[Research] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

In this project, we explored dynamic compositions through the medium of food and the Japanese art of floral arrangement, Ikebana, in accordance to a season we were assigned to. For my case, I had to portray the season of summer.

Season of Summer

Since my model had to embody the season of summer, I took some time to brainstorm objects (namely food), moods, and colours that are usually associated with Summer.

Mindmap on Summer
Mindmap on Summer food

After doing so, I took objects I could work with and categorised them further into three groups: State Fairs, The Beach, and Picnics. I then proceeded to gather more images to create mood boards to help me establish the mood, colour palettes, and decorations I could use for my model.

Mood board for state fairs

State fairs are a common occurrence in America, especially during Summer. Objects and moods typically associated with these fairs include bright lights, stripes of vibrant colours, deep-fried junk food, and finger food (whatever is portable).

Mood board for the beach

In a more tropical setting, beaches are commonly visited during Summer. Objects and moods commonly associated with beaches include fruity cocktails, popsicles, tropical fruits (most notably watermelons and pineapples), and colour palettes that consist of pink and green.

Mood board for picnics

Picnics are also another common Summer activity. Objects and moods commonly associated with picnics include more high-end and nutritionally-packed dishes (e.g. sandwiches, granola, salads, and mueslis), platters of cold cuts and cheeses, picnic mats, grassy areas, and more earthy tones (in contrast to the vibrant colour palettes in beaches and state fairs).

I. Colour Palettes
Colour palettes for summer
All palettes taken from www.colourlovers.com
III. Takeaways

After brainstorming and researching more about associations with Summer, I decided to have my model portray a picnic. I intend to have the volumes (cone, cylinder, and sphere) to represent a common dish at picnics with a colour palette that reflects the earthy tones of a picnic.

  • Earthy tones
  • Calming mood
  • More nutritional food, health-conscious dishes
  • More greenery, less florals
  • Picnic mats, fans, and baskets

 Food & Taste

Since we had to experiment with food as a medium, I decided to first learn more about culinary approaches in combining different foods.

Chart on flavour profiles

Taste in food traditionally comprises of sweet, savoury, bitter, sour, and umami.  However, these tastes can be further broken down into “flavour profiles”, some of the main components including:

Description Examples
Low notes Deep lingering flavours in foods that form the base, or backdrop, for other flavours. Mushrooms, seared meat, beans
Mid notes Flavours that are much more subtle. They are not as immediately identifiable in the sense that they do not hang around as long as the low and high notes. Raw chicken and vegetables (food that often tastes bland without the presence of other flavours)
High notes Flavours that are “show stoppers”. Splash of citrus, handful of fresh herbs, minced hot peppers

Combining these notes helps to achieve a sense of “roundness” or “fullness”, as their main function is to bring other flavours out; we do not normally taste them individually. 

In addition to combining different flavour profiles, chefs also adopt layering as a technique to “marry a variety of flavours”, thereby “creat[ing] dimensionality, structure, and redefined variation on the plate”. When creating layers in a dish, it is important to keep in mind the functions of different types of ingredients.

Aromatics Often used as a starting point for most dishes, aromatics lay the foundation of flavour. An example being the use of ginger, garlic, and scallions in Chinese cuisine.
Fats The type of fats used in a dish categorises the dish into a type of cuisine. An example being ghee mainly used in Indian cuisine.
Liquids Liquids can be used as both a cooking medium and seasoning. They also have the capacity to impact a dish’s flavour, especially with alcohol-laced flavouring like wine, vodka, and beer.
Dairy items Dairy items add flavour and can be used as thickening agents.
Acidic flavours Acidic flavour attributes can aid in creating colour, flavours, and different levels of acidity. They can also help in creating more balanced dishes by being contrasted against sweeteners.
II. The Art of Plating
By chef David Kinch

Combining food profiles is then further enhanced through representation, or plating. Applying different design principles and techniques, all whilst keeping to a set of guidelines, can help in bringing out the flavours and visuals of the dish. Some of these guidelines include:

1. Choose the perfect plate
Choosing a plate is key to attractive food presentation. This can be done by thinking of the plate as a canvas and the food as a medium. When choosing, it is important to consider the plate’s size, keeping it big enough to allow the food to stand out and small enough so that the portion does not look too small. The plate colour is also an important aspect; white plates generally create high contrast and provides a neutral background for colourful creations. The plate then can be used as a frame to apply the rule of thirds – white space can be utilised in pinpointing the focal point of your dish.

2. Placing Ingredients
When plating a dish, picture a clock in mind; proteins should be placed between 3 and 9, starch or carbohydrates between 9 and 12, and vegetables from 12 and 3. Moist ingredients are typically used as a base and are anchored by placing other foods on top of them. Odd amounts are also served, usually regarded as creating more visual appeal. Also, prevent overcrowding in a dish – keep it simple by keeping the focus on one ingredient. Finding a focal point also helps to ensure that accompanying ingredients will play a complementary and supporting role instead.

3. Pay attention to the details
In addition to experimenting with texture, try to create colour and contrast; beautiful backgrounds can be created by adding green vegetables with accent points brought about by brightly-coloured fruits. Pairing ingredients with complementary colours typically enhances visual appeal. Furthermore, create height by balancing out taller ingredients by leaning long, flat items against them.

4. Design and create with sauces
Reiterating the aforementioned purpose of liquids having the capacity of impacting a dish’s flavour, accent dots can be created on one side of the plate (while considering the rule of thirds), or by lightly drizzling sauce over the main ingredients.

5. Use garnishes purposefully
When using garnishes, make sure to use edible garnishes that relate to the dish, as well as possessing the ability to enhance and complement the flavours as opposed to distracting from them. Also, never heap garnishes in one corner – disperse them thoughtfully in order to add colour and texture.

II.I. Dinara Kasko
Works of Dinara Kasko

Dinara Kasko is a Ukrainian pastry chef who is most notable for applying architectural concepts in her desserts. A graduate from Kharkov University Architecture School, Karsko worked both as a designer-visualiser and part-time photographer. She decided to then take pursue her dreams of being a pastry chef, inspired by her architectural past.

Her approaches include treating cakes and treats as if they were scale-models of buildings; her cakes resembling “diagrammatic models of contemporary architecture but rather than building with steel, concrete, or glass, the material palette for her buildings consist of meringue, gelatin, and chocolate”.

Through her works, Kasko aims to “connect ‘patisserie and architecture’ through geometric forms and careful compositions”.

III. Learning Points
  • The presence of Dominant, Subdominant, and Subordinate factors in flavour profiles (low notes as Dominant, mid notes as Subdominant, and high notes as Subordinate). Taking flavour profiles into consideration, in addition to shapes of the volumes, can help me to take experimentation one step further.
  • Techniques of layering and the functions of different kinds of food.
  • Guidelines to keep in mind when plating; importance of colour and contrast, varying in textures, and methods of placing ingredients.


I. What is Ikebana?
Ikebana: Japanese art of floral arrangement

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It is a disciplined art form where “the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together”, and is “steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature”.

Derived from the Japanese love of nature, where there is “a strong bond of intimacy” with natural surroundings – “even in contemporary concrete-and-asphalt urban complexes” – Ikebana is an art form that is centred on “suggesting the whole of nature”, “creating a link between the indoors and outdoors”. It is also perceived as an outlet to help one “live in the moment” and to “appreciate things in nature that previously had seemed insignificant”.

II. Features & Styles

Similar to the characteristics associated with traditional Japanese paintings, gardens, architecture, and design, Ikebana follows certain guidelines and rules of construction. When practising Ikebana, it is also important to keep in mind that nature is always changing, where the objects displayed would change to reflect the season.

