Life and Death: Documentation


Programme Purpose/Objective

The main purpose of this installation is to allow participants the chance to take a step back to evaluate their lives so far. The installation aims to evoke recognition of the fast-paced lifestyle Singaporeans have in general. It also allows participants to reflect on the qualities of their life experiences and authentic connection they have with the things that truly matter in life. It also questions them on the meaning of their lives so far – if they were to die in this instant, what sort of legacy would they have left behind, and would it be something they could be satisfied with?


Programme Rationale

Singapore is a fast-paced society and there is rarely any time for people to slow down and truly appreciate life. We thus felt it was necessary to remind participants to take a breather and rethink the value of their lives.


Programme Details

The installation comprises 2 rooms, both of which are expected to work independently as well as together. The first room is a narrative recreation of Singapore’s fast paced life, and will end in the ‘death’ of the participant. This is followed by the second room which allows for the participant to do a self reflection of his/her death.


Artistic Direction

Life experiences differ from person to person, and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible to whoever that would be viewing it. The installation thus has a mixture of both literal and abstract elements. This allowed us to create a more poetic narrative that was more flexible, allowing participants to slip into the character portrayed.

We will be making use of sound, videos, voice overs and props to create the desired atmosphere. To ensure that participants are able to understand the installation, we decided to make only the voice over explicit while the rest of the mediums will be kept abstract.

Room 1

As mentioned earlier, the first room is a narrative re-enactment of Singapore’s fast-paced lifestyle. The room is set up with 3 projected screens adjacent to one another.

In this room we use the metaphorical representation of water as life and merge it together with scenes of the protagonist’s life. The protagonist is never explicitly shown, allowing participants to insert themselves into the narrative and relate the events with their own lives.

The three screens are played in sequence and document the growth of the character from a toddler to a teenager to a young adult respectively. Interlaced with the scenes of the character’s growth are scenes of coloured water droplets being dropped into a tank full of water. The water represents life, and the different coloured droplets represent the memories, experience and feelings associated with each growth stage.

The first screen narrates the toddler stage. The tank of water starts of transparent to represent the character’s innocence and purity. Her first memories, which are represented by yellow droplets are seen penetrating the surface of the water before spreading outwards. The screen then shows clips of a young kid playing with toys and having fun in the playground. The screen then fades back to the now yellow water in the tank.

The second screen starts playing as the first screen continues showing the yellow colours fusing with the water. Red droplets are added into the yellowed water, and is then overlapped with scenes of the character’s slow submission to teenage pressure and rebellion. She is stressed from studying and is too absorbed by commitments which result in negligence of her family. The screen fades back to the water, which is not a mixture of yellow and red. The water is now turning darker and murkier, symbolising the chaos and impurity in her life.

The final screen starts playing as the second screen continues showing the yellow and red tainting the water. This is overlapped with scenes of the character descending into a downward spiral in her life. She starts smoking, and is increasingly distant with her family. She is then seen fainting as the fast pace of her life has finally caught up with her and her health. She dies, and only realises the important things in her life during her last moments, when it’s already too late for her to change anything.

The screen turns black. Black is an irreversible colour, which means that the addition of other colours will not change it. Her life is over, and there is no turning back.

Room 2

While Room 1 focuses heavily on using videos, Room 2 shifts towards the usage of props and performance to create a reflective mood for the participants.  In this room, a mock ritual for the dead has been set up.

The room is darkened as much as possible, and a table is setup at the end of the room. On the table lays different objects that are related to death. They include red string, candles and flowers commonly used for offering. In the center of the table lies a dirtied glass bowl. This is a connecting element for the 1st and 2nd room, and is representative of an empty life vessel. Life, symbolized by water, has been drained out, and only the ugly stains of the black contaminated life has been left behind.  Behind the table stand a mirror that reflects the face of those who enter the room, and is meant to prompt participants to look at themselves and self-reflect.

As participants enter the room, a short performance is also put up. A male and female stands on either side of the table. They have a short dialogue about the character in the previous room.


Female: She didn’t have to die this way.

Male: But at least she was doing what she loved

Female: But what does that amount to?

Male: Have YOU lived a fulfilling life?

Female: Or are you just chasing after happiness that is only temporary?

After this short dialogue, an usher will come in to encourage participants to have a silent self-reflection for a duration of 1 minute. The narrative her is kept short as the main highlight here is the participants’ own involvement in the room.


