[Final] Project 4: Poetics of Time


For our very last 4D project, we were tasked to create an installation expressing a category of time. My final product was a continuation from the previous project’s concept on memory, but explores a different take on it, instead of interpreting it as it is.


Final product and presentation
(Esther is not part of the installation)

My final product is based on the concept of deja vu, where it serves as a visual and auditory installation conveying the feelings of experiencing deja vu.

Deja vu is a French term and means, literally, ‘already seen’. It is a ‘rather complex’ phenomenon and is defined as ‘a feeling of having already experienced the present situation’, with its fleeting and unpredictable nature making it difficult to study. Those who have experienced the feeling describe it as ‘an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn’t be familiar at all’. It has also been said that ‘about two thirds of us experience at least one deja vu in our lifetime’. 

The concept I chose to portray is based on an extraordinary case of deja vu, where a 23-year-old British man has been trapped in a bizarre deja vu time loop over a span of 8 years. Diagnosed with ‘severe deja vu’, and said to be the ‘first case to be triggered by anxiety’, the severity of his situation caused him to drop out of university, and he even stopped watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading the newspapers or magazines because he believed he had seen it all before, feeling as if he was ‘reliving the past moment by moment’.


I. Diorama

I thought this was a really peculiar case and would be interesting to expand on it further. I made a diorama and modelled it after his situation causing him to stop watching TV, listening to the radio, and reading the newspaper.  The outside of the diorama resembles the exterior of an apartment. with a doorway and a peephole (the doorway is also supposed to emulate typical English-style apartments as the man is British).

Inside of final (diorama)

The inside of the diorama is modelled after a living room, with a TV, table, rug, and beanbags. However, there are repeated newspaper clippings pasted over the walls, and the walls of the room are red being lit up by red lights.

Video used in installation

Teri viewing the installation
II. Sound Installation

And based on Lei’s advice, there is also a sound installation to accompany the diorama, consisting of ambient sounds in a linear form, conveying a narrative of the British man returning home then switching on his TV and radio only to hear it on loop, then growing frustrated from it.

The sounds used include:

Birds chirping Freesound.org
Cars driving pass Freesound.org
Footsteps on concrete Freesound.org
Keys jingling Freesound.org
Door unlocking Freesound.org
Sitting on couch Freesound.org
Television switch Freesound.org
Infomercial YouTube
Man sighing Freesound.org
News report on radio Freesound.org
Footsteps indoors Freesound.org
Doors creaking Freesound.org
Doors slamming shut Freesound.org
III. Presentation Display
Display text in the form of medicine prescription form

Additionally, to enhance the installation’s immersive factor, and to establish a sense of continuity, the concept of the installation is laid out in a form of a prescription medicine form. Based on the case of the man who has been experiencing constant deja vu for over 8 years, and how doctors and neurologists are baffled by his condition, I thought it would be appropriate and a more interesting and impressionable way to convey content in the form of a prescription medicine form.


Techniques applied
I. Rhythm
Rhythm is the regularised repeating of movement or sound, occurring when repetition is present.

The model shows a mixture of both regular and irregular rhythm in a visual and auditory sense. With regards to visuals, regular rhythm is shown in repeated motifs – the same newspaper clippings pasted on the wall and the infomercial played on loop. As for audio, regular rhythm is shown in the whole sound installation being on loop, as well as in the ambient noises themselves; the sound of footsteps, keys jingling, and the man sighing. This helped in establishing the environment as a roadside, followed by a room interior. Irregular rhythm, on the other hand, is mainly demonstrated in the sound installation. The regular rhythm of ambient noises is broken by the sudden shift in sounds such as the commercial being interrupted by the man sighing, the  birds chirping and cars passing gradually shifting to the sound of footsteps and keys jingling (as it slowly gets louder).

The mixture of regular and irregular rhythm in this case helped me with conveying the intended concept. The repetitiveness of the regular rhythm being broken by the irregular rhythm at times helped in creating a sense of confusion for the viewers. Contrastingly, the regularity demonstrated in the constant looping of the infomercial and news report also contributed to the sense of confusion.

II. Movement
Movement is a shift or variation in the location of an object, light, or sound, making it an effective way to direct focus.

Movement, in this case, is demonstrated in the diorama through the shift in environment; where the box is decorated as an exterior of an apartment on the outside and when viewers look through the peephole, the environment changes to a interior (i.e. living room). As for the sound installation, movement is demonstrated in the change in focus, where there is a shift in environmental noises – the birds chirping and cars passing gradually changing to the footsteps of the man approaching, the sudden lowered pitch for the birds chirping signalling the shift from an external to internal environment. The variation in the sounds of the footsteps (indoor and footsteps on concrete), along with doors opening and closing, also gave the impression of the man entering and leaving the room.

