Monthly Archives: March 2017

Project 3: Controversial artist of the late 20th and 21st Century – Research

One of the controversial video installations that I have researched is a silent film by David Wojnarowicz. The name of this film is called “Fire in my Belly”. Shown in 1987, it caused an uproar because many people believed that the artist was trying to bring Chritianity down by having an imagery of Jesus Christ with insects that are crawling all over the figure. The overall colours and concept of the video are very dark. Other than the controversial scene that I have explained, there are other components of this film which involves dripping of blood, a rotting hand, knitting of lips, burning of the world map (which I thought was the most impactful scene) and people performing in the circus. The techniques he used for this piece encompassed many sudden video transitions, playing with lighting (which can be seen in the bread scene in 14:32 of the full video above and also the very vigorous flickering of light at 16:38 and 19:03)  His rationale for this piece was in memory of a friend that died from AIDs. He was also suffering from the same condition when he created this video. This video was to express his feelings that the world had abandoned him as the US did nothing about this problem for many years. He felt that he was suffering the same amount of pain as Jesus Christ hence, using the figurine of Jesus Christ which caused a controversy due to religious reasons.

Another controversial piece I have researched is a performance art by visual artist and New York University professor Wafaa Bilal. This piece, called The 3rd I encompassed Bilal to have a titanium plate implanted into the back of his head, while a camera was attached capturing an image every minute for 24 hours a day, automatically posting online ( He did this performance art in 2010 and for one year. According to Bilal, it would raise “important social, aesthetic, political, technological and artistic questions,” It is also said that he wanted to capture the mundane while not knowingly taking the pictures. This indeed would cause a controversy with people’s privacy being invaded and having footages of people taken without their permission. Due to this, Bilal’s college required him to take the camera down as well. I believe another factor to have cause this controversy is due to the fact that an object was being “injected” or “semi-inserted” into his head which could be viewed as gruesome to some in the general audience.

The last controversial piece that I will talk about is a video art made by Bill Viola named “Anthem” in 1983. This piece which includes stereo sound and collage of footages of ripped food (which could be inferred as body parts), fire from factories, piercing screams of a girl/demon who is standing in the chamber of Union Station in Los Angeles, x-ray scans, stationary vehicles (giving me the impression that he is trying to portray the image of engines and probably an analogy of the energy from human bodies) and more, cars streaming along a highway, blood flowing through veins, modern surgical technology and tree branches in an ancient forest. For Bill Viola, the piece is a ritual evocation of “our deepest primal fears, darkness, and the separation of body and spirit.”. Tantric Buddhist chants (ritual exorcism and conversation with demons) were depicted in this film. The original scream is extended in time and shifted in frequency to produce a scale of harmonic notes that forms the soundtrack. For me, I believe that the discomfort and slight fear that one would probably gather from this piece is the reason for its controversy and the confusion that it might cause due to the random footages of subjects which I myself found it hard to link together.

Overall from my research, I feel that as time elapsed, it is evident that the advancement of technology has allowed practices done by artist to become even more bold and allows the space for them to express their interest and carry out their ideas. Without the advancement of technology, Wafaa Bilal would not be able to monitor the raw and mundane happenings around him. It was due to the quality of the camera being compact which allowed him to record footages conveniently. He was then able to gather the most “genuine” sights since people around him would not be aware of the gadget that is on his head. Also, in terms of video art and films, in contrast to the past when technology is limited, videos in recent years are more refined and then there’re more software developed to encourage the use of special effects and computer graphics like After Effects.

It is also evident that in the past, the skills in production especially in videos were not as refined as how they are now. As we can see in Bill Viola’s video, the footages of the video seems to be abrupt (but it could be on purpose for greater effects as well). As for the “Fire in my Belly” video, to introduce tension and maybe fear when it reaches the end of the silent film, he increased the transition of the different scenes to add in a sense of confusion and terror – a very simple technique I feel but it achieves its purpose. In contrast, in the recent years, sound is the main technique when it comes introducing tension especially in films done by James Wan who does a very wonderful job in Horror films like Conjuring and Annabelle. The mood of the video is indeed enhanced by this technique. Being a fan of Royston Tan’s short films, I also feel that sound is an essential technique in setting in the mood and context, not just in the aspect of horror and terror but other moods such as heart-warming and evoking a sense of nostalgia.




4D II Project 2 – Soundscape

For this soundscape project, I did a sonic portrait of my mom. The reason for choosing my mom as my subject is because I realise the sounds that are related to my mom are sounds of childhood, which is meaningful to me. These are the sounds that I have been listening after I am dismissed from school from kindergarten till the days when I was in junior college. And also, I realised that amongst the people that I observe, I actually observe my mom the most in my life due to me being inquisitive ever since I was a kid.

In this soundscape, there are some elements of what I thought were some iconic elements that remind me of my mom. Although the sounds depict the subtle things that she would do around the house, they still instil a sense of nostalgia. My mom is the only one who would wear bedroom slippers around the house. Spraying the plants instead of watering them (very inefficient). Settling down for a cup of iced milo and butter crackers before cooking for dinner. And also, I remember her tuning into 958 FM (she refuses to tune into 933 FM) as an accompaniment while she cooked for dinner.

