Research – Singapore Art Museum Visit

Ringo Bunoan

Endings, 2013. Framed Book Pages.
No Endings, 2013. Book Installation.

Embarrassingly, I didn’t actually realise the installation was an installation at first. Walking into the room, I had initially assumed that the column of books was just a plain simple wood pillar. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly wooden pillar was actually constructed out of tightly compacted, yellowing books, their spines pushed against the wall to hide the titles. I was amazed by the sheer height of it; the column of books appeared to stretch right through the ceiling. As a book lover, I was immediately intrigued to know the meaning behind this installation. Books are used frequently in installations, but different artists can always offer a brand new perspective towards their utilisation. Strolling towards the next part of the exhibit, it took me a few seconds before I realised that the pages were all perfectly cut pages of book endings. Framed in brown tape and stacked on top of each other, they occupied a shelf the entire length of the wall. The only thing that ran through my mind as I scanned the pages was my intense need to know the story. My eyes kept flitting towards the top of the page where a title would usually be placed. Some contained the titles, but almost all of them refused to reveal the story they belonged to. By the time I reached the end of the shelf, the fact that I recognised next to nothing was extremely frustrating.

I then proceeded to the description, which instead of providing me a definitive answer, only served to throw more questions back at me. The idea behind the installation definitely became clearer to me however. With the spines turned away from the audience, and the titles missing from their pages, one could never truly know which book the ending belonged to. The artist almost wants you to construct your own ending. Ironically, instead of providing a sense of closure, the endings lead you wondering towards new beginnings. There is a lingering sense of mystery and unsettled curiosity. Especially when you realise no more can be gleaned from the installation, and that it was high time you left.

I like how the two pieces were installed next to each other. If they had been installed any other way, say more haphazardly, or even stuck against the wall, its visual influence may have been diminished. If the stack of books hadn’t reached towards the ceiling and disappeared out of sight, that never-ending quality of a continuous story wouldn’t have shown through. (I like that the artist removed the endings and then decided to show the stack of books climbing upward into oblivion. It’s almost as if the story itself could never be completed without a true ending.) At its core, they are complementary installations. Neither piece would have made sense without the other, or have made such a great impact on its viewers. It was definitely my favourite installation in the entire Time of Others exhibit.

Basir Mahmood

Basir Mahmood - manmade 1
Manmade, 2010. Single-channel video, silent, colour. (Source)

As a person who has always been easily enchanted by moving image, this piece immediately caught my attention. Most of the time, I can never keep still enough to deliberate on a still image. Moving image however strikes a delicate balance between the silence of film and the articulation of movement – this is exactly what drew me to the piece. I saw that there were two screens, both simultaneously playing a silent film of a man of colour. In one frame, he attempts quite hesitantly to put on a stiff suit, committing many a faux pas. In the other frame, is the same man, already dressed, well-groomed and seated stolidly in his chair. I waited and watched quietly, my curiosity planting my feet to the ground.

In the first frame, the subject’s discomfort is clear. He constantly looked off-screen for directions. His suit was donned in a slipshod manner – vest unbuttoned and shirt untucked. He obviously knew next to nothing about what he was doing with that unfamiliar suit. Juxtaposed next to the well-established, impassive second frame, it makes you believe you were watching two completely different men when it isn’t the case. A still image would not have worked. It could not have provided this stage for the man to perform his awkward dance with the suit. The moving film was essential to document the process of the suit-wearer and his later, stoic expressions.

With next to no ideas on what the exhibit could mean, I proceeded to read the description. Once I finished, I began to see the piece in a new light. The suit, instead of being a familiar outfit, became a disguise for the subject. He had to remove his traditional clothing all to reach a semblance of supposed civility – a tired, grey suit. I could see now that the suit represented British colonialism, and the impacts it had left behind. To me, the artwork is a piece of social commentary on the abandoning of one’s roots in order to blend in with an order more accepted and ‘correct’. Wearing the suit wasn’t a choice – it was a directive. The need to wear a suit in an Americanised world has become the new mandate of respectable civilisation.

However, I could not have caught any of these meanings without the help of the description. Perhaps I just wasn’t thinking hard enough, but maybe dialogue could add sound and interaction between the subject and viewer. This piece was definitely thought-provoking and interesting. I would love to see more pieces with similar socio-political commentary.


Typographic Portrait – Research

For this project, I decided to focus most of my research towards handmade and interactive typography. I’ve always been more comfortable with 2D and digital design, but I decided that I would do something more organic and more three dimensional this time. With this in mind, the artists I was inspired by tend to borrow more unconventional methods of representation with unusual materials.

