of ADM has become sounds that we chose to listen to when we started to record and pay more attention to the little details of each sound. It was fun and enriching at the same time 🙂

Project 2: The Subverted Object – Lipstick

Component 1: Literal Meaning of object

For this component, I wanted to emphasize on the original context and function of lipstick.

The first picture shows the usual cosmetics that lipstick is associated with, such as eyeshadow. Through the placement of many other types of lipstick, i want to show variety in the colours of lipstick which is available and how everyone uses different types of lipstick depending on the event they go to.

The second picture shows a third person perspective of me putting on lipstick, as the action of me applying lipstick is shown through a mirror instead of directly from my face. The context is shown to be a room and i have other cosmetics placed at the side of the mirror, which shows that that table is a place that i usually put on my makeup before i leave the house.

The third picture shows a first person perspective of the application of lipstick. It is taken at eye-level to show the point of view which i see when i am staring at the mirror while i put on my makeup and lipstick and the redness of the lipstick, in contrast to my skin, brings attention and focus to my lips.


Component 2: Subversion of object

In this component, I have subverted the function and appearance of lipstick to portray the ugly side of beauty.

In the first picture, I subverted the lipstick into paint by cutting off the lipstick pigment and using a palette knife to smear it on a piece of paper. The action of cutting, mixing and smearing of lipstick emphasizes on the thickness of the lipstick, suggesting how much makeup is being put on women’s faces everyday. However, putting heavy makeup does not necessarily enhance the beauty of a person, despite what the stereotypes are suggesting. Thus, this picture can also bring about the crushing of stereotypes of beauty, to promote natural looks as the prime form of beauty.

In the second picture, I subverted the lipstick into a blade and used different shades of lipstick to show the freshness of the wounds on my wrist. The subversion can suggest how people who get criticized for their looks and beauty resort end up hurting themselves for the sake of looking beautiful (e.g through plastic surgery, intense dieting, etc.) and it is almost as hurtful as self-harm, shown through the cutting of the wrist, and if the cut goes too deep, the person will die. This image can be shown as part of a campaign to go against harmful methods of achieving “beauty” when there is no gain towards the injured party.

In the third picture, I subverted lipstick into nails to show the viciousness of trying too hard to achieve the “ideal beauty look”, that it leaves a mark ( scars, burn marks, stretch marks ), which is shown literally through the scratch marks made with the lipstick nails. This picture can be part of a campaign to show awareness of the danger of certain beauty products or methods.

Component 3: Addition of text

In this component, I have decided to use the third picture from my component 2 to create a poster about self defense. The primary audience is women and the message behind the poster is talking about how women should learn self defense, for moments when they get harassed. The anchorage in the words “Don’t be a victim. Fight back.” helps to support the image where the scratching can be seen as a way of protecting oneself in a harmful situation. The relay is the small text at the bottom showing worldwide statistics of women who have been harassed and thus telling women to take the initiative to learn how to protect themselves.

Improvements to the poster can be made through changing the context, such as making a mark on a man’s arm or showing injuries on the woman’s hand.

Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self

Myself, My Roots and My Heritage


Component 1 : Me


My component 1 talks about me as a person and my desire for self-discovery. From young, I have a huge child-like obsession over stuffed toys, especially animals and this became a part of my personality till this day. However, I still feel that there’s more to me than that, so the other 2 pictures depicts my emotions and desire about myself. As they say “eyes are the windows to the soul”, I am still confused or insecure at times whether certain behavior or speech is part of my personality, and the best way the emotion can be shown is through my eyes. But it still does not deny the fact that no matter my appearance, my personality remains constant, and this is what makes people unique in their own way, despite our doubts and insecurities. It shows a moment where I am trying to reveal and discover my full potential and personality.

Topmost picture was inspired by Cindy Sherman in which she adverts the gaze from the camera, and leaves the viewer curious about what she is staring at.


Component 2: Object and representation of self

I chose an apple as my significant object as my Chinese name is written with the Chinese character “ping” from “ping guo”, how we say apple in Chinese. The significance of my Chinese name allows me to dig into the roots of how and why my Chinese name was chosen, maybe from the term “apple of my eye” as I was the only child in my family, or maybe it could be because it was easy to write. The desire to know the meaning and significance of my Chinese name and roots leads to the dissection of it, as shown through the other 2 pictures.

These pictures have been inspired by Wolfgang Tillman’s candid shots of people doing everyday chores. He also utilizes  the flash to create extra emphasis in his subject matter, which i have applied to my photos as well.


Component 3 : My World

Ever since the death of my father 10 years ago, i have been praying at temples to reconnect with my father in heaven. The Thian Hock Keng Temple is a significant place to me, where I was able to go and pray for my studies or whenever I feel at unease. It connects to my religious roots as somewhere I can send my prayers to and feel at ease after. My mother also prays at that temple and it allows her a platform to convey her wishes and prayers. Incense is extremely important when praying, as lighting an incense stick represents respect and a sign of prayer to the god that you pray to in the temple. The smell of the smoke is said to calm the spirits and the soul as well, and every time I pray, I would light an incense stick, bow in front of the altar and then proceed to put the incense stick in the pot to let it continue burning. Many people come by the temple to pray to the different gods, and the pots are always filled with many incense sticks at the end of each day, with many prayers conveyed, including mine.