The impression of movement, without the use of video, helped my installation in conveying the intended message through creating a more immersive experience in relaying the narrative, as well as reinforcing a sense of confusion. The irregular shifts from first-person to third-person (displayed in the peephole in the diorama being a third-person perspective, and the sound installation being a first-person perspective) also helped in reinforcing a sense of confusion.

III. Causality
Causality is the principle that everything has cause and effect.

The causality factor in the installation is demonstrated through the use of unexpectedness to establish a sense of tenseness and confusion. Unexpectedness in the diorama is reiterated in the contrast between its exterior and interior; the exterior is pleasantly-decorated with white and brown tones and flowers, while the walls of the interior is drenched in red with dramatic white and red lights. The texture of crepe paper used for the interior also helped in adding a ‘scratchy’ layer to the walls, adding to the overall sensation of tenseness. Furthermore, the living room does not look like a conventional living room, adding another layer of unexpectedness.

Unexpectedness is also demonstrated in the sound installation, especially with the variation in volume causing a shift in the third-person to first-person perspective. The ambient environmental noises in the beginning coupled with approaching footsteps established a third-person perspective, but by purposely increasing the pitch of the man’s noises, it sounded as though it is a first-person perspective, bringing about a sense of unexpectedness. On the other hand, expectedness was shown in the linear form of the sound installation where it followed a narrative.

IV. Duration
Duration is the overall length of time a work - or a portion of a work lasts.

The total duration of the project is about 2 minutes long, as dictated by the length of the entire sound installation. The diorama, on the other hand, is on constant loop, with the video inside being played on loop. Having the diorama on loop, coupled with a linear-style narrative, helped to add a layer of confusion to the whole installation, where there is a dissociation between the visual and auditory aspect. The varied durations between the visuals and audio also added an element of unexpectedness.

Research & Process


Dioramas by Brothers Quay

Peephole dioramas by Tine Kinderman

I was inspired by the dioramas made by the Brothers Quay and Tine Kinderman. I was also inspired by the following:

  • Ideas in creating dioramas
  • Establishing fourth wall through the use of peephole, and how it is able to add a layer of voyeuriitssm for viewers
  • Using visuals to create tenseness and confusion
We see, We Hear, We Are

Please refer to https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-project-4-poetics-of-time/ ‎ for more information on this installation.

  • Ideas of mixed media installation
  • Inspiration for works occurring simultaneously (e.g. mix of video, still images, and sound)
Forever Bicycles
Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles

I was also inspired by the repetitive motifs used in Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles. The repetitiveness of the artwork inspired me to use repetition to emulate time loops in the concept of deja vu.


The conceptualising process included brainstorming for and performing the 10-second performance for one of the classes, and mind mapping.

Brainstorming for installation ideas

Brainstorming for installation ideas
Idea 1: Interactive space
Brainstorming for installation ideas
Idea 2: Diorama set up as a theatre set up
Final idea
20 events brainstorm

Challenges & Feedback

A challenge I faced in this project was the presentation set-up. Due to the lack in equipment and restraints, I was not able to have the video in the diorama and the audio on an automatic loop. As a result, I had to always remove the top of the diorama to replay the video when it stopped, as well as manually play the sound composition from the beginning when someone put on the headphones. This affected the way viewers perceived the installation. Due to the inconsistency in presenting the video and audio, a lot of viewers were confused and not too sure about what to expect. On the contrary, the confusion did complement the interior of the diorama quite aptly.

I also felt that I could have scaled the presentation of the diorama slightly better. The installation could have been placed at eye-level height for a better and more comfortable viewer experience. Furthermore, the peephole could have been positioned at a more suitable level as the current position of the peephole did not allow for viewers to view the whole room – other scaled pieces of furniture could not be seen (the beanbags and the circular rug).

[Final] Project 3: The Impossibilities of Being

Final Product


Location: Sihui’s memories

For this video project, I decided to choose someone else’s (Sihui’s) memories as a location I’ve never been to. The narrative of this video revolves around what a regular day is like working as a filter in Sihui’s hippocampus; looking through her day’s worth of memories and picking out ones she should remember and ones she should forget. Given the fictional nature of this location and narrative, I tried to use literal images and sounds to better depict the location and avoid confusing viewers. The video comprises of two main environments – the hippocampus and the memories themselves. This is emphasised through the use of different mediums, namely, digitalised illustrations (representing the hippocampus) and moving images (representing the memories). The video also comprises of a soundscape as a factor to bring life to the fictional location. The two main soundscapes used are the sounds that exist within the hippocampus, and those derived from the memories themselves.

