Zine — Locale (Part 1)

1. Initial Exploration

LocAtion

I chose Neil Road/Outram Park as the location I wanted to explore for this project. This area is a place where I’ve had many memorable experiences. It is also an area that features both the heart of Singapore’s  LGBTQ community and a high concentration of traditional architecture and food. I wanted to bring more awareness to people who are not familiar with Neil Road, and to encourage them to discover the complex cultural diversity concentrated just within this specific location. It is truly a gem that many people are unaware of. Hence this project was both a personal one and one that allowed me to gain new insights to a place that I thought I knew well enough. Revisiting the site again made me realise that this area behaves like and is treated almost like its own sub community.

2. Research

primary research— Survey

I created an online survey and shared in social media and among my friends to gain better understanding on how well people knew Neil Road. I also wanted to learn how they may view and interact with certain subcultures such as the LGBTQ community. Many youths indulge in subcultures for the sake of being hipster but how far are they willing to go to truly understand the authenticity and demographics of these cultures — lgbt, traditional coffee shops, architecture etc. With all these in mind I drew up an online survey.

Survey Link : https://praveen734544.typeform.com/to/rC0zFW

Survey Response
Results — Infographics

Below was an open answer question in my survey which got interesting responses that gave me insight to how people may perceive the eccentricity of Neil Road.

Some intriguing responses…

Primary Research — Interviews

I decided to interview a few straight people who have worked in bars or hotels that operate within Neil Road, to understand how their perception of the community might have changed after interacting with them first hand, over a period of time.

Questions:

Responses:

Secondary Research

I went online to find information on Neil Road and found out that many of the gay bars are housed in buildings that are part of the ‘Bukit Pasoh Conservation Area’. This emphasises the idea of coexistence between two very different communities that populate Neil Road. In some sense, the LGBTQ community is endorsed and authenticated via the rich architectural shophouses and buildings they reside in. The conservation indirectly extends to the protection of the heart of the LGBT Community. However the intrigue and buzz that is generated by this community and many other hip places within Neil Road, also keep many traditional establishments relevant in today’s world. These buildings are still being conserved while not too far away, buildings such as Pearl Towers are on the brink of demolition. Hence this idea of co dependancy and coexistence between two seemingly different communities was something I wanted to capture through this project.

3. Conceptualisation

Themes

As mentioned above, coexistence, survival and dependancy are key themes I wanted to explore through this project. Through my survey results and a personal understanding of the location, I also realised that people unfamiliar with the location tend to have a very voyeuristic interaction with in. Within the community itself, many old and conservative people voyeur their LGBT ‘neighbours’ with skepticism and intrigue. Hence Voyeurism was another important theme I wanted to centre my project around.

Execution

With these themes in mind, I decided to use concept photography as my first form of exploration. Using a lens and taking close up or unsuspecting shots of details and people not only highlight the hidden gems to my audience, but also reinforce the idea of voyeur.

4. Presentation

Personal Sentiments

Below are some shots that I took as an introduction to my presentation to invoke curiosity in my audience. I also wanted to check if they could recognise that these pictures of buildings albeit traditional looking, are actually shots of an LGBT Bar. This was to ease them into the idea of coexistence. I also included a descriptive passage that I wrote, based on my own sentiments towards the location.

Photos

1. Eccentricity is captured in this photo. On the pavement there were many free roaming roosters and hens — not a common sight in most populated places in Singapore.

2. The following photos are close-up shots of LGBT establishments and stereotypically ‘sleazy’ places to explore the most obvious form of Voyeurism.

3. The following are Architectural Shots which capture juxtaposition of traditional martial arts sign with cityscape, and skyscrapers beside high rise flats. They also feature a lesbian couple gazing at these buildings.

4. The following photos are close-up shots of old people and the general public to subvert the voyeuristic gaze back onto them. Hence these shots were more invasive in some sense. However hidden gems such as authentic coffee shops are also featured in some of these shots.

