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.

Fire and Ice (Nicholas and Clarita)

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
to say that for destruction ice
is also great
and would suffice.

We first interpreted the poem as a direct description of the end of the world, how it could not just go down in conflict and flames, but also “end” in a sense that no one actually interacts with each other anymore. 

Beyond surface level, we decided that the poem could also be describing the end of a relationship, and this is what we decided to show in our photographs.


The series start with a normal relationship: bathed in warm cordiality.


In anger, passion and confrontation,


a relationship could end in an inferno.


In apathy, indifference and detachment,


an end to the relationship could be brought about as well.

In this series of photos, we played around with the hues and tones of each photograph to bring about the warm, hot and cold qualities of human interaction. It started off with warm tones to create an ambience of comfort, to subsequently redder and bluer tones to illustrate frustration and coldness respectively and finally black and white to show a situation devoid of emotions and complete ignorance of each other’s presence.

We also overlaid rushing water to emphasise the tumultuous relationship, and two stones separated from each other to emphasise distance between the individuals.

One other thing is our choice of location. While it is not obvious at first, as the photographs progress to show the falling apart of the two characters, the tree trunk in the middle, as well as the outline of the building in the background serve to highlight the separation between the individuals.

4D Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self

Three tasks for the 4D foundation module bombed us on the first day of university. Oh mamamia I have never even done real photography before. Nevertheless, I was really excited to finally learn photography/filming, bit by bit. Here are the final work and a short write-up, along with the artist references I used.

For more detailed processes, artist references analysis, reflections and some behind the scenes, check out the WIP post here!!

◊ TASK 1 ◊ ME ◊

4D task 1 I reflect on others 4D task 1 others on me4D task 1 self reflection

Task one’s main theme is reflections. The first two photographs show how I influence others and how I am influenced by others. In a sense, there is a reflection of myself in my friends and there are also parts of my friends that become a part of me. 

In the first photograph, I shot a very natural scene of my friends hanging out, and using a handheld mirror (no Photoshop) I reflected my face towards the camera, effectively replacing one of my friend’s heads with my face. This is supposed to illustrate how my actions sometimes influence my friends in some ways. The use of mirrors is inspired by Nan Golding, who used mirrors in multiple photographs to show self-reflection (psychologically), and the reflection of the true self (physically). 

In the second photograph, I did not use mirrors and used cutouts of pictures of my friend’s facial features instead. This is inspired by Metra Bruno and Laurence Jeanson’s “Identity Project”, where they used magazine cutouts to juxtapose everyday humans with the idea of beauty imposed upon us by advertisements and the media. Borrowing just the method, I tried to illustrate how I am also a reflection of my friends’ habits and way of thinking. The way I speak is usually influenced by those around me, hence I have my friend’s mouth pasted over my mouth. When I spend my time with someone talking about issues, I will also be able to see the world from their point of view, hence the eye. I still have one of my own eyes as I still have my point of view too. Although a little bit unnatural, I chose to show a smiling face as these influences do not bear a negative impact on me.

Lastly is a reflection of myself in the mirror. This photograph illustrates how I show a certain side of me to the world and there is a side that I do not usually show. To do this, I used one of my physical attributes as an analogy. I have a youth mark on my left shoulder that extends to my elbow. I used to always hide the youth mark as I was not confident about it. As such, I always show my “right side” to the world. However, my true self is still reflected on the mirror, which in this case is an object that is impartial and shows truth. This is meant to show how I have come to terms with my physicality and am now confident of my body/true self. Thus the focus is on my reflection in the mirror and not me on the foreground. 

Final layout:

4D task 1 I reflect on others 4D task 1 others on me 4D task 1 self reflection


4D task 2 fear 4D task 2 neutral 4D task 2 comfort

For task 2, I chose my crochet needle and yarn, which I take as one object and for me they come as a set. Crochet was a huge part of my life in 2015, when I had my A Level Art final work submission. It was my choice of medium for my final work, Metastasis. At first I was intimidated by the technique, especially because it was a new skill for me.The first photograph is in portrait, with me at the side as an attempt to make it look more disconcerting. The second picture is an objective shot showing the physical qualities of the needle and yarn. I took step back and took a neutral look at it, and tried to see how I can make use of crochet for both my art making and personal life. In the last photograph, I tried to show how I eventually grew to love crocheting, which is now a very comforting hobby for me. This is what I tried to show using these three photographs. 

Shooting was quite fun and although I was met with some unprecedented difficulties, I managed to make do with what I had. You can check out some behind the scenes here!

