Month: February 2016

风中飘逸 (waywardness of the wind)

风中飘逸 (Waywardness of the Wind), 2016 Feb, HD 720p, 5mins, digital video.

What I wanted to achieve was to sort out the different feelings I get about Ann Siang Hill and how it all coalesces to a singular feeeeel which is the quietness that I really like about this place. In all spirit of waywardness I allowed my pen to dance me along. Ann Siang Hill has a great history, culture and change that is all happening and coexisting in just the right amounts for now. That’s why I like this place as compared to touristy Chinatown opposite the road. But I am slightly worried that a few years later, this place might be over-run by tourism too. So I just hoped that through urbansketching, film and even a little bit of poetry, I can delve into a feeling that the thoughts that flutter in the wind. And express my hope that such urban leisure spots in Singapore can remain as they are and continue to develop naturally without the external input of redevelopment policies.


For the video process, I filmed most of it myself, so i did require some problem solving. The shots of me going up the stairs were actually filmed by strapping my camera amongst the trees on the lane below. That’s why there is a gentle swaying about.

Screenshot 2016-02-29 03.26.30

As for the voice over, I had to write a script and record it in a relatively quiet room. It was better for me to express myself in Chinese.

I had to match and sync all that in with the music. So I managed to roughly split the video into 3-acts:

  • My discovery of Ann Siang and the stark contrast to the surrounding Chinatown.
  • My urbansketching journey and the discoveries of the place.
  • My afterthoughts and reflections on future developments of the place.


I know that this is not a drawing or a 2D project, but I really got caught up in the moment. I could not stop drawing at the place so I ended up going there thrice in the past week to get the footage because I will spend the time sketching and not noticing the time. Then I’ll realize that I need to go back the next day to ACTUALLY DO FILMING. Would have gladly spent the whole recess week over there.

Screenshot 2016-02-29 03.38.34

Here is the sketch that I did:

Ann Siang Hill pana1 (2)Ann Siang Hill pana1 (3)

2016 Feb, 150 × 841mm, pen on paper

And here is the bit of poetry I wrote. It is actually  the 天净沙(tien jing sha) verse arrangement from the Yuan Dynasty poet 马致远 (ma zhi yuan).

绿荫 旋梯 鸟花

书香 咖啡 溜达

音乐 彩灯 酒吧

我 执笔画下

风声飘逸的 (唦唦)

I like how he used the poetic form  of the  散曲(san qu) to evoke a sense of wandering, and so I attempt to emulate that.


Also just considering that if this work were to be actualized for an exhibition, I would definitely like to have my drawings framed up outside the viewing room for the video footage. This project has been really refreshing and as an urbansketcher, I see potential in using film as a medium to carry my sketches in it. This might be a future consideration for my next urbansketching excursions.

Project 1: Typographic Portrait

This is my final submission for the project (physical form):


This are the raw scans without borders:



And I am BILINGUAL (148 × 210 mm, pen on paper)


And I tune in to ALTERNATIVE ROCK (210 × 148 mm, mixed media; acrylic, pen, monoprinting on paper)

this is a bit of an “interactive” piece, see the vid below


And I am an INFANTEER (148 × 210 mm, mixed media; pen, acrylic on paper)

fabian dance

And since a long time ago I’ve always sought companionship in my UMBRELLA (105 × 296 mm, digital photo, image manipulation; print out)


This is a piece that I was initially considering for one of the final:


And I am an Urbansketcher (Pen on paper, digital scan and image manipulation)

Here is some of the research and exploration that had been done.


Research for “I am BILLINGUAL”.

Had to negotiate between Chinese calligraphy strokes and the introduction of English alphabet. I had practiced Chinese Calligraphy for quite sometime in my childhood, so it was a kind of cultural and formative dialogue as I endeavored to  put two and two together.


Research for ” I tune in to ALTERNATIVE ROCK”.

Had to think about how to bring out the energy and spontaneity of the music I listen to. Decided to in cooperate the equalizer lines into the work.  And of course, I certainly tuned in to rock for the creation of this piece. Found a new favorite track in the midst of it too, it’s called “The Bees made honey in the Lion’s skull” by Earth, it is really good.  If you are interested>>>


Research for “I am an INFANTEER”.

Had to recollect my memories from Jungle survival training. Weaving my name into the form of a temporary shelter we had to piece together out of wood and leaves.  The camouflage pattern we use also made me draw some reference to Mondrain’s New York Boogie Woogie (1943).


Research for “since a long time ago I’ve always sought companionship in my UMBRELLA”.

Just messing around with poses and digital editing. Had to do quite a bit of contortion for some of the letters. And, yes, I do have a great habit of bring an umbrella around when I leave home, in case of a rainy day.


Other research for ideas that did not come to fruition in the final:


Research: A visit to 安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill)

安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill) is an enclave of cultural heritage, untold stories and quiet peacefulness. Rare, in the bustle of modern day Singapore city centre, especially when it is just at the edge of the busy and touristy Chinatown. There is a lot that interests me here. And  I really like the Chinese name of this place which means blissful mountain.


It is not a very huge place. Club street, Ann Siang Rd and Gemmill Lane pretty much delineates the perimeter of the little hill.

