I have to say, this last assignment on Ego was probably the most fulfilling assignment this Semester. I was blessed with a great Prof Ina who allowed me to have it my way with this assignment so instead of following the usual 210mm x 210mm squares and equations format, I could design CD covers. & here’s a video I filmed of the whole process of opening these CDs and unfolding the covers. The sound of CDs being opened is quite nice..
As a collector of CDs since young, I just felt that a project about Ego had to be in this format. After all, with the rise of digital music downloads, CD sales have dropped and no one really collects CDs anymore. People are now into the large Vinyl format and less people seem to even know about this (soon-to-be) ancient relic known as the Compact Disc.
I believe in collecting the physical thing cause without it, it just feels like whatever music that I like does not actually exist, like my interest in these things is just a mere passing thing, there’s no show of evidence..and most of all I really treasured the art found in this CD jewel cases.
As a young child who went to Sembawang and Gramophone often, the idea that inside these CDs laid a piece of art that I could unfold really excited me since some of them contained personal messages written by the artist or just extra photographs that are not featured on the front cover. At the same time, I’m not against Vinyl, in fact I collect Vinyl too but only for albums from the 80s and older, while majority of the music that I listen to from 2000s onwards I felt should be collected in the form of CDs since it best represents that era and with my childhood mostly in the CD era, I felt this project should be in CDs rather than Vinyl. This part of Elly Jackson’s interview from the group La Roux sums up the above sentiment.
“I’m still coming to terms with music not being physical. It doesn’t really matter how much I own in my phone or on my iPod or in my computer, I don’t feel like I own it. Even if I’ve bought it, I don’t feel like I own it. It just feels like a list. I don’t like the idea that when I have children, I can’t go, ‘Here’s my record collection’. What am I supposed to do? Go, ‘Here’s my f**king password’? It’s a bit boring, isn’t it? – Elly Jackson from La Roux
With that whole CD explanation out of the way, its time to move on to the individual album art I did for each “square”. As you read on, you will realise there’s a lot of things here that I did not mention during presentation cause I felt saying every single detail out kind of spoils the presentation itself and is just kind of obnoxious to a viewer who just wants to appreciate the work as it is.
This album is based on the trait of being fascinated by the strange and the unusual. I initially wanted to base each album on a certain genre of music but due to time constraints I did not manage to follow the concept up for all. However, for this album it was suppose to be like a heavy metal album but somehow it ended up looking more like a pop punk meets metal so not really quite there album. Nevertheless, I was quite satisfied with the result. I have been into sci-fi, horror and all the weird occult stuff since young, borrowing books on aliens, watching all sorts of documentaries on Nat Geo and Discovery Channel and googling all sorts of things I was curious about. Thus, my version of Paradise would be an amalgamation of all these things that fascinate me. I love how messy it looks cause it just makes the whole cover look really intense which exactly the kind of person I am (maybe its a Scorpio thing? haha). As for the inside album art, its a photograph of my collection of things as I grew up with (sci-fi books, horror magazines/ DVDs, weird graphic novels, living dead dolls, science magazines…) which I thought was a nice way for viewers to understand me better. Like I previously mentioned how I like it when artists include extra bits of personal info in their inside covers, I wanted to do something similar here. As for the track list, to be honest, it was not completely random…I actually did some planning with it so there is a reason behind each one. For example, 03 “Conspiracy Theory Evenings”, is somewhat a thing I enjoy doing. On peaceful afternoons/ evenings, I love to watch a conspiracy documentary or a shock documentary of some sort (yes I am that person who googles top 10 disturbing documentaries). 08. “Bizarre Birth Rectangle” is just a parody of New Order’s hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle” so I added in a “(Feat. New World Order)” to play on their name as well. 09. “Are You Really My Mum” is something that I actually asked my mum when I was quite young. I had been watching some show about how someone’s mum was not actually their mum and the foolish yet inquisitive side of me as a child just had to ask my mum the question. Her reaction was not the most pleasant of course.
