Project 2: The Subverted Object

1. Study and apply how semiotics affects the interpretation of image.
2. Apply the function of text as an anchor and relay and how it affects the reading of an image.


Week 1:

Everyone in the class was assigned an item. I got “mirror“. I was glad until I discover later that mirror is such an unique object whereby its function, does not depend on the object itself but what it can do. To reflect.

Mirror is a common object that is easily accessible, which also means I have to narrow down my focus. Hence I choose the theme narcissism.

brainstorming in class
brainstorming in class
brainstorming in class
brainstorming in class


Week 2:

Test shots, hard decisions and a 2 hour long wait at the printing shop… :’)


“Photograph a series of image that capture the practical function of the object.”

I want to highlight the most important function of mirror, to reflect. Not just in washrooms, mirror can be found in places that are often neglected.

Gym mirror for users to check and correct their posture


For safety practices; mirror at carpark


Mirror; as a glass ball that reflects anything it sees


A component that function inside kaleidoscope
Car mirror for safety


Task 2: Connotation 

“Photograph a series of image that celebrate or change of critique that object’s meaning.”

Mirror used for selfies in gym

Our actions will affect the function of a mirror. In the same setting, the gym, mirror serve a functional purpose that allow user to correct their posture, but can also be a tool for taking selfies. Narcissism is expressed via selfies.


Front camera as the “new mirror”

Front camera is the new mirror of modern society because youngsters often replace mirror with phone screen to check on themselves. Narcissism is expressed via looking at the front camera anytime, anywhere.


being judged

This shoot is taken as if we are judging someone who check on themselves, from the inside of a mirror. It looks awkward and silly because one tend to tilt their head, with one eye nearer to the mirror. Narcissism is expressed via constantly checking out one’s appearance in front of a mirror.

This series is photoshopped to warm pink because narcissism is self-love, and pink associates well with love.

Female passenger,mostly, check on themselves with the car mirror
View from inside a mirror, at different focal length
broken mirror, taken at On Sharks and Humanity

A broken mirror has a negative connotation in every culture, represented by a sharp, protruding hook. e.g. 7 years of back luck, separable, trapped souls etc. I really like this shoot but it does not relate to narcissism.

A Time for Reflection: The Meaning of Mirrors in Folklore and Superstition


Task 3: Text and image

“Create a A2 poster. Give it a title that changes the reading of the image.”

Narcissism is often criticised and frown upon but I feel that there are positive impacts like self-love, confidence, and respect for individuality.

The whole installation poster is a mirror with “reflection” taken rom task 1, set up to look like an art exhibition. When people stand in front of the mirror the “painting” detail reads “Daddy and Mommy’s masterpiece“. The word “masterpiece” is used to suggest importance and beauty because masterpiece usually refer to an artist’s best creation. I aim to point out the importance of self-love. Why I choose this image is because of the Chinese saying “掌上明珠 (pearl on the palm)“, refer to someone who is of inestimable value to their family and is beloved. In this case,the image is no longer showing reflection but relatable to the Chinese saying and my text instead.


Week 3:

I arrange task 2 to be directly under task 1 during the actual presentation because audience can easily draw comparison between function and meaning, even at the same setting. Task 3 uses a typical arrangement observed in art galleries and exhibitions.



Research and reference artist:

Laura Zalenga

Laura is a 1990 born [self-] portrait-artist from Southern Germany. Besides photographing projects she teaches workshops, gives inspirational talks and travels to all over the world – always searching for magical places and special light. It’s her clear visual language, the power of telling stories and showing raw, honest emotions in her photographs that makes her work stand out. She is convinced that photography is a type of therapy that gives you the ability to heal yourself and others.

Kyle Thompson

Kyle Thompson was born in Chicago on January 11th, 1992. He began taking photographs at the age of nineteen after finding interest in nearby abandoned houses. His work is mostly composed of self portraits, often taking place in empty forests and abandoned homes.

