Typography Portrait – Final

Finally after some long grueling work with research and a lot of painful fingers, my typography portrait has finally been completed. Since I’m more used to traditional 2d mediums and digital art, this time I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try to build something with my hands instead. Despite my lack of talent in it. This of course meant that during the process of crafting each individual portrait, a lot of challenges were thrown my way but thankfully, I was able to conquer them to produce the final product in the picture below.image


Meaning: One of my flaws, which I’m still trying to correct is that I have an irritable personality. I get easily ticked off by things I find offensive, and since I tend to keep things to myself, I may start to appear judgmental. I may get easily ticked off but I try to school myself to remember that I will need to be accepting of other people’s quirks and problems. It is getting better now but it’s still something I constantly agonise over. This work is meant to remind me of my prickly nature and to keep myself in check.

Methodology: I used a Styrofoam board and toothpicks in this work. I painted the white board with many layers of acrylic paint to ensure that I could get it as dark as possible. I then sketched my design onto a piece of paper. Using the sketch as a stencil, I would then poke pins through the paper to generate small holes to mark where I needed my toothpicks.

My first attempt with the toothpicks however was a complete disaster. Since they were too long, sticking them meant I couldn’t control the direction they were pointing in. Instead they formed a jarring mass of formless shapes. I tipped them all over since I obviously couldn’t submit a formless shape. I went on to try and experiment and see if I could lay down the toothpicks, but it felt too flat. So that was also another failure.

In my frustration, I broke a toothpick (highly appropriate considering the attribute the portrait related to) and realised that hey, I could use the short end! I stuck it in the board as a test trial and it worked so well that I went with it in the end. I’m glad that it was able to turn out the way the did considering the problems that arose. The fact that I didn’t get any splinters (or maybe I did but I just couldn’t see them) was a bonus too.imageimage


Meaning: The ironic thing about this attribute is, I am actually a ridiculously messy person. And yet, one of the things I constantly need to do, is finish things in a systematic way. I am constantly writing lists (one of my guilty pleasures. Guilty because who the hell likes lists?) and doing things by the book. But this makes me feel secure, knowing that I have done everything I need to do. Especially when work starts to pile up, my lists are always my go-to. Sure the increasing length of tasks stresses me out, but at least I have everything I need down.

Methodology: Initially, I had planned a conveyor belt concept, like churning parcels out in a factory. I had intended to build it out of paper but after some consideration I abandoned the idea. This piece underwent a lot of conceptual changes simply because I couldn’t make up my mind on what exactly I wanted. Finally, after hearing the idea of negative space during a consultation sessions, I decided to go with it instead. Paper became Lego because of its strict geometry and hard lines.

I spent more than half a day working on this piece because unlike the first piece it was much harder to generate a stencil and gauge the spaces for the letters. The Legos are mean, unrelenting little bricks that are determined to do damage to my soft, human fingers so I they were really rubbed quite raw by the end of it. Just the thought of those Legos bring back the phantom feeling of pain.

Thankfully though, this piece was more smooth sailing (in some ways) than the others. The only big issues was arranging the letters to make sure, yet again, it wasn’t a formless blank space. Execution wise it was a simple idea. It was only more tedious to actually form the word. However, I’m happy that it now resembles actual typography.imageimage




Meaning: Conceptually, this is probably the simplest of them all. I wanted to represent the traveler in me, and my need to get out there. I love going overseas, even if the places I have visited aren’t many.

Methodology: I use pins and white thread in this one to generate the typography. Initially, I had intended to use pictures to denote the places I have visited as well but as I wanted a cohesiveness to all my designs, I ended up scrapping the idea. Looking back, I realise that perhaps it may not have been the best idea. It now looks a lot plainer and drab, and the meaning doesn’t show itself as strongly than if I could have use pictures to support the typography.

Just like all the others, forming the text was a a grueling and tedious process. My rather lanky form meant that I had to curl up ungracefully on top of my desk, twisting my back and neck in order to properly pin things up. Ensuring everything was straight and aligned with each other added to the physical torture – you didn’t just have to pin, you needed to hold a long metal ruler in place too. By the time I got down from my desk, there was a kink in my neck and an ache in my back, but I was happy. (The sacrifices you make for art.) But hey, at least the typography itself worked out.