As for “Deep Love”, the trait covered here is literally Love but in really broad terms. Not just romance but love for things. I believe Fascination and Love are the two main traits that drive me as a person. As I grew up, I discovered that I was not just simply fascinated with all the weird stuff but I really loved them. It was quite hard to accept at first since it meant that I was rotten as hell but I gradually grew to accept this side of me. As a young child who constantly compared herself to other girls in school, for a long time, I felt the need to be THAT girl AKA the IT girl as some would put it. Basically, well-liked, sociable, pretty, popular blablabla kind of girl. This meant that I should be into a certain set of things and stay away from some things, thus I always kept my love for the weird a secret. However, as I grew up I realised I just could not stay that way, if I was already rotten in my core, I cannot possibly force myself to be some clean-cut person. That’s also when I realise that if I want to accept myself, I should hang out with people who would accept me too, rather than force myself to be some social butterfly and be someone else. tldr; went through some self-evaluation and accepted my own rotten self. Oh yeah, I believe my interests are considered rotten not my personality hah. Anyway, for the look, I re-used the nice halftone image I did of this women’s orgasm face, along with the long astronaut exploring while being connected to a tentacle. It represents my curiosity to dive DEEP into the bizarre realm that’s far from reality and the lone astronaut represents me as a loner and introvert who’s so into my own world. I added the plaster since plasters bring up the idea of injuries and there’s just something very human about plasters so I added it in. & call me crazy but when I was young I had this dream of wanting to paste plasters all over someone’s nude body. For the inside cover, I edited this image of a slaughtered chicken to make it look really saturated, gross and most of all raw. Aside from the fact that it added on to the raw visual look I wanted to capture for this album, I felt that for one of love oneself, you need to accept every single thing about yourself even if it was not pleasant and in fact downright gross. If you like eating fresh steamed chicken, you better accept how the slaughtered chicken looked before it ended up on your plate. (I realised this analogy can be applied to women too..hmm) I placed it such that it conveniently connects with the women’s face and looks slightly ambiguous at the same time. The blue circle was inspired by a certain kind of packaging where neon orange or green circle are pasted on to mean something (I forgot but its definitely an asian thing). The back cover was a photograph of cut papayas I took a few months back which I then edited to make it look really raw and have that “blood and flesh” feel. Once again, I can explain the tracks. “Distorted View Daily” is one of my favourite podcasts that I discovered recently that embraces everything rotten and perverse. If you’re familiar with Reddit, then you’ll probably know that “#morbidreality” and “#gonewild” are actual subreddits. I really like exploring “#morbidreality” during my free time. “Wishing Star Erection” was something I misheard when someone n G6 said something and “My Lesbian Dream 2.0” was also contributed by someone in G6 (I kind of forgot who so if its you, do reply in the comments!)
So take lots of Fascination and Love for weird rotten stuff and what do you get? A Basement Creep! For this album, I decided to just show what represents a basement creep which is the trash of food from long periods of staying in the basement. I somehow identify with the stereotypical basement creep since I like spending lots of time alone on my own surfing really weird stuff on the net at night…hah pathetic…Anyway, collecting and arranging the trash to make it look as gross as possible was…fun. Since there’s nothing glorious about basement creeps, I decided to model it after a bad 90s advertisement/ cheap Italian restaurant menu/ bad pizza ad complete with a fake number. However, at the same time I’ve learn to accept myself for who I am and be proud of it so the title says “The Lovely Stories of the Basement Creep”. For the back, I wanted to keep up the cheap trashy look so I just took a picture of the Hall 2 toilet and used karaoke translation fonts for the title. Once again, I did plan the titles but I’ll only explain one of them that is 10.”Google Daikichi Amano” who is one of my favourite artists and those who know me will probably understand. I think it fits pretty well with this album so he’s in. I understand that there is a tendency to romanticise one’s self “Ego: Me” so I thought quite hard for this series, trying to be honest with myself as possible. While I would have loved to explore more glorious aspects of me like my inquisitiveness, my strong intuition or my thinking ability, I decided to just get straight to what I feel I really am especially late at night so here you go, I’m a basement creep at heart.
