School is ending in less than a year, and with that also brings an end to the comfort zone of predictability. At the same time, I am 25years old, a quarter of a century, I feel lost, directionless and fearful of the unknown that is the future. To tackle this issue, I decided that my existence would be where my questioning will start, constructing an inner dialogue, to embrace the anxiety of the future using the present, the now. My ‘material’ and ‘medium’ will be time, as it is both the source of my hope and fear.
Through the journey of this project, what I seek is not answers but rather questions that lingers on as a remainder to be present in the now.
School is ending in less than a year, and with that also brings an end to the comfort zone of predictability. The uncertainty of the future along with the expectation set upon by the years of conditioning by the Singapore culture of “kiasu-ism” and “kiasi-ism” scares and worries me greatly. At the same time, I am 25years old, a quarter of a century, thus naturally the thought of death is also part of what scares me for the future. However not just my death, but the death of my loved ones and not knowing how much time I have left with them.
With all these thoughts in my head, it had me questioning myself on my existence and my understanding of time in relation to the future.
Thus this project will be for me to explore my own existence with time as my guide to navigate the uncertainty of the future, searching for the right question, not the answer.
- Wong Lip Chin
- Ruben Pang
- Donna Ong
- Gilbert & George (UK)
Key take-away points
In Singapore, there isn’t a sense of individualism, as from young, we are taught to stay within the line and not to stand out or be different, unlike the culture in the west. But a contemporary artist is an individualist, thus being an artist in Singapore, there is tension.
We are all taught to fit into the system, get a white collared job, be a banker. High rise buildings everywhere. It’s from these situation that our art is affected.
To paraphrase Ruben Pang, the attitude of the artist, if we grew up with the pre-conceived notion that we are being watched (controlled environment /system), there is without a doubt, a degree of self censorship that we do on a subconscious level. We don’t know how deeply it is in our vines already but I guess we are plugged into the system.
Donna Ong ended by saying “Art comes from a certain lack and in a place like Singapore, in a place so controlled, art is as a uncontrollable factor, it is all the more pertinent”.
I guess the “I” is affected not only by one’s own consciousness but the surroundings and cultural upbringing plays a huge role in shaping one’s thinking.
Propose a project: What are the reason(s) or aims for doing project?
With graduation just around the corner, the unknown of life itself awaits, and it frightens me. As a Singaporean, life has always been structured from young. The next step in life is always planned out, pre-school, primary school, secondary school, polytechnic then national service and ending with university. So why does the unknown after university life frightens me? It hit me then, it was the freedom.
To embrace the freedom of life, one has to know about one self, otherwise the freedom given is damning and feels like a deep abyss full of fear and doubts. The fear of what job should I take, will I be happy, will it be a fulfilling future, will I live a life of regret, death, all this insecurity and fear boils down to the lack of understanding of one self.
Thus the project I’m proposing will be a journey of self exploration using the concept of Time and one’s Consciousness as a guide to find the right questions to ask.
An intense consciousness about Time, Space and Existence puts your own existence in a larger perspective, shows you how small you are, makes you realize the importance and beauty of being alive and makes you aware and accept the ‘finalness’ of death.
Design/ Methodology/Approach: How are the objectives achieved? Include the main method(s) used for the project. What is the approach to the topic and what is theoretical or subject scope of the project?
The objectives will be explored through the methods of Self Observation and Self Reporting. (TBC)
My main artist references
- On Kawara
- Roman Opalka
- Rene Rietmeyer
- Rebecca Solnit
The artists chosen above are due to the connection I felt with their works and their ideology of life itself. I’ll further explore and breakdown their concepts and through these form my own set of guidelines to follow in my work.
Findings: What was discovered while working on the project? Analysis discussion results?
I discovered that to question one’s understanding and take on what ‘time’ is to one self is a key opening to the journey. The concept of time differs from people to people, and this affects greatly their outlook of life and the way one react to living.