Target Audience

Students of the School of Art, Design and Media and NTU aged 19-30.

Research Paper

For this project, we aimed to tackle and address the issue of leading a fulfilling lifestyle in a modern context. We observed that many youths face the similar issue of being overwhelmed by school work and other commitments, and often had little quality time with things in life that truly mattered. (BBC, 2007)

In our research, we came across one particular trend that had a huge impact on our artistic direction.

Due to high societal pressure and escalating suicide rates, the ‘Near Death’ movement has become increasingly popular in South Korea. This movement aims to address this issue by giving participants the chance to detach themselves from their fast paced lifestyle to reflect on their lives. As such, multiple ‘Fake Funeral’ services have been conducted across the country.. In this particular one, they are lectured by a philosophical guru and invited to write out their own eulogy. After that, they will be placed in a coffin for 30 mins to experience death. The act of being enclosed creates a deafening space of endless darkness, and the atmosphere allows the participant to evaluate their lives from a objective and detached point of view.  A lack of self reflection usually leads to people feeling lost and depressed, and this death meditation in the enclosed space forces them to look within themselves for answers that they have been seeking, but thought they didn’t have.

Another work we came across was Christian Boltanski’s The Heart Archive. Occupying a space in a museum on the uninhabited island of Teshima in Japan, this artwork collects heartbeat sounds from all around the world. Participants are invited into a room where they listen to the sounds of their own heartbeats through a headset. After that, their heartbeats recordings are saved and used in subsequent set ups of the art piece. The heartbeats are immortalized, and remain as fragile remains of their existence on earth.The work makes one contemplate on bereavement and what we remember during our existence on earth. As you take part in the installation, it evokes a sense of uncanniness which acts as a mirror of what lies ahead and our nonexistence in it.  The artwork questions the impact left behind by each individual whose heartbeat sounds have been recorded, and we believe the fragile and faint nature of the recordings makes one ponder on the meaning of their lives, and how many people they have impacted. It also relied heavily on symbolism and non-literal ways of portraying the theme, which we found interesting.

We believe these two artworks were greatly valuable and conveyed an important message. We thus decided to reference these two particular artworks/movements in terms of artistic style and content.


Life in the fast lane ‘speeds up’. BBC. BBC News, 2 May 2007. Web. 4 May 2007. “Fake Funerals in South Korea.” Vice. Vice Japan, n.d. Web. 21 Apr 2016.

Demetriou, Danielle. “Boltanski’s hearts don’t skip a beat.” The Japan Times. The Japan Times, 6 Aug 2010. Web. 4 July 2013.

Waters, Florence. “Christian Boltanski: The Heart Archive, Serpentine Gallery, review.” Telegraph. Telegraph, 12 Jul 2010. Web. 6 Aug 2010.

Artist Statement

Sheng-si (translates to Life and Death) is an immersive video installation aimed at the everyday individual. Through a series of video projections and an interactive performance, it addresses the the issue of a fast-paced lifestyle through a series of literal narrative scenes and abstract imagery. Drawing reference from the fake funeral trend in South Korea, Sheng-si ultimately aims to take participants through a renewal on their view of life and their purpose.


Group Artist Statement



For this project, I was mainly involved in pre-production. Because of the size of our group, there were a lot of challenges during the planning and conceptualisation of the installation. Because we had a total of 6 people, it was very hard for us to consider and include everyone’s input.

Our ideas changed a lot over the couple of weeks we had for this project. Our initial train of thought was to make it much more abstract because we wanted our installation to be very open to interpretation. For instance, we initially took inspiration from Christian Boltanski’s work, and wanted to have a dying heartbeat in the first room, while the second room would be more closely set up as a place of mourning with groups of flower petals and candles placed all around the second room. However, after consultation we decided to make it more accessible and understandable. Addressing the concern of whether or not participants would be able to understand our message, we eventually settled on using a mixture of abstract and literal elements. While we felt the previous idea was more poetic, it would have been harder for audiences to understand our message. We thus modified our content in a way that it would keep in line with our artistic direction of being metaphorical and symbolic while still being easy to understand and digest.

Overall, this project really gave me insight into planning a artwork with both the artist and audience in mind. This meant that the artists’ vision was achieved while still consciously taking into consideration the audience’s enjoyment and audience experience.

