Presentations were done so off we went taking photos for our OSS.
I’m reluctant to use photos of myself presenting because it really is just me standing near the whiteboard and talking; there was nothing that says that it was for project 1.
Looking at the “book” that I made, I felt that the book could have been smaller. It would have helped to make it feel more personal rather than looking sort of like a textbook.
I do think that the artistic statement is just a tad bit too wordy. I could have definitely compressed it to much less. Perhaps Michelangelo’s quote followed by the variation of that quote in my grandfather’s own words. That was a loss on my part. It would have definitely done a better job at setting the tone for this book.
All in all, I thought that this was quite successful for me. I did a studio-esque photo shoot for the first time. I bound my own book for the first time too. I’m not a great photographer, nor do I have a good eye for aesthetics but I feel that the narrative is a meaningful one.
So I thought that it would be a nice to show the ghetto setup in my room for day two of the shoot.
I thought about doing this in the same post as the main photoshoot, but that just disrupted the flow of everything so here it is, two posts later.
I had a couple of crafts given to my from my grandfather as well so I just had to shoot them as well
Knowing that the sunlight shining through my window would be strongest around 0900, I woke up at about 0800 to set everything up, making most effective use of natural light.
In hindsight, I should have waited until about 1030 to start my shoot because the light just too harsh earlier in the day.
Of course, I adjusted everything and it turned out looking much better. In a perfect world, I would have all the time in the world in a studio with proper lighting, but sometimes all you can do is make lemonade.
While looking through the photos, I tried thinking about the narrative I wanted to convey.
At this point, the only information I had was the rough time period of each item and the materials used. I wanted to know the man who made the items. I called up my grandfather and had a long conversation. When he gets started, it’s hard to stop him.
I might not include this in the actual submission so I thought I’d add this in here. (Paraphrased for easy reading)
“Where did you find the seahorse and crab?”
“Back in the 1970s, I would spend my free time going to Changi beach in the evening to catch fishes. We used carbide lamps to help us see in the dark. You had to wait for the tide to go down before you went out look for the fishes. There were even sea snakes, sawsharks and catfishes. You don’t really see them nowadays with all the reclaimed land.
One time, I waded in the water and felt a sharp pain on the leg. At first I thought that it was a sea snake but once a sea snake bites you, it doesn’t let go. This sharp pain was short so it can’t have been that. I looked down and saw this huge catfish swimming away. What’s worse, the pain made me stumble. The lamp touched the water and stopped working. I couldn’t see the shore because the street lamps were blocked by trees. Thankfully, the wind came and blew the trees aside for me to see the shore. During the drive back, my leg was still numb from the pain. I had so much difficulty working the pedals. When I reached home, my roommate gave me some Chinese medicine and I felt much better.
During the 15th day of the lunar month, the king crab (horseshoe crab) would come to the shore in pairs. You can eat the eggs but you need to know how to remove them because if the bile gets onto the eggs then you’ll get mabok.”
I went over to my grandparents’ house over the weekend t0 take pictures of the crafts that he has done. I arrived at Lengkong tiga to some famous beach road nasi briyani; which my grandparents queued 1/2 hour for.
It was the best.
Looking around his house, you could see all sorts of ornaments. Mostly figurines and a whole array of tea sets. I have fond memories as a kid of playing with all the different things that my grandfather had made- and also watching Space Jam on LaserDisc. It’s been a long time since I’d been at his house alone. It seemed much smaller now. Strangely though, there are still crafts in his house that I had never seen before; like the cobra in the featured image above.
When I was young boy, I had always assumed that the things that he owned were bought, but only when he started making coconut zodiac animals for us did I realise that his home was quite homemade.
Back when my parents were living with my grandparents, they owned a coat rack. My grandmother wanted one for their room so my grandfather made a similar one out of wood. Guava tree wood, specifically; his wood of choice for its strength.
He talked about how he collects coconuts whenever he finds them, much to the displeasure of my grandmother.
We proceeded with the set up of the shoot area, which was near his balcony. Natural light, best light. Also, Natural light, only light. And also, Natural light, time-sensitive light. So therefore I needed to work fast.
