Project 4: FINAL pt 2 – Amen, lol

F I N A L   I M A G E S

High Res Photos

A R T I S T   S T A T E M E N T

Amen, lol is a photographic series birthed through me questioning my relationship with my religion. The creation of the pictures allowed me to explore what my Catholic faith is to me through the use of and/or reinterpretation of symbols and imagery from Catholicism/Christianity.

P R O C E S S

 

P R E S E N T A T I O N

Painted on red line with blood acrylic and glitter
Glued on pearl beads on the fake drawn-on eyes
Glued on a sequin border around the square
Dripped candle wax all around
Crumpled, torn and on the floor

 

I D E A T I O N   A N D   E X E C U T I O N

Hi! Read this post for some background information on the ideation process for the concept of the series.

As a summary – religion has been a huge part of my life. It defined me. Being a Catholic informed my decisions, my values, the way that I lived. I genuinely believed in the religion, even though I didn’t understand much of it, and even though I questioned it. In the recent years, I started to lose that genuine faith. I realised that I had been believing in the religion blindly my whole life, and I didn’t bother to learn more about it anyways.

This project was a chance for me to revisit some of the significant symbols in my life and reinterpreting them as well as expressing the idea of some sort of rebellion or change, amongst others.

It started with a lot of looking at other artists. Other than the artists Bryan mentioned, the website artandcommerce.com he mentioned was also a great source of inspiration.

The main influence on my methodology is the French photographer-painter duo Pierre et Gilles (watch a video on them on my previous post).

I was inspired to look at props differently and explore physical manipulation of the printed photographs.

This video below was also enjoyable in understanding that photography can be interpreted in many ways, and it’s the message that is brought across, or hidden in the pictures, that matter in some cases.

T H E   V I R G I N   T O O

 

This photo is supposed to mirror “The Virgin” photo in this series. This is me dressed as the devil, indicated by the horns and red attire and body paint, wearing the same white headpiece and in the same pose. As is in religious art, the devil has had many depictions (omg look at the mosaics they’re so beautiful), but I chose to do a more popular, graphic representation so as to trigger a more instantaneous association. Instead of lilies, I hold a bunch of roses – romantic, lustful, controversial, rich. I also roll my eyes, showing that I’m in a mocking gesture. I didn’t specifically plan to mirror the white version, but amongst the many other pictures I took, I felt that it was the best to describe the duality that lives in me, and how silly it is, my pretend-holiness.  This character is blunt and funny, almost provocative and daring, with a more revealing outfit, adorned with artificial items but realer than the white Mary.

What I would do differently/improve: I’d get the highlights on the body to shine more, and get the whites of the eyes to stand out more. I’d also forgotten to try taking pictures with the lights on the horns on!!!

This photo was really fun to shoot as it was the last one shot and going all out with the body paint, I just had fun taking pictures with all the different props I had!!!

 

T H E   A N T I C H R I S T

 

The main feature in this picture is the red tear. To make it more visually striking, I cropped the image and printed it as such. I also used paint and glitter to extend the red line beyond the frame.

I was researching on the tears of Mary as a start, as it is a popular symbol that I often saw in pictures or depicted on statues (even on the 2018 Met Gala – Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination – see here)

From what I understand, the tears are a popular symbol because Mary and Jesus wept tears of sadness, and tears of blood that represents the blood of the world. There is something about the tear that makes religion so much more relatable to humans, that it does not expect humans to be so perfect, that sadness and sacrifice are involved.

By using this image of the tear, I tried to depict a nonchalant expression, expressing my feigned apathy, yet the tear of blood overflows and signifies my sadness, slowly spilling out as the “evil” inside me makes its way out.

What I would do differently/improve: Maybe I could’ve tried a version where the red tear isn’t neatened up so much, and from there I could compare whether I liked the more structured or the more organic one. Add a highlight on dat eyeeeee

 

T H E   V I R G I N

 

This is a photo of me as the Virgin Mary, in a white dress, plastic white lilies at hand and a halo made out of Chinese calendar paper and toilet tissue. There are many depictions of the virgin Mary, and religious art has transformed so much over the many centuries (which is so amazing omg). This article by The Economist was an interesting short read on the many symbolisms of Mary. Also, I have to say Wikipedia gives a great summary (I feel my past art history professors’ stares).