Some of the more prominent Ikebana styles include:

Style Overview Design
Kuge Buddhist floral offerings placed on temple altars Consisted of three main stems gathered closely at the base and rose from the water as one
Rikka Began to be displayed in the homes of the aristocracy; its purpose changed to that of a decoration of the home, therefore design became an important factor

Each stem has a symbolic meaning drawn from both religion and landscape art

Arrangement became a kind of microcosm representing the entire universe

“Standing arrangement”

Tall, formal arrangements

Grand and imposing

Arranged ways of nature

Chabana Prominent during popularity of tea drinking and ceremonies

A more informal style

Often uses a single seasonal flower or branch to capture the essence of the material

Rustic simplicity and minimalism

Nageire Popular with merchant class and general public

Means literally “to throw in”

No set rules for the arrangement, could be used to decorate any space

Freestyle form usually done in a tall vase

Emphasis on the natural form of the flowers

Shoka Popular with the rising merchant class

A style that was easier to learn as compared to Rikka

Easy to carry out

Derived from three principal stems of Rikka; branches represented heaven (ten), earth (chi), man (jin)

The branches formed an asymmetrical triangular shape

Used fewer materials (showing influence of Nageire)

Moribana One of the most popular styles

“Piling up of flowers”

Broad expanse of natural-looking shapes and a mound of beautiful flowers

Type of Moribana is dependent on angle of primary, secondary, ornamental stems

Much freer approach, but still emphasised uneven numbers and asymmetry in arrangements

Upright, slanting, water-reflecting

Uses a shallow container and kenzan

Jiyuka Encourages contemporary artistic expression

Non-plant elements may play a role in abstract Jiyuka compositions

Creative design, not confined to flowers

Naturalistic and abstract styles differ in the flowers and plants used and represented in compositions

Naturalistic: Underlines natural beauty of the floral materials

Abstract: Highlights design qualities of flowers and leaves

II. I. Moribana Style
Moribana style

A defining feature of the Moribana style includes arranging the materials “as if they are piled up in low flat containers with a wide surface area of water”. Other characteristics that distinguish Moribana include its use of three principal stems – the Subject, the Secondary, and the Object (as well as intermediaries as Filler stems), and its three main styles – the Upright Style, Slanting Style, and Water-Reflecting Style.

Upright Style Defined by a standard floral style with principal stems positioned in a manner to evoke a sense of movement, bringing forth a composition of formal and graceful beauty
Slanting Style A floral form that expresses the beauty of branches and grasses that grow slanting down, evoking a greater sense of movement (as compared to the Upright Style)
Water-Reflecting Style  The Subject is placed to slant over the container, allowing its reflection to be casted on the surface of the water

The Subject, the Secondary, and the Object are arranged in such a way that the wide surface of the water is visible

The floral style is rich in subjective and expressive possibilities

Moribana can be further divided into two sub-styles: Colour Scheme Moribana and Landscape Moribana, with two main methods: the Realistic Method and the Traditional Method.

Colour Scheme Moribana: Expresses beauty of colour

The Colour Scheme Moribana aims to achieve the beauty of harmony along with a contrast of materials. This particular style values the importance of colour harmony and contrast where the Object is to use specific techniques to give full play to growth patterns and the individual characteristics of the materials.

This is mainly carried out through the Colour Method or the Traditional Method.

Colour Method A technique with free choice of materials by which to express the beauty of colour through the colours, shapes, and textures of various plants
Traditional Method The beauty of colour is brought out based on set rules for the materials and method of arrangement. This particular style values the importance of colour harmony and contrast where the Object is to use specific techniques to give full play to growth patterns and the individual characteristics of the materials

Its chief aim is not the expression of scenic beauty, but the correct expression of floral styles


Landscape Moribana: Beauty of natural scenery is represented

Landscape Moribana encompasses natural landscapes represented within the limited confines of flower containers. It can be divided into three views:

Far View Takes tall trees as main subject
Middle View  Focus moves closer to scenes of dense growth with smaller trees becoming the major theme and low shrubs used as chief materials
Near View Point of view moves in even closer to flowers and grasses blooming at the base of trees and other scenes portrayed as if they actually exist before one’s eyes


Traditional Method A technique to express beauty of scenery using limited materials, with arranging methods prescribed for these materials while observing their natural growth
Realistic Method A technique to express scenic beauty by understanding natural growth, environment and seasonal aspect of the material, and is done by mixing in the subjectivity and impressions of the arranger


II. II. Jiyuka Style
Jiyuka style

The Jiyuka Style, on the other hand, mainly comprises of free style where there is no set pattern or form. This gives way to the “expressiveness of arrangement”, which “emphasises the creativity of personal expression inspired by the main features of plants and flowers”.

III. Principles of Ikebana

Practitioners of Ikebana usually form arrangements that establish beauty in the form of “colour combinations, natural shapes, and graceful lines”. With considerable technical skill, arrangers also combine materials to “create a kind of beauty that cannot be found in nature”.

Some of the primary aspects that Ikebana features include:

Materiality Living branches, leaves, grasses, withered leaves, fruits, moss, seed pods, buds and blossoms are used

Arrangers tend to use several different types of plants in a single arrangement; even when a single type of flower is used, attempts are made to bring out its full implications as a symbol of nature

Asymmetry Uses empty space as essential feature of composition

Space is utilised in such a way that it is not meant to be filled but created and preserved through the arrangements

Harmony Harmony is achieved through the materials, container, and setting used

Elements such as minimalism, shape and line, form, humanity, and aesthetics should also complement one another

iV. Learning Points
  • Different styles of Ikebana and the features that distinguish between them
  • Influence of the environment and nature in Ikebana
  • Moribana style and the methods and techniques used
  • Jiyuka style and the methods and techniques used
  • Design principles to apply when practising Ikebana  


Link to final:


I. Combining Foods






A Study of Flavor Profiles


II. Ikebana


Ikebana: The Art of Flower Arranging








[Final] Project 1: Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box: Symmetry

Top: Product in dark
Bottom: Product in light

A common term usually associated with symmetry is ‘equilibrium’, where it refers to elements being equally arranged on both sides of an axis, creating a sense of balance, and thereby establishing beauty of form. Additionally, the idea of elements coexisting in such a way where balance and beauty are achieved, can be reinforced through the use of varying materials and spaces.

Drawing inspiration from these ideas that were evident in projects such as Hufton+Crow’s Disparate Bus Stops and Sou Fujimoto’s House H, I hope to, in my final product, apply these concepts using different techniques and design principles, with the use of materials enhancing it further.


Principles Applied

Product from different views, with line of symmetry indicated
I. Techniques Applied
Piercing and wedging techniques applied

Piercing and wedging the boxes helped in creating symmetrical views at different angles.

II. Design Principles
Product with dominant, subdominant, subordinate indicated
Sketch Analysis: Front and Behind
Sketch Analysis: Side
Sketch Analysis: Top and Bottom
Symmetry  Symmetry is established by having elements on both sides of the principal axis equal. Focusing on the idea of Reflection Symmetry, I wanted to ensure that the proportions of the boxes on both sides of the principal axis (or line of symmetry) were equal – when a line is drawn through the boxes, they would be equal on both sides.
Rule of Thirds  Rule of Thirds is applied through the lengths in which the boxes are placed. This can be seen in the aforementioned sketch analyses where the lengths are indicated by X and Y.
Hierarchy  Hierarchy is displayed through the use of boxes of different sizes, displaying the Dominant [D], Sub-dominant [SD], and  Sub-ordinate [SO] elements.
Balance  The equal proportions on both sides also help in creating a sense of balance.
Void The product is also a hollow structure whereby there is an incision in the front, creating negative space within. This also allows for the light above to enter the structure, making it more visually-appealing.
Material in final product
Top: Use of light
Bottom: Use of wood, textured paper, fabric


I wanted to expand on the idea of contrast by having different colours and textures – this is carried out through the portrayal of wood (using Kraft paper), marble (using textured white paper), and soft/shiny surfaces (using fabric).

Inspired by the aforementioned Disparate Bus Stops, I also wanted to include an element of light to further enhance my product, and at the same time, enhancing the SO by making it more of a ‘finishing touch’ kind of element.

Opacity  I wanted my product to display the use of opacity as well. This was carried out by using a range of materials with varying opacities – the wood being opaque, textured paper being translucent, and the clear plastic (SO) being transparent.


I. Micro Application
Product Application (Micro): Outdoor doghouse

With regards to application, the final product can be used as an outdoor doghouse. The Dominant aspect, with negative space within, acting as the main body, the Subdominant aspect acting as support for the structure and also for aesthetic purposes (being made up of a contrasting material to the Dominant aspect), and the Subordinate aspect acting as a light.

II. Macro Application
Product Application (Macro): Garage

Another application the product can be used for is a garage. Similar to that of the doghouse, the Dominant aspect, with the negative space within, can be used as the main structure for housing the car, the Subdominant acting as a support structure, and the Subordinate aspect functioning as a light for the driveway.

III. Third-Angle Application
Application: Handle for hotel safe

The product can also be used as an additional high-tech safety feature for a safe. The Subdominant can be used as a handle while the Subordinate can be used as an indicator that turns green when the correct code is punched in and red when the wrong one is used.

