The Zine – Independent, Social, Radical.

The zine has always had a history of self-expression and social engagement. They were often used by sectors of society that find their content underrepresented in traditional media, and thus decided to create their own content. From my foray into fan culture, I knew zines existed and were very popular, often used for art compilations and fanfiction. Regardless of the content, it was used to bind different committees together.  Be it due to popular culture, or through expressing a political message usually overlooked. I decided to do a quick pinterest search, that slowly accumulated during the course of the project.

Full Research/Moodboard here.

That’s what my research informed me, which of course intrigued me immediately. As a someone who may have stronger social opinions than most, I felt that I wanted to produce a work that could represent my opinions. With the rise of the internet, zines went from being handmade to being digital. However, I still wanted to retain the idea of producing a strong social piece. I went on to consider the different social movements that I felt strongly about: the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, and the queer movement.

In the end I decided to go with the feminist movement to narrow the scope of my zine down to something more specific.

Something else I immediately thought of in relation to the disenfranchised and the marginalised was Les Miserables. This musical is famous for discussing the oppression of those of lower social hierarchy, and the subsequent fighting back of society. Other than aligning perfectly with my feminist concept, Les Miserable was also one of my favourite musicals and had shaped my own interest in social and political issues. Before that, I had always been apathetic and uninterested. I thus felt it was particularly apt.

I knew red  was going to be something featured heavily in the work, being the colour of passion, and also a flag of the revolution in the musical. But seeing this poster, I knew immediately the colour scheme my work will slant towards.

The poem (sort of) was also inspired by the Finale in Les Miserables, which has always made me very emotional, particularly this segment:

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the plough-share,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes…
Tomorrow comes!

I knew I was going to utilise part of the lyrics in my work. I then furthered my research by going into my own books.

There was a couple of paraphernalia in this book that with the help of consultations, made me realise I could utilise them in my work. Below are the three specific ones.

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I borrowed the idea of using an aged and yellowed texture as that was what I felt was in common for all three.

Here are the final pages:

cover zine copy zine copy2 zine copy3 zine copy4 zine copy5 zine copy6 zine copy7 zine copy8 zine covers32

I printed the two covers separately on a piece of tracing paper, then bound them all together in a saddle-stitch (the help of the printing shop). The tracing paper was to add a hazy, dreamlike quality to zine, much like the revolution and social movements. A dream for a better world.

Creating the zine was trying and torturous process as I had never worked with Indesign nor did anything design related other than digital painting in photoshop. So this was something completely new to me. Perhaps I went a little safe with my overall design, but I’m still glad I was able to produce a work I am mostly proud of. A good end to a semester in Foundation 2D!

The Library – The Installation.

This installation was some of the most fun I’ve had with a project since school started. In the past, even in Sem 1, I’ve tried way too hard to make my work serious, respectable and “artsy”. I may be emotionally invested and driven as I conceptualise the work, but once it comes down to the actual execution, I lose steam very quickly. Art for me was starting to feel static; I didn’t know how to add life into it. So for this project, I went on a completely opposite route and decided to just have fun. It could backfire on me for all I know, but at least I was able to say that I enjoyed this installation and it is truly something I’m proud of producing. Something I don’t often say about my work.

I am generally of a pretty serious and quiet temperament, but I decided to inject the part of me that loves sarcasm and satire into this work. Ever since I became more socially engaged (and more political) four years ago, I can’t seem to let go of that in my work. I don’t often have very high opinions of bigots and conservative people. And this came across pretty clearly in my work.


Titled A Guide to Sinning Through the Ages, this work though satirical, is still meant to draw attention to the way books have been banned or challenged in numerous countries, sometimes for the most ridiculous reasons. No book is safe from the horrors conservatism, paranoia, or censorship. This installation draws attention to censorship and the issues that many authors face. In doing so it questions literary freedom and expression. It also calls out the fear that a certain sector of society has towards written text.

The books themselves are from my personal collection, ranging from popular fiction to the classics. They are cling-wrapped together to restrict them from being read, but so people can still see through the clingwrap to view the covers. The floating pegs is meant to give a subtle feeling of caging up the books within society’s opinion. It is overbearing and excessive, and hides all meaning of the original books.

A few close ups of the work:

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Description on Artist Label: 

A Guide to Sinning Through the Ages

Viency Lee

April 2016

Text and Image installation, Mixed Media, Variable Dimensions.

Conservatism! Paranoia! Censorship! Why the hell are we so afraid of books? Since books were first written and published, every single genre has contributed to the long list of books deemed unsafe for general readership.

