Zine: Locale Part l – Process and Research

Final Video:

Location

My initial idea was to explore Pasir Ris as it is the neighbourhood I live in. It also seemed like the perfect size – not too large in scale like Tampines, but also not so small that there would be nothing to explore.

However, I later changed my location to Tuas as I wanted to explore a new area that I had never visited. Tuas in particular intrigued me as I was certain that most people, not just my fellow classmates and relatives, had not visited the area. I wanted to see if there was anything interesting about Tuas to uncover.

Survey

I conducted a survey to gather the impressions of Tuas, if they knew of certain events that had happened there, and whether they would visit if Tuas had certain facilities or was more accessible.

The questions and findings can be seen in the video and presentation slides.

Architecture

The architecture in Tuas is generally very angular and modular, made of mainly geometric shapes with the occasional cylindrical building.

Colours

Most of the colours I found there were white, blue, grey and brown due to the industrial nature of the buildings. Any colour I found to be slightly more vibrant like the pink of roof tiles or yellow of the occasional wall were still very muted in and of themselves.

Presentation of Findings

I decided to present my findings in the form of a motion graphics video as I wanted it to be visually engaging yet not just static images.

Storyboard

Storyboard Part 1
Storyboard Part 2 with cancelled frames

Style

Following the architecture of the actual buildings in Tuas, I cropped the buildings in a very angular manner. The video itself rarely featured any organic shapes other than as decorative accents. I also featured more photo images rather than illustrations to give a more realistic portrayal of the area.

In terms of colours, I allowed myself to use a slightly larger variety than what I found in Tuas, but kept the colours muted in adherence with the actual colour palette of Tuas.

For the overarching animation style, I took inspiration from this video:

I made presentation slides from the frames used to create the video. In it are the survey results.

Tuas Amenity Centre was covered in the slides but omitted from the actual video as it did not fit into the criteria I had of being interesting enough to attract the general public to come to Tuas.

Moving on from the video, below is an in-depth documentation of my trips to Tuas.

MRT Stations

Upon my trip to Tuas, the first places I documented were the various train stations.

Tuas Crescent MRT Station
Gul Circle MRT Station
Tuas Link MRT Station

All of them had very geometric designs, as visible from the ceiling and ground.

Exterior of Tuas Link MRT Station

I noticed that the MRT stations on the Tuas West Extension all had a unique feature – the pointed tip of the roof.

Raffles Marina Club

One of my first stops was the Raffles Marina Club, where the Raffles Marina Lighthouse is located. A special feature of the lighthouse is that it is rather famous for being a photo-worthy spot – there have even been weddings held there!

Entrance to Raffles Marina Club
Reverse side of Raffles Marina Club
Raffles Marina Lighthouse 
View of the pier
Close-up of a yacht at the pier
Various boats

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a proper close-up shot of the lighthouse as there was a sign that said the pier was off limits to the general public.

Tuas Amenity Centre

The next place I visited was the Tuas Amenity Centre, which as far as I knew was the only building that had any semblance to a shopping complex in the area.

 

Exterior of Tuas Amenity Centre
Another view of Tuas Amenity Centre
Row of shops on the first floor
Some snacks the shops sold
Some spices the shops sold

There was a row of shops on the first floor, and I noticed that while they sold typical goods one would find at a neighbourhood plaza like Milo packets, beer and Pringles chips, they also sold a large number of Indian spices and snacks. This is probably to cater to the demographic of the workers in the area.

Outdoor eating area on the first floor
Food stalls

There is also an outdoor eating area where patrons can sit after buying their food and coffee. It seemed as though the only food stalls there sold Indian and Muslim cuisine, once again probably to cater to the foreign workers who frequent the centre.

Hawker centre at the back of the building

However, when I went to the back of the building I discovered a larger hawker center that sold a multitude of cuisines including Chinese, Indian and Muslim food.

Men queuing to place bets

On the second floor, I discovered a betting centre. It was packed full of people waiting to place their bets. On another day when I returned to the centre, the centre was closed and the building was emptier than my first visit.