Challenges and Improvements

A challenge I faced was symmetry being a straightforward concept and therefore, I struggled in coming up with creative ways in representing it. However, after researching more on architects, artists, and how common people perceive the idea of symmetry, I was able to formulate ideas.

I also hope to improve on the final display of my product by making it much neater and the cuts cleaner.


– Link to research and process: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-process…t-1-pandoras-box/

– Link to 2D sketch analysis (of interesting 3D object): https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/2d-sketch-analysis/

[Research & Process] Project 1: Pandora’s Box

Project 1: Pandora’s Box

As an introduction to rectilinear volumes, our first project required us to create sculptures that embodied different principles of design, all within the context of the story of Pandora’s Box. The project kicked off with everyone picking a random word from a small, wooden box, from which I got ‘symmetry’.

Research and Reference

Initially thinking of symmetry as a rather straightforward concept, I came to realise that depicting it in a physical, abstract form is quite challenging. After wracking my brains for a good few days, I decided to turn to research and reference artists and the ideas flowed from there.   

I. Dissecting ‘Symmetry’

‘Symmetry’ refers to ‘balanced proportions’ or the ‘beauty of form arising from balanced proportions’, when ‘elements are arranged in the same way on both sides of an axis’, creating ‘correct or pleasing proportion[s]’ of a subject. Common terms associated include ‘equilibrium’, ‘agreement’, and ‘harmony’.

The concept of symmetry encompasses three main techniques – reflection, rotation, and translation symmetry.

Reflection Symmetry The mirroring of an equivalent element around a central axis
Rotation Symmetry Rotation of equivalent elements around a common centre
Translation Symmetry Location of equivalent elements in different areas of space

Combinations of these techniques can therefore, create ‘harmonious, interesting, [and] memorable designs’.

II. Sou Fujimoto

Sou Fujimoto is one of Japan’s most recognised architects, whose body of work centres on ‘ambiguous interpretation[s] of spaces and forms’ in which he is inspired by ‘organic and natural structures (such as forests and caves)’. He has mentioned that with regards to the complexity of the natural environment, ‘we inject our human sense of order (and vice versa), carrying forward a new definition of space which responds to the changing times’, and with that, his works fit into the idea of this place ‘between the natural and human artificial’.

House H (2008)

Sou Fujimoto’s House H (2008)

House H was conceptualised as a dwelling for a family of three located in a residential district in Tokyo. It is said that living in a multi-storey complex in a ‘dense metropolis’ like Tokyo is ‘somehow similar to living in a large tree’, from which ‘exists a few large branches’, ‘endow[ing] numerous qualities’ such as ‘pleasant places to sit, sleep’, and ‘discourse’.

The residence is covered by holes – the walls, ceilings, and floors are ‘blatantly punctured and are interlocked three-dimensionally’, through which ‘one is able to see and feel through to the spaces adjacent, above and below oneself’. ‘The rich spatiality conceived here’ also consists of the three-dimensional factors of an ‘Escher image’.

III. Disparate Bus Stops

 Desparate Bus Stops is a project by British architectural photographers Hufton+Crow, where they documented seven disparate bus shelters scattered along roadways in the village of Krumbach, Austria. The structures of these bus shelters were reimagined by an international group of designers.

Hufton+Crow’s Disparate Bus Stops (2014)
From Left to Right:
Sou Fujimoto, Architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, Wang Shu +Lu Wenyu, and Alexander Brodsky

The bus stops focused on relating to the landscape in diverse ways, all while providing varying degrees of shelter from weather forces and indicating, with a strong presence, where passers-by may catch the regional transit.

I. Visually-Pleasing
  • Inclusion of visually-appealing elements
  • Focus on Reflection Symmetry
Moodboard for symmetry

After researching more on the concept of symmetry, I came across many instances where symmetry is associated with being rather geometric,  minimalist, slick, and clean-cut. On my part, I find minimalist structures visually-pleasing to look at (emphasises harmony) and hence, I intend to base my final product on this basis. Additionally, keeping in mind the criteria for this project – using rectilinear shapes with no tilting of volumes – I intend to expand more on Reflection Symmetry. 

II. Arrangement
  • Using shapes to enhance unity
  • Inclusion of light and void
Sou Fujimoto’s House H (2008)

I hope to emulate some factors of Sou Fujimoto’s House H, especially in adopting methods to turn the rigid nature of rectilinear volumes to establish separate but balanced forms. This is evident in House H‘s inclusion of void and natural lighting, which is seen through using transparent materials, as well as ‘using artificial and geometric order’ to create a ‘succession of void’.

III. Materiality
  • Material as visual and functional element

Coming across Disparate Bus Stops, I was inspired to approach the use of materials in both a visual and functional form. Using a variety of materials that range in opacity and texture, the designers in the project were able to take traditional bus stops and give them a modern twist that is, at the same time, visually-pleasing and functional in relation to its environment.

Bus stop by Smiljan Radic

My personal favourite is the one by Smiljan Radic, where I found his choice of material particularly interesting – in addition to the visually-appealing pairing of materials with different opacities and textures (glass and wood), the bus stop is also functional in the sense that users experience it in the same way they would at a regular bus stop, such as sitting while waiting for the bus. The attention to environmental factors – being surrounded by glass in a natural landscape – also makes it all the more visually-appealing and attention-grabbing.

I. Model 1

Model 1 focuses more on the concept of Translation Symmetry.

Model 1: Draft 1
Model 1: Drafts 2 and 3
Positive Changes To Make
Draft 1 Diagonal line of symmetry

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

Line of symmetry to be present in all views
Draft 2 Diagonal line of symmetry

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

Line of symmetry present in frontal view, through wedging

Boxes to be seen from different views

Try out different methods of display for SO

Draft 3 Lines of symmetry

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

More interesting views from different angles

II. Model 2

Model 2 focuses more on the concept of Reflection Symmetry.

Model 2: Draft 1
Model 2: Draft 2
Model 2: Draft 3
Model 2: Draft 4


Positive Changes To Make
Draft 1  Line of symmetry


Unclear hierarchy: Change sizes of boxes

Lack of line of symmetry in other views: Look into wedging and piercing

Draft 2 Line of symmetry  Unclear hierarchy: Change shape of SD

Lack of line of symmetry in other views: Look into wedging and piercing

Draft 3  Line of symmetry

Symmetry more established  in different views

Unclear hierarchy: Change shape of SD, change length of SO

Application of Rule of Thirds

Lack of line of symmetry in other views: Look into wedging and piercing

Draft 4  Line of symmetry

Symmetry more established  in different views

Hierarchy: Change shape of SD, change size of SO

Apply materials

III. Model 3

Model 3 focuses more on Rotation Symmetry.

Model 3: Draft 1
Positive Changes To Make
Draft 1 Line of symmetry

Established hierarchy

Discard: No tilting of volumes
 IV. Preparation for Final

For my final product, I decided to go with Model 2 because of its clearer hierarchy of volumes and composition that allows for more expansion on the concept of symmetry. Its arrangement is also easier to apply for use in daily life as opposed to Model 1.


 – Link to final product and write-up: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/final-project-1-pandoras-box/

– Link to 2D sketch analysis (of interesting 3D object): https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/2d-sketch-analysis/








2D Sketch Analysis

As a form of warm-up to the module, we were tasked to bring an object we found three-dimensionally interesting to class. Something I found interestingly-shaped was my eyedrops bottle.

Overview of Object
Front view
Top view
Bottom view
Front view with lid (right) off
2D Sketch Analysis
2D Sketch Analysis: Renu eyedrops bottle
Principal Axis

‘Principal Axis’ was one of the first terms we discussed in class. Principal axes are usually found along the longest lengths of the object in question. In the case of this eyedropper, the axis is through the centre.

After doing a quick Google search, I also found out that the main role of axes in design is to align elements. Generally, when these elements are arranged around an axis, the design feels ordered, thus creating a sense of stability, comfort, and being approachable (which is what people prefer).


Identifying the Principal Axis helps to determine if the object is symmetrical. Symmetry is defined as ‘a property of visual equivalence among elements in a form’, and is usually determined after finding the object’s line of symmetry. The eyedropper in this case, is symmetrical, given that opposing sides on the line of symmetry are identical.


‘Hierarchy’ was another important term we learned; it is defined as when ‘an element appears more important in comparison to other elements in design’. On the other hand, ‘hierarchal organisation is the simplest structure for visualising and understanding complexity’. Hierarchy is also described using three main terms – dominant (the element most present and eye-catching), subdominant (the element that contrasts with the dominant component), and subordinate (the element that adds the finishing touch).