Techniques Applied
I. Hippocampus

To represent the hippocampus, I used illustrated GIFs (each with a few select moving elements). In addition to using a contrasting medium (i.e. illustrations) to represent the hippocampus as a fictional location, I kept to the same colour palette for all illustrated frames. Doing so helped in establishing a sense of continuity, showing that the scenes are all occurring within the location. The use of pink and purple tones are also to give more obvious representation of the location, showing the insides of a brain.

Sounds used:

Steam locomotive engine Freesound.org
Going over railway tracks Fries shaking in a bag (foley)
Low rumbling Freesound.org

With regards to the overarching sound, I used a toned-down soundscape with sounds from a steam locomotive engine, it travelling across a railway track, and low rumbling, to establish the sense of movement occurring outside the hippocampus; showing Sihui going about her day while I’m carrying out a filtering process on her memories.

In addition to using sounds from the Internet, to recreate the sound of a train going across railway tracks, I used foley where I held a recorder in between two bags of fries while Esther and Sihui shook them at varying times. 

Frame 1

Hippocampus: Frame 1

The first frame was meant to convey the start of the work day – switching on the radio, then switching through different channels and finally coming across the perfect the song.

Sounds used:

 Radio channel Freesound.org
 Radio static Freesound.org
 Music Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael

To establish a sense of rhythm, I chose to lay the frames out in the video according to the beat of a song in the background. The song in the video is Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust, chosen mainly for its slow rhythm and calm mood. Having this particular song as the main background music helps in establishing a sense of rhythm and an ambient mood, preventing clashes with the other environmental sounds. Additionally, I chose objective sounds to convey a clearer narrative; radio static and noises to show the switching of radio channels.


Frame 2

Hippocampus: Frame 2

The second frame is meant to depict the main workspace of the hippocampus, a typical desk area with papers and stationery. To reinforce the portrayal of the job as a memory filter, the desk has two glowing buttons (one green and one red) to represent the forget and remember functions when filtering through the memories. Laid over the background sounds of music, the steam locomotive engine, and rumbling, there is the addition of other objective sounds to reinforce the activities occurring around the main workspace.

Sounds used:

Steam Freesound.org
Drawers opening and closing Freesound.org
Things moving Freesound.org

In addition to using objective sounds to establish the environment, I varied the intensity of the two different sound groups (the environmental sounds of the current scene and the background sounds of the travelling locomotive) – the environmental sounds of the current scene being louder – to reinforce the close distance of the workspace as opposed to the travelling sounds, which are occurring outside the confines of the area.

The use of the two sound groups occurring simultaneously also reinforces the narrative, allowing the viewers to better experience the space they currently are in and the environment going on outside.

Frame 3
Hippocampus: Frame 3

The third frame portrays a close-up of the workspace, showing a top-down level shot of the items on the desk. To progress the narrative, slowly revealing whose memories are currently being filtered, there is a dossier with a portrait (of Sihui) attached, along with stationery, documents, and an iPad (with a blinking notification signalling the start of the filter process), as well as the addition of a cup of coffee and half-eaten biscuits.

Sounds used:

Flipping through pages Freesound.org
Spoon hitting the edges of the cup Freesound.org
iPad unlocking Freesound.org

Similarly, the environmental sounds of the current scene are laid over the background sounds, occurring simultaneously, with it being higher in intensity as compared to the background sounds, attempting to achieve the same effect in providing a better viewer experience.

Frame 4

Frame 4: Title Sequence

The fourth frame is a title sequence, an attempt to clearly convey the location through introducing the stage of the job.

Frame 13

Hippocampus: Frame 13

The thirteenth – and final – frame is meant to depict the end of the day’s work and completion of filtering through the day’s memories, where a list of items is being checked, with the word ‘COMPLETED’ being stamped across Sihui’s dossier.

Sounds used:

Writing on paper Freesound.org
Stamping Freesound.org

This scene also uses objective sounds to accompany the visuals of a list being checked off and stamping the word ‘COMPLETED’ onto the dossier. In an attempt to match the visuals, I chose to delay the stamping sound until the end, after the writing sound finishes.