His work encapsulates the ephemeral narrative, a nonexistent story line that only lives for a split moment.  These images show the collapse of narrative, as there is no defined story line with a beginning and end; instead, these images create a loop.  This fleeting moment lives on in a constant unchanging state.  By diverting the view of the face, the images become more ambiguous, the viewer is no longer able to tie a defined story line to the image.


for laura zalenga:

for kyle Thompson:

Project 1: My Line Is Emo


mono-printing with random items
inking my lino sheet
positioning my flowers on lino
Trying out letterpress machine
TADA! First mark making succeeded 😉


Things I learn:

  • experiment with different tools/ techniques for making prints
  • how to mono-print properly and not get hurt by letterpress machine
  • create various patterns to compare texture/ density/ thickness/ contrast etc with regards to various emotions
  • develop a sense of direction for project 1
  • have fun! 😉


Research on flowers part 1
research on flowers part 2
Sponge drag lines, splash paint
paint, acrylic, experimenting within a gradient
thick vs thin lines
sharp vs curvy lines
experimenting with ink bubbles, gradients, real life object print, blotting strength,flower print
dense vs less dense


mark making with red wine
Mark making with flowers
Inspiration image (somewhat like an EXPECTATION)


I set a theme for project 1; flowers, because each of them carries a unique meaning and I believe flowers makes amazing tools for mark making. After my research on flowers and its meaning, I match expressive, accessible and suitable candidate to a emotion. I went on to experiment with more ways of creating marks and study how each characteristic of a line would make a difference to my final product, affecting how my audience feel about them. I group my findings as of those listed under “things I learnt”.

Before I start constructing the actual product, I planned, noted down the distinct characteristic of each emotions and how the study of lines can help me with conveying that particular emotion, with considerations for the type of flowers at the back of my head. I put some thoughts into textures as well because variation in textures would be less boring and it will enhance the aesthetic appeal of my final product.


Brief plan
detailed plan including methods, description of characteristics and finalised ideas/ choices


Things I learnt:

  • various textures can affect the final product
  • gradients that exist within black and white plays an important role
  • denser prints = emotions that are more intense/ disturbing/ strong
  • less dense prints = emotions that are more light-hearted/ bright
  • sharp lines/ edges = emotions that span across a short time period/ sudden/ spontaneous
  • curvy lines/ edges = emotions that became gradual/ non-spontaneous
  • thin lines = carries motion and rhythm/ touch on emotions lightly
  • thick lines = draw in attention/ place emphasis on certain parts

Challenges I face:

  • converting 3D objects to 2D prints
  • link flower meaning/ pattern/ structure to corresponding emotions
  • gathering flower candidates (pluck/ buy/ draw/replace)
  • handling of flowers e.g. maintain freshness / travel with minimal destruction done / when to get my flowers and start making prints
  • handling the difference between expectation and reality… :’)



Flower: Tansy leaf

Background information and ideas: Tansy flower represent hostility. I chose solid, dense blocks of black and white as background because they are opposing colours, just like how hostility is caused by conflict. Background is tightly fabricated to show tension, sparkles to depict fiction. Feels rough and coarse. Line right in the middle to show two distinct parties. Sharp, pointy leaves against each other to show opposition, they look like swords that intend to hurt. Outline of the leaves are straight and narrow because hostility is always directed to a party.

Method: weave black and white sparkle tape in apple-pie style. Contrasting paint print of Tansy leaves in acrylic paint.

weaving with tapes



Flower: blue hyacinth

Background information and ideas: blue hyacinth represent remorse, regret for wrong-doings. Cigarettes are often associated with negative emotions and remorse can be one of them. The dense and dark stains of blue hyacinth signify a flawed past that cannot be forgotten. Crosses symbolise wrong-doings. Crumpled paper depict that past time was not all smooth sailing. One regrets, and thus hope for a new page because when people want to start afresh, they tear off a page and start on a new sheet, this action inspire my work.

Method: Smoked and smeared tracing paper with cigarette ashes. Sandwich inked flower in between pages and crumpled to leave stains on the paper. Make cross markings with brush pen.

cigarette ash to smear paper
inspiration drawn from me crumpling a piece of paper



Flower: snakesfoot – replaced by burnt ixora

Background information and ideas: background is completely dark to depict fear, and being horrified is an intense emotion. Snakesfoot representing horror is poisonous so it’s not available in Singapore. Lucky me, the ixora, commonly found in roadside plantations, has very similar appearance and size. I burnt it because burning of flowers is often associated with witchcraft and black magic. Subject is been engulfed by darkness, with burnt Ixora denser towards the right side. It is placed in an dense, circular motion to create depth and uneasy sensation. White prints are marks of my hands, trying to strangle and kill the subject, almost touching it to convey suspense and the peak the horror as an emotion.