Using the eyedropper as a case study, the dominant element is the white colour used in both the bottle and label, while the subdominant element is the dark blue colour used in the label, and the subordinate element being the turquoise ‘Bausch + Lomb’ sub-header in the label.

Mass & Void

‘Mass’ in design refers to a space that is filled. Void, on the other hand, refers to an empty space created by surrounding elements of the object. The eyedropper mainly consists of positive mass but has an area of negative void when opened.


‘Opacity’ is defined as ‘the quality or state of a body that makes it impervious to the rays of light’. The design of the eyedropper is entirely opaque, this may be be a safety precaution to protect the contents within.

Interesting details
Ergonomic and Practical Aspects

The eyedropper also possesses other qualities that make it all the more interesting. Some elements that contributed to its ergonomic design include having groves on the cap to allow users to have a better grip when opening the bottle, a safety seal that prevents leakage and exposure of the contents when being transported during the manufacturing process, and a cone-shaped tip to   help in creating droplets when used.






Project 1: Experimentation and Process


Research and Reference
Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup

After conducting research on recognised artists in the mark-making field, I found the works of Andy Warhol and the impact it made especially enlightening, particularly his 1960 works that portray everyday objects. Upon learning more about the impact he made on the art world through utilising an array of out-of-the-ordinary mediums and techniques (most prevalent in his Oxidation series), as well as giving life and character to regular, everyday objects (through the abstract enhancement of their qualities), I hope to integrate some of the qualities he displayed through his works in my experimental techniques, as well as conceptualising. 

Furthermore, in Warhol’s Shadows series, I found the methods in which he used to create different hues and spots of light innovative. In my experimentation process, I hope to emulate this by adopting different techniques and tools to create hues, textures, and lighting.

Please refer to the following link for a more in-depth analysis of Andy Warhol’s works: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/mark-making-building-blocks-in-art/


Initially wanting to have a concept that surrounds emotions I face at my workplace (a place in which I spent most of my time before enrolling into ADM), I found using object association as a conceptual basis a more effective approach as it is a more general concept providing much more room to experimenting and using different tools and techniques. Therefore, in my final concept, I aim to represent emotions on an abstract and non-representative level with a theme of composing them in such a way that it uses a variety of visual elements to symbolise an object or sensation that is commonly associated with the emotion in question.

Experimental Process

Mark-Making Techniques

To aid in creating our lines, we were introduced to a couple of mark-making methods – constructing our own mark-making tool and mono printing.

Process: Making monoprints
Process: Artist research

Creating our own tools involved coming up with innovative methods to apply ink onto a canvas; for example, we could come up with a new tool that when used to apply marks onto a canvas, forms certain patterns or strokes that traditional tools (e.g. paintbrushes or pencils) are not able to achieve, or methods of application that involve splattering paint or pouring paint over a canvas. Mono printing, on the other hand, can be carried out by using a machine to flatten materials over a canvas, forming a shape or pattern using ink. In addition to these two methods, I also explored using a range of mediums to form different textures and layers of depth in the hopes of conveying the emotions more effectively.

Breaking Down Emotions
I. Love
Moodboard: Love
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated




‘Butterflies in stomach’ feeling


Hearts (literal and metaphorical)

Journeys, long periods of time

Blushing, palpitations


Wavy strokes

Soft textures

Hazy backgrounds

Faded, watery strokes

Paint splatters, spots

Top: Water filter dipped in black paint
Bottom: Water filter, hot glue gun, cotton bud dipped in white paint
Right: Leaves
II. Joy
Moodboard: Joy
Moodboard: Joy
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



Heavy patterns

Sense of flying; freedom


Blurred visions

Radial movements

Circular strokes



Explosions of energy

Masses of energy

Fast movements

Fast, spontaneous gestures

Sharp strokes

Splatters in upward directions

Top (Left): Rim of cup
Top (Right): Tube of spray bottle
Bottom (Left): Toothbrush
Bottom (Right): Oil and paint
III. Surprise
Moodboard: Surprise
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated
 Surprise Widened eyes and mouth

Hidden elements

Explosive mannerisms


Build up of suspense

Circular motions


Isolated strokes

Left: Cotton wool
Right (Top): Banana peel
Right (Bottom): Wire brush
IV. Anger
Moodboard: Anger
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated


 Pet peeves


Lack of uniformity

 Irregular strokes

Mixture of organic and geometric shapes

Spontaneous gestures

Focus on harsh and textured strokes




Rapid movement


Veins popping out

Violence – stabbing, tearing


Irregular strokes

Spontaneous gestures

Sharp, geometric shapes and strokes

Harsh textures

‘Windshield-wiper’ movements

No sense of direction

Top (Left): Sleeve of coffee cup
Top (Right): Crushed paper with white thread
Middle (Right): Finger prints, meant to replicate motions of pet peeves (e.g. tapping sounds, sharp scratching noises)
Bottom (Left and Right): End of paintbrush

Anger: Chinese herbs to make patterns
V. Sadness
Moodboard: Sadness
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated




Pills, medication

Unmade beds, untidiness


Feeling of stillness, calm

Bodies of water

Single rays of light

Spilled milk

Hidden feelings; bottling up


Soft textures

Paint splatters

Irregular movement

Waves, organic shapes



Left: Green tea leaves
Right (Top): Tissue paper dipped in black paint
Right (Bottom): Torn up leaf
Left: White paint on black paper (meant to represent idea of bottling feelings up)
Right: Party popper streamers
Left: Spilled milk, enhanced with white paint
Right: White paint on black paper (meant to convey idea of a still lake, refer to reference picture in mood board)
VI. Fear
Moodboard: Fear
Emotion Subset Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated
 Horror  Mystery, hidden elements


Tree branches

Demons, supernatural entities


Sharp, heavy strokes

Geometric shapes

Darker strokes




Tension; tightened grips



Nerve signals

Scratches, fidgeting


Sharp, irregular strokes

Messiness; mixture of strokes and shapes

Top (Left): Cotton buds
Top (Right): Powedr on black paint
Bottom (Left): Handprints
Bottom (Right): Black droplets created by shaking paper
Top (Left): Crushed paper with black yarn
Top (Middle): Black and white paint
Top (Right): Static floor wipes
Bottom (Left): Spray bottle
Bottom (Middle): Black paint on newspaper article about Hurricane Harvey
Bottom (Right): Shoe prints
Paintbrush and walnut print (meant to represent nerve endings)
Walnut used


Throughout this process, I was able to adopt different methods of mark-making to create visual elements that I can use in my final product. Experimenting allowed me to venture out of my comfort zone and through the use of various mediums, create prints that focus on conveying emotions as opposed to literally depicting them. 


For the final product, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-1-my-line-is-emo

For research on mark-making artists, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/mark-making-building-blocks-in-art/

Project 1: My Line is Emo

After weeks of conceptualising, experimenting, and wrapping our heads around the idea of emotions, our critique for Foundation 2D’s Project 1: My Line is Emo is finally up!

Final Artwork

Final artwork

Final artwork
Top to bottom: Horror, Ferocity, Euphoria
Final artwork
From top to bottom: Affection, Depression, Surprise

Project 1 centred around the use of abstract, non-representational line works and visual elements (ranging from point, line, shape, space, scale, texture, and value/tone) to evoke a series of emotions. We were then required to experiment with various methods of mark-making, letting our creative juices flow onto different mediums and eventually, displaying our products for critique.


After going through various changes in concepts, I decided to base my final works for Project 1 on a theme of common association where the lines are structured in such a way that symbolises/represents a common object or sensation associated with the emotion in question. The idea of this concept was mainly derived from Andy Warhol and his depiction of everyday objects, where I found an interest in how he managed to transform the look of regular objects into works of art embedded with abstract details and emotions. 

Please refer to the following link for a more in-depth description of artist influences in this project: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/mark-making-building-blocks-in-art/


However, becoming too invested in the abstract qualities of the work with regards to creating texture and depth, I did go off-track and created more three-dimensionally based works as opposed to two-dimensional ones. Therefore in the following notes, I will be addressing the works in its three-dimensional format followed by how I could have carried out the same intentions within a two-dimensional context.

The process in creating the final works comprised of three stages – brainstorming, scouting for materials and methods, and experimenting and application.

Please refer to the following link for a more in-depth description of the process of breaking down the emotions: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-1-experi…tion-and-process/

I. Love

In the case of Love, I wanted to expand more on the tertiary emotion of Affection, and therefore came up with these associated objects and feelings along with visual elements usually depicted with this emotion.