II. Memories

Heading into the second portion of the video which shifts the focus to portraying Sihui’s actual memories, the medium changes to cinemagraphs.

‘Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. They are published as an animated GIF or in other video formats, and can give the illusion that the viewer is watching an animation.’ Using cinemagraphs help in better conveying the subjects as memories. This is to, in my opinion, emulate the nature of memories, where usually an element is often  most significant (and remembered) as opposed to the entire environment and factors in the background.

The main soundscape, similar to the previous scenes discussed, uses objective sounds (to represent what is happening the current scene) laid over the background sounds (the travelling locomotive and writing sounds). The two varying soundscapes are also used to emphasise diegesis and the use of on-screen and off-screen spaces; having sounds to establish the environment currently on-screen, but also having the previous sounds (with a lower intensity) in the background to remind the viewer that this is still occurring within the confines of the hippocampus.

Frame 5

Memories: Frame 5

The fifth frame shows Sihui’s typical morning routine, brushing her teeth. The element chosen to animate is the running water from the tap. The objective sounds used are to establish the environment of a toilet, along with Sihui’s interaction with the sink and toothbrush.

Sounds used:

Clearing throat Freesound.org
Running water Freesound.org
Brushing teeth Freesound.org

Varying intensities are used (in terms of the on-screen and off-screen sound groups), as well as duration, where sounds (such as the brushing of teeth and clearing of throat) are structured in such a way that it conveys the linear narrative  of turning the tap on, rinsing the toothbrush, followed by the brushing of teeth.

Frame 6

Memories: Frame 6

The sixth frame depicts Sihui having some lunch, with the animated element being the Korean soap opera shown on the television. The objective sounds used in this scene are put together to establish a quiet home environment with nothing but Sihui rummaging through paper bags to get food and napkins, and chewing on chicken wings while watching her favourite soap operas.

Sounds used:

Korean soap opera Recording of Korean soap opera (foley)
Chewing Recording of Sihui chewing nuggets (foley)
Paper bag rustling Freesound.org

Varying intensities are used in on-screen and off-screen sounds, as well as to convey varying shot distances. This is especially so in the chewing noises being the loudest and the television noises being the softest – doing so helps with the viewer experience, allowing them to experience what Sihui herself is currently doing (i.e. eating).

Frame 7

Memories: Frame 7
Classmates talking Recording of classmates talking (foley)
Lecturer talking Recording of lecturer talking (foley)
Pencil case being thrown around Case being thrown from hand to hand (foley)

The seventh frame depicts what Sihui sees during a regular class in ADM (Foundation Drawing, in this case). The animated elements here are Esther tossing her pencil case from hand to hand, En Cui cracking her knuckles, and David talking to Clara. The objective sounds used here establishes the environment of a typical consultation lesson during our Foundation Drawing module; groups of classmates and David talking in the background, and fidgeting or things being moved.

Varying shot distances is used again in the sense that the sound of David talking is the softest (reinforcing the source as being the farthest), followed by class

Frame 8

Memories: Frame 8
Elevator door closing Freesound.org

The eight frame shows Sihui travelling to school, with the animated element being the elevator doors closing. The main sound used here is the elevator moving followed by its doors opening.

Frame 9

Memories: Frame 9
Friends talking Recording of friends talking (foley)
Chewing Recording of Sihui chewing nuggets (foley)
Buzzer Freesound.org
Crowd Recording of crowd noises at a food court (foley)

The ninth frame represents what Sihui experiences during a regular lunchtime with friends. In this frame, the animated elements are Jiayi chewing her food and the water (inside the two water bottles) moving. The soundscape in this scene comprises of the main sounds most prominent when having lunch at The Hive with friends; random conversations, chewing noises, and the buzzer from the pasta stall that goes off when your number is called.

Varying intensities are again, used to establish varying shot distances – the closest being chewing noises and occurring conversations, followed by crowd noises, and the distant buzzer at the very end.

Frame 10

Memories: Frame 10
Keyboard typing Freesound.org

The tenth frame shows a typical moment in Sihui’s day-to-day routine, catching up on some work for school. The animated element in this scene is her fingers typing on a keyboard.

The main sound used in this soundscape is the sound of typing on a keyboard. It is especially loud in comparison to other sounds in this scene to reiterate the idea of the typing being the closest source.

Frame 11 

Memories: Frame 11
Fridge buzzing Freesound.org
Drink shaking Freesound.org

The eleventh frame is also another depiction of a typical scene in Sihui’s day-to-day routine, finding some food to snack on. In this scene, she is seen shaking a bottle of Yakult, the only animated element in the frame. The soundscape here is made up of a low buzzing sound (to mimic the sound of a fridge buzzing) and a bottle of water being shaken.

