Project 1B: Fire and Ice – Research and Process

In this post I’ll be going through the thought process and methodology I used to arrive at my final images used to describe the poem, 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 favor 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.
For this project, I tried using a wide variety of concepts to analyse the poem, and tried to break it down into individual ideas and base each image around it.

Image 1: General Theme -Fire Vs Ice
FireIce Street

“Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.”

During preliminary brainstorming, I wanted to have one image that symbolised both the world around us, and how it was split between two types of death: Fire and Ice.

The Cold War is often used as an example of how icy tensions and brinksmanship by both the USA and USSR almost led to all-out nuclear destruction.

The idea of the Cold War came to mind, but I decided it was a little too overused. I soon realised that with the General Elections coming up soon, I didn’t actually have to look far to find something that symbolised tension, conflict and disagreement over the future.

Even the colour palette was perfect.

This being the first time I could vote in a GE, I decided to capture that feeling of tension in my neighbourhood. My GRC was Marsiling-Yew Tee, a new ward that was contested by the “incumbent” People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

Dr Chee Soon Juan, leader of the SDP, at a GE2015 rally. Besides Red being the primary colour of the SDP, I felt it also represented the Fire within Singaporeans and the outspoken social media support for them.

As such, I took a picture of my street, utilising the concepts of vanishing point and implied line, to create a sense that such conflicts had no visible end.


Original image. Note the use of the white road line, and central horizontal axis, to create a vanishing point at the centre of the image.

I proceeded to use blue and red tinting, the colours representing each party, as well as ice and fire respectively, to show the division of the world, and the sense that whatever was chosen, it still would lead to something dark down the road.

Image 2: Fire

“From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.”

For me, desire and fire leading to the end of the world was not so much that human passion and willingness to fight over ideals would lead to war and the destruction of the world; but rather that the concept of “desire” and human decadence in general would lead to the damnation of society.

Original Image. My hand on the right, my girlfriend’s on the left.

First, I took a picture that I felt represented passion, excess and unforeseen consequences. The use of hands symbolises how humans’ indulgence in the sensual and comforting, especially with the advent of global wealth, are the root of our demise.

A Lorenz Attractor, a mathematical Chaos Theory model and one commonly associated with the Butterfly Effect.

The formation of the hands resembles a butterfly, a reference to the Butterfly Effecta scientific and literary term used to describe how small actions can build up to massive changes and consequences later down the road.

I don’t think this one needs much explanation. Hell is hot stuff.

Finally, I applied a Neon Filter effect to the image, which inverted the colours of the image and turned the shadows of the image into a red-tinted white. This created a burning effect, as though the butterfly was on fire, while the wood grain of the table behind created a very fiery hell-like effect. This was in line with the concept that our decadence was leading us to damnation, and the idea that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.


Image 3: Ice


“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.”

For the concept of Ice, I wanted to create the idea that human selfishness and coldness to each other was slowly freezing the world and that frost was slowly killing everything good about the world.

To be fair, London’s weather is pretty much already like this all the time.

I decided to go for an “Ice Age” effect, without using literal buildings being frozen as often seen in post-apocalyptic media and film. Hence, I decided to use a plate with plant and leaf motifs to symbolise the Earth and its greenery.

The Blue and Green of the plate symbolise the purity of the plant life of Earth, and the Oceans.


I wanted to create an effect where the ice from within people, within the world, was slowly freezing the world over, and blurring everything into frozen white.

Taking reference from the line “if it had to die twice“, I decided to superimpose two similar images over each other in a fashion that made the viewer feel that the ice in the centre was encroaching upon the rest of the world. The result was an image that had a mass of frozen white in the centre.

Fun fact: the Norse version of hell, Helheim, is not fiery, but rather frigid cold. Mostly because it’s for cowards and you’d generally theme your crappy afterlife option after something that sucks in your daily life. Y’know, Scandinavian weather and all that.

Finally, I applied a blue tint filter to cool down the image and reinforce the sense of ice and frigidness.


Additional Musings:

After in-class review, some of the takeaways I had was that while each concept image was strong in itself, they did not have a central theme and were not linked to one another. I will take this into consideration for future projects.

Another feedback was that the images were overly quiet and did not have much in the way of human interaction or presence. This will also be addressed in future 4D projects.

Reference Image Links:

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