5. Map

Concept

Here is a pre existing map found on travelgayasia.com. It is a comprehensive map that highlights key landmarks within Neil Road. However, this map is catered specifically for the LGBTQ people only. Hence I decided to make a custom map from scratch, highlighting landmarks that I personally feel are hidden gems worth exploring. I wanted to create a simple minimalistic map to encourage straight people to visit and appreciate the place too.

Custom Map

I used a paid map making software to create a simple and easy to use interface. The map can be used on mobile devices, making it even more convenient and accessible. I visited selected cafe’s, coffee shops and bars to take my own images to incorporate within the map.

Map Link: https://story.mapme.com/06be5bb7-7ce9-4987-a513-88e616e0a0bc

Interface

1. When you open the link, it leads to a very clear overview of the landmarks I included in the map. They are also categorised accordingly. Users can also click on coloured indicative markers on the map to explore information about specific landmarks. There is also a drop down menu from the side bar to navigate and access information.

3. When you access a specific landmark or location, a summarised information page appears. I included details such as opening hours and my own personal ‘highlights’ each of these landmarks have to offer, based on first hand experience. I also included links to either the location’s official website or Facebook page.

4. Another key feature of this map is that when you click on the address displayed in the information page, it automatically opens the Google Maps Application — this allows users to easily navigate to any of these landmarks from anywhere in Singapore. For people unfamiliar with Neil Road, navigating and choosing where to explore would be confusing due to highly concentrated number of amenities and options there. Hence I distilled it down to my personal favourites while also taking into consideration online reviews. The navigation feature would also ensure that users would be able to locate the places with ease.

6. Reflection

Having to visit the site again for this project allowed me to draw upon my pre existing knowledge and experience to see this area in a new light. I myself, noticed things that I previously did not. Through this brief, I grew to have an even greater appreciation for this already special area. Here are some pictures of me and my friends exploring the LGBT Bars along Neil Road during my pre uni days.

Image Making Through Type — ‘Child’s Play’

1. Initial Approach

Brief

For this project brief, we were tasked to use typography to illustrate and express four different occupations that we aspire to be — fictional/real.

Concept

My concept for this assignment was to create a satirical and ironic piece comprising of four different occupations. I wanted to use the distinctive traits of my personality to highlight and explore seemingly glorified ‘dream’ jobs. Most people would describe or view me as a hedonist — someone who’s main goal in life is too indulge/over indulge in all sorts of ‘pleasure’. With my own personal experience in having lived through such a phase previously, I wanted to use this idea of indulgence to bring out the dark undertones or job hazards that masquerade behind the facade of very prestigious occupations. I also wanted to approach this assignment from an adolescent perspective as many kids are often innocent and when they think of ideal dream jobs, that are unaware of the potential ‘side effects’ and hazards that deeply plague adults with these jobs. This juxtaposition of child-like innocence  with a very matured and layered insight into the dark sublayers within my piece, further amplifies the themes of irony and satire.

Jobs

Priest, Doctor, Dancer, Photographer

medium

I decided to use traditional medium for a more raw yet child-like feel, in line with the overarching theme.

2. Research

Typography

I wanted to use typography as something more visual rather than focusing on the solid form of the letters themselves. Hence I explored the use of upper and lower case forms, and finding objects that have a similar silhouette to that of my chosen letters. I also wanted to explore both the use of positive space of the stroke of the letters themselves, and the negative space within these letters. Below are some artist works that I drew inspiration from.

Sawdust by Rob and Jonathan (Use of silhouette to mimic letter form)

 

Messy by David McLeoad  (combining relevant texture and imagery with the connotation of words)

 

May by Sabeena Karnik (use of negative space of letter forms)

Mark making

The concept for my final pieces were centred around the idea of ‘Child’s Play’ and the visual  juxtaposition of adolescent innocence with subtle irony. It was also an exploratory piece injected with my own personal hedonistic trait. Hence I wanted the overall pieces to be emotive and tactile. I decided to draw upon inspiration from Abstract Expressionism/Expressionism and various Art Styles to realise this concept visually. Below are some of the techniques or inspiration that I appropriated for my final works.

