Creative Industry Report: Wang XX

The artist I have decided to share on is a freelance illustrator named Wang Fang Qiao or Wang XX, from Nanjing, China. I first chanced upon her work on the networking site, Tumblr, where she publishes her personal illustrative and comic series under the username, @anordinaryseal. As the username suggests, the series consists of a white seal as the main character, and together with his animal friends, they are depicted to be living their everyday lives as humans do, riding the subway or hanging out at cafes.

   

Left: Untitled, An Ordinary Seal(2018), Right: Untitled, An Ordinary Seal(2016)

What really captivated me about the artist and her illustrative series is its simplicity and relatability. With the easy-going and friendly art style, it is able to look endearing and approachable to whomever sees it at first glance. The content of the series also hits close to home, thus bringing in a sense of warmth and comfort to its audience.

Most importantly, I find it impeccable how the artist is able to make something out of her ordinary. The artist explains that besides drawing influences from the stuffed animals she owns, she also looks at current events happening in her day-to-day, as well as her real life friends for inspiration. This thus makes it impressive that she is able to find inspiration from the mundane, or simply from the things around her and turn them into something much larger.

This could be seen from the recent advancements the series has progressed into, where its popularity has allowed for merchandises such as plush toys and printed books. There has also been an exhibition which featured the beloved seal in all of its forms.

Left: Seal Plush Toys, An Ordinary Seal(2018), Right: Exhibition, An Ordinary Seal(2020)

As a series the artist simply drew as a form of self-expression and leisure, it must be gratifying to see it being enjoyed by so many others and I do hope to one day be able to emulate the same in my own works.

 

References

Featured Image: Untitled, An Ordinary Seal(2017)

Anordinaryseal, Tumblr. Retrieved Sep 16 2020, from: https://anordinaryseal.tumblr.com/

Fanqiao Wang. Cargo Collective. Retrieved Sep 16 2020, from: https://cargocollective.com/fanqiaowang

Wang, B. “The Many Seals of Wang Fanqiao.” Neocha Magazine.

Retrieved Sep 16 2020, from: http://neocha.com/magazine/the-many-seals-of-wang-fanqiao/

YesSealLife. Big Cartel. Retrieved Sep 16 2020, from https://yesseallife.bigcartel.com/

 

Tea For The Souls

 

Tea for the Souls talks about how tea, a drink made from elements of nature, is used in a supernatural setting, in this case, a Chinese folklore revolving reincarnation and the Goddess of Forgetfulness. The Goddess, Meng Po brews her tea from herbs collected from the earthly ponds and streams. She then serves the tea to souls in hell, where it wipes away memories of their lives. The souls then reincarnate back to earth without burden and the cycle continues.

 

 

Project 4 Final—pt 2

ARTIST STATEMENT

Concept

This last project is a continuation from the previous one where this time I just extended on what else I can do with the similar theme and look. However, a couple of my plans were hindered due to the current situation and this shoot became somewhat done in a rush..but nonetheless, here’s what I’ve managed to expand on!

Firstly, I finally got my dear friend, Khairul to model for me. Since the start of this module I’ve always envisioned him as my final model as I do a feminine concept, so to me this was quite an accomplishment. I also feel that he would be able to express and bring across the concept much stronger and in the way I want it to as he is a male in feminine clothes which does not quite fit into today’s societal norms.

Apart from that, I also wanted to try an outfit change as well as different set ups just so that there’s a variety. Thus, I planned for two outfits and two sets, still using the same materials from the previous shoot. This time I also really planned for each shot after having studied the references shared from the previous project, so I would make a list of poses I want the model to do for eg, ‘lying down on grey rug with flowers surrounding’, so that I know what to direct the model to get the image I want in my head.

Similarly for this shoot, I get to do Khairul’s makeup and he is wearing my clothes and rocking them as shown. I also played with different props such as a table and a vase or a wine glass though they didn’t make it to the final chosen images.

THE SET

The shoot was done in the ADM drawing room with a similar set up from the previous project.