There was also a lot of trial and error involved in the process of planning our content and set up. The good thing was that we were a big group, and there were always a lot of suggestions for what we could try next.

Final Installation


(To ruyi: I know you were worried about our mental health, but don’t worry. You don’t have to be!)







4D Project 2: Sound

Sound Clips:

Track 1: Horror Scene

Track 1: War Scene

Before starting on the project, I first made it a point to go to youtube to listen to different movie and game trailers to get a better sense of the ambience and atmosphere for each situation/genre.

Track 1: Horror

I did a quick google search, and here are some of the trailers/soundtracks that I referenced:

(list clown / creepy videos)

(American Horror Story Freak Show Main Title)



The scene opens with the character being caught in the rain late at night. Seeking shelter, he enters the first building that he sees. It becomes quiet, and something behind her drops to the floor. She hears a sharp whistle, and a jukebox suddenly starts playing as she hears someone breathing heavily in the room. She turns behind just in time to see a clown laughing at her. Before she is able to react from the shock, the clown lunges at her, ripping her body apart. His laughter reverbs and the scene cuts back to the exterior of the building.

Breakdown of Sound Clip/Explanation:

Initially, I wanted the scene to happen in the character’s bedroom. She would have woken up from her sleep only to find that the clown from her nightmare had come to life. However, I realised the idea was a bit hard to execute without visuals and decided to change the idea. The clip was also supposed to start off with a soft rain sound (to suggest that she was sleeping soundly during a rain before being woken up).

I believe most people feel comforted, cosy and relaxed when they hear rain sounds, and I thus wanted to invoke this false sense of security before the events in the scene unfolds.

I then added in the creaking floor boards so that listeners would know that she had entered a older house since we normally associate creaky floor boards with old, large houses.

This was then followed by a low hum that ended with the sound of something crashing. This was intended to contrast with the otherwise quiet and monotonous sounds that preceded it. I then overlapped the jukebox, clown laughter and deep breathing (which was recorded by me) to create more depth to the sound. I then added in various gore sounds to imply that the character was attacked and mauled by the clown after being discovered. The sound that fades out, and the rain sounds fades back in again to give the impression of the camera panning out of the scene and into the exterior of the building in the rain.

I also added in 3 ambient sounds that stayed constant throughout the whole clip. The clips were static noises, a indoor basement room tone and a brass metal sound.

Track 2: War

These are some of my reference videos:


The scene starts from a wide angle/bird’s eye view of the war that has just started, and war cries and various monsters can be heard engaged in battle.

Various weapons can be heard. These include catapults, swords, box and arrows and spears. The soldiers wield weapons, while the beasts fight with their own strength.

The focus is then brought to one particular battle between the 2 chiefs of the individual groups. One of them is struck down fatally with a sword, and he dies, and the scene ends as he takes his last breath of air.

Breakdown of Sound Clip/Explanation:

The setting of the story is supposed to be a mesh between fantasy and war. The original idea was to have two contrasting groups go to war at one another. One such example would be magic wielders vs melee fighters. However, I realised that it would sound very messy and confusing without any visual aids. I thus decided to focus on a war between two different melee groups.

To bring across the idea that the war is set in a fantasy world, I added in various monster growls and grunts and overlapped it with other war noises. Other war noises included horses galloping, soldiers’ war cries, bow & arrow sounds and the clashing of swords.

It was difficult to think of ways to wrap up the war scene, and I thus decided to end the scene by zooming into someone dying. This gives the impression that someone important/crucial to one party has died, symbolising the end of the war.

To illustrate the idea of the main character dying,

Rather than being the ‘main’ war scene in a movie, I imagine this clip as a flashback of a past battle/war that ended in a way that was rather swift and uneventful (as compared to the climax of the movie). If not, it could be used as the opening of the movie to establish certain contextual knowledge/history about the parties involved in the war.

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Project 1: ALTER EGO

Fictional Characters

  1. Phoebe, Friendslargeoriginal

    Phoebe is a character that has gone through ups and downs – her father walked out on the family when she was young, her adoptive mother killed herself, and she was left to live on the streets. She has a rough life and never experienced a normal childhood.
    Instead of becoming a directionless and life-less adult, she rose above her past and became an incredibly zealous adult full of passion and optimism. She doesn’t shy away from her problems and deals with them with courage and honesty. She doesn’t back down when her principles are challenged. However, she also sees the best in people and can be naïve at times.She’s also eccentric and unpredictable, and has fun no matter what she does. To sum it up, she’s quirky, had a unique way of seeing the world, and is a very upbeat person filled with genuine love and concern for the people she holds dear to her.Throughout the seasons, Phoebe became more normal. By the end of the series, she had found and reconciled with her biological mother and father, gained a half-brother and was happily married with plans of having children. It was a vast difference to the eccentric and free-spirited hippe she was introduced as. I think the major dilemma she faced as a character was thus choosing between remaining a free-spirited and eccentric character or becoming someone she needed as a kid (stable and normal).