Representation of flower: negative painting of small white spaces at the right side created by flower, engulfed by pasted burnt ixora. Hand prints using white acrylic paint.


ixora flower by the roads




Background information and idea: love would be represented by rose. For background I chose woven cloth with wine stains; weaving is associated with the act of affection and nurturing nature while red wine is associated with romance. Slight maroon tint and aroma of wine helps to convey “love”. Also, the texture omits coziness. Rose dipped in black and white paint to create a marble effect because, “sometimes it lasts and sometimes it hurts instead”, love is a mixture of happiness and sorrow. Flowers are arranged in a bouquet but facing different directions to signify different stages of love, lower towards left side because time might erode the level of affection. Inspired by Cai Guo Qiang’s “Chaos in Nature” painting that resembled the marking a rose would make. The flower prints are generally round in shape, light in colour with little contrast, representing a positive emotion.

Method: paint cloth to cover up the natural brown tint, spray red wine onto cloth, then paint marble gradient with rose.

paint over, sprays red wine
Chaos in nature – Cai Guo Qiang,2012



Flower: Calendula

Background information and idea: sketch book paper as background because its white and smooth, best represents my thought that; happiness is the purest state of bliss. Happiness is a positive emotion hence there should be no harsh edges, points, mainly circular representations and should not be too dense because its a light hearted emotion. Since ancient times people dance when they’re happy, and seldom do we see stillness when being happy. Lines are thin and repetitive, and of various heights to convey rhythm and motion. I was inspired by a painting titled “Nude Descending a Staircase”. I made a simple print of calendula on their heads to show that they dance because they dance out of intrinsic joy.

Nude Descending a Staircase – Marcel Duchamp, 1912



Flower: unfortunately I could not find any flower, so I decided to use mono-print instead

Background information and idea: Surprise is a spontaneous and short-lived emotion hence for background I used cut-outs of triangle because the shape itself is sharp and angular. Triangle also reminds me of party hats and colourful celebration flags. Unfortunately when I remove the weights, it did not turn out as flat as being a texture as I envisioned. I hide the cropped down the mono-print to the part with flowers only because it correspond to my theme and visual impact it has on my audience would be a surprise (hopefully) because it’s hidden. 😀

Method: cut out triangles. Cropped down mono-print to flowers and hide it in between the folds.

cutting small triangles


For OSS submission, the default background is black.

However, on the day of presentation I decided to categorise my emotions into 2 parts, black for negative emotions (anger/ sadness/ fear) and white for positive emotions (love/joy/surprise), this way, there is more contrast to the piece and emotions can be neatly organised into place according to their basic characteristic and colour theme.

disclaimer: many flowers were harm during the process and I apologised:'(

actual presentation layout – negative emotions
actual presentation layout – positive emotions




This project is the first in which I explored the use of different textures and lines to convey emotions. By studying the quality of lines, I realised just simple strokes can have a profound effect on our emotional state. Lines are integrated into every aspect of our lives, and is subconsciously influencing how we see and what we feel. Perhaps I can better appreciate the beauty of lines and the importance of it after this project. I get to understand my classmates better and take on their perspective of seeing and expressing, learn from one and other.Based on feedbacks, I will also improve on my ability to convert 3D objects and perspectives into 2D representation. Nonetheless, I had fun throughout this project.

Feedbacks from ms Joy and classmates:

  1. Sensitivity towards texture and good utilisation of textures to convey emotions
  2. Variation in backgrounds and mediums
  3. Should use 3D objects as tools for mark making instead of the final product
  4. Good reference with regard to the painting
  5. Should adopt a more abstract approach to overall representation instead of how I feel subjectively


your kind words are deeply cherished :’)



Cai Guo Qiang

Water lilies – gunpowder on lake
unmanned nature – gunpowder painting
eagle in the sky – gunpowder painting
chaos in nature – gunpowder painting


Cai Guo Qiang is a Chinese artist, famous for his artworks made by inflaming gunpowder. His main motive is to investigate both the destructive and constructive nature of gunpowder, and introducing this unconventional methods to create contemporary art that centred around chaos.


I personally feel that his artworks touch on the idea of “spontaneous reaction” more than aesthetic beauty because how the artwork will turn out to be is unpredictable. Perhaps the process of creating art is more important to him because he actually invites audience to speculate the performative explosions caused by the gunpowder. The reason why he choose gunpowder is also well-respected, out of patriotism as it is one of the greatest inventions China had.


