Project 1A: Curating Self – Research and Process

In this article, I’ll be elaborating on the Research and Thought Processes that I used to arrive at my final product for Project 1A: Curating Self.

Task 1: Self



For the topic of Self, I decided to use the images to represent myself in the real world, and my interests as a person.


Origami Scream

For Origami Scream, the centerpiece of Self, I chose to replace my face with a piece of modular origami (made with 30 pieces of A4 paper) I had made a few years ago, to represent my love of creating things. The use of a filter to only show the color of the origami was to draw focus to it, as well as signify how my creations are more interesting than myself sometimes.

I also make this face when people tell me I have a brand new Project due in two weeks.

I also drew reference from a painting, The Scream by Edvard Munch. I used the origami head and held it in a way that slightly resembled Munch’s painting, as a way of saying I create things and origami as a way of emotional expression and relief.

WoodHand Filtered

Wooden Hand

For Wooden Hand, wanted to showcase my interest in man and machine interfacing, as I have always been interested in the concept and idea of transhumanism. However, because we have not reached such a golden age of Bionics, I used wood to signify the sadness of being born too early to witness such an age.

A Promotional Image for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I wanted to capture the essence of this image but with a primitive medium, wood, to signify the wrong age.

I also took reference from one of my favorite video games of all time, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which explores the theme of transhumanism with advanced mechanical augmentations and religious iconography.

Legohand Filtered

Lego Hand

For Lego Hand, I wanted to capture the feeling of creation, as since young I have loved building things, be it from Lego blocks or with other materials. I wanted the hand to have a slight sense of divine power being cradled within, and hence I tried using the concept of implied line with the lego blocks to create a focal point above the hand; a focal point that in the final presentation, would lie somewhere above the head of the Origami Scream.


Task 2: Object



With Object, I wanted to use my object to showcase the other side of me: the virtual self. I consider myself to almost have an alter ego in the virtual world; I built my own desktop, and run a closet Youtube gaming channel, and before I entered ADM in NTU, I played a variety of First-Person Shooters competitively (TF2, CS:GO). Hence, I chose my trusty Foxbat gaming mouse to convey this other side of me and the changes to that lifestyle with the advent of ADM life.


With Reflection, I wanted to play with the way that the mouse light reflected on the black table I put it on. The use of a white backdrop halfway and reflection of light signifies how the mouse is a medium between two worlds; because the mouse is a physical object that controls almost all your movement and interactions in the virtual world.

Except that I don’t smile when people cut my head in half.

I also used extra saturation to intensify the reflected light on the table, to further bring out the effect that in the virtual world, people only see you and understand you as what they can see; the light you choose to show and reflect.

I See You

For I See You, I used the mouse to replace my eyes and most of my face, as in the virtual world people only understand you through what your character does; and much of that is controlled through a mouse. Because the mouse is used to control a character’s field of view in video games, I felt it was very apt  to use it as my “eye”.

Mechanical Eye of the protagonist of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen. Sexy.

He’ll be back. My grades won’t.

I used B/W filter on everything except the red light of the mouse, to create a focal point and deepen the sensation of being watched. This was also a reference to the mechanical / robotic eye concept in transhumanism, and a red laser eye is most often associated with those of Terminators, a cautionary tale against the dangers of Artificial Intelligence.

Setting Sun

For Setting Sun, I chose to utilize Christian Iconography of the Cross. The mouse in hand signifies how my expensive, self-built computer sits at home collecting dust on weekdays when I’m at University, pinning me down as I feel its potential is going to waste.

“Oh $2k rig, why hast thou forsaken me?”

The disconnected mouse symbolizes how I am disconnected from the virtual world, my computer and communities I used to be very active in before coming to University; it also signifies how I was recently kicked out by my Competitive TF2 Highlander Team, as I was unable to commit to their schedule and the university’s at the same time. Also because NTU firewall blocks TF2 Servers.

Fun times are over boys 🙁

The use of the color orange with my arm being the horizon is used to signify a setting sun, as I know this phase of my life is for the most part over, an end of an era.


Task 3: Place – The Cathay


I chose the Cathay as it is a place of very vivid and good memories, where I went for many dates with my girlfriend of 2.5 years. As such, I chose to capture or create effects around the Cathay that were unique to me, and not often seen by the casual passer-by.


Increased Colour Saturation and Lighting.

In the first image, I took the exterior of the Cathay and used saturation tools to bring out the vividness of the colours, to reflect the vivid and colourful memories at this place.


Increased shadow values to maximum, then increased colour saturation


This image was heavily edited from the original source image:


Ah, the wonders of Photoshop

I wanted to capture both the darkness of the cinema interior while at the same time create an effect that resembled light, memories in the stream of time. To emphasize the “memory” lights, I chose to increase all the shadow values in the image and increase colour saturation, which resulted in a very surreal and abstract end product very different from the original image.



Added a Cross-Process Filter and slight increase in light and saturation values.

For my third image, I chose to capture another core aspect of the movie-going experience: popcorn and movie food. By overall increasing the warmth and yellow values of the image, I tried to bring out the sensation of smelling buttery popcorn and the rich aromas when near the snack counter.


Slightly increased shadows, slightly increased colour saturation. Next time you go to the Cathay, try finding this part of the building! 🙂

The last image captured a side of the building that few people see; despite the Cathay having a modern look, there is a part of it that still holds the old essence of its infancy. The Cathay was a place that even old couples built many memories on due to its long history as a place of dating and movies; I wanted to capture the feeling that my experiences with the place, while unique, are similar in nature to the countless others who visit the place.


Final Presentation:


Self was presented with Christian and Buddhist Iconography in mind. The two hands’ positioning resemble wings of an angel, and the use of multiple hands is a reference to Buddhist or Hindu statues with multiple limbs. The two black backgrounds for the hand also serve to contrast against the brightness of the centre image, which draws focus towards the Origami Scream. Lego Hand’s lego pieces create an implied line that creates a focal point somewhere above the head of the central figure, similar to how the Greeks used slanted pillars in the Parthenon to create a divine focal point above the building.


Object was presented with Christian Iconography in mind, and utilized the line of the shoulders in I See You to connect all 3 images together via black line. It is a reminder that despite my disconnection to the virtual community, everything is eventually connected, and on weekends I still keep in touch as much as I can.


Place – The Cathay was presented with white borders, as I felt it resembled Polaroid photos, like snapshots of moments in time. This was conceptually in line with the idea of capturing vivid memory from the place.


I feel like this exercise allowed me to flesh out a lot of ideas, interests and emotions I had during my transition to University life in ADM. It also taught me that pictures did not have to be literal, that an image of self need not be my own face.

Overall, my main takeaway is that the composition of image and use of image editing programs can create totally new meaning and interpretation of a picture, and I hope to expand on this concept in the future.



Reference Image links:

Robotic Hand from Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The Scream

Reflection Image concept

Terminator Red Eye Concept

Adam Jensen’s Mechanical Eye

Crucifixion Imagery

Setting Sun Imagery

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