TECHNICALITIES

I used a Canon E0S 5D with the following settings where I’ve set my ISO to Auto.

THE IMAGES (In Sequence)

(Click on images for larger view)

Before editing

 

Final Images

 

WORKFLOW

My workflow has been rather strange due to my weird screen situation that turns everything even redder so I had to constantly send images to my phone time to time to check…but I hope the colors turn out fine and here is the editing process.

I’ll firstly explain what I did using this image.

This was the original image as shot:

I always first start with adjusting the Highlights and Shadows using channel masks-red. Then once I get the tones that I want, I will use color balance to start toning down the pinks and increasing the yellows.

Then, I will go in with selective color-red and yellow to further adjust the colors to a nicer balance. Afterwards I use curves, where I adjusted the blue channel and green channel, again to achieve the colors I want. Then finally I will use hue and saturation to just tone down the whole saturation a bit.

After or while adjusting the colours, I will use a mixture of Brightness/Contrast, Levels and Curves to lighten up the image and increase the contrast of the entire image.

Towards the end, I don’t know if this is a right method but I wanted to try doing it and I liked what it did, but I used the color correction method where you fill in a new layer and invert it but I toned down the opacity and fill so that it doesn’t come off too strong. Basically it helped to bring in some greens into the entire image and tone down the reds and I like to use it as a finishing touch.

Finally, after I am satisfied with the adjustments, I added sparkles and flares to the image so that the effect is there and I finish off with motion blur and noise.

Before and After

 

Then, for the other two images that uses the same background and lighting, I grouped the layer edits from this image and duplicated them into the other images and just adjusted the edits from there. The only main differences that I did was for the following image, where it features more on the face and thus I used healing brush, clone stamp and Dodge and burn to clean up and brighten parts of the face.

Before and after touching up

For the remaining series of the images, because it was a different background/lighting and outfit, the ‘grouping edits and dropping into another image’ from the previous set of images didn’t work that well, so I just started editing from scratch for this image.

The flow of the edits are somewhat similar though, just with different values since these set of images were a bit darker. Then once I am done with this image then did I do the grouping edits thing for the other photos that had featured the same background.

Before and After

And that’s about it for the editing process.

 

Layout

For the layout of the images, I presented them into a magazine format since the theme was very much inspired by fashion and editorial spreads, so here are jpegs from the magazine (Click onto images for better view), and the pdf version is in the link below.

Link to files: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Pd95r8n4MrKbmPM_Zt4qILtobdKYkQtI?usp=sharing

Project 3 – Part 1

ARTIST STATEMENT

Concept

This project is a mixture of everything I wanted to try in a shoot. First of all, my shoots thus far has always been outdoors and relying on the environment and natural lighting. Thus, I wanted to try shooting indoors for once, and I really wanted to try staging where I can make my own set, get my own props and do some art direction.

I also wanted to do makeup and fashion as those are things that I have a passion for and I want to incorporate them into the shoot.

Lastly, I am very drawn to vintage concepts, and this time I was inspired from the 70s/80s sort of retro-disco aesthetic, where things look soft and sparkly.

With these in mind, I had an idea of a feminine,dreamy concept and I went to look up on artists I could reference from.

ARTIST REFERENCES

For this shoot, I looked up Miles Alridge ‘Pictures for Photographs’ from the ADM Library as he does a lot of fashion shoots and they’re mostly sets with a lot of props.

Another artist I drew inspiration from Lenne Chai, a photographer from Singapore, especially her ‘A Singaporean 377A Wedding’ Series, where it featured an imaginary lesbian couple getting married in the 80s and I really liked the whole look and the colour of the series.

Lastly, I also researched on Petra Collins, where she also does work that deals with femininity and I looked at the colours that she uses in her pictures for inspiration.

THE SET

So this is where I tried to make my own set! I believe in making budget things work and so I tried to just use things I could find or purchase easily. Thus, I used this corner in the ADM drawing room as part of my set. Then, I bought a sparkly velvety cloth to use as a backdrop, some fake flowers and also a pink cellophane paper I could drape over my light source to create pink lighting.