I also interviewed some of the foreign workers visiting the buildings and a couple of the shop owners. Unfortunately, my phone ran out of battery so I was unable to record them, but I wrote their responses down in a notebook.

The questions and their responses can be seen in the slides provided above.

Tiger Beer Brewery

Another location I visited was the Tiger Beer Brewery. I thought that this might be a place of interest as breweries are uncommon in Singapore and the tour had many perks for beer lovers.

Exterior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Exterior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Interior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Interior of Tiger Beer Brewery

The interior was more well lit in person than in these photographs and had a welcoming atmosphere.

I interviewed the ticketing receptionist about the brewery and managed to get an audio recording as well which would be played later in the video I was making to present my information.

Tuas Beach

I discovered Tuas Beach, which really was a secret beach in Tuas that had no official name, through various online articles such as the ones here, here and here.

Screenshot from https://theinfluencermedia.com/2015/02/04/5-things-you-can-find-in-tuas/
Screenshot from https://sg.get.com/sg/blog/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-singapores-beaches/

However, upon heading down to the address, I discovered that the entire area had been barricaded and was undergoing construction.

Exterior of barricade
A close-up of what’s past the barrier

At one point in the barricade there was a tiny window so I went up to that, peeped through and got a photo of the scene inside. It appeared that the beach was being transformed into a road of sorts.

Part of the barricade that extends for miles around the beach area

There was no other way to see what was happening to the beach, much to my disappointment.

Tuas TV World

Another interesting location I found was Tuas TV World – a filming location where Chinese dramas used to be produced in the past. Upon Googling, it seemed to be a historical landmark in Singapore and seemed like it would appeal more to people.

However, I found out pretty quickly that it has been closed off from the public and is now a tactical training village for the Police Force today.

A view of Tuas TV World from the outside. Image Source: http://joyloh.com/blog/?p=10882

Below are some images of Tuas TV World in its heyday.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/

I included Tuas TV World and Tuas Beach in my survey before finding out that they had closed down, but it was still eye-opening to see the results.

Graphic Form Project 1: Image Making Through Type

 

Initial job ideas for this project included maze maker, pixel artist, video game designer, dreamscape engineer, architect, motion designer, letter writer and professional sleeper.

I also decided that while there was no overall theme, there would be a manifestation of myself in the form of a cat reacting to being in these jobs, most of the time not doing so well.

Maze Maker, Video Game Designer and Motion Designer (scrapped ideas)

Sketches of layout experimentation for Maze Maker
Sketch of draft for Maze Maker

I did up a few drafts for the Maze Maker job, but later scrapped the idea as it had no message that I wanted to convey.

Sketches of Motion Designer

I also created a few variations for the job of Motion Designer featuring the Adobe After Effects interface, but I was trouble incorporating that into the letter forms so I scrapped that idea as well.

Sketches of Video Game Designer

I made sketches of the Video Game Designer as well, utilising video game consoles and old-time video games like Pacman and Tetris to form the name. However, I could not find a message I wanted to convey as well, so I moved on from this idea and focused on the other job options.

Dreamscape Engineer

Sketch of Dreamscape Engineer

For this job, I had a certain mood and landscape in mind. After looking at several references, I was greatly inspired by Victor Mosquera’s Surreal Dreamscapes illustration series, which aligned with my visions for the look of this piece.

The concept I had in mind was of an uppercase ‘A’, forming a face/mask of sorts, meant to represent my assigned identity (as it is the first letter of my surname). This ‘A’ would be levitating to reveal the uppercase ‘N’ (the first letter of my name) beneath, a symbol of my actual self. Inside the ‘N’, which forms a tunnel, lies a cat which is the manifestation of my self, frantically coding on a laptop which is supposedly linked to the dreamland surroundings.

Dreamscape Engineer Version 1

After consultation with Joy, she pointed out that the message is rather ambiguous as the face is not obvious and the overall meaning of the piece was not clear enough, which I agreed with as there was no concrete message that I had though of, only that this was supposed to be a landscape in which my mind was freed. She also mentioned that the letterforms were not being utilised to fit the job, hence I decided to make a few tweaks to try and fit the brief better.

