Technical Aspects and more details (FYP18)

Summarised Updates
Apologies for the delay in uploading this post! This post would cover 4 main components (making up the entire project) which I have been working on:

  1. Moss Harvesting
  2. Machine Construction
  3. Ideation/concept
  4. Projection

Let’s start!

Moss Harvesting

Initially, I wanted to harvest my own moss, continually sowing and replicating it such that it would make a mossy bed. Hence, I tried to hunt for actual moss around my neighbourhood as I thought that 1) these species of moss are already acclimatised to our hot climate. Hence, the chances of them dying during the actual exhibition could be lower. 2) Should the mosses harvested die, there is always an abundance of more mosses to be collected from the environment. 3) it was, free.

Thus commenced the witch hunt! (I didn’t pluck mosses from nature reserves/preserved areas so I didn’t flout any laws hopefully).

Out of all these local moss species, I identified at least 3 different species – codenamed species A, B and C. Out of all these 3 species, species A was the rarest (I was only able to find it on a single trunk), whereas species C was the most common but hard to transplant onto a different surface.

Some attributes I discovered from my layman observation of the tree species:

Species A
– rare
– most aesthetically pleasing in terms of moss beauty
– easy to transplant (in terms of scraping it off tree trunk)
– ‘cleanest’: not attached to any root/soil material

Verdict: ❌
Usable for project, but impractical due to difficulty in harvesting

Species B
– common
– barely perceivable height
– extremely hard to scrape off
– ‘small presence’: only a huge and enormous quantity of it would make it look substantial
– aesthetically unpleasant

Verdict: ❌
Unusable due to aesthetics not in line with what I have in mind for the moss visuals

Species C
– VERY common, abundant
– seems very hardy
– slight difficulty in scraping off since it tends to grow on tree roots/wood
– ‘flat’ surface, would prefer another moss species with slightly higher height elevation

Verdict: ✔
Usable, but might experience slight difficulties in creating a ‘blanketed’ moss surface which I had in mind for the final visuals

That being said, I did collect some of the moss in a container and will be monitoring it as my preliminary introduction into the Art of Caring for Mosses. Based on my first few days of caring for the mosses, I realised that they were indeed very hardy – without much water, or sunlight, they were still, green. It was very good news indeed. I will be continuing to monitor the mosses, and am considering setting up an experimental set up of mosses in the dark so as to stimulate present conditions of the moss within the final installation set up.

Thus, I resigned and would attempt to instead buy moss online. Initially I decided against it as this would become a considerable budget for my project but moss as the product was essential to this study, hence the consideration was overthrown.

In the current market, there are very limited sellers selling purely moss for terrarium uses. I could only purchase dry mosses, as I did not want to deal with additional difficulty of submerging the mosses inside water (most mosses are wet mosses, and much more easily available). However, I shortlisted two sellers who might be able to provide Live Holland Moss for the project. It was important to buy live moss, rather than dehydrated or dried moss which cannot be revived for the project.

Side tracking a wee bit – I actually found out the species of moss (haircap moss) which I saw in Japanese gardens, but the local market does not provide sales of this particular moss species.

It was indeed a pity, as haircap mosses are more apparent, and have a slightly more protruded surface/texture which might make the moss carpet seem more lively. Holland moss, on the other hand, had a more grass carpeted surface, making it theoretically easier to blend and create a more even moss carpeted surface.

The two sellers shortlisted are: Ecophonics and Zantelle. The budget for an estimated 17 x 12cm/6.7 x 4.7 inches sized carton of Holland moss (based on size specification given by Ecophonics) would cost an estimated $8. I would imagine that I would need ~8 clumps for each tray I would have (cost: $64 sgd for each tray of moss?).

I will be purchasing the moss soon, along with glow lights (to be confirmed and done by end of this week).

Machine Construction

This was one of the most prevalent aspects of the installation, yet one of the most worrying at the same time. For this machine, I experienced several difficulties in creating the build and rotation mechanism. As an add on from last week’s cardboard mechanism which didn’t work out smoothly enough, I created another more stable structure which I will be partially adopting into the final design.

Prototype 2 of rotation mechanism

Unfortunately, this would require much more time than expected, as there was a delay in purchasing materials and building. In my consultation with Prof LPD, he recommended essential reinforcement of the tray, and rotating arms with flange mounts/bearings, and for the rotating mechanism, implement a gear system which would control the speed and rotate both the tray and the glow lights (as another rotating mechanic entity from the first moss machine).

This gear system would be powered by a solo (for now) powerful motor, namely the wiper motor. The wiper motor is a motor originally used as the windshield wiper, and would be powerful enough to drive the entire gear mechanism. However, visits to sim lim tower to purchase this elusive motor proved to be wasted, and I would need additional time to purchase it online (via Ezbuy or Amazon). In addition, details were missing from my sketch/second prototype, thus I spent the week trying to polish up and make a working sketch and push through with the machine specifics.