I also got props such as a handbag, a golden bracelet from home(I also brought a paper fan, small mirror and a magazine but those didn’t make it into the final 3 images), as well as a furry grey rug from the ADM lounge.

For lights, I just used 2 lamps from the drawing room, where one of them was a whitish yellow and the other was pink from the cellophane paper. Lastly, I draped a holographic cloth over the camera lens(and me) to get that soft, dreamy effect, as well as some sparkly bokeh effect if the cloth managed to turn to a certain angle.

Other than that, I also coordinated the model’s outfit and did her makeup for the shoot so that is one goal achieved.

TECHNICALITIES

I used a Canon E0S 5D with the following settings where I’ve set my ISO to Auto. I’ve tried shooting a series of photos where my ISO was much lower but I still preferred the photos shot with these settings after editing.

THE IMAGES

WORKFLOW

I will mostly explain what I did using this image.

This was the original image as shot:

Then, I first adjusted the Highlights and Shadows using channel masks

After I’m satisfied with the tone that I want, I used Color balance to mostly tone the pink down a bit and add in some yellows.

Afterwards, I also adjusted the colours using Selective Color, Curves, where I adjusted the blue channel, as well as using Hue and Saturation. I went back and forth with these adjustments until I got the colour that I was happy with.

At one point, it became such that the pink batch at the background was standing out too much and I toned it down using selective color where I lessened the Magenta.

Pink Patch

After Adjustments

Lastly, as finishing touches, I really wanted to try adding sparkles as an effect to the image and so I tried!

I basically just drew a vectored cross and then blurred it and tweaked the opacity and fill so that it softens out. Then I duplicated a bunch of them and stacked them one over another to get the effect I want.

After sparkles

And this is the final before/after

 

Image 2

Original as shot:

I did about the same process with the second image where I basically toned down the pink and added more yellows.

Afterwards, as this image featured more of the face, I used healing brush to clean certain areas of the face and then Dodge & burn to brighten the highlights.

After touching up

Image 3

Original as shot:

Again, the same process with colour and adjustments-

Then I also cleaned up part of the background using healing brush,

And then lastly I added in a bit of that sparkle again for the effect.

After sparkles

And that concludes the editing process.

Link to tiff files: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1O3HA3-JxSawOXc1qXJfGUecEaVKCh4Rq?usp=sharing

P.S I edited the photos using the school’s computer so hopefully the colours are okay.

Project 2: Landscape

 

ARTIST STATEMENT

The subject and significance

In this assignment, as the brief mentioned showing my personal aesthetic, I thought about what I liked and what would define my style. I realised I am into places or objects that are close to heart or feel like home. I like nostalgia and the old-school, things that hold memories and places with stories to tell. With that in mind, I thought of the first neighbourhood I stayed in—Boon Lay Place, which held a lot of childhood memories for me and I wanted to do a little homage.

One special feature that I remember about this neighbourhood was that there was an old-school clock playground and I had thought that it would have been demolished by now. However, when I got to the location, I was thrilled to find the playground still standing. While I started to shoot, a family came to play and I thought it was an interesting dynamic as it showed off the different generations within the family. Along with the old-school playground as the background, I picked this as my final photo as something that showed off my personal style.

 

Technicalities

I used a Canon E0S 5D with the following settings.

 

The Image

Before–as shot (Click on images for larger view)

Final Image

 

Workflow

I first adjusted the alignment of the photo with lens correction and a little cropping. Then, I adjusted the highlights and shadows using channel masks. Next, I moved on to colours. I knew that I roughly wanted to recreate an overall vintage film look so that meant adding warmth to the picture and having a bit of fade. I worked on the colours by using curves, where I adjusted the blue channel. Adding on to that, I also used colour balance and selective colour and saturation to get the amount of warmth I wanted.

Progression of colours

After that, I further adjusted the overall lighting of the photo using curves and brightness. Then, I decreased the contrast to give it that faded look. Lastly, I added noise for a grainy effect to add on to the vintage aesthetic.