Dreamscape Engineer Version 2

I changed the uppercase ‘N’ to a few lowercase ‘n’s to utilise the shape to form a tunnel, and adjusted the uppercase ‘A’ to look more like a face, changing the protruding lines into hair and the hole into a nose.

However, as I was ultimately unable to draw a link between both letterforms and their utilisation together, I sadly decided to let go of this idea and work on something else that fit the brief.

Architect

For this job, I was inspired by these images found on Pinterest which depicted unorthodox building structures.

However, I did not want to simply construct a building without a message, so I put more thought into developing the concept. As I have always found the HDB buildings in Singapore to be rather boring with their modularity and plain colour schemes, I realised this was a good opportunity to create a response using the letterforms.

I decided that the final image would be of a HDB building, but with elements all topsy-turvy and things in places they should not be, even being in impractical positions. I chose to go with an isometric style to maintain some semblance of order as I knew the combination of elements could get rather chaotic.

Sketches of Architect

I started with using an uppercase ‘N’ at first as that allowed me to add slides using the diagonal line in between and include more elements as well. Later on, I changed the letter to an uppercase ‘A’ as that allowed me to utilise the pointy top as a roof for the building and add HDB elements as the line in between in the ‘A’. I would have the cat hanging on for dear life from a part of the structure as I wanted to convey that although it was more fun and innovating to have the elements in places they shouldn’t be, too much impracticality can have consequences as well.

Architect Version 1

In this first uncoloured version, I made the block number signage as what formed the line in between, with the edges of the building elements and tree coloured in shadow to make the letter ‘A’ more obvious.

Feedback from Joy was that she recommended the bamboo poles to replace the signage’s position as having the poles indoors would convey that sense of impracticality too.

Architect Version 2

This was the second outline I completed and I was satisfied with the usage and placement of the elements, but it looked rather flat, so I decided to add shadows.

Architect Version 2 without grid with Shadow

With the outline confirmed, all that was left was the colour scheme. In line with my concept of the anti-HDB, I decided on colours that were as vibrant as possible that would still meld well together.

Architect Version 3 with Textures in progress

This is the final combination of colours that I decided on that had a nice balance of vibrancy and slightly darker tones. I made the background yellow to add to the bright atmosphere and designed textures to be applied to certain elements so as to give the piece a more playful vibe.

Architect Final

The final piece included a cat dangling from the tables to show the dangers of impractical architecture, as intended. I also added an orange border as that made the piece look more complete.

Professional Sleeper

While researching interesting jobs, I found this one which I thought would be fun as it was reflective of my actual perpetually sleepy self.

Sketches of Professional Sleeper

The initial idea for this job features a cat lying on the surface of the uppercase N, turned to form a Z to allude to the ‘zzz’ sound of sleeping. However, Joy asked to utilise the shape of the ‘N’ more to show the job, rather than using the cat character. Hence, I tried to develop more iterations to utilise the letter form.

Various Iterations

3 is the next iteration that I came up with, with the idea of the N as a divider. The cat is supposed to be so good at their job (sleeping) that it can sleep upright and while exposed to bad weather (the rain). The other line of the N forms the roof under which the scientist observes the cat. Joy mentioned that this makes it seem more like the main job is that of the scientist, hence I dropped this idea.

5 is another iteration in which the cat is so good at their job that they can sleep upside down, but this version felt rather forced and hence I dropped it.

2 and 4 are iterations where I tried to make the uppercase ‘N’ a bed and meld the cat’s body to the shape, showing that it can sleep in any situation, even where its body contorts.

1 is where I exaggerated the shape of the ‘N’ to dramatise the concept of 2 and 4 to have a greater effect.

However, Joy pointed out that these ideas did not utilise the unique shape of the uppercase ‘N’ – the concept of the cat’s contorting body could be applied to any other letter. At this point I was having trouble grasping the brief and its specific requirements of having to utilise the letter form as well as have a concrete message, hence the multiple failed iterations.

 

New iterations for Professional Sleeper using the letter T

Therefore, I decided to change the letter entirely to something else that would be more feasible – an uppercase ‘T’. With this new letterform I came up with another idea as well – a Trapeeze Artist. Joy approved of both ideas and hence I decided to stick with the Professional Sleeper.