I based my pose and photo on this picture. The sacred heart was another symbol that was on my list, but decided not to pursue in the end. (I wanted to get an actual heart from the market lol then I thought omg I don’t even eat heart, it would be a waste and my vegan friends will shun me then I tried looking for a plastic heart but Halloween season is over :’)) The white lilies symbolise purity, and the halo has often been omnipresent in depictions of Mary as it separates her from women in general, she was the perfect mother and the perfect virgin, not an ordinary woman.

In me dressing up as Mary, I tried to show this play pretend where it’s kinda funny, the lilies have a tag on them and I’m wearing this gorgeous, ridiculous halo made out of calendar paper and tissue. In trying to embody Mary, I illustrate the ridiculousness of using religion to feign holiness and purity, through the materials used.

What I would do differently/improve: I can’t quite remember why I decided not to edit out the background to be completely black, but maybe I should’ve tried that and also cropped the picture a little bit more to further mirror “The Virgin Too”.

 

T H E   P A S S I O N

  

This is a picture of the stained glass in the Church of St. Alphonsus, or widely known as the Novena church. I overlaid it with pictures of a lit and burnt matchstick.

I wanted to feature a flame as it symbolises passion. The main story I wanted to tell through this image is that the match, which represents me, burns with a passion for my faith that is very bright, but it was short-lived and I am left burnt out and weak. The stained glass sets the stage of the Catholic church, which represents Catholicism.

What I would do differently/improve: I like the image, but maybe I could also explore other ways to depict them together more cohesively, in the image itself and together with the rest of the series.

 

T H E   E U C H A R I S T

  

One of the first images that came to mind. There’s something about close-ups of body parts that is equally creepy, disgusting, yet intimate and emotional at the same time. The image of the cross against the tongue/mouth (it tasted ew), to me, primarily symbolises the act of consuming the religion. It also parallels the act of receiving the body of Christ, as you would at the end of a Catholic mass where the congregation would line up to accept communion. A piece of unleavened bread similar to a wafer (not that I know cos I’m not allowed to take it yet), called the host (also called hostia, sacramental bread, communion wafers??? lol), symbolises the body of Christ. You take it as part of a sacrament called the Eucharist.

  

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53–58)

Immortal bread? Dang. Not immortal in the physical sense though – mind you. Honestly I am finding out so much about the host and the communion by trying to write this and realising I don’t know jack shit and researching and realising that I was only participating cos apparently that’s just what you do in church.

The image is altered such that it looks almost perfect, shining – exactly how spotless and easy I hope believing in a religion was to me.

What I would do differently/improve: Make the crucifix stand out even more. Remove the magenta tint from the highlights and get them shining.

 

T H E   D E V O T I O N

  

This Bible was gifted to me by my family for Christmas a few years back. I was very happy to have received it, and it became a great source of consolation for me for the next few years. I would go to it when I needed some strength.

In the previous iteration, I featured a scene with candles burning atop a Bible, covering it in dripping wax, with star sequins all around.

There was no indication to the viewer that the book in the picture is a Bible, and there were other interpretations involving candles, books and stars, so I decided to explore another take on this idea. I took a simple picture of my bible.  I remembered that it had “Holy Bible” on its cover, but apparently it didn’t, so I wrote it myself with a gold pen HAHAHA. After printing, I used a lit candle and dropped wax all over the photo, taking care to cover the “Holy Bible” words, but not completely.

The Bible represents my faith and the candles represent my devotion. Candles are widely used in my experience as a Catholic. In my family, we would light candles up in prayer. Often we would say our names when setting the candle up. It symbolises our presence.

At the same time, candles can also represent the passing of time, and them melting into a messy puddle shows negligence – in an almost poetic manner.

Together, through this image, I tried to illustrate my investment in devotion and prayer without paying attention to understanding the religion itself. The candle wax covers the bible, across the border of the photo, covering the words of “Holy Bible”, ironically because I was spending so much time praying, to a God I claimed to know.

 

T H E   W I N D O W

This glittery, made up eye represents a sort of evil for me. As the Catholic community that I was in was a more conservative one, I have often felt the need to dress in a reserved manner. I understand and respect the need to dress appropriately in a place of worship, but outside I felt like a hypocrite for wanting to dress up, and by dress up I mean loudly or vibrantly, and not necessarily in a revealing manner. I should feel free to dress the way I’m comfortable with. The sequins and glitter represent that guilty extravagance for me.

