[Final] | Project 2B | Zine: Locale

A continuation from the previous project, we were tasked to, with the data collected from the previous project, create an 8-page zine portraying our perceptions of the chosen place. 

Final Product 

Zine: Final product

For a more in-depth look of the zine, please refer to: 

The location I chose was Keong Saik Road because of its unique trait of its transformation from a dingy red-light district into a poster child for a hip New Singapore. 

As Keong Saik Road is famous today for its night life – with its many high-end restaurants, boutiques, and bars as tenants – I felt that experiences in the past and in the present would share similarities. Therefore, I wanted to use the zine as an outlet to expand on the five senses one would experience when heading for a night out at Keong Saik Road in the present, contrasted against one in the past. 

Using a combination of abstract and literal concepts and techniques, I hoped to convey my own experiences in visiting the site, as well as my assumptions of what it was like in the past, coupled with first-hand accounts from biographies, through the zine’s spreads.

Front & Back Cover

As the zine portrays the contrasting settings of heading for a night out in present-day Keong Saik Road versus one in the past as a red-light district, the zine can be can be read from either the front to back or back to front. Reading from the front shows the experiences of present-day Keong Saik Road as a trendy hot spot for high-end restaurants and bars, and reading from the back would show the experiences of Keong Saik in the past as a red-light district. 

Front cover (Left)
Back cover (Right)

The first spread is a representation of getting ready to head out to present-day Keong Saik Road and in the past. 

The front cover shows a perfume bottle, an eyeshadow palette, and an ATM card. Illustrations being the main bulk of the visuals, the composition also comprises of  patterns taken from images.

  • Perfume bottle: The pattern here is a wall mural found in one of the alleyways at Keong Saik Road
  • Eyeshadow palette: The eyeshadow colours here are meant to represent the clothing patterns of visitors I came across during one of my site visits. Common fabric patterns I saw were denim (left), floral patterns (second from left), regular clothing fabrics (second from right), and leather (right).

The title says ‘Meet me at… Keong Saik Road’, done in the style of a WhatsApp message. The title is contrasted against that of the back cover where it says ‘I got caught up at Keong Saik Road’ in Chinese (as Keong Saik Road was a Chinese district in the past). The title of the back cover is done with a spiral pattern to mimic a telephone cord; to contrast against a WhatsApp message, I thought it would be appropriate to have a traditional landline cord. 

The back cover, on the other hand, shows a condoms, a condom box, and dollar notes and coins. Like the front cover, illustrations are the main bulk, but with some patterns taken from images. Wanting to show the demographics of visitors who frequented the place in the past (i.e. middle-aged businessmen), I used the fabric of a suit to form the packaging of the condoms.

Spread 1

The first spread represents Keong Saik Road in present-day through the five senses, expanding more on the sense of sight, smell, and sound. 

Left Page

The idea of the first page was to reflect the part of a night out where you’d be looking for a place to eat at. Wanting to show the layout of the road, the left page depicts an overview of the street in the style of a topographical map. The shape of the road and general layout was copied from a map view of the place (when searching for Keong Saik Road in Google Maps). The senses here focused on sight and sound.

Facilities on the map

In topographical maps, repeated swirls were used to indicate the heights of hills and mountains. Using the same idea, the map here – instead of showing the heights of shophouses in the area – depicts the noise frequencies of different areas. The noisier an area was, the larger and more condensed the swirl was (e.g. bars and clubs would be bigger than hotels and convenience stores). The colours depicted in the centre also reflected the colours associated with that particular store as well. The roads were formed with an image of the road at Keong Saik Road, and the squares (representing the general placement of shophouses) were formed with the floors found in the area – during a site visit, I realised that the stores along the street each had unique styles of flooring, so I thought it’d be interesting to use each pattern to represent a different store.

Right Page

The right page, on the other hand, was meant to reflect the part of the night where you’d be eating and drinking at a restaurant. The senses to be focused on here would be the sense of sight, smell, sound, and taste. The visuals depicted here are burgers, cigarette, cigarette smoke, drinks, and music from a speaker, against the texture of a wooden surface.

  • The burger here is a recreation of a photograph of a burger from Potato Head Folk, a very famous restaurant that resides in the area (it’s the first thing you see before going further down the street). It was created by taking textures from buns bought at Keong Saik Bakery and converting them into brushes. The textures were then used to form the shape of the burger based on a photograph.
  • The smoke here, further emphasised by the visuals of cigarettes, was meant to represent cigarette smoke. When I visited the area, I could smell a lot of cigarette smoke, and wanted to reflect that. The cigarettes were formed from the receipts I got from shopping at Keong Saik Bakery. The smoke was created by spilling coffee onto a paper towel. When cropped and altered, it resembled smoke.
  • Music from speakers is represented through the radial patterns in the background. When visiting the site, I realised that one of the most notable sounds you’d come across was music blaring from speakers of the different stores. And even more so when the street festival, Urban Ventures, was being held. To show the idea of music coming from speakers, I cropped a photo of a shophouse door into circular patterns.
  • The spill at the bottom was meant to represent a drink spill. Creating the shape involved spilling a drink across a paper towel then painting over the shape on Photoshop.
Spread 3

In contrast to the first spread, the last spread shows visiting Keong Saik Road in the past as a red-light district. The senses focused here are the sense of sight, smell, and hearing.

Spread 3: Experiences at Keong Saik Road as a red-light district

Left Page

The idea of the page on the left was to convey the experiences of coming across brothels along Keong Saik Road. The senses focused here are sight, smell, and sound. Based entirely on an excerpt from 17A Keong Saik Road by Charmaine Leung, which reads:

"The three streets of the Keong Saik area was like a catwalk with an uninterrupted flow of models showing off the latest fashion. Except here, the dai gu liong - masked thickly in their sweet perfumes after they had finished their service calls - sashayed onto the streets and showed off their sex appeal..."
"These men - complete strangers in their thirties to sixties - gathered themselves in a new found alliance of camaraderie, and stood from noon till dark, eyeballing the women of Keong Saik. Like immovable statues at the foot of our house..."

The visuals in this page were meant to convey the descriptions mentioned in these excerpts. Therefore, in this page, it depicts a catwalk where pipas are strutting, to a crowd of sculptures from the Renaissance, coupled with soundwaves and lanterns, against the backdrop of a fur carpet (to make it more raunchy). 

  • The stage here is made up of strips of the page where the excerpt came from. The wall behind is from an image of a wall of a shophouse from the area. 
  • The pipas in this case were meant to represent the prostitutes. In the past, some of the prostitutes were referred to as pipa zai, which is translated into Little Pipa, as it was named after the shapes of their bodies being similar to that of pipas
  • The sculptures were meant to represent the brothels’ patrons, where in the excerpt, they were described as ‘immovable statues’. 
  • Emerging from the door of the catwalk is a cloud of pink smoke to represent the thick, sweet perfume of the prostitutes. The smoke was the same one used earlier, but coloured pink instead.
  • The soundwaves at the back were meant to depict the demographics that visited the brothels. Seeing that its patrons were mainly middle-aged men, the soundwaves were the frequencies of average male voices. 

Right Page

The idea of the right page was meant to convey the experiences of navigating through the street of Keong Saik Road when it was a red-light district. This page focuses on the senses of sight, smell, and sound. 