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



Sensation of butterflies in stomach

Positivity and negativity in times

Paint splatters


Wave-like strokes

Soft, watery strokes

Mixture of dark and light

Whilst researching, I was inspired by the following images that centred around Affection:

Reference: Affection

To portray Affection, I therefore wanted to give an abstract visual quality (with the associated visual elements already in mind) to the sensation of having ‘butterflies in your stomach’ (which is a common feeling possessed when being around someone you are affectionate with), coupled with portraying love in times of positivity and negativity.

Creating the line involved firstly using a two-toned space which consisted of off-white newsprint and crumpled black paper pasted side-by-side to reflect the linear nature of time. Water filters, both white and black, were then pasted to represent ‘butterflies’, and black and white paint was applied in a splatter and wave-like fashion to give the line a two-dimensional layer. With this, I hope to convey the idea of affection towards another being prevalent in both good and bad times.

To make the line more visually-appealing, I wanted to make use of mirroring where the elements are arranged in such a way that the black components reflect the white components. I also hoped to create a layer of depth by using different textures and a combination of two-dimensional (paint and medium) and three-dimensional (water filter) elements.

II. Joy

As for Joy, I focused on the tertiary emotion of Euphoria. Euphoria, defined as an ‘intense state of excitement and happiness’, and thus the following objects and sensations are associated with it.

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



 Drugs Different textures

Explosive direction

Mixture of shapes


Whilst researching, I was especially taken aback by the following image that centred around Euphoria:

Reference: Euphoria


With the aforementioned visual elements in mind, I wanted to use abstract qualities and materials to depict the idea of drugs as a tool to create a euphoric sensation.

Euphoria: Sprinkling salt

In doing so, I used black paper to establish the space, giving a more effective contrast to the white visual elements. Three-dimensional objects were then used as the main subject matter – coffee beans painted white as pills, and hot glue stuck with sprinkles of salt as cocaine, along with two-dimensional white paint to represent cigarettes.

In addition to using shapes and textures to represent literal objects (as well as creating layers), I also wanted to expand on the idea of direction to reinforce the sensation of Euphoria. Therefore, I structured the elements in such a way that they all flow towards the right end of the paper, ending it with explosive-like and spontaneous shapes.  The messiness and irregular placement of visual elements was also to emphasise the uncontrollable sensation of ingesting drugs.

III. Surprise

For surprise, I decided to go with the more general approach and finalised these objects, sensations and visual elements.

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



Bursting-forth motion

Build up of energy


Explosive direction

I was especially intrigued by this image:

Reference: Surprise


I therefore, wanted to use abstract visual elements to replicate the notion of energy being built up over a period of time and eventually bursting forth, using different materials to create the idea of tension.

To do so, I balled up recycled paper to create a textured ball and taped it behind off-white newsprint. The newsprint was then scrunched up around the shape of the ball to form texture and relay the idea of something trying to burst through the paper. On the right end of the paper, I cut strips and taped it back down onto the newsprint and placed balled up black paper atop it; the strips of newsprint meant to emphasise the ball bursting forth. The two-dimensional aspects were splatters of black and white paint around the right end of the paper to reinforce the energy of the ball bursting forth.

Experimenting more in the areas of texture, depth, mediums, and contrast, I wanted to focus more on three-dimensional aspects to convey this idea as I felt it was a more effective method in replicating the same energy as the one in the reference picture.

IV. Anger

In the case of Anger, I decided to narrow down my approach to expanding on Ferocity. These are the commonly-associated objects and visual elements:

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



 Veins popping out Messiness; no sense of direction

Sharp and harsh strokes

Mixture of textures

Dark strokes

The images that influenced my approach were the following:

Reference: Ferocity


The most commonly-associated sensations with Ferocity is Rage and the images that surround this feeling usually go back to shouting and screaming with strained facial expressions. These expressions are also accompanied with veins popping up in a state of high pressure. I therefore, wanted my line to give an abstract representation to this symbol of Ferocity.

Creating the line consisted of (two-dimensional) using black paint to paint straight, sharp strokes onto off-white newsprint, followed by (three-dimensional) twisting strips of black paper in twig-like structures, and pasting them onto the print, along with strings of black yarn. This was meant to reinforce varying intensities of the veins.

In this line, I wanted to emulate the intensity of the appearance of veins when in a state of rage, and therefore turned to the idea of depth and using a mixture of two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements to create layers to enforce this idea.

V. Sadness

For Sadness, I decided to expand more on the tertiary emotion of Depression, using the following objects and visual elements as a basis of influence.

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



 Unmade bed



Paint splatters

No sense of direction; irregularity

Faded strokes

The image that influenced this idea is:

Reference: Depression

When thinking of Depression, I immediately thought of prominent objects present in a state of Depression, most notably an unmade bed. To emphasise the emotion and making the concept more obvious, I added tear drops to the line as well.

This was carried out via cutting up a piece of white satin cloth and splattering droplets of black paint in an uncontrolled manner. The satin cloth was meant to represent bed sheets; additionally the sheen of the cloth also added a layer of depth to the emotion it was meant to convey, by reiterating the softness of bedsheets and it being able to reflect light made it seem closer to its literal counterpart. Furthermore, I wanted to splatter black paint in an irregular method to emphasise the messy nature of Depression.

Using different materials, in this case, helped me with conveying the emotion more effectively.

VI. Fear

Lastly, for fear, I decided to dwell more on Horror.

Emotion Objects Associated Visual Elements Associated



Supernatural entities shrouded by veils  Darker strokes


Mixture of haziness and sharp strokes

The image that intrigued me the most was:

Reference: Horror

I felt that this was one of the most common occurrences in horror movies, and the fact that we are not able to see the entity as it is shrouded by something makes it all the more terrifying. Therefore, I wanted to replicate that feeling by creating a line that represented the object that blurs our visions in seeing the entity in its true form – the veil.

To do so, I cut up the netting of a laundry bag and glued it to a black strip of paper. The centre of the laundry bag was then painted black with fast strokes.

In addition to using visual elements commonly associated with the idea of horror, I also wanted to, similar to Depression, use different materials as a basis to more effectively convey the intended emotion.


Some of the main points regarding my works brought up during critique were based on research and application. According to Prof. Joy and classmates, my research was evident in the lines displayed and the concepts they were based on are clear-cut, and after explaining the concepts, viewers were able to see the intended message and emotion.

On the other hand, as mentioned previously, due to my eagerness in using textures and depth, my lines utilised more three-dimensional elements as opposed to two-dimensional ones, which gave me an unfair advantage in representing the emotions as I had the ability to display the emotions close to something in their literal form. My lines also could be better able to convey the emotion if there was a designated direction for the visual elements. Furthermore, I felt that I could have done a better job in displaying my lines during the presentation with neater alignment and better cropping.

In response to this, what I could have done in this project was instead of focusing too much on the three-dimensional aspects of the visuals, I could use two-dimensional methods to replicate the visual. For example, with regards to depth and creating layers, I could have used fainter and blurry strokes to represent something in the background (this can be carried out through using water-based inks as well), and heavier, harsher strokes to represent elements in the foreground (this can be further reinforced by using textured paint such as acrylic paints). Additionally, I could have turned my focus to how the elements complement one another in general – by clearly establishing the direction in which the elements could flow, it would have been a clearer representation of the energy or movement associated with the emotion it was meant to portray.



One of the main challenges I faced in this project was time imbalance where I devoted more time to coming up with a proper concept before creating prints. Due to the huge amount of time coming up with various concepts and discarding most of them, I was not able to find time in experimenting and coming up with innovative and creative mark-making methods to create the lines. Should I have properly planned my time, I would have been able to explore more two-dimensional methods of portraying the emotions. 


After receiving critique along with reflecting on the challenges faced, I hope to, in future, better plan my time in projects leaving room for more experimentation and trying out different concepts. I also aim to pay more attention to the ways I display my final works; making them neater and more aligned, giving them a much more professional look. 

For the process, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-1-experi…tion-and-process/

For research on mark-making artists, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/mark-making-building-blocks-in-art/

Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self


In this project, I aim to use this photo series as an outlet to introduce myself by discussing three main aspects of my personal life – myself, and an object and place that holds significance to me.

Task 1: Me

Final shots for Task 1

Our very first task for this assignment required us to creatively introduce ourselves using only three photographs, which would lead viewers into constructing a certain reality.