The eye is not only a huge part of an identity, it is also the window to the soul. Right in the centre of the eye is a distorted picture of an angel, which represents the ‘evil’, defiant, distorted side of me.

Other than that, the eye is also part of the symbol called the Eye of Providence. It represents the all-knowing God, with a triangle around it to symbolise the holy trinity. The eye in this photo does not only symbolise looking into my true self, but also that God sees and knows who I truly am. What interests me about this symbol is that it has associations with the Catholic church but also the Illuminati and the eye of the dajja (devil), so it becomes ambiguous, and somehow becomes an example for how symbols are often given meaning by humans, through association. How valid do these symbols become, then?

 

T H E   B L I N D

 

I laughed so much making this photo. The eyes are hilarious! Look at how earnestly and blissfully this girl is praying, but also look at how f a k e this is!! lol. In the past, I prayed with all my heart, confessing my crimes, asking for forgiveness, for help, to protect my loved ones, etc. When I started to become conscious of my faltering faith, it felt weird to pray – who was I talking to? I felt that I was only doing because humans needed someone or something to rely on, to dump their troubles upon, to relinquish responsibility for their fate, to pin an explanation to the unexplainable.

This photo expresses how blind I was in my faith, praying to a God I didn’t know.

Me putting on fake eyelash lolll

What I would do differently/improve: Maybe I could have explored adding highlights or shiny parts to the background and eyes. 

 

T H E   R O S A R Y 

The rosary is a significant symbol of Catholicism for me. To me, it distinguishes Catholics from Christians (don’t get me started on the countless denominations pls). My mother would also often pray the rosary and when I finally learnt how to pray with it, I did so during important or trying times. It helped me keep track of my Hail Marys. It was interesting because prayer beads are something that is also widely used in other religions, such as Buddhism and Islam.

The rosary here symbolises the Catholic religion to me. I am shown with my hands behind my back, bound by a rosary. Here, what I am simply trying to show is how I felt restricted and bound by my religion. Yet, it was something I accepted, as shown by the lack of struggle.

Through this project, what I realised is that I only felt bound because I didn’t fully understand what I was involved with by participating in the religion.

What I would do differently/improve: I would explore a more close-up shot with the lilies framing the hand and rosary closer, and a wider shot too. I would also like to try to make it look more uncomfortable, and to make the rosary dig in to the flesh even more. 

 

T H E   R E D   H A N D

Main idea first came when I was watching this music video by Cuco.

Screenshot from Cuco’s “Keeping Tabs (ft. Suscat0)” music video directed by Cirqua

A pretty simple representation of the devil – but somehow I was really interested in the use of body paint after seeing this. I wanted to use body paint!!! I was thinking of using other colours – but there were too many other connotations / possible misinterpretation. Blue – Smurfs, Krishna; Yellow – yellowface; Black – blackface; Green – Hulk, etc. Hence, I stuck to red – it’s a strong, impactful colour, and can have many interpretations.

After reading up on flower language in Catholicism, I settled on using the most basic, significant flower – the white Lily. It symbolises “Mary’s Immaculate Purity”. I went to the flower market with the intention of getting fresh lilies and baby’s breath, or other pretty flowers. However, after seeing the plastic lilies vs the fresh lilies, it struck me how so much prettier and convenient the plastic ones are. I thought it was apt to represent my faith – how fake it is.

Actual devotion would be like handling actual flowers – you need to take care of them, trim the leaves, put them in water, add flower food, wait for them to bloom, and even then you wouldn’t know whether it would bloom nicely. Not two flowers are the same. Yet, with the plastic ones, they look great, are permanent, and need no upkeep.

At the same time, the red hand represents my vices, my other side, or my true self. I tried a few different hand positions, but I felt that the simplest one spoke the most and its ambiguity leaves room for interpretation. I thought the middle finger was funny, but this position where the hand seems to be just reaching in, relaxed, maybe about to touch the flower, I thought was so soft yet the colours make it striking. You can’t decide whether the hand is invading the space, about to taint the apparent purity of the flowers, or does the hand actually coexist with the lilies?