Based entirely on assumptions made from researching about its history, the following visuals are used:

  • A tunnelling effect was created by layering cropped images of the road and the gates to some of the stores from the area. The deeper the image was, the darker the colour overlay. To further emphasise it being a tunnel, a floor was placed.
  • The centre comprises of an illuminated sign ‘6-A’. This was to represent the brothels in the area as in the past, patrons identified brothels by looking out for rectangular light boxes out front with numbers on them. The image was cropped from one that still resides in Keong Saik Road today.
  • The smoke was to emphasise it further as a notorious red-light district. The smoke was the same ones used earlier. 
  • Similar to the page on the left, to depict the demographics that frequent the area (i.e. middle-aged men), I used the sound frequencies of average male voices.

With the two experiences coming together, the centrespread was to represent the feelings of a post-visit to a bar at Keong Saik Road in the present, and a post-visit to a brothel at Keong Saik Road in the past. The five senses pictured here is the sense of sight.


Since the sensation and visuals of the dizzy feeling of being drunk is somewhat similar to the idea of pixellating/censoring what goes on in a brothel, I wanted to use patterns as the primary visual. Taking images of a walkway through one of the shophouses (left), one of the door ways (centre), and a vintage-style wallpaper (right), I warped it to form a swirl pattern. Extracting colours from the photos used, I expanded the swirl patterns to extend to the whole spread.



Making the zine first started with conceptualising the overall concept, approach, and techniques to use.

Mindmap: Overall concept and art direction
Mindmap: Brainstorming ways to create visuals
Mindmap: Brainstorming ways to create visuals

Eventually, I settled on portraying the five senses through two contrasting experiences in the present and in the past, using as much material I can retrieve from the site. 

Research & Materials

In creating the visuals, I had the following materials to use and expand on further:

  • Photos: The photos I took of the sight showed the different facilities, patterns found in flooring and walls, textures of flooring and doors, light fixtures, colours of shophouses, and the signages displayed.
  • Items from the site: During my visit, I bought buns from the Keong Saik Bakery, and obtained a couple of receipts. 
  • Objects associated with the site: Food and drinks to symbolise it as an F&B enclave.
  • 17A Keong Saik Road: Autobiographical accounts from the book allowed me to recreate the experiences detailed.
Spill Pattern

The spill pattern from the first spread was a messy process.

Disgusting concoction of espresso liquor and soju
Trying to form patterns from spilling the liquid and sprinkling coffee grounds for added texture
Coffee spill across paper towel
Other Materials
Receipts from Keong Saik Bakery
Text from 17A Keong Saik Road
Buns bought from Keong Saik Bakery
Floor patterns
Left to right: Walkway, wall mural, door, gate
Artist References
I. Album artworks by Gengahr
Works by Gengahr
 II. Artworks by Jason Chen 
Art by Jason Chen
 III. Artworks by thankyou.please
Art by thankyou.please
Page 1: Draft 1
Page 2: Draft 1
Page 1: Draft 2
Page 6: Draft 1
Page 6: Draft 2


  • One of the main challenges I dealt with was the use of abstract concepts and methods. As I was very used to representing ideas in a literal format, all while using hand-drawn illustrations as a crutch, I found it challenging to venture out in trying techniques such as mark-making and image manipulation. However, with the help of my friends and Joy, I was able to brainstorm and have a hand in new ways of representing the five senses with materials from the site. 
  • I had some difficulty in coming up with an interesting and visually-appealing centrespread. Inspired by some abstract works I came across, I was hoping to use colours and textures to convey the dizzy feeling of being drunk as well as the censored/pixelated content of visiting a brothel. But it didn’t go as well as I wanted!
Comparison: Digital (Left), Physical Copy (Right)
  • Printing the zine was also quite problematic. As its pages were primarily made up of bright and rich colours, it did not really reflect well when printed on regular printing paper. However, having printed an extra copy on glossy paper (for my own reference), the colours came out slightly better, but still a little dull. 

Feedback & Improvement

Post its from friends!
Post its from friends!
  • The concept seemed to translate well to my classmates, the juxtaposition was well-defined and the visuals and sequence of pages helped!
  • Some of the techniques used and colours displayed were interesting and helped to bring forth the concept better.
  • The centrespread could be developed further. The idea of having the two experiences clash makes for an interesting spread but was not translated well into the centrespread. Maybe I could have applied principles in layout for a better build-up and more interesting composition, as well as adopt better techniques and tools for a more interesting texture.

[Final] Project 2A | Zine: Locale

For the first part of our second project, we were tasked to conduct a 5-min presentation on a unique place in Singapore of our choice. 

Final Product

For a more hi-res view, please refer to: Slides-FA.compressed

The place I chose was Keong Saik Road. Because of its popularity as a trendy hangout spot for high-end restaurants, eateries, and bars, I wanted to do a powerpoint presentation in the style of a virtual dining experience. At the same time, I was hoping it’ll be a more interesting method of presenting! After conducting research, I also came to realise that Keong Saik Road, despite its popularity today as an F&B enclave, was once a notorious red-light district in the olden days. 

The visuals of the presentation consisted of mainly hand-drawn illustrations accompanied with Photoshop textures and images.

Finding a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data, the research methods I adopted for this project were secondary research and primary research techniques. The techniques involved were:

Secondary Research: Online information, autobiographies

Primary Research: Site recces, first-hand accounts from myself and others, and surveys

Slide 1


Slide 1: Title

The first slide comprises of an image of the recognisable 1939 building (where Potato Head Folk now resides) with the title in a neon lights kind of typeface and colour.

Because of Keong Saik Road’s popularity as a spot for nightlife, as well as the fact that it was once a red-light district, I thought using neon lights to introduce the place seemed fitting.

Slide 2
Slide 2: Contents page

To make for a more interesting and visually appealing contents page, while sticking to the ‘dining experience’ theme, the outline of the presentation was done according to a fictional restaurant at an iconic shophouse at Keong Saik Road.

The iconic row of orange shophouses at Keong Saik Road

Following the order of going for dinner at a restaurant, I tried to structure my presentation accordingly:

1) Looking at the menu: An introduction into Keong Saik Road

2) Looking at the restaurant’s specials: Keong Saik Road’s unique trait

3) Entering the restaurant: Analyses of Keong Saik Road

Slides 3-7
Slide 3: Cover page
Slide 4: Directions, what is Keong Saik Road famous for
Slide 5: To Dos
Slide 6: Images of Keong Saik Road
Slide 7: Brief history

The first segment of the presentation gives a brief introduction of Keong Saik Road and an insight into its history. To give context to my classmates who have not heard of/been to Keong Saik Road, I gave them an overview of:

Keong Saik Road Today

  • Recently named the ‘4th Must-Visit Destination’ in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017
  • Where exactly the road is
  • What it’s famous for: its restaurants and colourful shophouses
  • The different facilities that reside there
  • The different types of F&B places
  • An overview of how the place generally looks like and its most notable landmarks

Keong Saik Road in the Past

  • The history behind its name
  • The facilities that resided there in the past

This segment of the presentation was done in the style of a menu. To complement the idea of this segment giving an overview of the place, looking at the menu of a restaurant serves the same purpose.