Actual and final size of machine

(Refer to above figure) The machine would stand at 1.65m, rotate at one rotation for every minute. Each tray would be 52.5 x 15 x 5.5cm/20.6 x 6 x 2.2 inches.

Details: specific gears for machine
Details: Material list for machine

(Refer to above figure) The base of the machine would be created using wood, while the arm would be made using acrylic. The gear (unlike what was sketched) would be only attached to one rotating arm, but I would be inserting a metal rod which will extend towards both rotating arms and provide stability, and hopefully, enough rotational power.

As for the tray, I hope to be able to use acrylic (as it is waterproof and able to take the misting required to water the moss daily), but am unsure of that at the moment as the acrylic might not be strong enough to handle the weight and pressure of the plants, movements and whatnots. It would take testing to iron out these concerns.


Articulating the Concept

While the last few posts have already written about the concept in different permutations, I have jotted it down to make it more concrete and less airy. Please refer to the above figure on the specifics.


Sketch of counter sensor of number of rotation of tray

Regarding the projection, I will schedule another OSS post on Friday to talk more about it. As of now, I would be utilising the number of times the trays rotate, and using this data to create imagery to be projected on a singular wall (for now).

I would require one projector for this aspect.


FYP Concept (FYP18)

Throughout the entire course of my FYP journey thus far, I had ongoing troubles trying to focus and stick to a single good idea. Often, I oscillated between various ideas and concepts, at times nearly settling for a topic but ultimately was unable to fully commit to any.

For once, I still feel inclined towards my chosen topic of continuity, and I can see myself working towards it. However, due to difficulties in thinking of the best idea, or installation product which would reflect the idea, I have decided to make continuity into a theme which I would actively study through my work.

Exploring the Idea

More mindmapping on concept
Ideas on installation

I did mention of the continuity of time, or rather, presence in my previous post, and tried to translate it into objects – firstly, through organic objects – plants, flowers and whatnots, within a physically enclosed space eg. boxed up cube, or through simpler kinetic motions (swinging a pendulum, or strings in circular, repetitive motions).

However, I still felt that these methodologies, though were to some extent able to express my idea sufficiently enough, felt lacking and was not ‘true’ to myself. At the same time, most ideas felt as though they had a ‘statement’ to respond towards, rather than circling and slowly delving, and exploring this dubious topic of continuity.

Thus, I decided to latch onto this thought and express it systematically: a Study on (the theme of) Continuity.

Exploring the Medium

Robotic Arm idea: in middle of sketches

Concurrently, I found myself attracted to this idea of a robotic arm, who, through replicating a human motion, could be doing a ‘performance art’ on behalf of an actual human person. At the same time, using a robotic arm meant that this continuity could be forcefully implemented and maintained for however long I wanted.

At the same time, I was hooked onto the idea of the moss (based on actual moss gardens I have seen) as being a living creature, but at the same time, it evokes a sort of tranquility that echoes the exact sentiments I found within the subject of Continuity and wanted to bring across in my artwork.

See: bottom left hand corner for contained-within-box moss sketch

Thus, I decided upon a working idea, of containing the box within a glasshouse/terrarium setup (picture above), and incorporate the robotic cyclic arm into the setup.

Actual Set-up

Room set-up

Originally, I wanted the study of continuity to be expressed using a few different objects (eg. 3-5), each object exploring a different theme. These objects would then be scattered around the room, and the space would be one resembling an experimental lab.

However, I acknowledge that time is not on my side so I decided to just go big on one particular, singular machine which I have always been keen on.

Presenting… my moss machine (for the lack of a better title at the moment)!

Moss machine ver 1

With reference to the previous picture: the moss will be placed in the tray, while a rotating system will continually rotate the moss.

It serves to critique the continuity of time, through rotating a living object (the moss), despite, appearance wise, the moss looking like a non-living object. This ties in with the idea that continuity is always present, but not always acknowledged and recognised. This study tries to extenuate the idea, and present it – as it is – to the audience.

Rough Mock-up

What worried me the most, was the mechanics of the system. I thus made a mock up with paper!

However, there definitely were areas to improve on – such as the hinges had to work smoothly enough, sufficient support had to be accorded to the trough.

I’ll continue to work on it this week!


On Continuity, Time, and Everything Else (FYP18)

Some Reflections on my project
It’s 2018; cue a quick recap on 2017’s highlights: I played about with different materials, tested out several light effects on bubbles, and did a couple of projection tryouts. However, ideation wise, I was admittedly was pretty much stuck, despite my set topic on grief/loss. It was tough to translate the ideas into an actual artwork, and I hit a roadblock before slowly, but surely, losing interest in the topic.