Final layout:

4D task 2 fear   4D task 2 neutral   4D task 2 comfort


4D task 3 AJCH 4D task 3 Dunman 4D task 3 Hall 2

Task 3 required us to photograph a place that is significant to us or fascinates us. I have a number of significant places back in my home country, Indonesia, but obviously I cannot take photographs of those places as I am in Singapore. Instinctively, I thought of the word “home” in terms of Singapore. I never had a permanent address, so to say, as I have been living in different hostels across Singapore, depending on the school that I am currently attending. I used to refuse to call these hostels “home”, but eventually I grew attached to Singapore, the places, and the people whom I am happy to call my family. These hostels, while temporary, are the place that I can call home.

In all three photographs, the idea is to capture them as a light in the darkness, a lighthouse that guides ships safely to the harbour. I usually get back to my hostel at night, and these buildings are the first landmarks I see that tells me I am finally home, safe and sheltered, and makes me feel very grateful and welcomed. By manipulating the ISO and shutter speed settings, I was finally able to get these illuminating shots. Lighting-wise, I was inspired by Cindy Sherman’s use of dramatic and theatrical lighting in her untitled film stills.

Final layout: 

4D task 3 AJCH 4D task 3 Dunman 4D task 3 Hall 2



For the final presentation, I decided to place task 3, My World, in the middle as I feel that the place is the centre of the other two themes, which are about me and my hobby. I have spent nearly a quarter of my life in Singapore, and these years are quite the important time of my life. During my years in Singapore, I have grown out of my fake, pretend shell and fully embraced myself for who I am. I found out aspects of my personality that I have not known before, like how I am easily influenced by others and how I influence others. I am also more confident about my body and am no longer shy about my youth mark. Singapore is also where I found my love for crochet. In the middle of this all would be the hostels I have stayed in, as they are the “replacements” that I can go home to.

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Overall, it was a good challenge for me as I am not very familiar with photography, although I am very interested in filmmaking and such. I also enjoyed watching my friends’ presentations and getting to know them a little better through their photographs. There was a key takeaway from everyone’s presentation, and I feel that it is a good way for us to learn too. Bravo to everyone!

4D Project 1: Curating Self Research and Process

The camera may record accurately but it is people who choose what and how it records. Photography appears to offer truth when in reality it can portray any manipulative or suggestive statement. Photography is a powerful media tool capable of persuasion and propaganda. A photograph need only be sufficiently plausible so that it appears to offer the truth

 -(Galer, 2004)

Here are my initial exploration and research for the first 4D project, CURATING SELF. Check out the final work here

◊ TASK 1 ◊

Originally I was quite conflicted about how to go about doing the first task. I tend to think a lot so I made some mind maps to streamline some ideas of mine. 


There were multiple ways to curate myself. Do I want to show the real me that nobody sees? Do I want to show the me that I want others to see? Do I want to show who I think I am? Do I want to show physical traits or my personality? After consultation with Lei, I finally had a focus to work on. She pointed out that a recurring theme was reflection, as seen from my explorations in my visual journal (pictures will be spread throughout this post). This means that in three pictures I could show a reflection of myself in others, a reflection of others in myself, and finally a reflection of my true self. These artists were part of my exploration for task 1. 


“Misty doing her make-up”, Paris 1991

Nan Goldin did not care about good photographs, what she wanted was complete honesty. Goldin has captivated me in her idea of capturing one’s essence and true self rather than a perceived personality. This particular photograph inspired me to play around with the idea of mirrors.

“Self-Portrait in my Blue Bathroom” Berlin, 1991

Mirrors have deep symbolic meaning. When they were first discovered, their uncanny ability to imitate reality propelled them to become a necessity as a means of personal assurance of oneself. Some meanings or symbols that mirrors could have/represent are:

  • Narcissism
  • Reflection of true self
  • Truth/Lie
  • Purity
  • Desire
  • Influence

After brainstorming, I find that one quality of mine could be well represented with mirrors. As a person I am able to influence others as well as I am easily influenced by others. This could be a illustrated as a reflection of myself in others and a reflection of others in me. My very first idea was to reflect my face in a mirror in a shot featuring a friend of mine. Here are some test shots. 


In the end, I managed to find the right angle to hold the mirror such that my arm would not be distracting. I held the mirror above the frame of the picture.

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4d proj1 3


4d proj1 3

Cindy Sherman’s photographs feature herself in many different characters and settings. I personally like her untitled film stills as there is a wide range of characters that she was able to portray through costume, props and setting. Her framing techniques also invoke a sense of presence of other characters out of the frame, even though she is usually alone in the photograph.

