Image & Text: Cinematic Black Bars and Melancholic Prophecy

This is a typographic series. In the following pieces, I will dramatise the stigmas attached to some the most stereotyped occupations.

These pieces are framed both cinematically and metaphorically to explore how such stigmas can prophecy these occupational scenes. I place ‘SU’ – the letters in my name – as hints to items of melancholy.

Items of melancholy –

White cloth on railing
Crouched posture of painter
Shadow cast on canvas
White cloth on easel

Visual language –

I wanted to create a cinematic teal and orange scene in a dark and isolated studio. Light shines boldly through the small window and creates a dynamic in the composition. A culmination of these elements make for a mellow and isolated mood.

Items of melancholy –

Serpent on arm
Smoke from cigarette
Arm extended to ask for service
Shy posture of woman
Yellow posters in background
Shadow on wall

Visual language –

This scene was inspired by Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love. I wanted to emulate the colour and cinematics of that because it gave me an uneasy sense of melancholy, and I felt that that was a good contradiction of emotions to express in the stigma of a prostitute.

Items of melancholy –

Lasso/slipknot on ram
Shadow of ram
Red sun and scape shadows
Crouching posture of girl
Straw hat

Visual language –

I wanted to create a reflective yet sinister scape of a plain. The unidentified gaze of the girl allows for a reflective tone, yet with that line of sight, we are led to a symbol of sacrifice under a red backdrop.

Items of melancholy –

Cloth in bottle
Reflection in bottle
Shadows on girl
Hand on wheel
Traffic booked in background

Visual language –

I wanted to create a really drowsy scene for the taxi driver. To do so I played with lights and colours on a highway, warmed them then muted them. There is a deadness amongst the arrangement of colours, which is made even more cynical for that exact reason.

Tiong Bahru Conversation – Research

I decided to present my research in Tiong Bahru Art Deco Conservation Estate through a website and a short interview video.

Some visuals I created off the site –

This website was coded from scratch –

The following is a short highlight video of my coversations at Tiong Bahru Estate –
[Updated edit coming soon]

Tiong Bahru Conversation – Zine

Tiong Bahru Conversation is at zine that describes the gentrification of the Tiong Bahru Art Deco Conservation Estate. It makes narrative with both physical displacements and visual metaphors of the sonograms generated from pivotal conversations with the consumers and residents at the estate.

test print i — on fibrous paper.

The colours used in this Zine are drawn from the fluorescents of internet culture and picked from images taken at the actual site.

test i – saturated colours.


My first spread works around the tweeting of birds that are recurrent within the soundscapes of the estate. This sonogram is interesting visually due to its regular, almost rhythmic nature. I thought the tweeting was both iconic and metaphoric of the talks involving the commercialisation and gentrification of Tiong Bahru. I mixed in a twitter bird to allude to the notion of social media salience. The repeated and upward “more stalls” motif was extracted from a signboard in Tiong Bahru Market, and so have the other non-sonographic elements in this spread.

I wanted my centrespread to work through a horizontal dynamic. The sounded word I worked with in this spread was “slow”, which was significant to me because it seemed to be a favourite of the residents in the area. The irony is that the word “slow” connotes some sort of mellow, muted feeling, yet the displaced sonograms were choppy, almost anxious. I wanted to work on the idea of pacing in this spread. Therefore the road sign of ‘slow’ extracted from a photo taken at the site.

The photo on the left is a low-shutter image of the cars that buzz past in this slow neighbourhood. The image on the right is the view from the signature horseshoe staircase of a pre-war flat in the Tiong Bahru estate. The fuzzy sunlight alludes to a kind of morning, coupled by the number ’01’ that gives us the sense of pace. I then extracted the unit numbers from a  set of letterboxes and imposed them over the entire composition. The spread is cut at the centre by the signature geometric diamond signpost of Block 55, the first ever built flat in Tiong Bahru.

The third spread is a haphazard composition that literally and metaphorically expresses the exasperation in sounding the phrase “hashtag tiongbahru”.

Some elements such as the heart or ‘like’ icon and the ‘#tiongbahru’ element on the left page were extracted from a post tagged by that. The sonogram on the right reminded me of a pulse, which the ‘like’ icon alludes to. The sign ‘one way’ which was also extracted from the site, is symbolic of the decided dynamic of the estate and the pulse that is representative of its gentrification.

The outside covers are made up of “Tiong Bahru Conversation” sounded, and displaced into some sort of contour. The peak of the contours on the outside back leads into three layers of a lighter fluid poster found at the site. The sonogram at that point is orange stroked which reminds you of a burning.