Come December 2017, where I took time off fyp, and expanded my perspectives through chatting with people of different backgrounds. I realised one very prominent theme, of continuity. Be it a person stuck in memories of the past, or someone stuck in ennui, time will continue passing and you will be forced to move on. Personally, it also tied in with my belief that only through hard work from yourself is the only way to get yourself out of this stuck situation. That as a person, one will continually have to push yourself, to continue moving.

In other words,

Screen capture from the movie [The Girl who Leapt Through Time]
Interestingly, I thought that even though we as humans are continuously moving, we do not internalise the present situation of the ‘being’, of the time that it currently passing by us. For the lack of a better word, I’d call this the ‘continuity of presence’ – somewhat similar to the continuity of time, I wish to emphasise on and focus more on ‘presence’. In which, one of the focal mediums by which this presence can be translated would be through time, and these will be the focused topics in my fyp project.

More on the continuity project

Mindmap of said topic

In part, it becomes a development from my previous topic of accepting loss – it’s moving on, and acknowledging the larger presence of the flow of time, or rather, the continuity of time in the larger sphere of things.

In particular, I wished to express this topic, and visualise into an seen experience.

I highlighted several factors of which were the most important for the given topic, and which I will clearly insert into my project.

Continuity of presence operates clearly on 3 different aspects:

  1. Imagined
  2. Independent
  3. Changing

Why imagined?
The flow of time remains a philosophical debate , where as creatures of the world, we come up with our own imagined concept of time to internalise the continuity we experience. It is arguably just an illusion, as our way of understanding this abstraction with our limited perception. According the article, the flow of time is such an conceptual entity that it is understood through the transition between the past, present, and future, whom we mark as individualised points.

Therefore, I’d like to push for the argument that this continuity of presence is an imagined concept.

Why independent?
It is independent of external events, and it can only go forth one way in a fixed trajectory. It goes forward in its own speed, at a rate of 1 second per second.

Why changing?
Say hi to the clique saying: change is the only constant in life.

With continuity, there is progression. Therefore, no matter how minimal, there will definitely be changes that are evident. Movement, or changes, can be shown through continual, evident changes or through highlighting the differences between the previous and present state of matter.

I end this section by the dictionary definition of continuous –

“Marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time or sequence”

These subthemes are what I aim to introduce into my project.

Artist References

Regarding the artist references, I looked at various artists who utilised light as a medium.

Why light? I felt that light (strobe, projection, led bulbs, led strips, neon lights) could be an interesting medium to build upon. Partially, this was because light has a fleeting ‘lightness’, which I thought was similar to the lightness as perceived by the inadequacy of words, speech or objects to quantify the continuity of time.

Olafur Eliasson’s Timeless Garden

According to Eliasson, he saw his works as vessels for experiencing reality, “creating new perceptions of the world” ( At the same time, he proposes a dual-self awareness – of what we see, and also of ourselves in the midst of seeing.

It is a matter of becoming aware of what we see, but also of being aware of ourselves in the act of seeing. Or, as the artist puts it, “seeing yourself seeing”, of acknowledging our presence and our participation.

I find it particularly interesting that Eliasson’s approach was not through showing the continuous flow of water, but rather by utilising intelligently the strobe lights, he was able to show that there was changes, albeit frame by frame. By proving the opposite/outcome of change, he shows continuity within the flow of the bigger space.

Teamlab’s Black Wave

Though the teamlab’s concept behind this artwork was not focused on the continuity of time, but rather on generating a force of nature based on hard science and coding, I really liked how this artwork brought about a sense of calm and really allowed visitors to connect with nature, and possibly, reengage unknowingly with the passage of time, and presence of the man made waves.

Joao Costas’ and the wind was like the regret for what is no more

As an outcome of my previous artwork research, I decided to delve slightly deeper into how can one translate ideas into physical installations. One of which was Costas’ wind installations, where he altered the space, drawing attention to wind, and changing it into a sense (sound) which we could experience more knowingly.

Leo villareal’s Cylinder

On Villareal’s biography page, it reveals his inner thoughts and concepts behind his installations. Particularly, I liked how his works explored the physical and dimension of time, both in terms of spatial and temporal resolution. In fact, one might argue that his works and art collective team Nonotak operated on similar principles – the common usage of simple forms and lights to create a more complex structure.

Tokujin Yoshioka’s Lexus

Using optical fibres, Yoshioka created this mirage which I really liked based on my personal preference. As I had done a previous installation using strings, I found this particularly captivating and considered once whether to continue enriching my past string installation into something as large and monumental as Yoshioka’s work.

Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern [100m Version]

Flow: as seen through black and white linear imagery, Ikeda renders data into images.

Perhaps, what I should consider is what aspect of time, space, or continuity which I want to alter into the visual scene?