 

Link to PSD file: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11vsO7mMbdT-rd3n3TX6CkDyjIRROCLWT?usp=sharing

Project 1: Portrait

ARTIST STATEMENT:

Location:

For this project, I first started by thinking about the location I wanted to shoot at and I chose to shoot at a small skating ground at my neighbourhood. I live in a normal HDB neighbourhood and I’ve always thought it was cool of my neighbourhood to have such a space when I first moved here. Thus, I’ve always had this thought in mind to take a picture at this skating ground but I somehow just never gotten the chance to. Therefore, when I saw the brief of this project, I thought it would a good opportunity to finally shoot something there.

With this location in my mind, I started revolving my concept around street photography, the outdoors, something more of hip style, etc.

Subject:

I got my close friend, Jannah to model for this project. She was an interesting subject to me because she wears a hijab and I think the image of that is slightly contrasting to that of a street concept one would have in mind. Yet, Jannah is a brilliant individual who embraces her religion and expresses her style in her own way. As seen in the shot, she rocks a scarf and a bandana as part of her outfit. Also, knowing her personally, this is a side of her that has never really been captured, as she always takes feminine and posh photos despite her having more of a masculine and strong personality. Thus, I wanted to take this chance to let her try something different and capture that side of her for once.

The Image:

While directing the shot, I basically just wanted her to look natural and in her element, as if the skating park was her home. I captured her in various poses and at different parts of the skating ground, and in the end I chose this photo of her lying down as it had the most dynamics amongst the other photos. Even within this position, I experimented with different poses, e.g. with the glasses above her eyes, looking at the camera or without etc. Eventually, I found that looking at the camera gave more of an impact and stuck with that.

Technicalities

I used a Canon E0S 5D with the following settings. During the shoot I mostly adjusted the ISO for lighting.

For editing, I worked on her skin texture as well as the sparkles on her scarf using Separation Frequency and the Healing tool. Then I cleaned up the brow and slightly adjusted the skin tone on her face as well as the hand using the dodge and burn technique. Then I used Clone stamp to clean up areas within the background.

Final Image:

Before

After

Link to psd file: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NTrsLlyVFPBshM6rERGohkJiURTIWEnA?usp=sharing

Hyperessay / Lit Tree

Interactivity has been the basis of numerous new media works. This form of art invites the audience to join in and become part of the work, creating experiences that are unique and unpredictable. With the introduction of technology into art practices, Cybernetics became the term that came into view. Cybernetics introduced the use of feedback and behavior, principles that are often seen in interactive art pieces. In Kimchi and Chips’s Lit Tree, we will explore how this installation works as an art piece that displays interactivity.

 

Kimchi and Chips is a Seoul-based duo made up of  Elliot Woods from the United Kingdom and Mimi Son from South Korea. Together, they have created many installations around the world that play with the concepts of spaces and illusions. One of their works,  Lit Tree, was made in 2011 and exhibited in Seoul. The artists were interested in exploring relationships between people, technology and nature. This gave birth to an one-of-a-kind artwork where a bamboo tree was used as the canvas.

 

 

The whole experience of the installation starts off with a single potted bamboo tree and a wooden plinth placed in front of it. As the spectator approaches the tree, he is to place his hand onto the plinth, where his hand will be scanned via a system and have its 3D shape mapped onto the tree. Thereafter, when the spectator gestures towards the tree, patterns of light will be projected onto the plant accordingly, creating a sense of movement amongst the tree’s leaves without actually touching the art work.

 

Video of the installation (skip to 01.11 for point of interaction)

 

 

This is made possible with the use of two video projectors where the tree’s leaves serve as 3D voxels for light projection. The scanning and mapping system was made with two webcams and the artists’ self-coded scanning software. The artists chose a tree to work with as they wanted to move away from the usual facade of large LED displays plastered all over the streets. Such facades are flat, static and non-purposeful without its media projections. A tree however, is part of nature. It exists simply by itself in its environment. What Kimchi and Chips did is simply making use of nature and incorporating it into their art, saving space and materials.