Varying intensities are demonstrated in the buzz being the softest and the bottle of water shaking being the loudest.

Frame 12

Memories: Frame 12
Bed sheets shifting Freesound.org
iPhone keyboard clicking Freesound.org

In the twelfth scene, it shows Sihui about to take a nap, before that, setting numerous alarms on her phone. The animated element in this scene is her phone screen and the widget moving as she sets her alarms. The soundscape here comprises of two main sounds; the sheets of the bed being shifted and the default iPhone clicking noise, establishing the environment Sihui experiences when taking a nap in her home.


Research & Reference

Aiming to have a literal representation of the fictional location of someone else’s memories and with a narrative in mind, I wanted to see what techniques and approaches I could adopt in creating a more ‘cinematic experience’, allowing viewers to be able to experience the space.

I. Anything by Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer is a German film composer and record producer who has been dominating Hollywood with his sharp musical talent since the late 80s. To this date, Zimmer has provided music to more than 50 films, many of which are acclaimed; ‘The Gladiator’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Inception’, and many more. Having worked with big Hollywood filmmakers, Zimmer possesses the ability to add an ‘epic’ feel with his score full of orchestral operatic sounds, with an integration of electronic touch.

The video above discusses how he manages to add a layer of intensity to the soundscape in 2017’s Dunkirk, through the simple recording of a ticking of a watch.

Learning Points:

  • The emphasis of simple sounds to create tension
  • The effect of varying intensities on establishing tension
  • Auditory hallucinations and ‘shepherd tones’
  • Varieties of ambient sounds
II. Car Chase Terror ! by M83

M83 is made up of Frenchmen Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau, and is known for their luscious blend of shoegaze aesthetics, ambient pop, and progressive textures. In this particular song from the album Before the Dawn Heals Us, it uses a narrative accompanied with music, rhythm and ambient noises.

Learning Points:

  • Varying shot distances to emphasise movement
  • The use of music and the increase and decrease of volume to emphasise tension
III. Romantic Works by Keaton Henson

Keaton Henson is an English folk singer, visual artist, and poet, having released six studio albums as well as a wordless graphic novel, Gloaming. In his 2014 album, Romantic Works, it comprises of instrumental music featuring collaborations with cellist Ren Ford. Similar to the above track, I was particularly intrigued by Elevator Song because of its combination of music and ambient environmental sounds to establish a mood; in this case, the track gives off an aura of melancholia through the use of music (cello), footsteps, water, and voices in an elevator.

Learning Points:

  • Combination of music and ambient noises to establish mood
Little Videos
I. Collaboration, Wes Anderson and H&M

Watching this video inspired me to use the idea of a train to show movement and the sense of travelling.

II. Blue Train Lines by Mount Kimbie

Learning points:

  • Methods of filming
  • Use of rhythm to structure the appearance of images
  • The title sequence

Storyboards & Drafts

Brainstorming for a location

The conceptualising process included brainstorming for places that I have never been to, both literal and abstract, followed by expanding more on those ideas by imagining a soundscape along with them. After thinking and developing more on narrowed down choices, I found using abstract places more appealing as in addition to more room for experimentation in ideas and techniques, it was also subjective, opening them to interpretation.

Drafts for hifi storyboard
Drafts for hifi storyboard

The process of capturing the videos to create the cinemagraphs included taking still videos with the help of a tripod. The videos taken for the final product were captured at different locations, namely, classrooms in ADM, Sihui’s home, and canteens around ADM.

Draft: Friends talking during class
Draft: Hippocampus
Draft: Workspace 1
Draft: Workspace 2

One of my initial ideas was to split the screen when showing the memories, having the above illustrations shown below it. I thought it would be better in conveying the narrative, showing the viewers that the person in the video is in charge of filtering Sihui’s memories. However, due to the aspect ratio of the video, it did not seem to work out very well.

In terms of sound, I used a mixture of sounds from www.freesound.org as well as experimenting with foley (the sounds which used this method are indicated), some of the sounds are also derived from the original video of the cinemagraphs. Since most of the sounds are literal, it was easy acquiring them.

Feedback & Improvement

In future, I would like to improve on my creation of cinemagraphs. Because of the nature of having a first-person perspective, there were moments where I was not able to use a tripod, resulting in shaky videos. As a result, the cinemagraphs were difficult to make, resulting in some ineffective ones.