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.

Wolfgang Tillmans Slides

The works of Wolfgang Tillmans evoke a very strong passion to challenge social norms and let its audience become more accepting to unpopular social opinions. Also, the fact that he flaunts his mistakes in his works and makes them a part of it is a vital lesson that i can apply to my art. Last but not least, happy birthday Wolfgang Tillmans! 🙂

Wolfgang Tillmans