I taped white cloth on the ceiling and let it drape down. With a table on one side of the cloth and the objects on the other side, I created the following:
Getting the light to be consistent was a challenge. I had to use the camera flash (I know, I cringe too) with tissue as a diffuser.
When it got darker, I had to use a light and because I did not have a proper light stand, I became the light stand.
Timers are also great for reducing the shake when pressing the shutter button (because I had a subpar tripod).
Because the shoot was by the balcony, wind was inevitable so getting the photos without too many creases was a challenge. I had to wait for the right moment to snap each photo.
He sat on the sofa behind the white cloth, occasionally coming over to see how I’m doing and also to tell me more about the things he made.
After we were done, my grandmother heated up some pastries, peeled a bunch of rambutans and offered them to with along with mooncake and ginseng water.
I am loved.
I wished that I had taken a photo of them then and there, instead, here’s a photo of them dancing at my grandfather’s 80th birthday.
For the past couple of days, I have been struggling with the seemingly impossible task of presenting qualia. I’ve sent an email to a company to get a quote on the prints but have not gotten back from them. I doubt that it will be affordable. Still, I was committed to the idea of using lenticular printing for project 1 to present qualia. At the back of my head though, I was thinking of coming up with a back up.
Cut to 27 August 2016, where I went to a hobby shop in Chinatown to get Balsa wood for Foundation 3D. The interior was filled with handcrafted helicopters hanging from the ceiling in this nook of a shop in the old and grey Fook Hai Building.
I approached the well-spoken old man running the shop for Balsa wood and got what I asked for before he went off to talk to another customer. The man’s wife approached me so I thought to ask how long they have been doing this. She told me that they have been running the shop since the 1960s and that her husband has always loved making crafts. That’s when all the dots were connected for me. The old man reminded me my grandfather and seeing how happy he was to be doing what he loved made me realise that I have been approaching this project completely wrong. Art does not have to be a struggle. It can be enjoyable and damn it all if I don’t enjoy doing this.
My grandfather loved making things. He’s been doing so since the 1970s. I want to showcase the things that he has done with him telling a story about why he made them during those times. I’m hoping to gain a deeper insight into the person that he was and the person he has become. In a way, this would be a follow up to his memoirs which I edited with friends last year for his birthday.
The abstract concept of consciousness has been puzzling me for the past couple of years ever since I watched the movie Waking Life. In it, a man slips in and out of lucid dreaming and experiences bizarre dreams filled with philosophical elements.
The movie title itself comes from a quote by George Santayana, ‘Sanity is madness put to good uses, waking life is a dream controlled.’
I wanted to be able to show that feeling of experiencing life as a dream. Upon further assessment, however, I realised that there was not much to that for me other than being able to express that. I wanted to go deeper.
While reading up on Consciousness, I chanced upon the word ‘Qualia‘. In Quining Qualia by Daniel Dennett, Qualia is defined as “the way things seems to us”. As an exaggerated example, how I am seeing the blue of the sky is different from how you are seeing the blue of the sky. I like to entertain the idea that Qualia is a defining aspect of consciousness; that without qualia, we are no different from robots.
While the existence of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy circles, I am not attempting to give my opinion on the matter. What I am truly interested in is the idea that everyone is experiencing entirely different things while physically going through the same thing; as per the example given. The problem that I have is that qualia is just what it is. We all experience something when we eat a fruit. we can label these experiences the same way; i.e. lemons taste ‘sour’. But we could be having different qualia; i.e. the sourness tastes different to us.
I thought about photoshopping an object to several different colours in different photos but that would be an oversimplification of qualia and completely uninspired.
Oh god, what have I gotten myself into.
With that in mind, I came up with potential ideas for Project 1:
Since it is impossible to show that we have different qualia based on the same ‘label’ (e.g. the colour ‘blue’), I want to present it in the complete opposite manner (although slightly simplified). Different fruits with the same taste (lemons, limes, grapefruits) – sour. The taste is the same but the medium of experiencing the taste is different. Conversely, for qualia, the medium is the same but the ‘taste’ is different, i.e. the medium is a lemon but what it is like to taste the lemon is different for each individual.
A series of colour-focused photographs that have the effect of changing in colour depending on the angle you see the photo – Lenticular printing. For example, a picture of the colour blue from straight on that turns to turquoise or teal when viewed from the side.