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:

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