“A Guide to Sinning Through the Ages” is a one stop shop where you can see how attitudes towards certain types of content have changed throughout the years. People sure can come up with the wackiest reasons to challenge and ban anything they want to. What on earth is so terrifying about a bunch of words on flimsy paper? These guys seem to have an idea.

The next time NLB decides to pulp some books because certain sectors of Singaporean society think they’re inappropriate, come find me with a copy! I’ll be glad to add them to this display of all-round idiocy.


Why the obtrusive title? After extensive research on my book choices, I came to the realisation that a lot of these books were often withdrawn from libraries due to fundamental religious reasons. Books like Harry Potter or The Picture of Dorian Gray often appear to contain material that spoke against the Bible, and thus became vilified for it. Witchcraft and homosexual overtones were what these books were known for. And it’s the reason why they got banned. Because it was a sin.

This was a common theme for most of the books I chose, and thus the title of the installation was born.

The installation also showcased numerous library cards, thirty six of them to be exact. There are however only fourteen individual ones that were repeated to fill the whole installation. You can see each one below.

annefrank darkmaterials doriangray endersgame frankenstein hamlet hp3 leavesofgrass lesmis lookingforalaska lotr perks thg2 twilight

All in all, I really had fun with this project. I’m not sure where exactly this satirical piece will take me, but it was great nonetheless. A good end to my semester in Foundation 4D!

The Library – Research

This project took me a long time to conceptualise. First of all, I always have a desperate need to connect with my work. I need that motivation of feeling passionate about what I was doing and the message I was sending. I sat myself in the library for three hours, staring into space, into the ceiling, at the books. I probably came off as insane with all the looking around I was doing. I ended up having quite an artist block with this project initially, because no matter what idea I tossed out, I hated almost all of them.

(Unfortunately, I lost most of my pictures and sketches so I only have the three below. Sorry. 🙁 )

After rejecting about five ideas or so, I finally came up with three I was quite okay with.

Noise Installation


Cascading Book Pages Installation


Censorship Book Installation


Finally after much pondering, I found that I was most passionate about the last concept.

I did a lot of research (Goodreads was a great help) about different banned books from all over the world. Initially I was going to go with something more serious, but after seeing the ridiculous reasons books were getting banned for, I decided to alter my tune.

I came up with a list of possible books I wanted to use for my work and their respective information:

  1. harry potter
  2. hunger games
  3. perks of being a wallflower
  4. his dark materials
  5. looking for alaska
  6. twilight
  7. anne frank
  8. picture of dorian gray
  9. brave new world
  10. the da vinci code
  11. frankenstein
  12. lord of the rings
  13. and tango makes three
  14. leaves of grass
  15. hamlet
  16. fifty shades
  17. lolita
  18. ender’s game
  19. les mis

The place I decided to utilise for my installation is this particular area. I thought the structure was interesting, and I could utilise both the pegs and the pedestal in my work.


Initially I wanted to toy with visual imagery but it ended up making the book (and the protagonist) look like they were on a hitlist. So that idea was scrapped.

Initial Test Concept:

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(Felt a tad bit disrespectful too since she died during WWII in terrible conditions.)

I decided to alter the concept to library cards, as that’s what people used to borrow books before. Most of the books that I mentioned were also explicitly banned by specific libraries in different countries, so I figured this imagery would be cohesive with the entire installation. I obtained this base picture on google, before editing it  to reflect the details of the book.

vintage lib card original

My first test image:


I ended up changing date due to censored for greater clarity.

I also approached the work with a more satirical and sarcastic tone. As someone who is much more on the serious side, this is something I have never really embraced before. It ended up being an extremely interesting process for me as I developed my work.

The Singapore Diary – Under Construction.

This is a story about growing up.

And it is.

This project was much closer to me than a lot of my projects. I am constantly struggling to find ways to relate to my work, and not to just produce a detached project to fulfill my grades. For this, I feel like, yeah, I injected quite a bit of heart into this one.

I’m an existentialist at heart, always considering my existence and my purpose in the world etc. Not the best thing to always be thinking about. For one, it’s exceedingly pretentious to constantly ponder the state of life. Who likes someone who’s always trying way too hard to be ‘deep’? It’s not on purpose trust me. My mind just wanders too easily. For the other, it starts to get really depressing when all you can think about is how you’re going to end up a cog in the machine and watch your life spiral away from you-


This video is kind of existentialist. And though I hate to come off as pretentious, I can’t deny it made me realise that time is impermanent and fleeting.  I am an adult now, mostly. In age at least. And this comes with a whole onslaught of responsibilities. It made me consider my childhood, my own memories, and what that could bring to my future. I know I’m constantly trapped in my past. There are many things I miss about it, especially as school gets tougher and life gets harder. Retreating into your past and your memories always seem easier, almost like an excuse. It gives you the false hope of an “if only I could go back” situation, except that you can’t, and thinking any harder about it only makes you sadder.