After the first presentation, I further edited the photo to remove the yellow from the lilies so they appear even whiter.

T H E   P I C N I C

This picture depicts me, dressed as Mary, having an apple in a picnic with fruits and wine (actually Ribena lol I included the cartons). At the same time, I am Eve, and this depicts the first bite, the first sin, the first disobedience. In the photo, I am seemingly in a picnic, with a few items “hidden”. They include the jar from which the apple was presented (in “The Candy”), and a toy snake, amongst others.

I took a few different poses in this scene, and spent quite some time deciding on which expression and pose would be apt, as they would tell different stories. I liked all of them, but I settled on this one as you could see almost a change in the character –  you know that this isn’t the same Mary you saw in “The Virgin”. With the bite made clear through the bitten apple, and with the red finger tips and smeared lips as extra visual cues, it is hinted to the viewers that the bite changed the character, that it is almost contagious. I look into the camera knowingly, acknowledging that I took the bite, that there is a change in me.

What I would do differently/improve: After looking at it again and again, I’m not sure if the red boxes around the jar and the apple are working… I don’t think I need them. 🙁 

 

T H E   C A N D Y 

 

A recurring symbol I wanted to have was the red hand. Along with the other pictures in the series, it could be concluded that these hands belong to the red devil/Mary in “The Virgin Too”. The main symbol in this photo is the apple, shiny and delicious, inviting. It represents sin, and all the knowledge of the world. It alludes to the scene in the Garden of Eden where Eve, egged on by the serpent, consumed the fruit of knowledge that God had forbidden them to eat.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

The Fall

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

– Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17, 3:1-7

The hidden message in my photo is that consuming the apple was Eve’s choice. The serpent coaxed her, but it was her decision to take the apple, eat it and give it to Adam too. This is shown in the photo through the pretty jar held by the red hands, idle but inviting. The hands present the apple in a shiny glass jar (actually plastic and from Daiso lmao), and the human hand (with normal skin colour) is the one lifting the lid off the jar, actively reaching out to the forbidden fruit. Through this picture, I wish to express that as humans, our sins are our own decisions and we should take responsibility for them.

 

What I would do differently/improve: I’m not sure what I don’t like about the picture, but maybe I wouldn’t have done the green gradient at the background, which gets weirder the more I look at it. It’s too bad because content-wise it is one of my favourites. Maybe I should have tried a black or dark background instead, so that the jar would pop out more. The reason why I wanted to have the green was because the jar was blending into the background a little too much. I also had fun making the glitter apple in real life, but forgot to use it for the shoot, and tried to photoshop it in, but I could have just added the glitter on the physical printed piece anyways.

 

T H E   P A S T

This is a simple picture of me praying, overlaid and slapped on a church background (more specifically the Church of St. Alphonsus a.k.a. the Novena church). Signifying the past, when I used to go to church, the photo illustrates how I was in church, yet not really. I loved to go to church to pray, but less often did I enjoy or was invested in mass or any of the readings. I often fell asleep (guilty lol). This was the past.

Funny thing is, I actually attended mass to take pictures of the church (The angel in “The Window” was also from this church haha), which I hadn’t done in a really long time. It was nice to pray again, but I still fell asleep lol.

 

O V E R A L L

The photos were arranged in a mindful manner, and viewed together, was meant to give certain hints or information that would help understand other photos in the series. For example, “The Antichrist” was placed above “The Eucharist” as the strong line fell perfectly continuous to the chain of the rosary. This was meant to sub-symbolise the blood of Christ materialising into the body of Christ. Another example is “The Virgin”. With this photo, hopefully viewers understand that the same character is in “The Rosary” (through the white dress). Similarly, hopefully viewers would get that the red hands belong to the “devil-like” character in “The Virgin Too”.

 

R E F L E C T I O N

Being distant from my faith the past few years, my excuse was that I didn’t have the heart to get to know my religion a little better.

This project has allowed me to confront that ignorance and explore my faith a little bit more. In no way is my work 100% comprehensive of my experience, or meant to be informative for the audience, but it was a good and really fun experience getting to find out more about the meanings behind the different symbols and why we do things as a Catholic through researching, sourcing for props and materials, and doing the shoot itself.

