-TASK 1: OBJECT AND REPRESENTATION OF SELF-
Upclose of Object
Close up of me interacting with Object
Figure shot of me interacting with Object
Mid range cropped shot of me with Object
DECIDING ON MY OBJECT
I thought about the objects that have shaped my life. My very first electronic toy (a Tamagotchi), my first handheld console (a Nintendo DS Lite), my very first handphone (a hand-me-down from my older sister)… These are all things that have altered the way I communicate with the people, the way I enjoyed things in life. But going even further back, there has been one item that I have been attached to all my life quite literally.
So I embarked on the journey of interacting with my chosen object. This happens to be an object that I am very much attached to – my handkerchief (which I affectionately call my hanky or chou chou for short. I will call it my hanky for convenience’s sake for the rest of the post.)
The story behind the hanky is that I used to have a whole set of handkerchieves dedicated to the sole purpose of collecting my drool while I slept when I was an infant. I never had any attachment to a pacifier, or any particular pillow for comfort. It was a simple handkerchief which had a very utilitarian purpose in my parents’ mind, but it was something that I found my comfort in since I was young. I have been extremely attached to my hanky, to the extent of refusing to go to sleep without it, and many family members and close friends have poked fun at me for being so attached to a seemingly useless piece of cloth.
Untitled Film Still #3, Cindy Sherman, 1977
So one of the artists I like to refer to is Cindy Sherman, a American contemporary photographer, who tends to talk about the identity of women represented in the media. Although my chosen topic is not in this area, I found her works still very emotionally moving, and able to convey messages effectively through her techniques, such as using a crop that leaves the viewer wondering about what is outside the frame of the photograph, as seen in Untitled Film Still #3 above. Although this photo (like most of her works) has a more provocative tone, the cropping method is still one that makes me think it is a successful work in getting the message across.
Untitled Film Still #58, Cindy Sherman, 1980
Another method that Cindy Sherman uses is the voyeuristic viewpoint of her works. By using a voyeuristic viewpoint, the subject will appear more vulnerable as someone is gazing without the subject’s knowledge. It leaves more to be wondered about… is the figure being spied on? Or is there a third party in the room that is unseen? The different vantage points that she uses also adds value to the works – the low vantage point gives the woman a more powerful stance, while a higher vantage point makes the woman look more vulnerable and reliant. For me, I think the higher vantage point definitely works better for me, just the subject (aka me) will seem to be more… unguarded and sensitive, in my own space, and the voyeuristic aspect of the angle adds to the meaning of the work.
The works that I’m referring to are mostly in Black and White, giving a more nostalgic feel to the images. My chosen object, my hanky, is reminiscent of my younger years, which gives me the option to make it black and white to give the sense of nostalgia. Instead, I chose to edit it to be less saturated (close to Black and White but not really. I have issues completely committing to B&W so I chose the middle ground.) It still gives off the sentimentality that I want for the set of photos.
Comparison between the original image (big) and the desaturated image (small)
Alsoooo if you notice I decided to use chiaroscuro to my advantage. I decided to use a natural light source aka my window, but restricted the amount of light with black out curtains. The more dramatic lighting adds to the nostalgia, whereas fluorescent lighting in the room gives a more clinical look that I don’t want.
Sooooooo let’s look at some of my fails (:
Me in my natural habitat.
Unfortunately this image is not in my final selection because it doesn’t have the hanky as the focus of the photo (in fact you don’t really even see it. Oops.) But I do appreciate the voyeuristic view of the image.
Me using my laptop while holding onto Hanky.
I changed up the angle for this one, but for some reason it doesn’t exactly show my nostalgia, so I decided against putting this into my final choices. But I do like that it does show the attachment that I have towards my hanky. I do bring it around pretty often. You may or may not see it in my backpack, but it’s usually there on days when I’m feeling particularly anxious.
Hanky against my quilt
This was one of the first few photos that I took of my hanky. (and it’s the few that I actually really like) The requirements of the task did indicate that it should be a close up against a neutral background, and the quilt is actually very distracting, so this image didn’t make the final cut. ):
-TASK 2: MY WORLD-
Low vantage point of the Playground, with semi-buried baby sandals
Slightly slanted view of sandpit, from a low vantage point
Top down view of the edge of sandpit
The top view of the part of the Playground
DECIDING ON THE LOCATION
I decided to go with a similar theme for Task 2, digging back into my childhood. One place that I used to go to often is a playground near my aunt’s place in Tanglin Halt, with a similar design (my memories of the place are now quite hazy), but the place has since been demolished as the estate has been en bloc-ed. The only memories I have left of the place is that it was one with a sandpit, and the slides and structures were decorated with the tiny mosaic-like tiles. The reason why I chose to do it on the older series of playgrounds (aka Dragon Playgrounds) is because two years ago during SG50, a lot of people pick up on this iconic playground that is now rarely seen, getting replaced by plastic slides and crumb rubber ground. Though many picked up the iconic image, few go to the actual location of the playground, and it hasn’t been well kept, leaving the playground not very usable for children – the target audience of the playground.
It hold memories for me as it was the place where imaginations can run wild, and you can play pretend with your friends for hours on end, if your guardians didn’t drag you away before that happens. It was the place where I could draw freely on the sand and before any of my friends can catch a glimpse of it, I can destroy it quickly so that no one would see it (clearly already didn’t like people to judge my work)
So I was on the hunt for a similar playground, and the only surviving one (i thinkkkkk) is at Toa Payoh so I paid it (aka the only surviving Dragon Playground) a visit. I brought some props with me, just in case I needed to give it a bit more life. As expected, the playground was very lifeless, and littered with trash. The props (baby sandals, pink toy bucket and spade, faded piece of glitter art) were necessary to breathe some form of life into the place.
Without any props
I attempted to not use any props, but it ended being too bland for my taste. The sand was very prominent, and there was no exact focus. (I didn’t want the playground toys to be the focus, it was just the environment and atmosphere I wanted to capture.)
I found it quite tough to find artist references for this task, and resorted to just googling photography+still life+artist and many other random searches. Desperate times call for desperate measures. (honestly still such a struggle because I have a very specific kind of look I was going for… a styled shoot against a built background. A lot of the photographers are more conceptual and have a lot more editing happening in their photos while I wanted a more natural look. Or they keep featuring humans in the photos which I’m not keen on.)
One photographer that I keep coming across is Nguan.
Instagram post by @_nguan_
The Singaporean photographer uses a more pastel palette which gives a more child-like vibe, but I eventually decided not to edit my photos to that extent, and left it as saturated as it was. But one thing I picked up was the clean lines and the very clear focus that make his works very aesthetically pleasing. So I did try to make the photos have a clearer focus.. some on the baby sandals, others on the playground structures.
Let’s see some fails!
Railing of the slide on the way up
While I do think that this photo is very visually appealing, it doesn’t adhere to the task requirements of capturing the sense of the place. It looks quite abstract and you won’t know that it’s from the older series of playgrounds in Singapore since you don’t see the tiling on the outside of the structure.
For the two photos above, the reason why i didn’t choose them is because they looked too much like… just trash. I like the pop of red on the former photo, and shiny confetti on the latter, but somehow they don’t convey the message that I need them to. Visually appealing but not on task.
FINALLY ITS THE END OF ASSIGNMENT ONE!!!! Oh well.