What I hope to extract from him, is how he link the medium to what he adore. He is a prominent nature-lover, evident from numerous paintings he did on villages, sceneries and the environment. In fact, one of the most beautiful and admired installation of his work is “unmanned nature”, a 45 metre-long, four metre-high gunpowder drawing. My favourite is “Chaos in the nature” because I feel like the explosive pattern resembles a flower or cloud by accident, and is intimidating to look at. Perhaps it might be helpful because my theme also relates to nature; flowers. Explosive nature of the gunpowder would also mean that I can take into consideration some of the possible presentation and organization I can adopt when I use flower since they have quite a similar appearance.








Cai Guo Qiang’s painting with reference to:

Exhibition: ‘Unmanned Nature’ by Cai Guo-Qiang at The Whitworth

Images of flowers and meanings with reference to:

Image and information of “Nude Descending a Staircase” with reference to:,_No._2

Project 1: Picture Story – Curating self

“Creatively introduce yourself using only 3 photographs…”









Growing up alone with nobody guiding me how to behave or what a social norm should do, I am capricious in character. Of the list of descriptions I collected from my friend and family, I could not determine a clear direction of where I’m heading with project 1.

“Who I am like is shaped by the people I meet along the way”,

I said to myself as I glanced through task 1 for the 18th time and fell deep into a whirl of past memories.

Shaped, through words, through experience, and most importantly, through how I learn to respond. It’s all like a game of cards but everyone is the dealer of their own response. Hence photo 1 and 2 were taken with “cards” to respond with my emotions. Basically I printed out selfies with varying emotions and select the exaggerated ones. Photo 3 was based on my mentor’s suggestion of taking a witty close up of myself in the process of responding.

test shot:”cards” of varying emotions and response
trying to find out about myself through other’s description
“We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with…”



close up with emotional interaction
close up of object
head to toe with object
mid shot with emotional interaction

My coach once told me, “don’t keep punching and kicking, hit hard once with all you might to make sure your opponent never gets back up.”

Practising Muay Thai for on and off about 2 years really brought out the aggressive side of me that I never thought I would enjoy so much. Not only does it trains me physically, it also strengthens my emotional well-being by acting a channel to alleviate my stress during A-level period. It has helped me to improve much in terms of my own mind set, how I should persevere and never give up in face of adversity. It has encouraged me to try my best and love what I’m doing.

I could not think of any object that better represent my passion other than this boxing glove, hence I thought task 2 was pretty straight-forward. As such, I need to put some thoughts into how I can highlight the emotions and my affinity towards the object.


test shot: full body with object













I like this shot because I had a difficult time showing momentum in a still second, but there are too much distractions in the background that could not be cropped as this photo was taken in the gym.

“A place that is significant to you or fascinates you…”


top down view of my bed with stains on pillow
close up texture of my bed
wide angle eye level view of my bed
top down view of my bed with wall decoration
top down view of me sleeping on bed


Cliche yes, but my favourite place is honestly my bed. Sleeping in comfort is such a rejuvenating ritual that I look forward to everyday. It is no doubt of major significance in my life. For my bed I look into cleanliness, comfort and minimalistic design and that is exactly what the photos here depict. I hope to bring a sense of coziness to my audience, make them feel that this is a place for relaxation, meanwhile implying that this place is something personal. With a hint of belongingness, the make-up stains and strands of hair were left as it is. I took a series with ‘baby’s breath’ flowers and aromatic diffusers but perhaps they drew attention away from my bed and hence I left them out.

test shot:diffuser in the dim
test shot:close up texture of my bed
test shot: top down view of my bed
test shot: my relaxed feet to depict comfort
test shot: texture with baby breathe


“The camera may record accurately but it is people who choose what and how it records… “

I’ve learnt so much through this project in terms of angle, positioning the camera, and most importantly cropping to show only the essential parts to convey ideas effectively.

Because we were limited to 3-5 photo slots per task, a lot of decision-making was involved and I had a hard time filtering my ideas and shots taken.

During the actual presentation I’ve decided to paste my photos in an organic form because of personal preference and didn’t give much thought to it, which I regret because I discover later, that this arrangement is messy, and denies space for contemplation. Perhaps another important lesson I learnt that day was to arrange my photos in a way that is most powerful in bringing out the interest of my final products.