Slides 8-12

The third segment of the presentation introduces Keong Saik Road’s unique trait, the transformation of a notorious red-light district into Singapore’s poster child for a hip New Singapore. The slides first talked about its notoriety as a red-light district:

  • The changes it underwent from the 1940s to 1990s
  • Its first stages as a street for entertainment houses, then full-fledged brothels, followed by its transformation into a street for commercial use by high-end tenants.

The slides for this segment were done in the style of a chalkboard. Inspired by the many chalkboards displayed outside the eateries I came across while at Keong Saik Road, I wanted to use the medium of a chalkboard display as a unique way of presenting Keong Saik Road’s unique trait. This was also because, keeping to the theme, how some restaurants announce their specials of the day or promotions.

SLides 13-21

The fourth segment presents the data collected from my primary research on the area. This portion of the presentation is broken down into 4 components:

  • How the survey showed people’s impressions and perceptions of Keong Saik Road across different demographics
  • How the history of Keong Saik Road as a red-light district might have influenced the initial perceptions of the same people
  • A better idea of the demographics that frequent the area as well as the reasons they have for visiting
  • Two case studies that emphasise Keong Saik Road’s appeal as a trendy hangout today

The visuals of this segment of the presentation was done according to a dining table setting, with plates and utensils placed against a table. Following the theme, the presentation of data is equivalent to the main highlight of a dining experience, so I thought having the dining table setting seemed appropriate.

Slides 22-23

The final segment of the presentation is the conclusion, emphasising Keong Saik Road’s transformation into a trendy hangout spot famous for not only its F&B scene, but for its rich cultural history.

For this portion, it was done to a setting of receiving the bill. Coming to the end of the dining experience, someone has to pay the bill!

 Techniques Applied

Secondary research techniques used and findings
Primary research techniques used and findings



Conceptualising for this project first started off with picking out and narrowing down unique places in Singapore.

Mindmap: Picking out places in Singapore with unique traits
Places in Singapore with unique traits

I listed and narrowed down places I knew at the top of my head. Some of the places I was interested in exploring further were Upper Thomson Road or MacRitchie Reservoir, Seletar Air Base, Keong Saik Road, Balestier, and Bishan. Some of the traits associated with these places were:

  • Upper Thomson Road: List of dining options
  • MacRitchie Reservoir: Inspired by friends’ stories of their homes getting raided by monkeys, I wanted to explore more about MacRitchie Reservoir. It was the only reservoir in Singapore that the macaques reside in and it is hope to the popular Treetop Walk.
  • Seletar Air Base: Old air base that got reconstructed into an F&B enclave; patrons can see private airplanes taking off while dining there.
  • Keong Saik Road: Shophouses and F&B scene
  • Balestier: Rows of peculiar shops
  • Bishan: Facilities catered to pet owners

However, after debating, I decided to go with Upper Thomson Road/MacRitchie Reservoir.

Research on First Choice

I started researching more on MacRitchie Reservoir and found out that it, along with the surrounding Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce Reservoir, is home to many wildlife, the most notorious being the macaque monkeys. It’s also where Singapore’s first free-standing suspension bridge, the Treetop Walk, is.

Planning out research tactics for Upper Thomson Road / MacRitchie Reservoir

I visited the area and conducted short interviews with a couple of students (15-16 yrs) and a couple of adults (37 yrs, 40yrs) on how they viewed the area:

I also held a couple of email interviews with people who were familiar with the area: a couple of outdoor enthusiasts (one holds regular running expeditions at the area, and the other holding fishing trips), and a wildlife guide who holds guided trails educating members of the public on the wildlife there.

Interview with Jayasri, a wildlife guide at MacRitchie Reservoir
Interview with Holden, outdoor enthusiast who holds running expeditions at the reservoir

However, after looking more into the research and consulting with Joy, I realised that even though MacRitchie Reservoir does have its unique traits, it is quite difficult in expanding on the quantitative aspect of it, and the uniqueness may not be as strong enough. 

(Also, getting to the Treetop Walk is not easy, and when talking to JJ and Zhen Qi, they told me that the Treetop Walk is actually quite underwhelming).

So I decided to change my location to somewhere more interesting and easier to extract data from: Keong Saik Road!

Settling on final Choice

Because of time restraints due to my indecisiveness, I had to work quickly. I started with planning out the types of research and methods to adopt for the area:

Planning out research
Secondary Research

I first started on conducting secondary research on Keong Saik Road; using online sources such as online encyclopaedias and databases, articles, blogs and reviews, and websites, I found:

  • The history of Keong Saik Road
  • Overview of people’s perceptions of the area
  • The descriptive words they used
  • Its evolution as a red-light district (i.e. how it came to be)
  • Lifestyles of people involved when it was a red-light district
  • Articles on it being nominated as the 4th Must-Visit destination in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017

For a more extensive background on Keong Saik Road, please refer to:  https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-2a-research/

I also found that a local author, Charmaine Leung, wrote 17A Keong Saik Road, which provides personal accounts of her growing up in the area when it was a red-light district.

Image result for 17a keong saik road
Image of 17A Keong Saik Road
Primary Research

Primary research, on the other hand, included conducting surveys, holding interviews, and visiting the site.

I. Survey
The survey

The survey was done on Typeform and administered to youths and adults. I distributed the survey by getting help from my friends (thank you!) and my parents and their friends/colleagues (thank you to them too!).

For a detailed look into the survey, please refer to: https://vanessa4.typeform.com/to/R4vVOi

The statistics was consolidated and categorised into different groups then translated into charts, which were then used in the presentation.

II. Interviews

I also conducted a short interview with a friend. I brought a friend, Fei, to Keong Saik Road and noted down her initial perceptions of the place and how it changed after taking her around and briefly explaining its history. I thought interviewing with her was suitable as she hadn’t been to the area in a very long time.

Also, when visiting Keong Saik Bakery, I had a short talk with one of the employees there and in addition to selling us some bread, she talked about how the bakery tried to retain some of the Keong Saik culture.

Bread at Keong Saik Bakery


Image of Sor Hei Bun
Image of a majie

The bakery had a speciality bun called the ‘Sor Hei’ bun that was modelled after the notable hairstyles of Majie, traditional women who worked as domestic workers and vowed to never get married. It was done in tribute to the previous shop owner who was a Majie.

Furthermore, it was interesting to see that the bakery had a range of buns that catered to both local and high-end flavours. E.g. there was a heibi-flavoured bun, and a champagne sourdough bun with fig and cream cheese.

III. Visiting the Site

Additionally, I did a site recce, where I took photos of the place and conducted observational data. The data collected involved:

Visitor Demographics

Taking a walk around the place, I generally noted down the visiting demographics, and found that there were a number of youths, adults, and elderly. Families and children were lacking.

For a more in-depth analysis, I sat in Keong Saik Bakery from 4pm to about 7pm and noted down the type of demographics and frequency at which they patronised the shop. I found that the bakery had a lot of youths and adults visit the shop as opposed to families with children.

Images of Keong Saik Road First row: Coffeeshops, Keong Saik Bakery Second row: Designs and colours of shophouses Third row: Potato Head Folk, Working Capitol, temple


When taking a walk around the area, I noted down the types of facilities, as well as the different types of eateries. There were restaurants, bars, cafes, small eateries, bakeries, convenience stores, and coffee shops.