Honestly, I was least happy with this piece, as the lighting was undesirable and the concept not as well executed as I wish it had been. However, I am still glad that I was able to complete and produce a finalised work.


Meaning: This piece has a slightly darker connotation to it. Art will never be complete without some intense introspection. This piece is generated from a place of thought: literally, because existentialism is a downward spiral of thoughts on the human need for purpose in life. Perhaps it comes from me being an introvert, but I find myself getting lost in my head more often than doing anything solid. A flaw as well but that isn’t the point of this piece. This portrait rather, is to remind me that even if my thoughts tend to reach towards less positive places, I can always trust to find light and hope at the end of that tunnel.

Methodology: I first sketch out a meticulously measured design in pencil first before taking a knife to the paper and slowly slicing out the designs. There is some idea of negative space usage as well, as I wanted the letter to be suggested through the curves of the paper. Therefore finding a balance between space and paper was quite challenging as I didn’t want it to be formless (yet again) and I didn’t want to have to re-cut the work. It was a more hesitant process.

The paper cutting was the easy (though tiring part). Now I needed to find a way to take the picture. I know I wanted a semblance of translucency to the picture so I taped tracing paper behind the piece for light to shine through behind. I stuck the piece on my shelf, where my desk lamp was conveniently placed behind it. And due to the translucent nature of the paper, the brownish hue of my note board was able to reveal itself through the paper. So instead of a flat white light within the letters, there is now a soft gradient of colour.

The effect was unexpected but very much satisfactory, and this is one of my favourite pieces, together with Prickly.


A lot of thought and consideration was put into this work, something that I haven’t done for a 2D project in a long time. (More due to my reluctance to do anything that wasn’t purely digital/in traditional mediums.) This meant that I had to work harder to manipulate this unconventional, unfamiliar modes of representation and the challenges that arose were much more numerous than any other project I have experienced before. The lighting for some of the pictures weren’t very desirable as well, so learning how to control light would be something I’ll want to tackle in the future. However, the process of creation was definitely enjoyable, and even if they hadn’t turned out as perfectly as I saw them in my mind. they already far exceeded anything I have done in the past. All in all, I am glad that I was able to complete and finish this project, to produce my four works.


The Singapore Diary – Down the Memory Lane

“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had no childhood in it.” – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).

I think I have ADM to thank for this one. Without my new project, I never would have thought of going back to Yew Tee a visit. Not because I hated it – coming back made me realise how much I didn’t know I missed – but because it felt like a memory so distant I hadn’t thought of reaching that far. 8 years is a long time. I may have moved away when I was twelve but the neighbourhood has moved on without me too.

The night before I went back, many hours were spent reminiscing about the memories I had left behind before I drifted off to sleep. There’s something about nostalgia that makes everything seem a lot more beautiful than it really was at that point in time. But I was excited. A part of me was torn though: do I want to see a changed neighbourhood, or do I want the old one back? Same, stagnant and unchanging?

No space is void of the passage of time.

It’d be amazing to still see the same structures and know you once left your mark behind. No one would know how important it is, but you would know. And yet, for a place to remain wholly unchanged is impossible. No space is void of the passage of time.

These feelings warred within me that night and sleep was fitful. By the time morning came, I was tired but my excitement remained an all time high. Armed with my camera, I was ready to spend my morning exploring my unfamiliarly familiar childhood home.

Visit a place or an area in Singapore that you have not been for quite a while. Go on a wander, what did you see, smell or hear?

I used to imagine myself a gymnast on this very marble bench.

Going back felt like a rush of nostalgia slapped me in the face. I’ve gone to Yew Tee point a couple of times for breakfast with my dad, but I never truly went home. Not the home where childish innocence had still filled my days. When I spent more time making up stories in my head then I did staring down at textbooks and hoping they’d make sense one day. (They never did, it’s why I’m in art school.)