This new idea consisted of a very thick top line balancing on top of a very thin pole. The thick line makes up the bed the cat is sleeping on and is tilting at an angle, making the cat about to slip off, showing that even in precarious situations the cat is able to sleep, and is hence good at its job.

Professional Sleeper Version 1

I decided to incorporate the dreamscape setting from the previously scraped ‘Dreamscape Engineer’ job as it fit this job as well.

I selected a gradiented style and softer colour scheme that incorporated darker colours to contrast the pastels, which would suit the dreamland setting. This first iteration utilises more dark colours.

Professional Sleeper Version 2 (Final)

This second iteration utilises more pastel colours and I decided to stick with this scheme as it suited the dreamland setting more. I also added a blanket and pillow to make the top of the ‘T’ look more like a bed. This version would also be used as my final.

Sushi Chef

More ideas for the letter N

Keeping on with the idea of using the uppercase ‘N’ as a divider, which is unique to this letter, I came up with more ideas on how this could be utilised. The sushi chef features the cat chef on one side, with the letter forming the conveyor belt, and the diagonal line in between forming a divide between the kitchen and the dining area.

The fake Facebooker (another job I researched upon that seemed rather unique) features the cat on their computer on one side, with the ‘N’s diagonal line forming a divide between the cat and their screen showing the job. However, as the message was rather unclear for this job, I decided to go with the sushi chef idea.

 

Sushi Chef Version 2

I then decided to change my letter from an uppercase ‘N’ to an uppercase ‘A’. This is because I thought I could do more with the concept I had in mind, which was to have a kitchen too small so as to have more space for the customers. The ‘A’ would be more effective for this, and I adjusted the hole in the ‘A’ to be squished and small, with the chef cat struggling to get its ingredients all in the small space. The lines below formed the dining area for plenty of customers to fit. The letter itself formed the conveyor belt by which the sushi travels.

Sushi Chef Final Version

In the final version, I decided upon a cut-out paper style to reflect a more ‘Japanese’ aesthetic since it was supposed to be a sushi restaurant, and paper crafts are common in Japanese art. The colour scheme I chose also featured turquoise and salmon and beige to reflect actual sushi restaurants.

Robot-building Robot Operator

Robot-building Robot Operator Sketch

Above is a sketch of a Robot-building Robot Operator. I first came up with the idea of utilising the diagonal line in between to form the arms of the robot, and when thinking of items the robot could build, I thought it would be amusing if the robot was building another robot.

Due to the structure of the ‘N’, the arms are unable to properly balance and support the robot being built, resulting in the robot’s components falling out and the robot bracing for dear life with its legs. The cat is controlling the robot from an operating room located in the side of the ‘N’, about to panic.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 1

The first style I tried was a cartoon-y style with outlines as I felt that it suited the fun, ironic mood of the piece. The colour scheme also featured red, yellow, green and blue to add an association to the toy-form of the robot.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 2

The second style I tried was one without outlines as I felt that the one with outlines looked really tacky. I felt that this worked, but it was missing something.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 3

The third style I tried was one that leaned towards a more Noir style, with the whole robot thrown into shadow and everything in solely black and white. While I really loved this iteration, there were many details that became unclear because of the style, and hence I could not go ahead with this.

Robot-building Robot Operator Final Version

I decided to change up the style to look more like crayon was used for the edges and adjusted the colour scheme to better suit the ‘toy robot’ theme I envisioned.

Final Thoughts

Out of all these pieces, I am most satisfied with the “Architect” piece as it was my first time trying out the isometric style. It was challenging but rewarding to arrange the pieces together and complete it.

It was also fun to do the “Sushi Chef” piece as I could add little details of a sushi restaurant like the customers putting the plates back onto the conveyor belt after eating, or eating the sushi halfway and returning it.

This project was one of the most challenging ones I have encountered in the 2D/Graphic Form vein as I had a lot of trouble grasping the purpose of the brief. It was especially tough to figure out ways to utilise the uniqueness of the letterforms and yet incorporate an intended message inside. Given more time, I would have liked to develop my ideas further and add more details to the pieces.