So I guess this video is meant to reflect my feelings on this whole mess of being stuck in between the past and the present, and realising that trying to reach for your future means having to stop fixating on the former.

Moving on to the process of creating my video, I was actually terrified to make it. There are a couple of reasons why.

  1. I have never in my life filmed anything that wasn’t a handphone recording of a  concert and/or some ridiculous situation.
  2. What is editing and what even is Premiere Pro?
  3. What do I even film??? This neighbourhood is the most boring place to EXIST.
  4. Amongst many others that I can’t remember at this point.

Point is, my fears were many, and I went into the process with trepidation. But there’s nothing I could do but swallow it down and produce something.

My research sent me to Youtube, my favourite place to procrastinate. And in the midst of my research (procrastination), I stumbled across (rewatched), a couple of old videos from two of my favourite youtubers, Troye Sivan and Connor Franta.

Both these youtubers constantly shoot vlogs for each other, so I recognised their distant style of reflective monologues, complete with a simple background track and spontaneous videos that introduced the landscape. Here are the two videos I referenced specifically.

Troye Sivan – Becoming You

Connor Franta – Life Doesn’t Wait

I really appreciated the aesthetic and the style behind both these videos, so I thought to try and emulate that.

Enlisting the help of a friend who has some experience in photography, we set on a journey to film an overly pretentious, monologue styled, hipster video. And strangely, I managed to get it to work. Somewhat.

My music choice for this one is the instrumental of one of my favourite songs, Youth by Troye Sivan. (Evidently, I’m a big fan.) I really liked the beats, which I used to place my video cuts. The music came out a little louder than I wanted to, but that’s a lesson learned for another day.

Editing the video was torturous. Like I mentioned above, I’ve never used Premiere Pro. It took me a whole afternoon to familiarise myself with the software to even do anything remotely close to proper editing. I ended up only doing the bulk of the editing at night. It came more smoothly by then though, so it wasn’t too bad. The problem with this style was that the video cuts felt arbitrary but are actually planned. Each clip was also wholly different but had to somehow feel linked together. Trying to find the balance for both of these made for tough calls and decisions. A lot of video colouring was involved, which also took me plenty of time I didn’t have.

All in all, I learned quite a lot from this process. I’m really glad I decided to step out of my comfort zone and explore a medium I’ve never used before. Filming videos is tiring, but a lot more fun than I imagined. Perhaps, I might try it out again in the future.

And finally, here’s the fruit of my hard labour:

Full transcript of monologue:

This is a story about growing up.
I remember many things about this place. There was a hill. Not a very big one. You know, Singapore and all. But, I liked it enough as a kid.
I had so many adventures in this hill. I slayed dragons, I was a knight, a queen. And this? This was my kingdom.
I could see myself hanging between the walls of void decks. I could see myself playing catch in the playground. I even remember myself fumbling over rollerblades in this very basketball court.
I realised how much I wanted to be that kid again. You didn’t need to know what came after each day. What you saw was what felt real to you.
You didn’t need to think about the future, because you got to decide what came next.
It took me eight years to finally come back. And I had glued memories to a place that will never stop changing. It’s so easy to hold yourself back by thinking about how good your life had been in comparison.
I don’t think forgetting about my childhood is the way to move on. Not so much as forgetting in the sense of the word. Your childhood is the thing that made you the way you are. It’s good to keep the memories beside you. Take them out once in a while, maybe dust them off, take a look. But that’s the thing, you do it once in a while.
Your old self is meant to stay where it is: behind. It’s meant to be a memory, not a shadow. It shouldn’t have to follow you forever. Having great times as a kid doesn’t mean you can’t have even better ones now.
The truth is, you can’t go back. Not to the way you used to be. You’re just not that little child  anymore.
Growing up means having to leave certain things behind. It means knowing that unlike the past, you change as much as the world around you. In order to create your future, you have to let your past go.
Maybe you’ve grown up just a little taller than you wanted. Maybe a little more awkward, a little rounder. Maybe even a little unhappier.
And that’s okay.
You don’t have to perfectly beautiful, perfectly amazing, or perfectly happy to be human.
Hey it took me twenty years but, yeah, I think I’m ready to move on.
My past has left me behind, and maybe, it’s time for me to leave it behind as well.