The facilities, on the other hand, comprised of boutique hotels, spas and hair salons, and lounges and karaoke pubs.

Urban Ventures

When I was visiting the area, a local arts event was coincidentally taking place. The event was an annual event that takes place at Keong Saik Road, and they would typically block off the area for this. However, when reaching out to the organisers, they didn’t reply!

Presentation Preparation

After consolidating my research, I brainstormed ways in which I could present the data in an engaging yet relevant fashion.

Mindmap: Presentation methods

After going with a normal presentation, but in the style of a dining experience, I planned the visuals and content for each segment:


One of the main challenges I faced during this project was choosing a location. My first choice was actually MacRitchie Reservoir or the Upper Thomson area, but it was difficult in pinpointing a specific unique trait that the area had. I decided to go and conduct research about the place first and that wasted quite a substantial amount of time. Because of my indecisiveness and uncertainty in choosing the MacRitchie/Upper Thomson area, I had to change my location in the last minute! So one of the main challenges I had was the lack of time.

Some of the challenges I faced during this project were:

  • Going about conducting primary research: Because of the lack of time, I had to use efficient ways to conduct primary research across different demographics
  • My research wasn’t as substantial as I hoped – like the one with recording people’s changed perceptions of Keong Saik Road, I think it would be better if I could bring in interviews with people across different demographics

Feedback & Improvement

Post its from friends!
Post its from friends!

Some of the feedback I got about the presentation:

  • History of Keong Saik Road is interesting, would be interesting to see it translated into a zine
  • Method of using a dining setting and visuals to present the information is engaging

With the feedback, I hope to make the following improvements when starting on the zine:

  • Developing more on its history as a red-light district
  • Depicting its popularity as an F&B enclave in the zine
  • Adopting similar visuals and colour palette into the zine



Keong Saik Bakery – Charming Traditional-Meets-Modern Bakery


17A Keong Saik Road

Project 2A: Research

Keong Saik Road

Keong Saik Road is a one-way road that links New Bridge Road to Neil Road, and is intersected by Kreta Ayer Road. It houses two popular landmarks: the Ann Kway Building and New Bridge Centre, as well as Oriental Plaza and the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. The area is most well-known for its colourful two and three-story shophouses filled with ‘trendy hotels, bistros, cafes, and the odd boutique’. 

A Brief & Interesting History

Keong Saik Road was named, in 1926, after Tan Keong Saik, a businessman from Malacca who co-founded the Straits Steamship Company. He owned a number of houses in the vicinity. He was also a generous contributor the the social and intellectual life of the Chinese community. Apart from these houses, Keong Saik Road also comprised of a number of charcoal and grocery wholesalers, coffeeshops, incense retailers, and even clan associations.

However! Rich merchants were said to have kept mistresses here. And that’s because of the area’s evolution into a red-light district in the 1960s. Due to its close proximity to Smith Street (a notorious red-light district ‘at the turn of the century’), Keong Saik Road eventually played host to many brothels situated in the three-storey shophouses that lined both sides of the street. 

The atmosphere in Keong Saik eventually changed again in the early 1990s when it underwent a transformative phase by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Several old shophouses were set up for sale and were ‘modified for commercial use’, but at the same time, being conserved. ‘High-end tenants’ such as boutique hotels, offices, bars, and eateries have then, moved into the restored shophouses in the area. Keong Saik Road was then part of the ‘Chinatown-Bukit Pasoh Conservation Area’. 

Keong Saik Road today

Today, Keong Saik has ‘reinvented itself’, becoming the ‘poster child for hip ‘New Singapore”, earning itself a place among the top 10 travel destinations in Asia for Lonely Planet’s 2017 Best in Asia list. It was praised for its ‘beautiful colonial and art-deco buildings’, where visitors can experience the city state’s ‘famed dining scene’ comprising of award-winning restaurants, trendy cocktail bars with rooftop views, and boutique hotels.

As a Red-Light District
Geisha Houses

In the 1940s and 1950s, entertainment houses were referred to as ‘geisha houses’, where customers drank and were entertained by ‘beautiful women who sang and danced’. Referred to as Pei Pa Zai (Cantonese for Little Pipa) (also because of their bodies being shaped like the pipa), these songstresses, who were usually aged between 16-20, were often asked for ‘sexual services’, and sometimes taken as ‘mistresses or second wives’. As a result, Keong Saik Road became known as Mistress Avenue in the 1950s. 

In the 1960s, as these entertainment houses were beginning to become ‘fronts for services that were more sexual in nature’, there were increased inspections. But, over time, the patrons ‘dwindled’ and these entertainment houses turned into ‘full fledge brothels’. Keong Saik was also considered ‘more premium’ as they had better girls.

Fun fact! Brothels could be identified by a rectangular light box out front with red numbers on them.






Chinatown was once a vice-filled place where human lives were bought & sold




[Project 1] Image Through Type


For our very first project, we were tasked to create typographic portraits of occupations we wished to have in future. These portraits had to comprise mainly of letters found in our names. 

Final Product

Final works Top: I’m a waitress / five-star chef (Left), I’m an art student / graffiti artist (Right), Bottom: I’m a manic fan / music legend (Left), I’m an artist liaison officer/ award-winning actress (Right)

In this project, I wanted to experiment with the idea of contrast, both in concept and medium. Drawing inspiration and personal experiences from past jobs, I wanted to create portraits that consist of these jobs I’ve had and their ‘dream’ counterparts. The four I decided to go with are Server VS. Five-Star Chef, Art Student VS. Graffiti Artist, Manic Fan VS. Music Legend, and Artist Liaison Officer VS. Award-Winning Actress. To further emphasise the contrast, the medium used was a combination of photomontage and illustrations. 

Portrait 1
Job 1: Waitress / Five-star chef

The first portrait is my job as a waitress contrasted with my dream of being a five-star chef, focusing on the contrast between a chef having more control and creating more dazzling meals, and a waitress having much less authority and whose job mainly revolves around serving food. The composition consists of a pair of chef hands at the top garnishing a lobster dish. The dishes, from top to bottom, show a lobster dish, hamburger, and cup noodles. At the bottom is a waiter holding a tray about to serve the dishes. To reinforce the idea of the difference in control between the two jobs, the dishes pictured decrease in quality as it reaches the waiter (a lobster dish, typically considered a high-end dish, followed by fast food, then ready-made food). They also become increasingly disorganised. 

Letters used in portrait: V, E, W

Since the contrast is conveyed through the dishes, the letters, V, E, and W, are spelled out using the food items. Taking into consideration the special qualities of each letter, I adjusted the presentation of the food items accordingly:

V: Has straight, rigid lines
Shown through the composition of the chef’s hands and lobster dish; the dish being connected through flakes from the garnish. As the letter is much neater and rigid, it seems fitting to have it at the top, with the chef’s hands. 

E: Three extensions
Shown through the presentation of the hamburger, where the ingredients are separated to better depict the letter’s extension, and the sauce showing the vertical line; the letter having three separate extensions seem fitting for a hamburger, as the layering of ingredients could emulate the shape.

W: Zig-zag pattern 
Shown through the presentation of the noodles; the zig-zag pattern was simple to depict with the curvy nature of noodles. By extending the noodles across the pair of chopsticks, it helped in keeping the composition balanced, and makes the ‘W’ shape less jarring. 