For this task, I wanted to share with viewers an aspect of my life that holds a significant influence – music. Music, in my opinion, is an influential element that serves as a source of inspiration and an enjoyable companion in the mundanity of daily life, possessing the ability to affect my moods in different situations. Aiming to deviate from showing my pastime of listening to music in a literal sense (e.g. putting on headphones), I wanted to showcase music as the main subject matter in a more subtle and quirky way.

Albums featured in Task 1

This photo series therefore, provides viewers with a quick glance into the mundanity of daily life – doing household chores like laundry, reading, and sleeping at the end of the day. Some of my favourite albums were then subtly placed in the shot, symbolising that I’m listening to music in a way – in the first shot, the album is hung on the laundry line, while it’s placed among pages of the magazine in the second shot, and on a pillow in the final shot. The albums featured in the photographs also hold some sentimental value to me; in addition to them being some of my favourite albums, they are different in styles, emphasising the different genres I choose to listen to base on the activity I am doing. In the case of the first shot, I chose Landmark, a pop-based and upbeat album with a danceable track list, conveying the idea that I choose to listen to more upbeat songs when doing chores to keep me entertained amidst the mundanity. For the second shot, I chose Beetlebum, a loud and guitar-heavy album to show that when I’m studying, I choose to listen to louder music to keep myself awake. And lastly, I chose to feature Lonerism, a psychedelic rock album as it helps me to fall asleep.

Additionally, I chose to include human element in the photographs as in addition it to being a requirement, I wanted the photos to possess some character. In my opinion, having myself with faces blocked in the photo was a means to share with viewers that I am a reserved person, and helps to add some depth to the emotions to convey.

Through this series, I intended to, within a brief timeframe, provide viewers with a quick glimpse into my life, showing what I enjoy and how it influences everyday life for me.

I. Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is an American film director most known for his ‘quirky, comical’ filmography with a recurring ensemble of actors that play ‘flawed characters’. Anderson is regarded as ‘one of the most notable directors  of the modern cinematic age’, with ‘every single frame of his films’ being ‘absolutely thrilling’, giving recognition to his distinctive filmmaking style and earning him the coveted Oscar for Best Motion Picture in 2015. 

Use of colour palette
Top: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
Bottom: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Anderson is most notable for his use of colour and filming techniques. His use of colour is the most obvious component of his style and ‘the most striking of his trademarks’, to the point that there is an entire blog dedicated to the colour palettes used in his films. The frames filled with dozens of saturated colours sets the tone of each film, ‘intrigu[ing] the eye and invit[ing] the viewer to go on a visual rollercoaster’, with many feeling ‘the hazy-hued lens through which we peer into the director’s unique world has a retro quality that casts his films in a nostalgia for a time that could have been’.

Colour palette of The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

My personal favourite in this case, is the array of colours in his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums. Using a relatively warmer colour palette, the film has a very nostalgic and inviting feeling, allowing audiences to feel as though they are part of this constructed feel, as though they are part of the Tenenbaum family.

Anderson is also well-known for his outstanding use of symmetry, where he ‘organises the elements in his frame so that the most important thing is smack in the middle’. With symmetry as a prevalent factor in his films, it makes the shot visually-appealing, organised, and much more unique. Below is a video created by kogonada which analyses Anderson’s use of symmetry.

I hoped to emulate some of Anderson’s filming techniques in this series by paying more attention to composition and colour. By adopting a warmer colour palette and focusing on straight lines and balancing elements, I aimed to create a nostalgic and inviting feeling along with visually-appealing shots.


Task 1 test shots: Change in subject distance

The process leading up to this set of photos included making changes to the way the photos were structured and the concepts that came along with them. As a means of experimenting when conducting the test shots, I tried out varying subject distances and focuses. The test shots comprised of having close-ups of the albums, drawing focus to them as opposed to having a combination of different subjects (i.e. humans and environment) in the shots. I felt that this did not relay the concept as clearly due to the lack of human element. In my opinion, the lack of interaction with human and environment did not convey the intended message as clearly; lacking in reinforcing the influence that music has on myself.

Task 1 test shots: Change in colour

The experimenting process also covered taking shots from different angles and subject distances, as well as playing with colours and patterns of subjects in the shot. Especially evident for the second shot, in order to balance with the patterns of the bedsheets, I tried to use a brighter album cover for the object to stand out, as opposed to a muted-coloured one. Plain-coloured props (the grey shirts in the first photo, dark-coloured clothing in the second photo, and plain bedsheets and clothing in the last photo) were also deliberately used to contrast some of the elements in the background, especially those that cannot be altered (an example being the trees in the first photo).

During the editing stages, to make the colour palette more visually-appealing and add more warmth to the series, I used Photoshop to boost the colours, especially in the yellow, red, and magenta region. Cropping and tilting was also done to make the shots seem more symmetrical and aligned.

Principles Applied
I. Subject Distance

In taking the photos for this series, I experimented with different subject distances; wide-shots, mid-range shots, and close-up shots. Doing so was a means of exploring how the distance of the main subject matter in the shot affected the manner in which the intended message was conveyed. Wide- shots and mid-range shots were able to establish the setting and at the same time, establish the relationship between the different subject matter. Mid-range shots, however, were able to convey the emotion of warmth and nostalgia a little more effectively. As for close-ups, despite the lack of environment, emotions and intimate interactions between different elements were more clearly established. Wanting to show a mixture of interactions between the different subject matter, I decided to display different subject distances.

II. Vantage Points

With regards to vantage points, eye-level and top-down angles were mainly used. Having eye-level shots allowed me to reiterate the idea of the viewers and subjects in the photos being on equal footing; linking back to the concept of this series acting as a glimpse into an aspect of my life. Eye-level shots also paved the way for experimenting more with symmetry. Top-down angled shots were also used (in the last photo); since the photo is centred on the idea of it being the end of the day and time to hit the hay, the angle was meant to contribute to a mood of vulnerability and exhaustion.

III. Balancing Elements

As mentioned previously, I wanted to use this photo series to experiment with symmetry. Using a grid to structure and balance, I tried my best to create straight lines in the shot by aligning different elements in the background and keeping the main subject matter either in the centre or in 1/3 of the frame. This was further enhanced by tilting the photo in Photoshop during editing. Balancing elements was also carried out via staging props that complemented one another’s colours, patterns, and contrasts. 

IV. Colour
Task 1 Colouration
Left: Raw image
Right: Edited image

In order to reinforce the mood of warmth and nostalgia, embodying the energy that we have in the day, as well as reinforcing the nature of the music in the albums featured, the photos were to have a warm colour palette. To do so, the photos were structured in such a way that there was more emphasis on the warmer tones (mainly red, pink, orange, and yellow), and further enhancement was done via Photoshop editing. The last photo on the other hand, was meant to have a cooler colour palette to replicate the energy level we possess at the end of the day as well as reinforcing the concept of the music in the featured album being on the calmer side.

Task 2: Object and Representation of Self

In the second task of this project, we were required to photograph an object that holds significance to us.

Task 2 final shots

An object I decided to photograph for this series is my wooden mannequin hand. Aware of my inability to draw hands, this wooden mannequin hand (typically used as a reference for drawing) was gifted to me from my mother in hopes of improving my drawing skills. Seeing it as an object of guidance, I wanted to show it as an extension of myself in this photo series, giving it a life of its own with a personality. Therefore, in this series, the wooden hand is seen as an accompaniment in everyday activities and social situations; helping with chores and socialising with friends.

Life Itself
From left to right: Life Itself, How To Be A Human Being, Season 2 Episode 3

A source of inspiration for this particular task came from a line of recent album artworks conceptualised and executed by Dave Bayley, Mat Cook, and photographer Neil Krug. Titled Life Itself, this artwork, amongst a range of others, is a visual accompaniment to English rock band Glass Animals’ How To Be A Human Being album release.

The concept behind these artworks were conceived when on tour, lead singer Dave Bayley ‘found himself inundated with interesting stories from taxi drivers, fans, and general passers-by that he encountered’. He found it particularly interesting how people told these stories – ‘the way that people tell stories and what that means about them as people; what they might have embellished, what they might have left out and what that says about their life’. This eventually evolved into the artworks pictured above, where characters from different walks of life are ‘organised in the format of a bizarre family portrait’, in a ‘kitsch and comedic style, with the characters’ expressions hinting at their wider back stories’.