The conscious experience of something in the future is unthinkable as a subject. Thus, ” we humans perceive time only as a result of memory. If we had no conscious memory, we would not be aware of time at all; we would only see the Now. The result of having memory and the creation of our way of measuring time cause our perception of time to appear as a line.” Rene Rietmeyer
Tatsuo Miyajima’s (Japanese Artist) personal interpretation of time:
3.connect with everything
“Pure Duration” is the form taken by the succession of our inner state of consciousness when our self let itself live, when it abstains from establishing a separation between the present state and anterior state(before time/ earlier/ past).
“Clock time” does not reflect and can only distort what we perceived as the inner experience of time. This experience is resolutely accessible through thought and language, since it is composed of sensations, emotions and prehensions(an interaction of a subject with an event or entity which involves perception but not necessarily cognition.), of qualities in a constant and indivisible state of flux.
Henri Bergson, Philosopher
Originality /Value: What is new in your project? State the value of your project and to whom?
The concept of the self have been explored throughout time by philosophers such as Descartes, Hume, Locke and many others. Artists too have been exploring this concept and many others. I’m no different from these people, seeking a deeper meaning and understanding of one’s life. But everyone has their own interpretation of the self, some similar to others, but always with their own personal take on it. What’s new in my project is that there is only one Benjamin Sim Guang Min living this life now and my self exploration will be my own journey.
Through this self exploration, I hope the right questions I manage to ask myself will inspire other like-minded people like me who are lost in the uncertainty in life and fearful of the unknown that is to come, to look into their own inner self and seek a deeper understanding, setting off on to their own exploration.
Keywords: Keywords act as search terms and are like entry points to your project
Self, Time, Consciousness, Exploration, Unknown
“Scannography (also called scanography, Scanner Photography or
Scan-art) is a new way to represente the world around us.”
It is an alternative form of photography but the differences is quite huge. A few of them are the absence of perspective and of depth of field, the regularity of the light captured by thousands of captors. I felt it creates a new perspective to the way images is captured and also gives a tactile connection with the object/person I’m capturing.
A scanner could be a tool to use for my self-observation instead of photography. I bought a handheld portable scanner for flexibility in terms of time and place, allowing me the freedom to observe without the constraint. Below shows the sample images I tested with the scanner, playing around just to get the feel of it. After looking at references of scanography artistes online, I noticed that I’ll need a clear flat surface to “squash” my objects to be able to properly capture it, otherwise it’ll glitch up, which may not be a bad thing as well.
Taotronics DS001 Handheld Scanner
Artist Reference #1: Rebecca Wild
“I specialises in the technique of scanography, resulting in work that is both experimental and spontaneous.Using the scanner as both a camera and a canvas, I question the way art is formed and approach the idea of creating art in a new light.” She creates abstract pieces using paint and the nature of fluidity that evokes movement even with the freeze frame nature of a scanner.
Artist Reference #2: Angki Purbandono
I got interested in working with analogue and converting to a digital output through one of the work (Cinema Redux) by Bredan Dawes at the Big Bang Data exhibition in the Art Science Musuem. The idea of using a huge collection of data to translate an overall emotion and to provide another point of view that creates a dialogue with the audience is an output that I felt would work with what I am trying to portray at the end.
1.) Charlie Clark
A site designed and developed by Charlie Clark exploring the use of color in movies.
How It Works:
- A bash script runs ffmpeg to export frames from a video file.
- The frame rate of the exports depends on the length of the video.
- The bash script then calls a PHP script which extracts the average color from each frame.
- The results are spit out as a JSON file with the hex values in an array.
- The front-end runs on backbone, and presents the color data.
- Navigate the colors in a number of ways, and compare the color to each frame.
“Cinema Redux creates a single visual distillation of an entire movie; each row represents one minute of film time, comprised of 60 frames, each taken at one second intervals. The result is a unique fingerprint of an entire movie, born from taking many moments spread across time and bringing all of them together in one single moment to create something new.”
A Python-based project that conceptualizes classic movies not in words or storyboards, but highly-detailed color patterns.
It translates every second of a film into a single block of color, based on a composite of every frame within that second. These blocks are then arranged in chronological order for every film, with 60 in each row (representing one minute of screen time). The result is a massive, pixelated map that allows viewers to visualize the chromatic contours of a film in a single glance.
“It’s important that my last Detail should not be finished by me, but my life.”