The entire composition, on the other hand, is also coincidentally in the shape of a ‘V’, allowing it to better to convey the intended message. 

Portrait 2
Job 2: Art student / Graffiti Artist

The second portrait is my job as an art student contrasted with my dream of being a graffiti artist. The main contrast between the two jobs I wanted the portrait to focus on was how graffiti artists and art students had different canvases to work on; graffiti artists had walls and buildings but art students had to confine to the limits of a canvas. The composition, therefore, consists of a student studying at a desk, and across the road, as shown through a window, is a group of painters adding streaks of pink paint onto the row of houses across. 

Letters used: V, N, Z

V, N, Z: Made up of straight lines, rigid 

The letters, V, N, and Z, in this case, are portrayed through the ropes holding the painters’ platforms. Since the ropes here have a very rigid and geometric nature, I chose letters of my name that had the same characteristics. Furthermore, the letters, as compared to other letters in my name, are the easier ones to form out of straight lines. 

Letters used: i

I: Straight line and dot above

The I in this composition is formed by the pose of the painters. The painters themselves mimicking the straight line while the paintbrush representing the dot. The hair of the paintbrush is coloured black to further emphasise its representation of a dot. 

Portrait 3
Job 3: Manic fan / Music legend

The third portrait is my job as a manic fan contrasted with my dream of being a music legend. The main contrast between the two jobs that struck me the most was the level of impact that famous musicians could make where they were able to leave legacies behind, whereas fans would not be able to do the same. To convey this idea, the composition involves a tour group of visitors marvelling at the artefacts and portraits on display, which are of and belong to famous musicians. The difference in scale (the exhibit being much bigger than the visitors) also helps to further reinforce this idea. 

Letters used: A, W

Since the intended message lies in the interactions between the visitors and exhibition, the letters are formed through the artefacts themselves, as well as in the layout of the exhibition. 

Letters used: g, h, o, E, A

O: Distinctive because of its circular structure
The O was used to form the vinyls as they both share the same circular structure.

A & E: Letters A & E consist of straight lines that are angled in more dynamic ways, mimics the physical structures of more recognisable musical instruments

The letter ‘A’ was used to form the guitar on the right, and the display cases on the left and right. Since the uppercase ‘A’ is made up of two converging straight lines, forming a gap at the top, it could form a display case expanding on the gap. 

The letter ‘E’, on the other hand, was used to form the keyboard on the left. The three extensions was emphasised by the black keys, while the top of the keyboard formed the straight vertical line.

H & G: The lowercase ‘h’ and ‘g’ letters have more curves when compared to their uppercase counterparts

The lowercase ‘h’ was used to structure the pose of the musician in the painting. Gaining inspiration from a series of photographs of David Bowie, the letter ‘h’ could be seen in some of the poses he used, so I tried to emulate it but it a more obvious fashion. 

The lowercase ‘g’ was used to form the pose of the bust. Following the same idea as the lowercase ‘h’, I took inspiration from the Thinker sculpture. As its pose mimics the curves of a lowercase ‘g’, I changed the pose of the bust to form a more obvious ‘g’.

W: Has a zig-zag pattern, allowing for interesting compositions

As ‘W’ has a zig-zag pattern made out of straight lines converging, it seemed fitting to structure the layout of the exhibition in a similar manner. 

Portrait 4
Job 4: Artist liaison officer / Award-winning actress

The fourth portrait shows my job as an artist liaison officer contrasted with my dream of being an award-winning actress. In this composition, I wanted to focus on the main contrast of stress levels and activity between the two jobs; artist liaison officers, when managing their clients, face stress in ensuring that their clients stick promptly to the assigned schedule as well as turning up for events and press junkets. Therefore, I wanted to emphasise on the contrast by having the portrait set at a red carpet event, where the artist liaison officer (while carrying a bag of camera equipment and makeup), is pushing a trolley with the actress standing on top of it. The actress is waving to a crowd of reporters.  

Letters used: Z, i, W, Y, F

The message, in this case, is conveyed through the interactions between the artist liaison officer and the actress. Therefore, the letters can be found mainly in the layout of the two. 

Y: Lines converging to form another straight, vertical line

The ‘Y’ here is formed through the pose of the artist liaison officer on the right. Positioning her body to lean towards the left, while having the bag of camera equipment and makeup leaning towards the right, forms the ‘Y’ shape. The pose also helps to reinforce the heaviness of the trolley.

F: Two extensions

‘F’, on the other hand, is formed through the handle of the trolley and placement of the artist liaison officer’s hands. The hands, in contrast to the image of the trolley, help to make the extensions of the ‘F’ a bit more distinctive as well.

Z & I: Zig-zag pattern, and straight vertical line with a dot above

‘Z’ is formed through the placement of the actress’ shawl. Since the fabric, when tied across the shoulders and arms of the actress had a zig-zag like pattern, it seemed fitting to have it in the shape of a ‘z’. 

‘I’ is formed through the pose of the actress. Similar to the idea of the painter in the second portrait, I wanted to adjust the pose so that it would recreate the shape of the letter I (the vertical line with a dot above).

W: Up and down pattern

‘W’ is formed through the structure of the rope barriers. The pattern of lines that form the letter could be recreated through the ‘u’ shape of the rope barriers. By duplicating the rope barriers twice, it formed a ‘w’, but in a curved way.


Research & Conceptualising
I. Research

For a more detailed post on research, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-project-1-image-through-type/

After finding more about incorporating texts and letters into artwork in the Dadaist and Constructivist movements, I was inspired to experiment different ways in adjusting objects to mimic the unique traits of different letters, as well as creating compositions and layouts based on contrasts and unconventional elements that are still able to bring forth the intended message.

II. Artist References
Hannah Hoch
Works of Hannah Hoch

For a more extensive background on Hannah Hoch, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-project-1-image-through-type/

Reference for:

  • Idea of photomontage
  • Layouts of visuals to convey a narrative
Moon Patrol

Moon Patrol is a collage artist whose works are heavily influenced by 80s cartoons, Atari 2600, horror movies, folklore, and western and detective pulps, while drawing from his love of comic books from the late 80s and early 90s.

Works of Moon Patrol

Reference for:

  • Style of photomontage 
  • Blend of different graphics
  • Method of colouring
Hattie Stewart

Hattie Stewart is a London-based artist and illustrator. Most known for ‘doodlebombing’ over influential magazines, she also creates ‘tongue-in-cheek’ artwork that ‘moves fluidly between many creative fields including Fashion, Music, and Contemporary Art’. 

Works of Hattie Stewart

Reference for:

  • Blend of illustration and photomontage
  • Colour palette
III. Conceptualising

The process started with conceptualising. 

Mindmap: Brainstorming overall concept and art direction
Mindmap: Brainstorming techniques to use to emphasise on contrast

I initially wanted to work more on expanding the contrasts between different jobs, so I planned out the different ways I could explore this idea and the techniques I could try. I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try new methods of creating visuals, instead of sticking to just illustrations!

After coming to a decision on the overall concept and approach, I narrowed down the four jobs and their counterparts I wanted to portray, then started to think of different layouts to use, while incorporating the letters into them. 