Screenshot 2016-02-14 20.29.20

Some brief history: Up till 1892, this was the house and estate of Chia Ann Siang, a rich Hokkien Sawmiller from Malacca. Before that some rich white guys grew nutmegs in the area. The rest of the houses started lining up the street in the next 40 years after Chia’s time. This place also used to be a Cantonese graveyard. It was also a popular place from the illiterate Chinese to get letters written and sent to their hometowns, and they called this place 青山亭 (pavilion of the green mountain, i.e. a place to connect with home in China)

But now,

This place is home to various Chinese clan associations. I went into one called the 广惠肇李氏书室 (Kwong Wai Siew Li Si She Shut) once before and discussed Chinese calligraphy with some old guys. This a Cantonese family clan that are still actively promoting Chinese literature education and culture till today. There are also some huge houses that are very overbearing and the word ‘FORBIDDEN’ is almost spelt out  loud by the looming gates that guard them.

There is also an active and exquisite hipster-clubs-and-cafes-lineup in this area. Such as the Screening Room which shows some films from time to time in the 3rd level of the building. After watching, you can head up to the roof to chill at the bar there. There are also many other cafes in the area. Just google lady iron chef and you should find something nice.

There are also bookstores and some ‘atas’ art galleries here. People don’t really want to talk to you though (less the old guys at the clan house), so I think there is a lot of stories that are untold about this place here. But it is okay because I like to explore and wander.

So the lack of human interaction  sort of naturally bring you to the more deserted parts in an already rather empty Ann Siang Hill. Ann Siang Hill park – Back alleys riddled with interesting passageways, refreshing greenery in an urban garden, romantic spots to sit in the park. I find that Chinatown is just saturated with touristiness so it is really refreshing to come close to the edge and let the quiet lanes and nature transport you away.

At the end of the park path, there is Amoy Street Food Centre which has really great food. ‘Lor Mee’ on the 2nd floor here is a must try. A cup of ‘Teh Tarik’ and the ‘Sarabat Biscuit’ to compliment it is the real enjoyment. My parents used to frequent this place when they went on dates.

Interestingly, my girlfriend and I come to this place often too. We did not know the coincidence of my parents frequenting this place, when we started to visit it. But it has been awhile since I went to visit this place, because she is studying overseas now and I do not come here alone that often (if not too EMO already, right… )

So brings me to the main thing I like doing here recently is to sketch, because the buildings are so full of character, I spend ages just admiring them.



To sum it up, 安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill) is a place that has a comforting sort of quiet, there is so much heritage going on in the details and stories here, even with modernization and the conservation the new things like clubs and cafes prove to be really exciting and artsy as well. There is good food, nice foliage and great memories here for me. I think that coming back here last week to see what kind of an artistic response I can give for this project is really refreshing. I realized that  I really forgot about enjoying in this place except that last semester I had some filming going on here but that did not count as we were busy working and I could not stop to relax the way I do here.

I actually want to spend more lazy days sketching and eating here, like I used to 🙂

Homeward Swirls (photo series)

Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.11Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.17 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.22 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.27 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.32 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.38 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.42 Screenshot 2016-02-02 22.38.47

A Projection of Memory

Still Photography, 8 images, 4065 x 3049 pixels each.

This work was titled in retrospect to match the title of the final film. The title speaks for the work. This is a projection of my memory of walking home, which may (or mayn’t) have been distorted in the recesses of my mind. I intentionally created a disconnection of space and time through the use of projection, inspired by the rear-screen work of Cindy Sherman, where a believable-unbelievable environment can created. I juxtaposed this with the use of personal items in my hall where I reside on campus so as to encapsulate these found objects to give off a surreal-ity.  The viewer can read it conceptually or in the form of narrative. This open-endedness offers, I hope, a distorted, faraway feeling that I wish to express.


The set-up for framing the projection shots.

Screenshot 2016-02-02 23.09.50Screenshot 2016-02-02 23.10.20

The preparation for the shot involving the vacuum cleaner “sucking out” the projection image.

Screenshot 2016-02-02 23.09.56Screenshot 2016-02-02 23.10.10



Still images has a somewhat a daunting constrain that I think impeded me in this project, simply because I had more to tell than it was possible to convey through such a delivery of presentation. Admittedly, I do not see myself as have much experience or aptitude for photography. I do not comprehend the design rules involved, like say the rule of thirds, in which how they create an aesthetic quality. To me, these feel like the safe routes and I will not use them for the sake of staying safe. I wished to convey the concept of a break in dimension, a sort of paradoxical space if you will, and the search for a method of visual communication led to the use of projection. I was in a situation with no equipment and low budget, so the solutions devised and creative problem solving routes taken would have to be simple and to the point. So it was definitely easier in the further development of the project into the moving images as I could convey more and express more. The ‘fan spinning shot’, ‘stop-mo’, recurring imagery like the ‘finger walking’, all these were much easier to come up with and readily blended straight from my brainstorming into execution, much like impasto onto the canvas by the Post-Impressionists.

Sound is definitely a main factor in my work. I have begun thinking, in fact, since the capturing of the still images of not just how my work is seen but also how it sounds. The class critique elated me to the fact that they were similar in opinion as I was that my work was a sound of distortion, of disconnectedness. Hence I sourced a soundtrack done in the style of alternative rock from the 70s, with a Russian blend to it, which I hoped brought out that “out-of-placeness” when partnered with the visuals. Another sound I captured was the whirring sound which I repeat everytime we get back to the “fan spinning shot”. That was actually the sound of the light switch played backwards, to give this vagueness of a kind of foreign sound, akin to both a sound a time machine in sci-fi movies would make and a film projector would give off. I felt no need for voice-overs, as to me the medium is the message and I believed that I conveyed somewhat sufficiently and that I could be assured and allow the viewer to fill in their response from the law of enclosure.