  2. Chihiro/Sen, Spirited AwayTop_image_article_COH

    Chihiro was thrown into a situation that even an adult wouldn’t know how to handle. In the spirit world where nothing made sense to her, she had to step up and learn how to be self-sufficient. This is a stark contrast to the whiney and seemingly dependent child she was before the journey.She was also optimistic and trustful of the people who helped her, treating them with respect and sincerity despite the apprehensive circumstances she was in. Her situation was certainly chaotic and she was soon stuck in the dilemma of either prioritizing the rescue of her parents vs rescuing Haku, the first person who offered her help when she accidentally entered the spirit realm. However, by the end of the movie, she has developed enough courage and wit to conquer all the presented challenges.


  • Dukseon, Reply 1988Dukseon is the main character in the Korean drama Reply 1988, and is the middle child of a family in debt. Despite being the victim of the middle child syndrome, she is still considerate of her parents and tries her best to be a good daughter.
  • Mulan, Mulan 
  • Olive Hoover, Little Miss Sunshine



 Public Figures

  1. Jenn Im
    Jenn Im is a famous youtuber. She has over 1 million subscribers on youtube, and I think the reason she is able to draw in such a huge number of followers is because of her bright personality.She is very individualistic and has a very distinct fashion style that is flexible yet unique. She is also incredibly articulate and well spoken, being well versed in all sorts of music and literature. However, she doesn’t come of as pretentious or snobbish. Instead, she gives off a very approachable vibe as someone who is more than eager to learn and share her knowledge. She is also a go-getter, and seems very focused and clear on her goals.
  2. Hani, Part of K-Pop group EXIDAs with most K-pop idols, Hani is under a lot of pressure to be the perfect role model. The thing I appreciate the most about Hani is her candidness and slight disregard to the idea of being feminine. She is comfortable with herself, and isn’t afraid to be seen in a way that may come across as undesirable or unglamorous. She comes off as a genuine and down to earth character despite her success.However, being an idol does have its downsides. Because of how competitive the industry is, there is a lot of pressure on keeping a squeaky clean image. Most idols thus lie about dating due to the fear of loosing fans. She was recently criticized for previously stating that she wasn’t dating prior to paparazzi uncovering her relationship with another idol.I think this sort of dilemma is very relatable in everyday life – do you be true to yourself and your character, or should you play it smart and give your friends and those around you what they want to see/hear?
  3. Emma Watsons
  4. Jennifer Lawrence 
  5. Youngji

    Shares similar traits with Hani.


People you know/have known

  1. MotherMy mother is an extremely resilient person who always puts others before herself. Although she is quite a tough woman, she too has her limits. Despite that, she is always constantly pushing herself and always does what’s best for the family rather than what’s best for herself. She is incredibly independent and brave, becoming a waitress after 10 years of being a housewife. Despite that, she adopted very fast because of her willingness to learn, her flexibility, and her affable nature. She is always quick to familiarize herself with people, and gains the support and help of people as she is sincere towards others. However, being so nice has its downfalls too. She might sometimes stretch herself and overcommit to the idea of helping others that she fails to take care of herself. This selflessness is definitely an admirable aspect of her, but also takes a toll on her.
  2. Stephanie
    Stephanie is a close friend of mine. Similar to my mum, she is extremely resilient. She is fiercely independent and a strong worker, but can also be extremely naïve and scatter brained around friends. She is firm and resolute, and will not be pushed over by people. At the same time, she is always kind and supportive of friends, and is a great source of levelheaded judgments and encouragement.
  3. Ericia
    Ericia strong-headed and stubborn, and is never afraid to speak her mind and fight for what she thinks is best.
  4. Jesca
    Jesca is loud and bright, and is always positive no matter what the circumstances are.
  5. Aunty Cecelia

An incredibly warm-hearted woman who was always there when you needed her.