I think I may have spent too long looking and just feeling instead of taking proper photos. Things have changed no doubt. The playgrounds got a bit of an upgrade. So did the elders corner. But the HDBs were still the same shade of pale pink and purple. I remember imagining myself a gymnast on this very marble bench. I could still see my young self hiding behind the familiar walls of the void decks.

I could still see my young self hiding behind the familiar walls.

Every corner I turn reminded me of something I did when I was a kid. I had spent so much time in these places. I traveled far and wide; I was a doctor, a princess, a robber, a spy. All in the same little neighbourhood. These blank walls carried my innocence and I felt childlike again wandering amongst them.

But there was a stillness present now.

Perhaps it is because I was out at 8am in the morning, but I knew something had changed. Preschools and eldercare centres have taken over some void decks. Everything was denser, yet emptier at the same time. So much was done to urbanise the place, that not enough was done to take care of it’s spirit. But it still felt like part of me, changes and all.

This hill and the woods atop was my Narnia.

There is one particular place I used to frequent as a child. It was a small hill – our own patch of wilderness, a colourful contrast from the pastel HDBs and the preschools. And it had been my haven.

I don’t think this space was ever a secret. After all it, had stairs leading right up into it. But for the better part of my childhood years, this hill and the woods atop it was my Narnia. It was my alternate dimension. Many a pinecone fight was had with my brother amongst these very trees. From where I was, it looked relatively untouched. With high hopes, I climbed the stairs, heart thumping with anticipation.

Trees would have dotted the entire green expanse.

[The sun] shines, filtering through the leaves just as beautifully.
Sparse. That was the first thought that came to mind. Eight years ago, trees would have dotted the entire green expanse. There would have barely been any space for my brother and I to play makeshift baseball with fallen branches and pinecones. Now, stumps poked through the grass, dismal and decaying. The sun hasn’t changed much. It will take billions of year before it does so it shines, filtering through the leaves just as beautifully as it did eight years ago.
I breathe in the scent of grass and old wood. The air is already much fresher here.

It’s still just as quiet.

The only sounds accompanying me is the breaking twigs under my boots and the occasional chirp of an insect or bird. Here, where the trees blocked out the road and the cars, I could imagine myself in the shoes of my younger self again. Slowly becoming the person that I am.

Stumps poked through the grass, dismal and decaying.

Another feeling has long since started churning in my chest together with the nostalgia.


Twelve years I had spent here. In those twelve years, things had changed too. But I’d never felt it as acutely as I did now.

We don’t notice when large swathes of time passes by in the form of months and years. It only gets faster the older we get. It traps us in the increasing list of things we need to get done. We can’t stop and think about what that means because ironically, we just don’t have the time to.

I try to abandon this depressing thought, but it is niggling and persistent. I take the longer trek down towards the playground and my old block instead. It’s around 9:30 by the time I finish my reminiscing. Tiny, uniform-clad kids start emerging from the nearby preschools, chaperoned by their young teachers. They’re still young and innocent – I miss those days.

Tiny, uniform-clad kids start emerging from their nearby preschools.

I head to a mini mart next to my block first. This is a place child-me always ended the day at. After a long afternoon of playacting, cycling or playing catch, I would have headed to this neighbourhood mart to grab a drink or an ice-pop for a couple of cents. Those were the days before inflation hit us and we could still enjoy something for the mere price of ten cents.

I would have headed to this neighbourhood mart to grab a drink or an ice-pop.

I enter, avoiding eye contact with the familiar old couple at the counter for fear of recognition because small talk is the bane of my life. Despite this, I was still glad to see them there. Knowing that they were still keeping up the family business, even if the store name is new, made me realise some things will never change. The neighbourhood will always be depending on them for their family necessities. And the children their dueling cards.

However, I did not expect the familiar owner of the store to stop me with a “小妹,找什么吗?” (Looking for anything, girl?) He was still on the plump side, friendly and solid. Except he now had shaven head of short, white hair and the face full of wrinkles. His wife had aged as well, but their smiles remain just as bright when they greet their regulars.

I pause.

I couldn’t run away now, I had to make conversation. So I did.

(In chinese)

“Oh no, just looking.” I replied, hoping I didn’t look embarrassingly awkward about trying to sneak around their store unseen. Taking a chance, I decided to continue.