IV. Planning & Drafts

Keeping in mind the contrasts and messages I wanted to focus on for each portrait, I planned out, with the help of artist references, different compositions and layouts I could use to make it more interesting. 

Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 1
Some layout drafts for Job 1
Draft 1 for Job 1
Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 2
Some drafts for Job 2
Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 3
Drafts for Job 4
Drafts for Job 4


Some of the challenges I faced during this project were:

  • As typography wasn’t something I was confident in, finding new and interesting ways to incorporate letters into the composition wasn’t very easy. 
  • Putting the visuals together in a layout that had to be organised but at the same time, vibrant and interesting enough (to make the contrast between the two mediums, photomontage and illustrations), was challenging.
  • Trying to alter the illustrations of real-life objects to mimic the shapes of letters was challenging as they came out either quite boring or undistinguishable as letters.

Feedback & Improvement

Final product with pos-its
  • Working with the two different mediums was more successful than I thought in conveying the contrast between the two portrayed jobs
  • Having a dream counterpart allowed the series to have a continuous flow, making it more interesting
  • The blend between the two visuals was not too jarring and complemented each other well
  • The typeface was not distinguishable in some portraits, where the objects intending to be the typeface looked more like the actual object instead of a letter. To make it more distinguishable, I could have took a step further and altered the physical structure of the objects (even beyond recognition) to make it recognisable as a letter.
  • Some of the compositions came out relatively boring, especially for the last portrait. To make for a more interesting composition, I could have added in more visuals or make the interaction between the two jobs more exaggerated. 
  • In incorporating typefaces, I don’t think I did much experimenting and exploring, and resulted in sticking to two main approaches (adjusting objects to mimic the letters’ shapes, and creating a layout based on the letter). Maybe it would have been more interesting to create textures out of the letters themselves. 

[Research] | Project 1: Image Through Type


Image result for dada artist

Dadaism is defined as a ‘nihilistic and anti-aesthetic’ arts movement that flourished primarily in Zurich (Switzerland), New York City, Berlin, Cologne, and Hannover (Germany), and Paris in the early 20th century.

It came about amidst the brutality of World War I, where the ‘unprecedented loss of human life was a result of trench warfare and technological advances in weaponry, communications, and transportation systems’. The ‘disillusioned’ Dada artists, on the other hand, saw the war as a confirmation of the ‘degradation of social structures that led to such violence’, namely, ‘corrupt and nationalist politics’, ‘repressive social values’, and an ‘unquestioning conformity of culture and thought’. As a result, from the years 1916 to the mid-1920s, artists ‘declared an all-outassault’ against the ‘conventional definitions of art’, as well as on ‘rational thought’ itself. It is said that the Dadaist movement  ‘were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust’. 

The Dadaists ‘rejected the modern moral order, the violence of war, and the political constructs that had brought about the war’. They aimed to ‘subvert all convention, including conventional modes of art making’. Photomontage – which relied on mass-produced materials and required no formal art training – was ‘a deliberate repudiation of the prevailing German Expressionist aesthetic’. The Dada movement was however, quickly ‘absorbed into the art world and found appreciation among connoisseurs of fine art in the 1920s’. 

Dada Artists

Image result for hannah hoch

Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch was a ‘vital and regular’ part of the Berlin Dadaist circle, and is well-known for her ‘pioneering collage and photomontage (collages consisting of fragments of imagery found in newspapers and magazines) artworks’, as well as ‘consciously and successfully promoting the idea of women working much more creatively in the modern society’. Her works involve ‘appropriating and rearranging images and text’ from the mass media, intended to ‘mock and critique the Weimar German Government’. It is said that she prefers ‘metaphoric imagery to the violent and direct techniques’ commonly found in her contemporary colleagues (e.g. John Heartfield). 

Hoch was also considered the ‘lone woman among the Berlin Dada group, stranded within what everyone wanted to describe as a male creative world’. She is ‘responsible for pioneering some of the most important Dada and avant-garde art’, providing us with ‘interesting and evocative reflections on the industrial development and the very concepts of beauty’, making her ‘one of the most important female artists of the 20th century’. 

Hoch’s early works consisted of experimenting with ‘nonobjective art – nonrepresentational works that make no reference to the natural world’, using mediums of painting, collage, and photomontage. Although renowned artists such as Picasso and Georges Braque have been credited with employing and elevating collage to a fine art level, Hoch and the Dadaists were the first to ’embrace and develop the photograph as the dominant medium of the montage’, where they ‘cut, overlapped, and juxtaposed (usually) photographic fragments in disorienting but meaningful ways’ ‘to reflect the confusion and chaos of the postwar era’. Her works often represented and embodied the ‘New Woman’, ‘generally ridding herself of the shackles of society’s traditional female roles’. She was also interested in representing women as ‘dolls, mannequins, and puppets and as products for mass consumption’. 

  • Had constructed and exhibited stuffed dolls that had exaggerated and abstract features, but were clearly identifiable as female 
  • Used advertisement images of popular children’s dolls in somewhat disturbing photomontages (e.g. The Master (1925) and Love (1926))

Her later works, in addition to the increased use of colour images, became more abstract, where she ‘[rotated] or [inverted] her cut fragments so that they were readable no longer as images from the real world but instead as shapes and colour’, ‘open to many interpretations’. She also reintroduced ‘figural elements’ into her photomontages. 

Max Ernst

Related image

Max Ernst was another key member of the Dada arts movement as well, where he used a variety of mediums – painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture, and other unconventional drawing methods, ‘to give visual form to both personal memory and collective myth’. He was most known for ‘combining illusionistic technique with a cut-and-paste logic’, making ‘the incredible believable’, and ‘expressing disjunctions of the mind and shocks of societal upheavals with unsettling clarity’. Ernst was considered ‘one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art’ and an ‘originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism’. 

A notable work of his is Here Everything is Still Floating, which reflects ‘a world of rubble of shards’. It followed a traumatised Ernst after serving for four years in World War I, and alongside fellow Dadaists Jean (Hans) Arp and Johannes Baargeld, used ‘mechanically-reproduced fragments’ such as the ‘image of a chemical bomb being released from a military plane’ in the background. Ernst’s paintings often contain the ‘fragmented logic of collage’ (referred to as ‘the culture of systematic displacement’ by him), whose subjects are ‘disjointed even if their surfaces are smooth’. ‘In these foreboding dreamscapes, headless bodies and body-less hands appear incongruously amid lush forests or on deserted beaches’. 

In addition to collage, Ernst used techniques such as frottage (‘pencil rubbings of such things as wood grain, fabric, or leaves’) and decalcomania (‘the technique of transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together’). The ‘accidental patterns and textures’ resulting from these techniques   can be seen in drawings such as The Great Forest (1927) and The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945). His activities subsequently increased on sculpture, using improvised techniques. For example in Oedipus (1934), Ernst used ‘a stack of precariously balanced wooden pails to form a belligerent-looking phallic image’. 

Man Ray 

Image result for man ray

Man Ray is a photographer, painter, and filmmaker, as well as ‘the only American to play a major role in both the Dada and Surrealist movements’. Upon meeting Marcel Duchamp, they collaborated on many inventions and eventually formed the ‘New York group of Dada artists’, and Ray began to produce ‘ready-mades’, ‘commercially manufactured objects that he designated as works of art’. Although trained as an abstract painter, Ray ‘eventually disregarded the traditional superiority painting held over photography and happily moved between different forms’. He held on to the idea that ‘motivating a work of art was more important than the work of art itself’. 

