Task 1a: Me
I was known as someone who was shy and quiet. However, when I was home and got surrounded by my cats, I was the complete opposite. I talked to them a lot even though they obviously did not respond me back. It felt like I entered an imaginative world, where I let my guards down and just by myself as seen through my expressions. These pictures showed me roleplaying with my cats where I played one role while they played the other. Our actions looked like we were communicating and trying to understand each other. This world was one of the place where I can show my true self and just be who I am.
Artist Reference : I was inspired by Chicago-based photographer, Kyle Thompson. He has a style, which he described as ‘surreal conceptual photography’. It is the creation of a surreal world in order to depict concepts. Although he took most of his photos at unusual places, I was fascinated by his selection of props which greatly helped him to create those ‘worlds’. I learnt that adding a little extra visual interest into an image can make a world of difference. Hence, I had carefully chosen my props to portray what I had in mind.
Task 2: Object and representation of self
The object that I chose for this topic was a book. I believed that a book is a temporary escape from reality where I could immerse myself in. The following picture showed me covering half of my face to portray myself being ‘drowned’ into the book as I was reading it.
Books also helped me to keep me sane from my fast-paced lifestyle. They simply slowed me down. This book was especially significant to me as I went through dark times with it by my side. Overtime, it became something that could make me feel secure so I always kept it close to me. This picture simply showed me hugging my book close to my chest, with a dazed expression set on my face to depict how I felt relaxed just having it with me.
The last picture of this series was a small figure of myself reading at a corner with a lot of white space around and above me. I also believed that reading a book makes space for our minds to have wild imagination running around. The overall setting also portrayed how I looked like I was consumed by this white space/imagination as I lost contact with reality and entered another ‘world’.
Task 3: My World
Lastly, the most significant place to me would be Kampung Buangkok, the last surviving kampung on mainland Singapore. I felt sad to learn that at an unannounced date, this place would be demolished to make way for development. I think Kampung Buangkok should also be significant to other Singaporeans because our multi-racial harmony derives from an element found here; the Kampung Spirit, where community comes together to help and sustain each other.
The following picture showed the front area of a kampung house, where tables and chairs could be seen set up outside. This was where neighbours would come by to have a chat and look out for each other. Typically, the villagers would wear a pair of wooden sandals called terompah around the kampung, a sight that could not be seen in urban Singapore.
The second picture I chose was an entrance of a mosque, situated in the middle of the kampung. This mosque was one of the most important part of the kampung as most of the villagers were Muslims and they would gather here especially during prayer times and religious occasions. Even though there were also Chinese and Indian villagers, they did not mind the adzan (prayer calls) to be played in the kampung as there was understanding and compromise.
Being there also taught me that being friends with our neighbours and being thoughtful towards one another could help prevent conflict and smooth things over when tensions arise.
The last picture I took was at the back of a house where an amben or wooden platform was placed. While the men were out working or running errands, women in the kampung would do the house chores. This was a typical place for them to rest and gather after they had done hanging the laundry, sweeping the leaves or gardening.
All of my pictures for this series had no people in them because I tried to portray that even though no one was around, you could still see and feel the presence of Kampung Spirit. It was such a strong thing that helped form what Singapore is now.
Artist Reference: I was inspired by photographer Niki Feijen, who photographs forgotten structures before they crumble and collapse. His images had no human beings around but the furniture, ornaments and clothes left by their owners gave off a presence as if the time had froze. Although he had an eerie and cold setting for his images due to the abandoned buildings, I had used more colours on mine to create a vibrant yet nostalgic feel because Kampung Buangkok still exists today.
This project taught me to look back at myself and learn from past mistakes. I also learnt to appreciate things that helped create what we have today. I had the opportunity to look into myself and understand who I really am.
Although there were times where I almost gave up because the images did not turn out like what I had planned, I persevered and went on to ‘Plan B’. Even if I had to retake the shots, I would. My visit to Kampung Buangkok taught me a lot as well. I made friends with some of the elders, who did not view me as an outsider or stranger at all. They helped me to understand more about the Kampung Spirit and how the community came together as one.