In addition to its visual aesthetics, I was inspired by the notion of having aspects that hint at wider back stories. In hopes of emulating this idea, I tried to adopt the method of staging photos as opposed to spontaneity (more prevalent in Task 3), to more effectively complement the randomness of the object and the concept surrounding it.

Task 2: Behind the scenes

Initially wanting to reinforce the hand as an arbitrary object with no link to its environment, my test shots comprised mainly of having the wooden hand situated in random places . However, Prof. Lei recommended having more interactions with the object commanding more influence in the shots, and having it as an extension of myself as opposed to being a random object; with this in mind as well as retaining its initial embodiment of naturally being a peculiar object, I decided to construct a narrative where the hand is seen as something with a personality and have it possess a role in different scenarios. This was done by changing locations and having shot in mid-range and close-up shots to emphasise the hand’s interactions with its environment.

As mentioned previously, the elements present in all the shots above are staged. Leading up to the final photographs, with the help of friends, we tried different ways to make the shot more visually-appealing and effective in conveying the concept. In the case of the first and last shots, we changed the arrangement of the props, positions of the hand, and the colour of clothing featured. In the second shot, I deliberately used a purple patterned shirt to contrast against a dominantly black-and-white background. This was done as an experiment with the use of different coloured props, textures, and arrangement.

Principles Applied
I. Subject Distance
Task 2: Subject distance

The shots are taken mostly with mid-range and close-up shots. This was to emphasise the role of the wooden hand in the shots, drawing attention to its interactions with the environment and other subject matter in the shot. This was carried out by either photographing the object at a closer distance and structuring the elements purposefully, or cropping the edges of the frame to achieve a more centralised look. However, in the case of the second shot, I think a close-up would have looked better as with a mid-range, the wooden hand does not hold the same focus in contrast with the other shots and becomes lost amidst the background. 

II. Vantage Points

As with the previous task, I mainly used eye-level angles in the final shots to reiterate the idea of giving a glimpse into my life and having subjects and viewers on equal footing. 

III. Balancing Elements
Task 2: Balancing elements

Inspired by Life Itself in adopting the method of subtlety through creating staged backgrounds and using props to tell a wider story, I focused more in composing and setting up the shots to ensure that elements complemented one another. In addition to paying attention to symmetry and at least having the main subjects either in the centre or 1/3 in the shot, props with complementary colours or patterns were featured – in the case of the first photo, changing the texture of the background and contrasting the neutral colours of the background and wooden hand with brightly coloured objects. In the second photo, using bursts of colour through having a patterned purple shirt in contrast to the mainly grayscale background. And in the final shot, coordinating yellow-coloured clothing to complement the neutral colours of the background and wooden hand, and having brightly-coloured props to contrast.

However, I felt that more experimenting could have gone into the first shot in the sense that I could have tried different coloured props or a brightly-coloured background to change the colour palette to make it different to the final shot.

Task 3: My World

Final shots for Task 3: My World

For the final component of Project 1, we were tasked to photograph a place that is significant to us. After reading the brief, I immediately thought of the Upper Thomson area.


Upper Thomson is an area that encompasses housing, numerous eateries both big and small, and recreational facilities. Despite it being a rather busy neighbourhood with people of all ages bustling about, be it in the many eateries or shopping for groceries at Thomson Plaza, it holds significant value to me as it has been my favourite hangout spot since my secondary school days right through until university.

As a regular patron to this neighbourhood for a relatively huge chunk of my life, I was hoping to, through these photographs, instill a feeling of nostalgia in viewers. In order to do so, I planned to have friends from different periods in my life pose (a childhood friend and a close friend from my Polytechnic course, in this case) as the main subjects. To further reinforce the intended emotion, I wanted to focus on the idea of spontaneity (taking candid photos) and relationships between the subject matter, as well as with the environment.

Playing with the idea of candid photos and drawing focus to raw emotions of people in the photographs for this series is derived from inspiration from the works of two photographers – Wolfgang Tillmans and Pooneh Ghana.

I. Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is a renowned German photographer who is said to have ‘shaped the scope of contemporary art’, ‘influenc[ing]’ a younger generation’. Being the first photographer and non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize (an annual award given by Tate in London), he is most notable for his works that ‘[epitomised] a new kind of subjectivity’ in photography, ‘pairing intimacy and playfulness with social critique and the persistent questioning of existing values and hierarchies’. The ‘integration of genres, subjects’, and ‘techniques’ displayed in his works reinforces his efforts in ‘expand[ing] conventional ways of approaching’ photography.

As an artist who is ‘fascinated in the relations between the different facets of people’s lives’, after moving to London in 1990, Tillmans gained notoriety for his candid photographs of LGBT youth, club culture, friends, lovers and political protests. As a result, ‘a genuine and refreshing image of youth culture’ became ‘prominent aspects’ in his works, where ‘individuals or alternative scenes are shown in an honest light’ as opposed to ‘tired cliches’. The nature of Tillmans’ works also encourages viewers to ‘feel closer to their own experiences by looking at the images of others’, ‘rather than trying to get inside the vision of the artist’.

II. Pooneh Ghana

Pooneh Ghana is a Texan photographer who specialises in music-based photography, through which she travels around the globe to photograph musicians and festivals. Her contributions in photography derive from her passion for music, where she feels that ‘there’s always something new going on,’ ‘being backstage, capturing moments that maybe the fans don’t see but they want to see’.

Despite being a young photographer, Ghana is respected in the music industry for her talent of capturing ‘personalities of the famous and the damned’ as well as her ability to ‘befriend the musicians well enough to get a truly candid shot’. Her work with Polaroid cameras are most notable, capturing the ‘more mundane moments’ or with musicians ‘all striking a funny pose or waving happily at her and her camera’, ‘something only photographers truly respected by their subjects can achieve.’ Straying away from posing her subjects, Ghana hopes to capture the energy of ‘something raw, something real’, making viewers wish they were there when looking at them.

After viewing works from Wolfgang Tillmans and Pooneh Ghana, I hope to emulate the ways in which they use spontaneity as a tool to capture raw emotions and energy. By drawing focus to relationships between different subject matter (humans, in this case) in the photograph, they are able to, in my opinion, effectively convey emotions and sentimentality to viewers.

Principles Applied
I. Framing and Cropping

In addition to cropping the shots in such a way that the main subjects are either centralised or following the Rule of Thirds, I wanted to experiment with using background elements to create a frame. In the second shot, I was able to find a metallic structure to act as a frame – in my opinion, situating the frame in the shot helped in bringing in different textures (metal, concrete, and greenery) and colours,  as well as drawing focus to the main subjects in the midst of a cluttered background.

II. Subject Distance 

With regards to Subject Distance, the final photographs featured only full-body shots. By doing so, I wanted to reiterate the concept of showcasing an environment as opposed to focusing only on the subject matter. Furthermore, I wanted to use full-body shots to portray the relationship between the humans and the environment, considering that the concept of the series focuses on the nostalgic value of the environment and the contributing sentimental factors (my friends).

III. Vantage Points

In the final shots, I used eye-level angles in all three photographs. This was meant to reiterate the overall concept of the series – providing viewers a glimpse into aspects of my life. Since this was meant for viewers to have a look into my life, by positioning the shots at eye-level as opposed to low or high angles, I wanted the viewer to feel the same sentiments that I have for the Upper Thomson neighbourhood. And at the same time, I wanted the series to seem relatable, and therefore, using eye-level angles helps to establish the viewers and subjects on equal footing.

IV. Balancing Elements

I also wanted to experiment with various elements within the photos such as textures, colours, symmetry, and patterns. During a recce trip in the neighbourhood, we were able to find areas that possess interesting textures, examples being cotton on clothing against brick walls, grass and other shrubbery, and metallic structures. Colour was also another component to consider, especially composing shots in such a way that colours of different elements complemented one another in an aesthetically pleasing kind of way. Having my friends dressed in plain-coloured clothing (white and red), it was easier to complement backgrounds that featured red walls and greenery. Additionally, symmetry was used to balance elements in the shot, especially when the background was cluttered. In the case of the last photo, with the house featured in the background, I tried to centralise the shot in such a way that my friends and the different elements complemented each other and that my friends remained the main focus of the shot.

Some old photos taken in Upper Thomson area

The process leading up to taking the final shots consisted of firstly, embarking on a trip to recce the area, where I scouted for spots that possess elements that are able to help make the shot more interesting and aesthetically pleasing. The elements I wanted to experiment with included different textures, balancing elements, symmetry, patterns, and colours. 