All in all, I would say the concept of this soundscape would be more oriental, raw and homely.

The sounds in this soundscape are all recorded by me except for the radio static sound.

  1. Opening of metal gates
  2. Handling of the keys
  3. Footsteps
  4. Spray can
  5. Water from the sink
  6. Dropping ice into the drink
  7. Stirring of drink
  8. Munching on biscuits
  9. Flipping of newspapers
  10. Starting the gas
  11. Turning on the radio
  12. Taking out chopping board
  13. Taking out ingredients from plastic bag
  14. Chopping of fishcakes
  15. Frying of fishcakes
  16. Clearing of throat

As for research, I went to listen Hildegard Westerkamp’s Kits Beach sound walk. I really like the variation of volume, allowing me to imagine the distance of her from the ducks and that she was near to the crashing sounds of waves, just the space between her and the subjects at the beach in general. This inspired me to have a variation of sounds in terms of the volume and the direction as well. Whenever my mom comes back from work, the sound of the gate opening would always be from the left as I stay at my study table and also since my room is far away from the gates, this explains the low volume of the gates. In contrast, the dropping of keys on the table and frying of dishes will always be remembered as the louder movements.

Also, as for the background sounds, I decided to use the sounds in the morning when there are sounds of bird chirping to depict a more peaceful mood when my mom is having afternoon tea.

In this soundscape, I  tried to feature a few movements of my mom at once such as listening to the radio while cooking, reading newspapers while munching on food because my mom is known to be a multi-tasker. And in fact, she is very good at it. I actually focused a lot on my mom cooking because when I was young I would always sit at the dining table and watch her cook and I would remember how the sounds of the radio diminishing as she is trying to fry food. These are the little details that I have noticed and they’re edged pretty vastly in my mind.

So, all in all, presenting to you, Nostalgia.



Project 2 – Zine: On-Site Research + Online Research

The place that I have been assigned to is Kallang. However if you are a true blue Singaporean, you would know that Kallang alone is a large scope to look at. The area with sports arenas at the Stadium near Kallang Indoor Stadium? Or the older aspect of Kallang near the Old Airport Road?

I decided to set my perimeters just in the area of Dakota Crescent in Kallang.

When I researched about Dakota Crescent, I felt pretty ignorant because never have I known that this place encompasses a rich history, even before Singapore’s independence and is now on the verge of disappearance due to Singapore’s future renewal plans for Mountbatten announced in 2014. Dakota Crescent is characterized by low rised buildings situated not far away from the city area. The estate, together with Tiong Bahru, was designed by Singapore Improvement Trust, before it was handed to HDB.

There are many interesting elements to the 17 blocks collectively. I saw for myself the “ancient” lift, not typical of Singapore’s flats to have which only travels to the first, third and sixth level. The lift is dimly-litted with its long fluorescent white light and a small screen with the numbers “1, 3, 6” on it which lights up whenever it reaches the levels respectively.

As you walk further in to Block 10, you would see the very iconic “Dove” playground which I would call it one of the “legedandary” playgrounds in Singapore aside from the “Dragon” and “Sampan” playgrounds. Very different from the typical playgrounds in Singapore, characterised with rubbery mats and plastic structures, the playground is made of stone, concrete and finished with tiles of maroon and gentle strobe of blue. The railings, I would say, is the mini accent to the playground with its vibrant colours of green, red and yellow. But of course, the highlight of the playground would be the figure of the dove which suggests the name of this playground as well.

When I was walking around this playground, to be honest, the only people who walked by me seemed to come from the Old Airport Road, probably from the food court opposite. Other than that, the only living beings were stray cats and there were many of them in this neighbourhood.

Other characteristics which I adore about this neighbourhood are the lamps and the window grills. The lamps stuck on the walls do not look like they’re from the concrete jungle but very vintage looking and I guess they seem to have some sort of British influence to it. As for the window grills, they have some sort of floral patterns to them and not typical black squares or lines of window grills which I find pretty dainty and interesting, especially because they are finished in pastel colours.

Admittedly, I found it creepy to venture around this estate which was near full abandonment. But it is saddening that this place is on the verge of disappearance with signs of flats and playground being abandoned since the government announced that the residents ought to leave the estate by the end of 2016. I feel that citizens ought to make a trip down to witness this estate before it is being wiped out since it is the last of the past to make it till this date. Conservation efforts have also been imposed. On Facebook, there is a group called “Save Dakota Crescent”, a group which focuses on ideas and thoughts about the renewal of this estate.

When researching, I came across news that involve the commotion of whether this estate, so rich in history, ought to be renewed.

This news is from the straits times. If you all want to read about it, the link is here:

And last but not least, the very reason why the renewal of this state is so heart-wrenching – the residents who had their hearts in this neighbourhood for the longest time.

Credits: The Straits Times (