Concerning photography, Ray experimented with different methods such as ‘rediscovering how to make ‘cameraless’ pictures’ (photograms or ‘rayographs’) – he did so by ‘placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper, which he exposed to light and developed’. He also experimented with solarisation, ‘which renders part of a photographic image negative and part positive by exposing a print or negative to a flash of light during development’. Ray then experimented with portraiture; some of his works involved giving one sitter ‘three pairs of eyes’, photographically superimposing ‘sound holes’ onto the photograph of the back of a female nude, resembling that of a violin. 

Ray also made films. One such example, Le Retour a la raison (1923), is an indication of the ‘rayograph technique’, where he made patterns with salt, pepper, tacks, and pins. 

Dada-Inspired Artists
I. Lola Dupre

Image result for lola dupre

Lola Dupre is a multicultural collage artist and illustrator, creating ‘surreal and fragmented portraits’ with ‘multiple prints of the same image in different sizes’ combined in one piece, portraying ‘beautiful distortions of the human form’. Using paper, scissors, and glue, Dupre’s portraits twists ‘conventional fashion imagery to speak to our fragmented ideas of self’, questions body image issues, and ‘affirms our desire to break free from limiting perceptions around culture and gender’. 

'Dada was about juxtapositions of the world... Dada is the background noise, the unavoidable memories that influence many works' - Lola Dupre

Learning Points

  • Dadaism: A nihilistic and anti-aesthetic arts movement that flourished in the early 20th century
  • Hoch’s use of metaphoric and ambiguous imagery, allowing viewers to form their own interpretations 
  • Hoch’s use of figural elements, and later focus on shapes and colours 
  • Ernst’s blending of personal memory and collective myth
  • Methods of frottage and decalcomania in creating patterns and textures
  • Making patterns using objects – Ray’s use of salt, pepper, tacks, and pins

Russian Constructivism 

Image result for russian constructivism

Russian Constructivism ‘was a particularly austere branch of abstract art founded by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodcehnko’ in Russia around 1915. Although it was suppressed in Russia in the 1920s, it was brought to the West (by Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner) and has been ‘a major influence on modern sculpture’. Constructivism was also deemed as ‘the last and most influential modern art movement to flourish in Russia in the 20th century’. 

'The material formation of the object is to be substituted for its aesthetic combination. The object is to be treated as a whole and thus will be of no discernible 'style' but simply a product of an industrial order... Constructivism is a purely technical mastery and organisation of materials.' - Russian artists in Lef

The Constructivists believed that ‘art should directly reflect the modern industrial world’. It borrowed ideas from Cubism, Suprematism and Futurism, but ‘was an entirely new approach to making objects, one which sought to abolish the traditional artistic concern with composition, and replace it with ‘construction”. It comprised of ‘careful technical [analyses] of modern materials,’ hoping ‘it would eventually yield ideas that could be put to use in mass production, serving the ends of a modern, Communist society’ – objects were ‘to be created not in order to express beauty, or the artist’s outlook, or to represent the world, but to carry out a fundamental analysis of the materials and forms of art’. 

Constructivism ‘firmly embraced the new social and cultural developments that grew out of World War I and the October Revolution of 1917’. ‘Concerned with the use of ‘real materials in real space’,’, it ‘sought to use art as a tool for the common good’. Many of these works involve projects in architecture, interior and fashion design, ceramics, typography, and graphics. 

'Focused on the careful technical analysis of modern materials, and the refusal of the idea that art should be produced for the art's sake but as a practice for social purposes...'

In addition to ‘demonstrating how materials behaved’, Constructivism was also ‘a desire to express the experience of modern life – its dynamism’, ‘new and disorienting qualities of space and time’, as well as the desire to develop a form of art ‘more appropriate to the democratic and modernising goals of the Russian Revolution’. Therefore, Constructivists were considered ‘constructors of a new society’, ‘on par with scientists in their search for solutions to modern problems’. 

Constructivist Artists

Gustav Klutsis

Image result for gustav klutsis

Gustav Klutsis (or Gustavs Klucis), one of the pioneers of ‘Soviet agitprop graphic design’, was most notable for his ‘revolutionary use of the medium of photomontage’ to create ‘political posters, book designs, newspaper and magazine illustrations’. He also advocated the ‘rejection of painting’ and was actively involved in making production art such as ‘multimedia agitprop kiosks’ installed on Moscow streets, ‘integrating radio-orators, film screens, and newsprint displays’. It was through these constructions that Klutsis developed his own method of ‘combining slogans and functional structures built around simple geometrical figures’. 

In 1926, Klutsis started to work specifically on political posters promoting ‘socialist reconstruction’, in accordance with the ideological discourse of the Party at that time. After joining Oktiabr (‘an association that united leftist artists, whose aim was to promote the class-proletarian tendencies in the sphere of three-dimensional art’), his art developed, where his works, during this period, ‘combine[d] methods of posed photography, reportage and double-exposure images’. 

By 1931, Klutsis new posters began including huge portraits in photomontages: ‘photographs of marchers, shock workers, and, most commonly, Stalin’. ‘Stylistically these works signalled a move away from Constructivism towards a monumental propaganda approach in glorification of Stalin’. 

Vladimir Tatlin

Image result for vladimir tatlin

Tatlin is often acknowledged as ‘the father of Constructivism’. With his ‘traditional training’ ‘supplemented towards a revolutionary way of thinking’ with Pablo Picasso, Tatlin entered the ‘Moscow avant-garde’. His admiration for ‘unconventional modulation’ in Cubism collages and the three-dimensional constructions and series of Picasso’s still lives (made of scrap materials), ‘challenged him to explore the new approach in his own production’. He then created art and design that ‘furiously emphasised materials, volume, revolution, and construction’. ‘Embracing the industrial materials, such as wood, glass and metal, Russian Constructivism shifted towards industrial design’, and its artists became ‘engineers of the everyday form’. 

'The arc of his career has come to define the spirit of avant-gardism in the twentieth century, the attempt to bring art to the service of everyday life'

Tatlin’s approach was ‘shaped by his desire to bring lessons learned in the artist’s studio to the service of the real world’, explaining why his works ‘seem to shift from a preoccupation with the texture and character of materials, to a focus on technology and the machine’. Tatlin’s most famous work, the Monument to the Third International, was ‘one of the first buildings conceived entirely in abstract terms’, signalling ‘an important early stage in the transformation of Russian art, from modernist experiment to practical design’. 

Despite its obscurity, Tatlin still remains one of the ‘leading artists of the Russian avant-garde and the creator of the most visionary and influential architectural design to arise from Constructivist ideology’.   Tatlin’s constructions seek to ‘revolutionise society by introducing new forms of art’, where he employed ‘craft methods and incorporated everyday objects and materials into their work to expand the boundaries of what could be considered art’, as well as ‘to challenge the notions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of art and culture’. 