Also, to experiment with the idea of spontaneity and candidness, I asked my friends to just have a normal conversation and not pay attention to the camera when taking the shots. In the photos featured, they were having a conversation about starting university and gossiping about their new friends! In a way, this also contributed to the sentimental value I was trying to convey due to friends from different periods of my life coming together and talking about what lies ahead in the future for us. Additionally, since they were told to just be casual and have a normal conversation, they remained in one spot while I tried to experiment with different angles and distances.

Test shots for Task 3








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Exercise 1: Scale & Framing

For class, we had to experiment with shot scales and framing angles, and our friends were our main subjects! With Naomi as my partner, I tried to take photos that capture her constant need to sleep (something we both share in common).

Wide Shot 

Wide shot

I felt that using a wide shot as an establishing shot would be appropriate – using elements from the environment to give viewers some context about what the series is going to be about. Using an eye-level angle, I wanted to balance the different elements in the shot, given that there were many different angles, patters, and objects in the background. Having the shot situated outside establishes the setting (daytime, in school) and in my opinion, shows that Naomi is stuck in school.

Medium Shot

Medium shot

Using a medium shot, I wanted to draw more focus to the main subject (Naomi), but at the same time leaving a little bit of suspense. Instead of placing her in the centre, I shifted her position to the side of the frame to kind of reinforce the emotion she is trying to convey (her sleepiness) – since she was staring into the left side of the shot, I shifted the frame more to the left.

Top Angle

Top angle

I used a top angle for this shot because I wanted to show her staring into nothing, reiterating the fact that she’s so tired that she is often staring into space. Using top angles also portray the subject in a state of weakness and I wanted to convey that as well, as I thought it fitted her characteristic I wanted to display quite appropriately.

Mark Making: Building Blocks in Art

In our first project, we return to the very basics of creating art in the form of mark making.

What is Mark Making?

Often referred to as a fundamental element in creating art, mark making is defined as ‘the different lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures we create in art work’. With this, we are able to express emotion, movement and other concepts we wish to display in an artwork.

How is Mark Making Done?

Mark making is carried out whenever a brush, pencil, or any other tool, hits a canvas, creating a line and thus, making a mark. This can be carried out across different surfaces of various materials – examples include ‘paint on canvas, ink or pencil on paper, scratched marks on plaster, digital paint tools on screens, or tattooed marks on skin’.  Creating such marks can be done loosely and gestural, or controlled and neat as well.

Artists therefore, rely on gestures to express feelings and emotions in response to something seen or something felt. These gestural qualities can also be used to form abstract compositions.

Case Studies

I. Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a successful magazine and ad illustrator who went on to become a leading artist in the 1960s Pop Art movement, and eventually, an iconic figure in the history of art. He had a hand in a wide variety of different art forms, some of which included performance art, filmmaking, video installations, and writing. All of which challenged the conventional definitions and subjects of art, blurring the lines between fine art and mainstream aesthetics.

Debuting the concept of ‘Pop Art’ – ‘paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods’ – Warhol’s acclaimed paintings depicted Coca Cola bottles, vacuum cleaners, and hamburgers, as well as celebrities that range from Marilyn Monroe to Mao Zedong. Gaining fame and notoriety, he received hundreds of commissions for portraits from socialites and celebrities, allowing him to create ‘Eight Elvises’ which resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in world history.

Shadows (1978-1979)

Warhol’s Shadows (1978-1979) at Yuz Museum, Shanghai

Amidst iconic Pop Art paintings featuring celebrities and everyday objects, Warhol also produced Shadows, a series consisting of ‘102 silkscreened and hand-painted canvases featuring distorted photographs of shadows generated in the artist’s studio’. The paintings, always installed edge-to-edge, extend uninterrupted for almost 450 linear feet around the museum’s curved galleries, ‘[emphasising] the cinematic quality of the work’.

A display of his signature palette of bright hues, the backgrounds featured in Shadows were created using a sponge mop, with ‘the streaks and trails’ left behind ‘adding gesture to the picture plane’. Seven or eight different screens were used, as evident in the slight shifts in scales of dark areas as well as the arbitrary presence of spots of lights. They also alternate between positive and negative imprints as the series progresses. Warhol is said to have portrayed the idea of perception in Shadows as he chose to focus on the shadow to devise light (or sparks of colour).

Oxidation (1978)

Warhol’s Oxidation (1978)

Another of Warhol’s more notable works includes Oxidation, or colloquially known as his ‘Piss Paintings’ made in the late 1970s. In an ironic twist and towards the end of his career, this series was a deviation from his glory as the ‘king of Pop Art’, where he turned to something he has been avoiding – abstract art.

Oxidation was a product of Warhol and his acquaintances urinating on canvases he had prepared with metallic and acrylic paints. This resulted in urine reacting with the copper in the painted grounds, forming deposits of mineral salts that evolved at different rates, sometimes turning green or blue, and black at other times. His treacherous process included experimenting with different metallic paints and the amounts of used fluids. Food ingested by participants influenced the effect urine created on the canvases (one of Warhol’s favourites, Ronny Cutrone, created ‘pretty colours’ due to his increased intake of vitamin B).

Despite its controversy, Warhol still managed to blur the lines between genres and art forms, with their mode of execution breaching established art practices. ‘Aesthetic form achieved through the use of bodily fluids, and not any fluid but the one considered a waste, complicates their interpretation, and positions oxidation painting between the discourses dealing with social divisions, experimentation with body, abstract art, and eroticism’.

II. Emma Kunz

Emma Kunz in Waldstatt (1958)

Emma Kunz was a Swiss telepathic healer and researcher in the 1940s. With this, she became a notable arts figure, where she channelled drawings for patients using coloured pencils, crayons, graph paper, and a pendulum. Serving as a telepathic healer, Kunz’s drawings operated as both documentation of research into and as conduits for patterns of vibrational energy that can be used to realign psychic imbalances underlying her patients’ medical conditions and thus, cure them. Kunz is now recognised as an exceptional artist whose incomparable artworks have been exhibited in over 50 museums around the world, and leaving behind a comprehensive legacy of works consisting of approximately 400 drawings.

Work by Kunz

Describing her artistic energy as ‘design and shape as dimension, rhythm, symbol, and transformation[s] of numbers and concepts’, Kunz recorded her knowledge in large-format drawings on graph paper. They were visual testimonies of her research, represented by geometric drawings with pencil, coloured pencils, and oil pastels, ‘providing answers to questions about life and its spiritual implications’. To her, every colour and every shape had a precise meaning in her understanding of the world.

Her pictures were regarded as ‘holograms’, ‘spaces you could walk into, as well as ‘images to be unfolded or collapsed back down again, usually multilayered in their construction’. They served as ‘cryptic answers to numerous questions’ that fascinated her (both in spiritual or philosophical in nature), where they might contain causes and treatments of illnesses, and explanations for political situations and resulting consequences. On another level, Kunz’s pictures were used to aid her patients’ physical or mental problems.

III. Rorschach Test

Rorschach Inkblot

Created by Hermann Rorschach, the Rorschach Test is defined as ‘a method of psychological evaluation’ that psychologists use ‘in an attempt to examine the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of their patients’. Often employed in diagnosing ‘underlying thought disorders’ as well as ‘differentiating psychotic from non-psychotic thinking’ in scenarios where a patient is reluctant to openly admit to psychotic thinking, particularly in symptoms related to depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. It is administered using 10 cards, each with a complicated inkblot pattern, where subjects are instructed to look at the shape, shading, and colour.

When viewing the inkblots, subjects are often said to be able to see many images – this is due to ‘the number of images elicited by these inkblots [being] determined by the irregular shapes at the edges of each’. Researchers focused on fractals (or repeating patterns that can be seen at all scales), and have deduced that when fractals are more complex, people see fewer images than when patterns are simpler. These fractals are said to ‘fool the visual system’, where the brain is adapted to process patterns.


After getting to know more about mark making, I came to realise the importance of utilising and expanding on concepts, as well as experimentation and adopting new approaches (especially outside the arts field) in creating art.  In the case of Andy Warhol and Emma Kunz, both artists  – renowned for their imaginative approaches to art) – have inspired me to look pass traditional art mediums such as paper and graphite to convey emotions and ideas, and instead expand into using objects that are usually not associated with creating art. With regards to the Rorschach Test and its development process, I hope to also, look into using abstract shapes to represent objects and convey emotions as opposed to  constantly relying on creating works that portray objects in their literal form.


For the process, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-1-experi…tion-and-process/

For the final product, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-1-my-line-is-emo/




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