This has been a really fun class, and I’m glad to have met Bryan and the classmates. Easily one of the best and most memorable classes I’ve had in my experience. Thank you to everyone!

 

Project 3: First Part – Amen, lol

F I N A L   I M A G E S

 

C O N C E P T   /   A R T I S T   S T A T E M E N T ( I S H )

Amen, lol is a photographic series birthed through me questioning my relationship with my religion. Through the creation of the pictures, I set out to explore what my Catholic faith is to me through the use of and/or reinterpretation of symbols and imagery from Catholicism/Christianity.

 

P R O C E S S

^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/3.2, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 800, focal length 59 mm

 

^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/5.6, shutter speed 1/60, ISO 1600, focal length 42 mm

^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/7.1, shutter speed 1/20, ISO 1250, focal length 55 mm

 

I D E A T I O N   &   E X E C U T I O N

(Here comes the long part cos I just love to talk sometimes lmao so read if u wanna this is all super extra info and for personal reference)

Through the many weeks in class, we have been exposed to many inspiring artists and photographers. The ideation for this project started when Bryan asked us to borrow a book on a photographer’s specific works from the library. I didn’t have specific photographers in mind, and spent some time just browsing. I ended up with Christopher Anderson‘s SON, Nikki S. Lee‘s Projects, and Pierre et Gilles‘ Pierre et Gilles: Double Je, 1976-2007. I was inspired by Anderson’s use of light, Lee’s characters, and Pierre et Gilles’ style and elaborate mise en scene.

   

In terms of concept, I was deliberating on exploring family relationships, music, or the Jakartan food/visual culture, as I tend to lean towards more personal topics. However, I wasn’t so sure, and neither did I feel too inclined towards any. It was only when I thought about religion that I felt I could come up with something meaningful, and have fun in the process.

As someone who is in the midst of soul searching, there was a great fear in me to face this topic as it would mean that I would need to confront my original faith and my doubts about it. 

Watch the video above to get a glimpse behind Pierre et (and) Gilles’ workflow (and their dazzling abode)!! It’s really cool to see their extensive preparation documented in a video. From sketching and planning to props-buying; taking test shots; Pierre shooting; printing on a large canvas; applying varnish; Gilles using paint to deepen colours, add highlights and glitter; and finally adding and decorating the frame, which they regard as an extension of the canvas and serves to complete the piece!! So extra, so gaudy but so good??!!!

Ok so I was inspired to use Catholic symbols along with other funky materials. I thought that I could explore using man-made or flimsy, temporary (transient?) materials like plastic, foil, aluminium and paper to represent me making light of this ‘situation’, or how silly religion feels to the logical me, who recently realised that I had been believing in the religion blindly my whole life.

But r e a l l y, at the same time, I’m questioning the authenticity of my faith – when I had it. I said I believed, and I genuinely meant it, but looking back I didn’t understand shit about Jesus, Catholicism, religion, or life even!?!? So, what was it that I believed in???

After some sketching and brainstorming I chose 3 ideas to try to pull off.

Here’s the story behind the pictures:

 

One of the first images that came to mind. There’s something about close-ups of body parts that is equally creepy, disgusting, yet intimate and emotional at the same time. The image of the cross against the tongue/mouth (it tasted ew), to me, primarily symbolises the act of consuming the religion. It also parallels the act of receiving the body of Christ, as you would at the end of a Catholic mass where the congregation would line up to accept communion. A piece of unleavened bread similar to a wafer (not that I know cos I’m not allowed to take it yet), called the host (also called hostia, sacramental bread, communion wafers??? lol), symbolises the body of Christ. You take it as part of a sacrament called the Eucharist.

  

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53–58)

Immortal bread? Dang. Not immortal in the physical sense though – mind you. Honestly I am finding out so much about the host and the communion by trying to write this and realising I don’t know jack shit and researching and realising that I was only participating cos apparently that’s just what you do in church.

The image is altered such that it looks almost perfect, shining – exactly how spotless and easy I hope believing in a religion was to me.

 

Pretty simple. The main items are the Bible and the candles. The Bible represents my faith and the candles represent my devotion. Candles are widely used in my experience as a Catholic. In my family, we would light candles up in prayer. Often we would say our names when setting the candle up. It symbolises our presence.