Yves Klein (use of body and skin to make prints on paper with blue ink)

 

Keith Haring (use of bold outlines and almost children colouring book like aesthetic)

 

Man Ray (harsh contrast between light and dark to create a very clinical looking composition)

 

Mixed Media Art (combining three dimensional items within a two dimensional canvas)

3. Process

Getting my hands ‘dirty’ to me, was an important process to bridge my initial concept and my final work. It evokes the idea of ‘Child’s Play’ while at the same time captures concept of the stains and scars that are left behind when one is tainted by the dark layers that plague my chosen occupations.

4. Final Compositions

1. priest

Materials/Medium : Crayon, Calligraphy Ink, Colour Pencil, Candle Wax, Fummage, Tissue Paper

Letters used: A, P, V

Reference:  Bishop Hat and Staff

Analysis: For this composition the occupation I wanted to critique was catholic priests. Many religious kids in their adolescence look up to these people as men of God and may aspire to be as ‘pure’ as them. However the Catholic Church, time and time again has been embroiled with repeated cases of child molestation which is the ‘hazard’ and ‘hedonistic’ aspect I wanted to explore here. In 2018 alone, within just the state of Pennsylvania there were 1000 reported cases of child molestations by the Catholic Church. Recently the Pope has also acknowledged the prevalence of the issue. Many blame this perverse sexual urge on the abstinence and celibacy that is enforced upon these religious men. For the letter P I appropriated the use of the staff bishops hold in their hand and used typography for its form. Initially I wanted to use the names of victims however I realised that they were inaccessible due to issues of privacy. Hence I used catholic boys’ names instead as an alternative. I also used a subtle phallic form, representing the top portion of the male sexual organ for the end of the staff. This also then makes the action of the priest gripping this ‘staff’ perverse. For the letter A, I used the form of the bishop hat and replaced it with a condom instead. I wanted my viewers to notice these details on closer inspection but from afar there is a sense of superficial innocence to the piece. I also coloured the thumb and finger to make a V form. Candle wax was dripped on the hand to add a perverse connotation to what his hands may have touched. Under the robes there is another A form in the negative space which I replaced with tissue paper. There is subtle A scratched onto the surface to display the hidden cry for help of child victims. The placement of this under the robes is also symbolic. For the overall look, I used very bold ink lines and colour pencil to give this piece a very children’s colour book page sort of vibe. I wanted the idea of innocence and ignorance to be amplified in every way possible. Hence I used materials that kids will often play with. I also burned the page with a candle as candles are used in most churches and I wanted to use it as an instrument of harm. The burns also act as a permanent stain to emphasise the trauma that many are left with due to many that practice this occupation.

2. Psychologist

Materials/Medium : Clay, Acrylic Paint, Screen Printing Ink, Palm, Prescription Pill Slab

Letters used: V, A, r

Reference: Valium Pill

Analysis: For this composition I wanted explore the Job of a Psychologist. Psychologists tend to patients with all sorts of mental illnesses and trauma. Subsequently they too are inherently affected by the emotions of their patients and be triggered by these external factors. Hence many Doctors and psychologists my tend to their own coping mechanisms to reconcile with the intense emotions that they have to absorb and break down in order to treat their patients. Another sub layer would be their easy accessibility to prescription drugs. Hence their need to deal with their own emotions and access to drugs may lead many in these profession to addiction issues. Hence the hazard and hedonistic aspect in this job would be ‘addiction’. I decided to go for a very minimalistic and clinical aesthetic for this composition. For the letter V, I used the form of the benzodiazepine Valium, a powder blue pill, traded under the name Roche. I decided to use clay to make a 3D piece as it is more convincing of the tactility of an actual pill. Clay is also something that kids play with a lot, relating it back to my overarching theme. In the middle the letter is A is in the form of a negative white space — this was obtained by painting the palm of my hand with screen printing ink and imprinting it onto the paper. Hand painting once again is something many kids enjoy doing. For the last piece, I cut up a pill slab of my own prescription medication to form a digital looking letter ‘r’ in lower caps. The blue throughout this composition gives the piece a very X-Ray like and hence clinical look. Even tho I was exploring the job of a Psychologist, I labeled it as ‘Doctor’ as adolescents would categorise Doctors, Surgeons, Psychs all under one big umbrella with their limited vocabulary. Doctor is also one of the jobs many kids look up to.