I tried to evoke the same feeling of presence of other characters in the room although I did not include them in the shot. In reality I was alone in the room. Through these photos I was trying to portray myself as an affable person. I tried both high and low angle too to portray myself as down-to-earth/dominant. In the end I did not use any pictures based on Sherman’s photographs.


4d proj1 1

Irving Penn interests me as he could clearly show his subjects at a very vulnerable stance, as he catches them off-guard in his photos. I thought that through capturing myself unaware of the camera shooting, in a sense, could show a hint of the real me, and not posing for the camera. 

Chris Buck’s self portraits are amusing at first glance. He photographs a miniature plastic version of himself with objects or in settings like the dentist. I interpreted this as him showing how small he feels when confronted with these objects or subjected to these situations. He could be facing alcoholism, and feels intimidated by the problem. He could also be scared of performing in front of an audience, hence the trumpet. The dentist scene should be self explanatory by now. Through this, I thought of how I could also define myself through my fears or imperfections. 

In the end, I also did not use these as my references.


4d proj1 1

Metra Bruno and Laurence Jeanson’s “Identity Project” shows clearly the juxtaposition of everyday humans and the images imposed to us through advertisements and media. I thought that the method creates visually striking images and could also show how there are parts of myself that are not me or are obtained from other people through influence. In the above page I used cutouts from magazines. Below, I decided to use facial features from my friends to show how I am influenced by them.

DSC_2369   DSC_2371

The mouth represents how the way I speak is usually influenced by the people I spend my time with. I pick up accents and slangs from many of my friends. The eye represents how I am able to see from that person’s point of view after spending my time with them and talking to them. It looks a little bit unnatural as sometimes these influences are not lasting and are sometimes not my true self, however I am usually comfortable with it, hence in the final photo I am seen to have a smiling face. (Final photo in final work post!!)

Here is a behind the scene shot of the setup outside my room.


Here are some other shots that I experimented on, but did not use in the end.

4d proj1 2

From top left clockwise, shots of the youth mark on my left shoulder, more shots of the youth mark showing how I used to not be confident of it, shots of various physical appearances that are representative of me, scrapped idea of tears on acrylic sheets, battle scars, snapshots of self portrait gifs, cling wrap exploration showing stress.

Another scrapped idea is of me surrounded by clouds in a deliberate studio setting. 

4d proj1 5

◊ TASK 2 ◊

I was much more certain about task 2 in terms of what I wanted to portray. I knew that the object would have to be my crochet needle and yarn, which I take as one object, as they come as a set for me. They were a huge part of my life in 2015 because crochet was my medium for my A Level final work. I distinctly remember spending all the time crocheting: while I walk, in class, in the bus, before sleep. It was a newly acquired skill and I was struggling a little bit with it at first, but eventually I grew to love it, and it also helped me come to terms and cope with some family medical problems.

4d proj1 4

Originally I wanted to show how much time I spent crocheting by photographing me crocheting in various places and situations. However, I decided to show the transition between hating to loving the art instead. (Final photos here!!!) Here are some behind the scenes photos of the shoot.

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From left to right: Set-up for the top down shoot, backdrop set-up featuring my curtains, close-up of crochet backdrop.

I went back to my JC to get Metastasis, my final work for A Levels. I took the pieces and pinned them up on the curtain. Originally it was supposed to be on the floor and shot from a higher ground, i.e. the second floor. However, as my friend could not make it to help me at the last minute, I decided to make do with the curtain. I call the backdrop Metastasis 2.0, and it is still up there because I am too lazy to take it down HAHA

The original “Metastasis”, 2015

◊ TASK 3 ◊

Like task 2, I was clearer in terms of direction. Obviously, I cannot take photographs of my house or other significant places back in my home country, Indonesia. Instinctively I thought of the hostels that I had stayed in as significant places in my life in Singapore thus far. I have always identified myself through the school/institution I was studying in at that moment of time. The hostels that I stay in are my temporary homes in Singapore, and I do everything in my hostels. This is what made me want to feature my hostels in Singapore for this task.

Lei advised me to have a common visual or concept behind the photographs in this series, for example doors. At first I wanted to do corridors or my room doors, but I realised that I am no longer able to access my previous rooms in the hostels. Also, I only had time to do the shoot at night, so I was a bit worried about getting decent pictures, and also about the overall concept.