At the same time, candles can also represent the passing of time, and them melting into a messy puddle shows negligence – in an almost poetic manner.

Together, through this image, I tried to illustrate my investment in devotion and prayer without paying attention to understanding the religion itself. The Bible is untouched, unread, its pages sealed by the wax dripping over, ironically because I was spending so much time praying, to a God I claimed to know.

Main idea first came when I was watching this music video by Cuco.

Screenshot from Cuco’s “Keeping Tabs (ft. Suscat0)” music video directed by Cirqua

A pretty simple representation of the devil – but somehow I was really interested in the use of body paint after seeing this. I wanted to use body paint!!! I was thinking of using other colours – but there were too many other connotations / possible misinterpretation. Blue – Smurfs, Krishna; Yellow – yellowface; Black – blackface; Green – Hulk, etc. Hence, I stuck to red – it’s a strong, impactful colour, and can have many interpretations.

After reading up on flower language in Catholicism, I settled on using the most basic, significant flower – the white Lily. It symbolises “Mary’s Immaculate Purity”. I went to the flower market with the intention of getting fresh lilies and baby’s breath, or other pretty flowers. However, after seeing the plastic lilies vs the fresh lilies, it struck me how so much prettier and convenient the plastic ones are. I thought it was apt to represent my faith – how fake it is.

Actual devotion would be like handling actual flowers – you need to take care of them, trim the leaves, put them in water, add flower food, wait for them to bloom, and even then you wouldn’t know whether it would bloom nicely. Not two flowers are the same. Yet, with the plastic ones, they look great, are permanent, and need no upkeep.

At the same time, the red hand represents my vices, my other side, or my true self. I tried a few different hand positions, but I felt that the simplest one spoke the most and its ambiguity leaves room for interpretation. I thought the middle finger was funny, but this position where the hand seems to be just reaching in, relaxed, maybe about to touch the flower, I thought was so soft yet the colours make it striking. You can’t decide whether the hand is invading the space, about to taint the apparent purity of the flowers, or does the hand actually coexist with the lilies?

It’s challenging to confront the reality of why I’m on the edge of my faith… and the results often make me, and maybe some viewers, uncomfortable, but I think it’s a good reaction.

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun.. and also learning about my religion. HAHA looking forward to completing the rest of the photo series. Also watching American Horror Story (“watching it for class”) and I’m loving it!

 

 

Project 1: Portrait (Updated)

F I N A L   I M A G E 

C O N C E P T

In this shoot, I tried to capture an affectionate moment between my friend and her boyfriend. They’re both from Indonesia, but while my friend goes to NTU, her boyfriend goes to the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. They were from the same high school, went their separate ways, reconnected and became a couple. Being in an LDR, they don’t get to physically meet each other often. When her boyfriend came to visit, I asked if I could take pictures of them, cos I’ve always found them cute together. Stepping into their personal space, I find myself allowed to share and capture this intimate moment between them.

 

I D E A T I O N   &   E X E C U T I O N

Earlier on the semester I took test shots of my friends, and was happy enough with them that I wanted to use them, but I realised that I didn’t shoot in raw 🙁

So I went on to plan another shoot with my friend, whose boyfriend, incidentally, was visiting. Without getting my hopes up, I proposed the shoot and thankfully, they were willing to do it! I thought it was a great opportunity to have fun, and to end up with something memorable, as we shot on the day that he was leaving Singapore.

We met up in Chinatown and went to a random alley. We planned to do a much more elaborate, experimental look, so I brought a luggage of loud clothes and makeup with me. Due to time, we ended up just taking photos of them in their own clothes, but I think it ended up giving a really nice pop of colour.

Later on, I just randomly tried using the huge sheet of translucent cloth I brought, and though the wind made it challenging, it was quite fun experimenting to see what works.