Handmade Typography

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Daniella Evans –

Her art leans towards more textured, handmade typography using unconventional materials. She has a tendency to depict her art using food materials, though she has used other mediums as well. Other than her lovely calligraphy, her typography emanate a sense of deliciousness, obviously borrowed from how she makes use of food, but lends a three dimensional, interactive quality to the art. It really reaches out of the picture to grasp the attention of the viewer. Thus inspired, I decided to further my research towards 3D typography.

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I was also enchanted by the idea of paper cutting and layering in order to form a three-dimensional quality. Paper is a simple medium, plain when untreated and untouched. But after simple manipulation, the new form it inhabits becomes something visually engaging and interesting. The artist below is a perfect example about how form can be sculpted out of paper into new, hidden perspectives.

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There wasn’t as much focus on the calligraphic style in her work compared Daniella Evans. For Sayer, it’s all about the form and the interactivity between the artwork and her audience. Her sculptures here inhabit a three-dimensional form that never remains still: the exhibit is different no matter where you look at it. What I hope to achieve, after viewing her work, is the idea of interactivity between the artist and the viewer. The work I’ve created previously have always felt static and lifeless to me. This time, I wish to imbue a sense of personality and emotion into my work. Making it participatory for the audience might give it an extra kick as well, if I can pull it off.

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With that in mind, I decided to throw out a couple ideas to start off the creative process by making use of the themes provided in the project brief.

For the above three designs, I was actively attempting to utilise the research I have done, in order to produce handmade, interactive typography. Three dimensional paper sculptures is an option I will definitely be experimenting with in the future so I decided to make use of that in the first design. Being inspired by Daniella Evans as well, I was also thinking to use unconventional materials for the other two designs.  However, as they are only unofficial ideas, I have yet to truly come up with something I can use.

For now, this concept definitely intrigues me and I have great hopes to proceed towards this direction for my project.

Introduction – Hi My Name is…

Coming up with an intricate design under situations that require me to produce things spontaneously is often harder as it’s a bad habit of mine to play things safe. As someone who envisions on becoming an artist, this is something that is often detrimental to the process of creation. These designs weren’t as experimental as they could have been, but I decided to go with these pieces anyway, to understand where my attempts at spontaneity will lead me. Hopefully, with my next project, I may free myself from my creative boundaries to step into unfamiliar territory.


My first design is simple and straightforward. It basically reflects my current interest in calligraphy and handmade script. The analogous colour scheme I chose is also one of my favourite  schemes as well, hence utilising it in this piece. I used generic coloured markers overlaid on a pencil sketch to darken the design.


My second design is meant to show two conflicting sides of my character. I have a tendency to prefer strictly organisation and preparation whenever I attempt to complete something. Barring that, I am actually quite a messy person in real life. The strict stiff lines are meant to showcase the order in my life, while the randomised colours are meant to display a more discordant side to me. I used black sharpie and colour pencils here.


My final design is meant to be a reminder to myself that there may always be slivers of light no matter how dark something will appear. The doorway is meant to show how even the darkest path could end in a bright exit. I used black sharpie, copic line pens and a metallic calligraphy pen.

Final Product:

In terms of design, not much was changed for the nametags. However, there was a couple of medium changes for a few designs.


My initial attempt with the coloured markers on the real nametag cause the lines to bleed, roughening up the script. I also underestimated the space I needed for the name, and everything felt too squashed together. Dissatisfied with the result, I decided to start anew on a blank name tag and went with simple colour pencils inside. The outcome turned out slightly better.


Not much was changed for this design, other than the fact that I had no black sharpies at home and had to make do with black copic liners instead. I wasn’t as happy with the thin lines it produced and it did not generate the stiff and solid effect I wanted my lines to have. Everything else remained the same.


Here, I decided to play with the name tag itself and cut slits into it so that real light could seep through. It gave it an eerie feeling, but a more organic, three-dimensional form as well. My initial attempts with slicing it up weren’t as successful, resulting in crude cuts as I was still unused to the detailed ones required of me and my penknife. But I managed to get the hang of it soon enough.

In conclusion, this was an interesting exercise in self-discovery and made me realise how truly lacking I was in terms of spontaneity and experimenting creatively. I am still glad that I was able to produce something vaguely satisfactory but I hope that in time I will be able to produce, better, more original work.