One body of work ,from 1965 — 2011(death)
Opalka was painting small numbers in white pigment using a number “0” brush, creating rhythmical horizontal striations against a black background. Each canvas, or Detail, as he called it, would begin in the upper left corner and gradually move to the lower right. Each application of white paint would continue until the brush became dry whereupon he would dab the brush and continue on as before. This process (or procedure) would occur slowly over time. His painterly method was to embed the trace of these white numbers against the black surface, to make them appear tangible.
He would count aloud each numeral while coordinating the tiny movements of his brush. In the process, he was inexorably bound to the medium in which he worked. Upon completion, each canvas — or Detail — constituted a part of the whole.
Opalka began to add 1% white pigment to the black background. Gradually, over time, as more paintings were painted, the black surface would become gray. As he continued to count and to paint five, six, and seven digit numbers, he discreetly added 1% white to each canvas, thus making the surfaces appear increasingly lighter. In the late 1970s he declared that the background of his canvases would eventually appear white, the same white used to paint the numerals that would finally dissolve into the surface, embody the surface. Ultimately, there would be no distinction between the white numerals and the white surface; they would culminate as a form of blankness, possibly transcendent, as the numerals grew invisible within the prospect of infinity, the Samadhior highest level of meditation.
Combined clear conceptual thinking with painterly materials
The work of painting has become meditation. The intellectual and emotional sides of the work are absorbed through the medium of the spiritual.
His work was always just beyond the present, like Heidegger’s phenomenology, where the horizon of thought kept appearing and disappearing.
Tehching Hsieh is a performance artist who’s works deals mainly with the concept of time. Using it as an artistic material and tool. His main works were 5 One Year Performance and a Thirteen Year Plan. What I got out from his work was his perseverance and his mental strength to push through for a long period of time.
Quotes from Book #1
“How time is lived and felt in a body; how it leaves its marks in material things, how the past lives in the present; how singular lives and time remains.” : Adrian Heathfield
“Hsieh story is all about becoming a sentient witness of time.”
“… in their absolute conception and enactment of art and life as simultaneous processes.”
“Hsieh is working with and from the direct experience of the present, using time as an artistic material and tool.”
“… a desire to make the process of thinking about art an artwork.”
“Hsieh’s work reflects an interest in the destablisation of art’s objecthood through the refiguring of art as the process of ideas.”
“For Hsieh, the artwork is not just the index of a preceding and largely unseen duration, it is the lived duration itself, a lived time that includes numerous indexical forms and varying degree of visibility.” pg.17
1.) Heathfield, A. (2008). Tehching Hsieh: Out of now: The lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
On Kawara created paintings, drawings, books, and recordings that examined chronological time and its function as a measure of human existence. Artistic practice was characterized by its meditative approach to concepts of time, space, and consciousness.
Works of On Kawara that interest me
- “Today” Series
- “I Got Up, I Met and I Went.”
- “I Am Still Alive”
4.JUNI 2001, 2001
from “Today” series, 1966-2013
Acrylic on canvas
On Kawara, I Went 1968–79. Clothbound loose-leaf binders with plastic sleeves and inserted printed matter. Inserts: Ink on photocopy
On Kawara, Telegram to Sol LeWitt, February 5, 1970. From I Am Still Alive, 1970–2000. Telegram. 5 3/4 x 8 in. (14.6 x 20.3 cm).
Quotes from book #1
‘Words are essentially flawed by arbitrariness and that art exist “beyond languages” ‘ pg.50
In Japan, railway timetable are always accurate within 30seconds, while in Mexico, the railways to the countryside could be late even for days. This “relativity of time” the idea that even the perception of time might be culturally determined. pg.53
The logical conclusion clearly is that anybody, anywhere and anytime, can make art un-self-consciously out of anything. pg.55
“Pure consciousness” is a classroom where ‘I don’t know’ is the right answer. pg.105
1.) Watkins, J., Denizot, R., & Kawara, O. (2002). On Kawara: ‘tribute’ London: Phaidon.
2.) Kawara, O. (2002). On Kawara: Consciousness, mediatation, watcher on the hills. Dijon: Presses du réel.