4D Project 2: Impossibilities of Being – Descent

Task two is down! It was an extremely daunting task but I am glad to have finished it nonetheless. I have always loved thinking about stories visually and in terms of shots for a film. It is something that I realise I unconsciously do, mentally framing some crucial (and most of the rest of the time trivial) seconds of my life. 90 pictures might sound massive at first, but in actuality, I think that contrary to initial thoughts, it is actually very limiting. To be able to narrate an idea that undergoes three key transformations in just 90 images is pretty difficult. Without further ado, here is the final product, Descent! 

Now I will shortly take you through the main concept and the three transformations, along with my artist references and a short reflection.


Descent is a compilation of dreams that are significant to me. Chosen dreams are not only used for the events in the sequence, but also as settings of the events. The final result is a fictional narrative whose parts are constructed from the various significant, whimsical dreams that I had.

The overarching theme that ties the whole sequence together is the dream of falling, not the kind that gives you that jerky feeling, but the unending falling kind that gives you a rather unsettling feel. This is based on a dream of falling I once had, that I believe was the result of me falling out of my bed. I felt that this dream about falling was apt to illustrate the plunge into our subconscious minds as we sleep, and also to represent the lack of control we have when free falling in an endless pit. The three transformations, then, would be three different dreams characterised by the transition between three main settings: the hole in the ground, the stairs and the sea-sky.


The sequence starts off with my sleeping self, and of myself seemingly rolling out of bed. I fall into a bed of cotton candy clouds with cherubs watching my fall, and sink into them, only to find out that I am hundreds of feet away from the ground, falling to my imminent death. I am heading straight for a hole in the ground. 

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In the ground, the pit seems to be endless depending on which direction I am looking. I exaggerated this with the visual of space as the background.  I fall and fall, trying to stop myself to no avail. At the same time, a knife-wielding astronaut lady character appears and starts throwing knives at me. I dodge the knives, stepping on passing by planets.

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She finally hits me, but I finally see a potential escape: a door at the side of the hole. I grab hold, open the door and crawl in.

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The next section is the infinite stairs. I find myself in an exit staircase where the only option was to go down. I go down and finally find myself at a junction with the sea on the left side and more stairs on the right side.


I go with stairs and continue to go down, but find myself in the same junction then again and again. Frustrated and tired, I make the difficult choice of jumping in to the sea, as it is the only other way out. 

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This section was inspired by my dreams of unending staircases. The only difference is that in my dream I was making my way up instead of down. I changed this, of course, to fit in my overall theme of falling, and thus, going down. I faced difficulty depicting the frustration and the panic faced when being stuck in the same place no matter how hard you try to get out, due to the limit of the number of pictures. I originally had more frames planned, but exceeded and had to cut them down to fit the 90 pictures requirement. This compromised the flow of my story and the mood, but I tried my best to at least still convey the feeling of helplessness in this section.

I also received some feedback regarding the last picture above. A classmate pointed out that it would be better if the sea on the left side was just bounded by a straight line, instead of the awkward zigzag that makes it look unnatural. On hindsight, I should have done that. I only tried to follow the contours of the staircase that was already there originally, and did not think of how it would disrupt the visual flow in the picture itself, creating an unnecessary focal point.


Here I find myself sinking into the “sea”, except that I can breathe and it is more like I am floating on air. I discover that somehow I am in a paper boat, and marvel at the sights around me, including giant jellyfishes and a huge manta ray, whose tail I choose to grab hold of.

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I get pulled around by the manta ray, until I finally let go when it pulls me over a boundary made of clouds, and the sequence ends with a shot of me free falling through the sky and into the city of flowers, which is the introductory setting.

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This implies that the settings are in a cycle, in a dimension in which there is an eternal loop, and my descent will go on forever.

The sequence closes with a shot of me lying on the floor next to my bed, to show that in reality, I simply fell out of bed.




The style I chose to maintain throughout the pictures is that of a really dreamy, surreal quality. I take inspiration from Coldplay’s magical “Up & Up” music video, and collage artists such as Fajar P. Domingo and Eugenia Loli.

Coldplay’s “Up & Up” music video.

Fajar P. Domingo


Eugenia Loli

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The two collage artists make surreal images of landscapes and people in an unbelievable, dreamy space. Following in the footsteps of my references, I manipulated scale and put settings in new contexts, unusual places, and merged them with my dreams to create an even more surreal landscape that becomes the settings for my sequence. A particular setting, the flower city, was directly inspired from the city with giant flowers in the “Up & Up” video. To mimic the visual coherence of the subjects in the picture, like Domingo, I used colour correction to ensure that the individual images look cohesive in a picture after editing them in a collage together.



In the final presentation, I showed the video and played an audio along with it. I chose A Fine Frenzy’s “Sleepwalking” due to its very fitting feel and the dreamy melodies. There is also a theme of falling in the song, which I thought fits my theme very well. I managed to talk about my work well during the presentation, but missed out an important part: about how or why the falling was significant a theme. I forgot to explain that the overall theme of falling alludes to the falling deeper and deeper into our subconscious while sleeping. I made mental notes to mention this but completely forgot about it.

I also enjoyed my friends’ presentations and their comical, outlandish and fresh ideas. I thought that it was motivating how their projects came about and how they carried them out.

Overall, I am satisfied with this project and I have improved in terms of Photoshop skills, as I have minimal prior experience of Photoshop. I also learnt how to narrate a story through sequential imaging, and learnt how to make cuts in order to deliver a story even through minimal shots. Looking back, I am still struggling in terms of time management. I did get a head start on conceptualising, but was stuck in the idea generation and concept development stage for too long such that I did not have enough time for the actual execution of taking the photos necessary and editing them. Moving forward, I would like to try my best to work faster and force myself to carry out my plans ahead of time, so that I have plenty of time to make any amendments. I would also like to be able to apply design principles better in the carrying out of my projects, as I feel that while I think of these things, I do not actually apply them to whatever my final work is.

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Clarita Saslim

I love curry and I dream of mala in my sleep.

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