P R O C E S S

  1. Cleaning – used the healing brush and clone tool to remove any distinct imperfections. Also used the clone tool (1st submission I forgot what tool to use so I actually used brush HAHA it kinda worked tho) to fill in some parts of the hair to naturalise the edges and fill in emptier parts and the sideburn.
  2. Dodge and burn – brightened and darkened some areas to even the skin tone and lighten lines and dark circles, cos nobody wants to know about how we burn the midnight oil.
  3. Separation frequency – using the Colour and Texture layers, I gaussian blurred the skin out for that healthy glow we love but can’t maintain.
  4. Cleaning 2 – I went back to heal more areas, including the mouth areas (teeth) and some uneven surfaces around the sideburn and the male model’s hairline.
  5. Liquify – I used liquify to smoothen the slight bump on the boyfriend’s nose, narrow it down a little bit, and smoothened out my friend’s chin (a.k.a. removing dat double chin).
  6. Sharpening – I did a high pass layer, but lowered down the opacity and fill to only about 10%, as I figured that I much prefer the blur as it emphasises the glow, and enhances the lighter feel of the photo. Similarly, I added grain to even out the editing processes, but not too much that it would take away the lightness of the picture.

Technical specifications
Shot on Canon EOS 800D, Aperture f/2.8, shutter speed 1/250s, ISO 100, focal length 24 mm

    

After Critique / Final Submission Improvement

The above documentation and process is of the second try after the critique. I decided to add another cleaning layer and re-do the liquify layer, as I was really irked with how my friend’s sideburn turned out with the uneven skin.

These are some of the additional parts that I decided to edit after the critique:

  • Both models’ necks
  • Both models’ mouth area
  • Area under female model’s nose
  • Area above female model’s eyebrow
  • Removed high pass and grain since it did not contribute to the light and glowy mood of the picture

Takeaways/Afterthoughts

  • I really enjoyed this project as I like people as a subject matter.
  • It was fun to get to know Photoshop a little deeper.
  • The critique made me realise to be more meticulous.
  • After the second revision, what I think I can still improve on is getting the hair texture right, especially those at the edges. I think I’m still learning to find that natural balance.
  • Also, I am still scared of liquify.

Click here for the Photoshop .psd file

 

4D (II) Exhibition Review 2 – Elysium Artists for the Arctic

When I was just a child, my favourite season was winter. The idea of ice-cold snow falling and covering the earth in white was a dreamy concept for me, having grown up in a tropical city. I’d imagine making friends with polar bears, going fishing in my fur coat and boots, and coming home to my comfy igloo.

While the fascination has worn off a little, I am still amazed by the Arctic, and would really like to visit it at least once in my lifetime. However, with global warming, my dream is threatened to stay what is is – a dream. I found out about “Elysium Artists for the Arctic” that is being exhibited at ION Art through an online promotion. It seemed to address my worries about my dream:

Elysium Artists for the Arctic began as an epic expedition to the high Arctic in August 2015. An explorer team of the worlds’ most renowned and respected photographers, cinematographers, explorers, artists and scientists, spent three weeks travelling through Norway, Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland, in an effort to both qualify and quantify human-induced climate change in the Arctic. Regarded by climatologists as one of the most enchanting and critically important ecosystem on our planet, the Arctic is not only fragile, but under severe threat from the warming of the world’s climate. 90% of earth’s most respected scientists agree that human activities are the principle driving force behind our current climate crisis.

– ION Orchard Webpage

Since I was going to be in the area anyways, I decided that I might as well visit the exhibition. After going to pick up my new phone (this is why I have my own pictures for this exhibition!!) from an aunt who helped to bring it to Singapore, I made my way to ION and headed for the gallery.

Greeted by a series of panels explaining the exhibition in short, I was excited for the films or documentaries that were said to be included in the list of works.

There were paw prints on the floor, so I followed them in. 

These two sets of photographs were on the corridor on the way into the main space.

This is what the entirety of the space looked like (there’s more on the right side of this picture) The paw prints led me in a circular path along the walls where the photos were hung, with quotes printed under them in varying sizes. 

Here were some that stood out to me:
I feel so scared for the little polar bear, clearly forced out of its elements just to hunt for its survival!


I love the pictures of the icebergs, they are beautifully captured, illuminating the deep sea.


Some evoke empathy in viewers.


I like the placement of the photographs that illustrate a story about the polar bears.

There were also two videos playing in different sections.  

Since the gallery was closing, I couldn’t stay to watch the entirety of the videos, but the idea I get is that they were showing some footage of their exhibition, with polar bears roaming around sparse snowy mounds and audio of different people explaining the Arctic’s demise. 


Overall, there were some photographs that stood out and made me wonder about the fate of the Arctic and our world in general, should we continue to be negligent about changing our destructive ways.