3. Fashion Photographer

Materials/Medium : Photo Paper, Blue Cellophane Paper, Screen Printing Ink,

Letters used: V, R

Reference: Rorschach Test, V Mag

Analysis:  For this composition I wanted to explore the hidden agendas behind many fashion photographers in the industry. I used notorious photographer Terry Richardson as the main subject matter for this piece. He was a photographer that used to shoot editorial pieces for famous magazines. However after many models allegedly accused him of making them perform inappropriate sexual acts on him during their shoot (including performing fellatio and even making them drink their own menstrual blood), most major magazines have since boycotted him. I printed a few pictures of Terry Richardson touching celebrities (during his shoots) in provocative manners and cut them up to form a deconstructed collage. I appropriated the infamous V logo that V magazine uses to frame their main subject matter in all of their cover pages. I placed the ‘innocent’ portions of the cut up pieces within the V frame while placing the incriminating perverse provocative body contact ones behind the blue cellophane paper which I used. This is representative of how as consumers of these famous Photographers we only see the final perfect looking picture and we are usually unaware of the dirt that plagues these practice behind the scenes. For the letter R, I used screen printing ink to mimic my own Rorschach Test – an ink blot test that is used to psychoanalyse people who may have any unstable mental disorder. This imagery further emphasises the sinister and insidious nature in which many Photographers run their operations (especially within the fashion industry). The adolescent sense of playing here, is symbolised via the use of scissors to cut up the pictures and  to create the collage and also through the use of a ‘basic’ painting technique — pouring pain on one half of a paper, and then folding it into two.

4. Dancer

Materials/Medium : Ribbon, Double Sided Tape as adhesive, Extra Fine Glitter

Letters used: R,P

Reference: Pointe Shoe

Analysis: In this composition I wanted to explore the occupation of being a full time professional Dancer. Dancing, especially ballet is a form of art many young girls and boys look up to. Many parents also send their kids for such classes as it is seen as a very refined and technically proficient ‘sport’. However it involves immense discipline and the dance industry is often shrouded in controversy due to the brutal way in which it operates – only those that are impressive enough are recognised and established individuals in the industry are often unapologetically critical of those who may not be ‘good enough’. This almost regimental discipline was the job hazard I wanted to explore for this piece. From a young age many ballet dancers are already forced to learn how to go on pointe. Hence I used the form of the pointe shoes to create the letter ‘P’. I used glitter as stereotypically it is a material that many young girls would play with or be fascinated by. For the the letter R, I used a ribbon to mimic the lace of the shoes. I also extended it out of the frame, secured with a nail to create the imagery of a noose, hanging the feet. This was the emphasise the idea of how many dancers suffer from injuries and bruises due to broken bones in their feet. Permanent injury is another ‘hazard’. This is hedonistic in the sense because one needs to fully commit and indulge in this art form to succeed.

5. Creative Choices

Colour

Red to many would be the most direct colour to represent something that is harmful. Hence I used Blue instead given the idea of how the harm subtly embedded within these occupations are almost invisible to the innocent eye.

Font

For the font, I used blue crayon and intentionally tried to replicate the sporadic form of a child’s writing.

Title

I named the overall piece ‘Child’s Play’ as it reinforces the idea of innocence but at the same time it is contradictory and satirical when juxtaposed with the compositions — which express how these jobs are not just ‘child’s play’.

6. Critique

Final Layout

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