In Your Face
For the ideal me, I thought of being more direct and bold. I’ve been told by people that I have great ideas but I just did not dare to put them down. Also, I always felt I have been very controlled when it comes to my art for the past few years due to fear of being judged but as you can see recently, I seem to have gotten over that or maybe not completely yet. To capture this boldness, I modelled this album after 80s pop album covers. I’m not sure if it shows but I was most inspired by Duran Duran albums in the 80s so I used the lines in that manner. The selfie was taken when I was pretty high and feeling fun so I felt it should be included. At the same time, I felt it should have a modern touch so I added it in the double hearts emoji which makes it look cheesier too. The explosion at the back also adds to the whole look too. I didn’t realise it till now but with my face doing that action beside it, it seems almost like a slight smile by me created an explosion and I seem to not care at all. For the inside cover, I tried to make it more like a pop album cover, complete with text and pictures of myself and yes, sanitory pad (that’s not mine but it could have been) cause we should be proud of periods and not shy away from it. I also played with the idea of swiping on social media apps and went for “Swipe off” to remind myself to not care too much about some people on social media. I realise I care a little too much about people I barely know so yeah, swipe off! I used a lot of pink here which is not my favourite colour but I always felt pink was a really bold colour and a colour that had a lot of attitude. For the back cover, I took the same selfie, edited it, printed it and paste it on some dirty ground using my favourite tool duct tape! Basically, I just felt that I should continue to stand tall and proud no matter what people treat you as. I mean that selfie almost feels like I literally give no F***s (sorry for the profanity but I felt that the phrase had to be said)
Socially awkward & insecure
I hope to be less socially awkward and insecure. I know on the outside I don’t seem like it at all, in fact, people have told me that I seem confident surprisingly but I guess cause I hide it well enough. I decided to model this album after Shoegaze album covers like My Bloody Valentine cause its the music I listen to when I feel like I’m breaking up and not really there. The look I wanted to capture for this album was the feeling of not being completely there, ambiguous and almost fading away. While the title says “Nice to mee you”, it doesn’t feel welcoming. I like the combination of this pink and green which makes it looks slightly mysterious at the same time. I did not manage to print the inside back cover but I’ll post it here just to show that for a long time, I struggled with the idea of trying to literally stay within the boundaries yet be myself at the same time. Red and green together just looks really jarring which is pretty much how I feel about this struggle.
More boldness, less shyness and I hope to achieve I more honest self. I went with the title “Das Me” as I was inspired by the song of the same title by Brooke Candy. It just sounds so different when you say it out loud compared to “That’s me” and the song is just really relevant for the concept of this album. I went for a much more plain look for this album and only added details that were necessary like my birth year and literally “nothing else”. I also added photos of plain things without any filter whatsoever to reinforce that concept. Like how pop album rely on lots of extra graphics and promotional material, this album goes is the very anti-thesis of that. A better me means not relying on anything else to be myself. For the look, I guess I was influenced by old German designs rather than a certain genre. I just like how simple yet strong the design looks, not sure if mine reflects the same feeling though…
For one part of the Ideal me, since young I wanted to be a cool kid, like really one of those “popz” people…I guess even now…so for this album, I modelled it after an Indie pop album, especially those that feature a solo artist. It’s pretty much what’s cool these days I suppose (unless I’m outdated). However, at the same time, I’m kind of aware of how being that kind of “cool” is kind of ridiculous to me since it’s just being into a certain set of things and portraying a side that’s not really me so yeah, hence the “some cool indie cover”. It’s like imagine if my instagram was replaced with the whole white minimalist layout and only features photos of me facing sideways and clean workspaces instead of my real interests. That kind of scares me..but still I wanted to fit in with the cool kids so this represents that aspect.