However, I do think that the exhibition was lacking in a number of ways that undermined its potential to stir up a more concrete response from the audience.

First of all, I felt that the usage of space could have been much better. Instead of just going around the walls, maybe they could have partitioned the space into areas that showcase different parts of the Arctic, such as icebergs, glaciers, polar bears, and seals separately. This arrangement would feel less random and would make use of the empty space in the middle better.

I also felt that if they maybe dimmed the lighting and use spotlights on the photos and quotes, it would create a darker and more serious mood, in accordance with their message.

The videos could have been much more engaging too, I feel, as they were presenting the facts in a monotonous manner. They could have played more with the use of music and not just spew out facts. I also think that the videos simply being played on the standing TVs, with no specific area dedicated to them, weakened their impact.

It would have garnered more attention if they were played with projectors on the walls.

All in all, I like the message they are trying to bring through, but I feel that the exhibition did not do their expedition justice. I understand that there may be limitations not known to the audience, and this is what they could come up with. The paw prints did bring a small element of interactivity, though.

It is hard to believe that the Arctic truly is melting and that there is a possibility that future generations may only know of it through history books.


After going for this small exhibition, I learnt quite a number of things about art presentation and how this could affect audience’s perceiving of our work. I really think that although the space was small, the exhibition could have so much more impact than it has now, if the presentation was enhanced!

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.

MAIN CONCEPT ◊ 

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.

◊ DESCENT ◊ 

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. 

1013 18

◊ HOLE IN THE GROUND ◊ 

24

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.

30 32

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.

37 42 46                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 This section is based on a prominent dream from my childhood. I was in Primary 1 and I had a dream of my mom chasing me around the house and up the walls, in order to chop my head off so she could gift my flowing head of hair to my short-haired aunt who requested for it. Using this, I tweaked the conditions and characters a little so that it would fit into the theme of falling. In terms of technique, I tried to intersperse long shots and medium to close-up shots to create a sense of rhythm and dynamism, including point of view shots to give it a sense of urgency.

◊ UNENDING STAIRS ◊

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.

54

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. 

63 66

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.

◊ SEA/SKY HYBRID ◊

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.

73 76 80 84

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.

87 89

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.

90

 

◊ STYLE ◊

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

lonely-diver

Eugenia Loli

loli-4 loli-5

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.

 

◊ FINAL PRESENTATION AND REFLECTION ◊

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.


fireandice1

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

fireandiceangry

In anger, passion and confrontation,

fireandiceapart

a relationship could end in an inferno.

fireandicecoldness

In apathy, indifference and detachment,

fireandicedie

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


◊ TASK 2 ◊ OBJECT ◊

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


◊ TASK 3 ◊ MY WORLD ◊

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


◊ FINAL PRESENTATION LAYOUT ◊

rsz_2016-08-29_054302_1

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.

2016-08-29 05.40.50 1

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. 

rsz_4d_proj1_6

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. 

◊ NAN GOLDIN ◊

“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. 

DSC_2323JPG DSC_2324JPG DSC_2325JPG

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.

DSC_2331JPG    DSC_2328JPG

4d proj1 3

◊ CINDY SHERMAN ◊

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.

◊ IRVING PENN ◊ CHRIS BUCK ◊

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.

◊ METRA BRUNO AND LAURENCE JEANSON ◊

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.

rsz_img_7059

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.

2016-08-28 043802 1 2016-08-28 043950 1 2016-08-28 044008 1

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

01.1_SASLIM_C
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.

DSC_2082JPG DSC_2085JPG DSC_2096JPG DSC_2099JPG DSC_2114JPG
I tried documenting my journey home to Dunman High School Hostel.

DSC_2127JPG DSC_2126JPG

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)

cameron-im-dying

Props as Signifier

◊ SIGNIFIER ◊

2016-08-22 045911 1rsz_2016-08-22_043422_12016-08-22 043517 1

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.

◊ SIGNIFIED ◊

2016-08-22 050417 1
Wealth, luxury item (feat. Shuyi)
2016-08-22 050829 1
Death, old age
2016-08-22 045727 1
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.

c8fb62819173bd76a5bba84ca13e03f619bc3f38
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.

tumblr_mh78sc0GTP1rmtenjo1_500
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