 

This reminds us of Magnet TV by Nam June Paik, where the artist chooses a different type of medium to express their ideas. Then, Nam June Paik was irked by the mass consumerism surrounding the television and in turn used the device as an art form to critique its culture. In Lit Tree, the artists were sick of the numerous LED screens that were populating Seoul and thus chose to work on a different platform. This shows a break away from the conventional idea of the canvas, which brings us to Roy Ascott’s article on ‘Behavioural Art and Cybernetic Vision’. Lit Tree certainly displays a departure from the deterministic view of Classical art- it is meant for the public, it encourages participation, it is not static and most importantly, the content of the artwork consists of feedback and behavioural tendencies.

 

With the scan and map system implemented in Lit Tree, the tree is somewhat responsive to the spectator’s gestures, giving a reaction immediately through the light patterns projected on it, making it behavioural. This essentially creates a two-way dialogue between the viewer and artwork, where the viewer gets to communicate to the tree via the use of technology.

 

The viewer now also has part control over how the artwork is to look like, since the light patterns projected on the tree is dependant on the gestures he makes. He is now involved in decision making and has a say regarding the art piece. With the reaction he receives, he can choose to make another move or to stop there, creating an open ended art piece where one could never determine the outcome. This unpredictability creates entropy, where there is a disorganization in exchange. This is mentioned by Nobert Weiner in ‘Cybernetics in History’

 

… it is possible to interpret the information carried by a message as essentially the negative of its entropy, and the negative logarithm of its probability. That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Cliches, for example, are less illuminating than great poems.

 

This also makes up the feedback loop, where the input are the gestures the viewer makes, the output are the light patterns projected onto the tree and the feedback tells the viewer to make his next move. With more feedback, there is lesser entropy.

Another interesting fact that adds to the open-endedness of this art piece is that the bamboo tree changes its form naturally as the exhibition progresses. As trees are naturally reactive to light, the light projection onto the tree leaves actually causes the shape of the tree to shift overtime. As said by Elliot Woods of Kimchi and Chips,

“Trees react to light. You can see at the end of the exhibition, the tree looks different from when they first came in.”

 

With these relations made, we can see that Lit Tree is a highly contemporary art piece that exhibits qualities of interactivity. It pushes artists to rethink their canvas, opening up the possibilities of projection mapping onto other 3D surfaces.

 

Bibliography:

Design Indaba (2018) Interactive tree (Online) Available at http://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/interactive-tree (Accessed:17 Nov 2018)

Kimchi and Chips (2018) Lit Tree (Online) Available at https://www.kimchiandchips.com/works/littree/ (Accessed: 17 Nov 2018)

The Korea Herald (2016) Korean-British artist duo creates physical expressions of light and space (Online) Available at:http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20160628000719 (Accessed:17 Nov 2018)

Vice (2011) Nature and Tech Talk: A Q&A with Kimchi and Chips (Online) Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d7xewy/nature-and-tech-talk-a-qa-with-kimchi-and-chips (Accessed: 17 Nov 2018)

 

Keywork Selection/ Lit Tree

Following the artist selection, the work that I will be further elaborating on in my hyper essay is Kimchi and Chip’s Lit Tree. An installation made in 2011 , Lit Tree is a light projection piece that makes use of a tree as its canvas. It explores on the concept of Interactivity where there is a perceptual conversation between the spectator, technology and the tree.

Kimchi and Chips-Lit Tree, 2011. Retrieved from: http://thesuperslice.com/2011/10/20/lit-tree-kimchi-and-chips/

Upon approaching the installation, the spectator gets to have his hand scanned and mapped onto the tree. Then, as the spectator makes gestures towards the tree, the patterns of light is projected on the tree according to the gestures made, helping to create an interaction between humans and nature.

This piece is interesting as it incorporates nature, instead of a projection on a normal screen as we are used to,  they have chosen to work with an actual plant, expanding the possibilities of interactive art.