Alexander Rodchenko

Image result for alexander rodchenko

Alexander Rodchenko is said to be perhaps ‘the most important avant-garde artist to have put his art in the service of political revolution’, it is a ‘model of the clash between modern art and radical politics’. His life’s work was an ‘extraordinary array of media’ from painting and sculpture to graphic design and photography. 

Beginning as an ‘aesthete’, inspired by Art Nouveau artists, Rodchenko then turned to Futurism, then pioneered Constructivism, where he ’embraced a more functional view of art and of the artist’. Upon a collaboration with poet Vladimir Mayakovsky on a series of advertising campaigns, they introduced ‘modern design into Russian advertising’ and attempted to sell the ‘values of the Revolution along with the products being promoted’ – this union of ‘modern design, politics, and commerce’ inspired advertisers in the West. Photography was important to Rodchenko in his attempt to find ‘new media more appropriate to his goal of serving the revolution’. Viewing it first as a source of ‘preexisting imagery, using it in montages of pictures and text’, he then later began to take pictures himself and ‘evolved an aesthetic of unconventional angles, abruptly cropped compositions, and stark contrasts of light and shadow’. 

Rodchenko’s art helped redefine three key visual genres of modernism: painting, photography, and graphic design. In his paintings, he ‘further explored and expanded the essential vocabulary of an abstract composition’. In his photography, he ‘established unprecedented compositional paradigms’, defining the ‘entire notion of modern photographic art’. 

Learning Points

  • Constructivism: A style or movement in which assorted mechanical objects are combined into abstract mobile structural form, featuring technical masteries and organisations of materials
  • In Constructivism, objects are created not in order to express beauty, or the artist’s outlook, or to represent the world, but to carry out a fundamental analysis of materials and forms of art 
  • Klutsis’ integration of different forms of media in production art 
  • Klutsis’ combining of slogans and functional structures built around simple geometric figures 
  • Klutsis’ use of huge portraits to represent glorification 
  • Tatlin’s emphasis on materials, volume, revolution and construction 
  • Rodchenko’s incorporation of everyday objects and materials 
  • Rodchenko’s use of unconventional angles, abruptly cropped compositions, and stark contrasts of light and shadow 




    1. https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/hannah-hoch/
    1. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Hoch


    1. http://www.hungertv.com/feature/beauty-in-distortion-dada-inspired-collage-art-by-lola-dupre/
  1. https://www.moma.org/artists/1752
  2. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Max-Ernst
  3. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Man-Ray
  4. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-ray-man.htm

Russian Constructivism

1 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/constructivism

2 http://www.theartstory.org/movement-constructivism.htm

3 https://www.widewalls.ch/russian-constructivism/

4 https://thecharnelhouse.org/2016/10/12/gustav-klutsis-revolutionary-propagandist-1895-1938/

5 http://www.theartstory.org/artist-rodchenko-alexander.htm

[Research Summary] Sousveillance


I. About Sousveillance

Sousveillance is defined as the ‘recording of an activity by a participant in the activity’. The participant would typically be wearing a ‘small wearable’ or ‘portable personal technologies’, utilising a range of monitoring methods (e.g. visual and audio surveillance). It also involves both ‘hierarchal sousveillance’ as well as ‘personal sousveillance’ (eye-level, human-centred recording of personal experience), and both processes would typically interchange.  using sousveillance for multimedia purposes allows for ‘effortless capture, processing, storage, recall, and transmission of an activity by a participant in that activity’.

Image result for sousveillance
Image of example of wearable recording devices

Sousveillance is also said to usually involve ‘community-based recording from first person perspectives’, ‘without necessarily involving any specific political agenda’. Inverse-surveillance, on the other hand, is a form of sousveillance that is commonly ‘directed at, or used to collect data to analyse or study, surveillance or its proponents’. 

II. Case study

An example of the use of sousveillance involves wearable cameras by police officers.

Image result for police body cam
Image of body camera

Referred to as ‘body cameras’, these tools encompass the use of video streaming and recording in an archive to monitor the interactions of police officers with criminals and civilians. Despite the reduction in complaints against officers and in the use of violence by officers, there is still the issue of breach of privacy. 

As these body cameras are turned on almost every second, there have been doubts raised about special victim cases where if a camera is shone in front of a victim, he/she may not feel comfortable in sharing information they know.

III. reflection

After finding more about sousveillance in our society today, I feel that it can be a step in the right direction in the field of technology. It can serve as an efficient method in monitoring situations, especially in the area of law enforcement. With suitable equipment in capturing video and audio footage, not only does it uphold the behaviours of law-enforces, but it also can serve as evidence should situations go awry.

Image result for periscope
Image of Periscope app, a live video streaming platform

On the other hand, with the establishment and widespread use of video-sharing platforms, the integrity of sousveillance can be compromised. With the already existent issue of the breach of privacy, the action of unfiltered raw footage of a controversial subject reaching different ends of the earth has the ability to amplify this problem. This could then lead to the increase in radicalism, and creating a ‘dangerous dependence on private platforms’.


[Project 2] Bag & Portable Carriers

Final Product 

For our second project, we were tasked to create a paper-based mockup of a bag or portable carrier of our own creation. 

Final: Front View
Final: Back View
Final: Strap Hooks
FInal: Side View
Closure method: Metal clasp
Final: Interior with snacks
Final: Interior

With regards to my final product, I was inspired to create a bag in response to an issue I’ve always had concerning one of my hobbies. One of my favourite activities to do with my friends and family involve going to the movies, and within that long span of 2-3 hours, we always end up getting quite peckish and thirsty. However, cinemas tend to overcharge for their snacks and drinks! Their selection is also usually quite limited. As a result, my friends or family members (my mum, mostly), and myself included, usually end up sneaking our own snacks and drinks into the movie theatre. 

Therefore, to aid us in this first-world problem, I wanted to create a simple sling bag that is designed to hold a variety of snacks in a subtle and discrete manner.

Research & Process

Coming up with the final product involved conceptualising and ideation, experimenting and creating mockups, and eventually doing up the final model. 


The project first began with us learning and researching more about soft goods, or bags in particular. In addition to being exposed to how the functions of carriers evolved over time, and how designs can be catered to specific functions of bags, we also learned more about how to include different varieties of compartments and closure methods. My group and I presented on the closure methods and compartments of bags. 

For a more detailed post on our findings on closure methods, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/bags-closure-methods/

During the ideation stage and inspired by expertly-designed bags I found on Pinterest and other websites, I tried to come up with variations on existing carriers or bags that are catered to some of my hobbies. 


Following that, I looked to Pinterest and other websites again for inspiration and references on interesting designs and compartments I can include in the design of the bag. I was inspired by minimalist, vintage-looking sling bags, expandable bags that could cater to the carrier’s needs when more items needed to be added to it, and the idea of compartments fitted for specific functions (e.g. camera bags). Eventually, I thought it would be interesting to do a take on the ticket pocket and organisational bags, but for food. 

Final Changes

The first mockup involved experimenting with dimensions, determining if it could fulfil its intended function of carrying snacks, and seeing if the general design is visually-appealing. 

Mockup: Front View
Mockup: Back View
Mockup: Interior


  • Creating the hooks to hold the straps in place was quite challenging as I needed to create a hook out of sturdy material that was visually-appealing and able to hold the bag together
  • The expandable pockets were difficult to curve, and ended up not being expandable because of the material used