“It’s just I used to stay here a long time ago, and I thought I’d come back to take a look.”

Unfortunately since I never knew their names despite my years of living there, I shall refer to them as Auntie and Uncle in the following conversation.

“Oh! I remember you, you used to come here all the time.” Uncle said. He speaks to Auntie. “You remember her, don’t you?”

Shocked and touched, I replied enthusiastically. “Yeah! I miss this place a lot. It’s so great to see you! It’s been so long.”

“You had a brother too, didn’t you? You’re so tall now. Came back to take pictures?” He motioned towards the camera I was carrying.

We continued chatting as I explained my project and I reminisced about my memories of the store. Slightly teary, I left the store feeling full and warm, the happiest I have been in days. Despite the long eight years, they still remembered me. It would have been easy for me to slip between the gaps of their memory, but no. I was still there, and so was my brother. Together with everyone they’ve ever served in this neighbourhood, they were remembered. Seeing and talking to them felt like I had cemented my almost dreamlike existence in this neighbourhood.

I had been here.

The geometric tile flower is the same, the letterboxes where I remember them.

I was also glad to see that not much has changed about my old block. The tiled flower upon the floor is the same, the letterboxes where I remember them. The stairwell I used to take to race all the way up to my old apartment on the sixth floor is still there, dark and eerie. Even the scent was familiar. Just the faint smell of the rubbish from the trash dump behind mixed with the old smell of the lift lobby. Something that used to irk me instead brought back a flurry of memories before my eyes.

The view didn’t change much either.

The view didn’t change much either. It’s so strange to see everything look so familiar yet feel so sadly foreign.

The sight and smells are different, but vaguely similar.

Coming back, I realised there was so much about this place I missed without know I had missed it until I saw it. I miss how I would dash down in the evenings to hang out with the neighbourhood kids. I miss how I could spend hours playing on the playground without a care in the world. I miss how my this place meant to my childhood. The sight and smells are different, but vaguely similar. That hurt me more than seeing a complete overhaul of the neighbourhood. Knowing that those places remained a fixture even as the world changed around it, it almost felt like they were waiting for you to come back. And I’m glad I did.

Sound Art – Resonant Chaos.

This piece is an interactive sound installation that was in the Ludvig Museum in 2013. Placed in the centre of a dark room, the glowing sculpture entices its audience to come closer to explore its depths. The installation is triggered by the movement of the visitors, generating haunting, tinkling music. Made of clear glass, the point of the exhibit is also to reflect the piece’s fragility even as they interact with it. In fact, the artist herself had went ahead with the hope that during interactions, the audience may cause some of the sharper, thinner edges to break.

Watching the video of visitors interacting with the piece was quite spectacular. The light play on the sculpture casts lovely, dimensional shadows upon the wall. The tinkling sounds, almost like a xylophone, created an eerie yet oddly calming sensation.

Resonant Chaos

Light, Sound, Glass installation.

Maria Koshenkova (RU) – glass-object
Richard Deutsch (A) – sound, interactive environment
Christian Vogel (A) – software


Walking Home – Research and Final

Title of the work: Story.

Medium: Photographic Narrative, Stop Motion

Work description: 

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. – Vera Nezarin.”

Home has different meanings for everyone just like no two homes are exactly the same. To me, home is a comfortable sphere of relaxation. I tend to find solace in reading, an activity I constantly engage in when at home. Coming home is to allow myself to recharge in solitude with a book.

Having been inspired by the above quote, this series is in black and white to highlight the contrast between light and dark. The pictures all contain various places one could read. The book itself is the main character, traveling everywhere with me as it goes.

The video itself is a stop motion animation of my figurative self on a journey into the world of fiction and coming through as someone else. With close to three hundred shots, it utilises the same character in the photographic sequence, the book as a device of travel.

Briefly Discuss: 

Advantages: Sequence images are able to suggest instead of tell. A lot of the time, with moving image, a narrative is overtly present in the story. Your interpretation of the series becomes much more limited. The point of sequence images is that they never reveal the whole story, which is what I find quite charming about.