The shoot itself became quite meaningful to me as it was the first time I went to visit some of these places in a long time. From NTU, I traveled to Changi, and then Dunman High School Hostel (Junior College period) in Mountbatten, Anderson Junior College Hostel (Secondary school period) in Ang Mo Kio, and finally back to Hall 2 in NTU. I wanted to go to Parry Hall in Kovan too, as it was my first ever home in Singapore (even though I only stayed there for two months), but could not find the time to. At Dunman, I got to chat with the security uncle and auntie whom I grew close to during my stay there. It was a very heartwarming feeling as I have not seen them in a long time. I did not know anyone who was still staying in AJCH, so it felt quite alienating as I did not even have the authority to go into my “home” anymore. However, in all cases, there was a common feeling of warmth that a home gives. This is what I tried to show in the end. The buildings that I show in the photographs are the first landmarks I see on my way home that really tells me that “I am home”. Like a lighthouse, these landmarks draw me back and show the way home for me, as usually I would arrive back at the hostel at night. Usually tired from school, these landmarks are the bright, warm indications that I am finally “home”, where I can rest, even if it’s a temporary home.

I tried documenting my journey home to Dunman High School Hostel.


From left to right: Inside the security guardhouse where I chatted with the security uncle and auntie who were like my grandparents, the guardhouse as seen on my way back.

I decided that the landmark to photograph would be the guardhouse, as it not only gave me a sense of security, but I always feel welcomed when I get back to the hostel. This trip to Dunman was the point that inspired me to portray these landmarks in my hostels as the light in the dark. 

DSC_2118JPG    DSC_2204JPG

This was also a consideration for the visuals that I wanted to portray: Behind the fences, these previous “homes” are no longer accessible to me, and I am no longer welcomed. However, this could only be applied to Dunman High School Hostel and Anderson Junior College Hostel. Hence I did not use this idea.

I also wanted to include Changi Airport as the start and end of the series, but decided not to in the end because the pictures were too different from the rest of the photographs that I decided to use in this task.

In terms of technique, I had to take many shots to finally get the effect that I wanted. I did this by adjusting the ISO and the shutter speed settings, to mimic the dramatic lighting that Cindy Sherman employs in her photographs. Sadly, I forgot to document what the settings I used were.

Check out the final selection here!!

While this project was a fun one, I did face a lot of stress in terms of time management and focusing on an idea to be built upon. I will need to be clearer in my decision making in the future.

There was a lack of visual continuity in the first and second task. Compared to the strong visual connection in the third task, task 1 looks like they were three random pictures put together. 

I also feel like I did not experiment enough on vantage point, although I did explore on framing techniques and angles (high, low, dutch tilt). I was too focused on the concept and did not give enough attention as to how I should produce the photographs. This is a learning point for upcoming projects.

Overall, I am glad to say that I have finished Project 1, and that I have rediscovered my identity and existence in Singapore, all the while learning how to use the camera again. Time for the next project! (dies)


Props as Signifier


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In these photographs I pictured my watch as a functional object. I captured the watch the way it is, impartially and just showing how it is used in daily life to keep track of time.


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Wealth, luxury item (feat. Shuyi)
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Death, old age
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Lost/neglected time (feat. Hweeann)

In the first photograph, I used the watch to depict status and wealth of the owner.

In the second photograph, the watch is representative of time itself. Along with the rust, I tried to bring across the idea of decay, aging and death.

The last photograph shows how in our daily lives we tend to forget about time and the fact that time does not rewind. We take time as an unlimited resource and tend to neglect the truth that our time in this world is in fact very limited. 

I think that despite being simple, this exercise was able to open my mind about a very basic tool of communication used in film, theatre, paintings, and art-making in general. Props are widely used in the art world as a functional visual instrument to make a scene more believable, most of the time, but less people realise that they are also able to communicate subtext about the messages or themes of the film/artist.

Photo from BBC website on “Elements of Drama”

Take a ripped photograph for example. This is a very common metaphor for the ending or the falling apart of a relationship.

The spinning top from “Inception”, 2010

The spinning top from “Inception” is representative of reality in the movie. The high amount of attention brought to it and the unending continuous movement of the top (no spoilers) not only creates suspense but also links the plot together.

Props play a highly important part in film and theatre, but in reality it is easy to dismiss the presence of props and sets as purely functional. They are the underdogs of the film/theatre industry. I will probably pay more attention to the use of props or objects in my next projects!

Here is a good read on why props matter in filmmaking!

6 Ways To Turn Movie Props Into Iconic Symbols