I may be repeating myself here from the first series but I just wanted to emphasise it again, while I wanted to be cool, I wanted to keep my weirdness too. I actually don’t find myself weird but in the context of everyone else, I’m aware why they would think I’m weird. For this album, I was not inspired by any genre but just did it according to instinct. I like how it looks slightly bizarre yet familiar at the same time. I believe that’s how weirdness is, not totally unfamiliar, its that slight familiarity that makes it strange. Anyway, I titled it Fetish cause that’s how the overall look feels like to me based on the glossy legs, crocodile skill texture and plaster which were things that came into my head so I decided to put them together…hmm don’t ask why…
Initially, I thought the ideal me would be a combination of cool and weird but as I thought about it more, I realise I don’t really know what my ideal me would be cause I always felt incomplete as a person and I believe that I’ll probably be that way forever. I always felt a little separate from the rest of humanity and it does worry me quite a lot especially when some things make me feel strongly about…a reminder that I’ll never completely fit in with everyone else. So yeah, an ideal me does not exist in my mind at the moment, rather its this feeling of being incomplete prevents me from seeing one but at the same time could represent an ideal me too. While incomplete does have its negative connotations, it also means I’m in the constant state of changing since I’m never complete, I can constantly add on to myself.I think the inside cover is quite self-explanatory and 3/4 cause once again, I’m incomplete.
As the series progresses, my designs become more and more minimalistic and there is a reason behind this. This leads up to my fear of mine in 5 years. I’m not entirely against minimalist designs but it being the trend does kind of affect me, especially when you consider that my style is pretty much the very opposite. I based this on the super minimal album cover designs that are currently trending at the moment. It represents the need of having to force myself to change and do things according to what society wants to see at the moment, which is personally undesirable but practical and as much as it is important to “stay true to art”, taking in practical considerations is really unavoidable as we grow up. What I mean by practical considerations would be monetary gains and career stability which most artists or students in art school might consider ridiculous and against the very nature of an artist. However, I’m sorry to say I have to disagree, as much as I’m into the weird and wild, I’m still quite a realist at heart so I still consider these things important to me not just in 5 years but even now I’m thinking about how to achieve them. The best case scenario would be a nice compromise between my own artistic vision and career stability but I still do fear that it might not happen and I might have to sacrifice 90% of it for the sake of career stability…
Rush of Youth
Another of my fears would be that my creativity and artistic vision is just a passing phase, a result only possible due to the adrenaline from being young and wild, thus “Rush of Youth”. Pardon the awkward phrasing cause I can’t really think of a more eloquent way to put it other than the Chinese phrase 致青春. To represent the idea of being drained of creativity and imagination, I literally took a photo of a drain and match the fonts to it to give the feeling of being sucked away. Once again, its very minimalistic due to the same reasons as explained in the previous album. Interesting to note, Prof Ina mentioned to me how one of her students who had potential to be an animator ended up being a policeman…just goes to show how the fear is real…
The need to change and fit in combined with the rush of youth eventually boils down to emptiness and that is exactly what I fear in 5 years to come. I based this last album cover on a cleaning signboard and it isn’t entirely random since I have indeed worked as a food court cleaner in the past so its quite personal. When I was 16, I worked as a cleaner in a food court due to family reasons. By cleaner, I really mean the cleaner who clears the dishes and wipes the tables. I could have done other jobs but I decided to help my grandpa since he needed manpower and I thought it would be an interesting experience. It definitely was not the most pleasant experience working with people much older than you and hearing them talk about their life stories all day. However, it did make me realise I do want to work hard and not end up doing such a job in the future. I do not look down on these people who do such a job since its still hard earned money but they all believe in better opportunities out there so that’s what I’m aiming for. I did a parody of the cleaning signboard and instead of “Cleaning In Progress”, I went with “Living In Progress” and an empty triangle. I fear that in 5 years my priorities would drastically change such that all I care is about living and nothing else. My life would just become very empty and I as a person would also become empty inside, drained of everything I was before and eventually lose myself. Basically, I would return to a state of tabula rasa and become an empty vessel…as thought the me inside never really existed and that is one of my greatest fears.
So yeah, thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post…
“Pirated CD sale” hah