Limitations: If not manipulated correctly, sequence images might find themselves lacking in narrative and instead of connoting, become extremely literal. This is my problem with my series.  Most of it denoting, with quite overt messages present and not enough subtext and internal meaning.

Challenges: There were many pictures to take for the stopmotion that required a lot of maneuvering as I was working with figurines. Despite the large amount of footage, the ultimate product was very short as well.

What might be some of the advantages, limitations and challenges of creating narrative using sequences of still images versus Moving image and the role you see sound play in  your work.



Walking Home from Viency Lee on Vimeo.


Typography Portrait – Progress #2

There hasn’t been much change conceptually for my designs other than for one of my attributes. Here are my intended attributes:


The following is a strengthening of my intended methodology with certain reference material.

The attribute that had undergone some change is SYSTEMATIC. Originally, I had intended to build a small model of a conveyor belt out of paper in order to generate the idea of being systematic. I later than toyed with the concept of digital artwork, but neither seemed to really work. I had also considered using negative space for the actual typography as well. Finally after a lot of thinking and a sudden moment of epiphany, I decided to make use of what I already have at home: Lego.

Below are a couple of references I found interesting –

I went ahead with the concept of negative space, and have already formed this piece out of rectilinear lego pieces. It all comes together a little stiff and chaotic, but systematically rectangular as well. This piece will be revealed on the day of the presentation, with both the model and the A5 submission.

For EXISTENTIAL, after a lot of painful experimentation with bright lights in pitch black rooms, I have decided to go with shadow typography, similar to the below:

For the other two, I have decided that I am going to attempt pin and thread typography as well with TRAVELER, as well tactile typography like the examples below:

Pin and Thread –

However, instead of coloured thread, I will be using white thread and pins. Perhaps with some other colours to highlight countries, as well as some pictorial aid.

Tactile Typography –

I will be using toothpicks for this piece as it is more inexpensive, though the background material is still being confirmed.

As of yet, I am still acquiring the necessary materials for the above projects so no progress has been made yet. However, I am fairly certain of my methodology and the ways I will be attempting my typography, all of which will taken photographically and submitted in an A5 format.

Hope it all turns out as planned! 🙂


Typographic Portrait – Progress

My intention with my pieces is to go with something more interactive that can be viewed from multiple perspectives, even if the ultimate A5 result is single-facing.

I have since settled on four major attributes and ideas:


I’m going for a concept where one finds some light in an existential spiral. The idea I’ve crafted is as follows:


I intend to build a black box, material yet to be confirmed. On the front face, the syllables of my name will be carved onto the surface in curved strips. The word existential will then be written in glow-in-the-dark ink to stand out in the box as shown below.


However, my main issue with this work will be it’s presentation. The idea may or may not undergo some changes. My typographic name may be made out in translucent paper instead. Ideas are still being tossed around as to how to solve this problem.


My intention is to make this piece look like a conveyor belt. My initial concept was to make this typographic model out of paper, but after some consideration, the suggestion of negative space became a concept I am intrigued about. My initial sketch model is as shown below:


The typographic outline I hope to fulfil:


The concept I have in my mind is to perhaps outline the silhouette of the word instead of merely forming it out of paper. Initially, I thought of using daily objects to form this figure. However, it’s time-consuming nature is making me reconsider my option. The concept of 2D digital art is interesting as well, and may be able to achieve my desired effect better. Still toying around with ideas for this piece as well.


I have always been a traveler, and this 3D typographic piece is meant to showcase this aspect of myself as a physical representation of my dream to travel the world. My intention is to piece my name together using string and pins.


Certain strings will then branch out towards countries I have and haven’t visited, all in various colours for visual interest and easy identification. This is the only confirmed design that I will very likely proceed with.



I am easily irritable, even if I don’t always show it. This is something more textured that I’ll attempting to pursue. I intend to form my name with toothpicks on a styrofoam surface. I have considered the use of pins, but I realised that they may be a bit costly and went with the alternative of toothpicks instead. I may consider using a styrofoam board as its base.


These pieces will all be shot in photos to display its 2D typographic nature, though they are mostly done in a 3D format.