[Research]: Open Source as Culture / Culture as Open Source

The term ‘open source’ is defined as ‘something people can modify and share’ because of its publicly-accessible design. Open source culture, in this day and age, involves projects, products, and initiatives that embody principles of ‘open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy’, and ‘community-oriented development’, thereby challenging the ‘proprietary model of cultural and technological production’.

Despite its contentiousness in the modern age, open source remains ‘all the rage’. In the late 1990s, a team of hackers built a free software programme, ‘an operating-system kernel that would allow an array of [programmes] to work in coordination’, creating Linux. Sparking interest and participation, the open source phenomenon grew and had roots in ‘powerful’ and established’ companies such as IBM (its Linux operating systems), and in the source codes of publications such as The Economist and Forbes. However, in recent years, the ”open source’ model of creativity and commerce’ are starting to reveal ‘serious faults’ in the copyright system.

Famed British sculptor, Anish Kapoor, acquired the rights to Vantablack, one of the darkest artificial substances, which is able to absorb up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.

The ‘peer-to-peer social interaction’ in open source culture – unlike the ‘traditional proprietary’ mode of creation – most importantly, allows for redistribution and sharing of tools and techniques. In ‘traditional proprietary’, it allows for innovators and their companies to grow, creating ‘remarkable success and wealth’, at the limitations of ‘communal creation, revision, criticism, and adaptability’, generating an ‘unhealthy cultural and social condition’. Open source, on the other hand, encourages ‘ideologies that privilege openness and nonmonetary reward systems’ and rids the limit on the acquisition and customisation of tools, perhaps allowing for future improvements on software (similar to the case of Richard Stallman). Additionally, open source need not rely on markets nor ‘managerial hierarchies’ to ‘organise production’.

In conclusion, the open source model of ‘peer production, sharing, revision, and peer review’ is beneficial in encouraging creativity, especially for groups that hold little to no power or influence in the modern global economy.



(1) Vaidhyanathan, Sida (2005) “Open Source as Culture-Culture as Open Source,” The Social Media Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2012

(2) Open Source Initiative. (2012). History of the OSI. Retrieved from https://opensource.org/history

(3) Open Source. (n.d.). What is open source?. Retrieved from https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-source



[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).

[Research & Process] Project 3 – Ego

Artist References

In my free time, I enjoy looking at the works of professional illustrators, graphic designers, and filmmakers from different corners of the world. For this project especially, I kept finding new sources of inspiration for colour as well as style and technique.

colour References
I. Kevin Tong
Works by Kevin Tong

Kevin Tong is a Texas-based illustrator who has been practising the craft since 2005.

  • Use of vibrant colours to establish highlight
  • Lighting in monochromatic palettes
II. @mcwolf_man
Works by @mcwolf_man

MC Wolfman, or Dan Betro, is a New York-based illustrator.

  • Harmonious use of high chroma colours
  • Sense of fun and wackiness, humour established with bright colour palette
III. Nicolas Winding Refn
Works by Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas Winding Refn is a Danish filmmaker most notable for his works, The Neon Demon (2016), Drive (2011), and Only God Forgives (2013).

  • Use of neon-style colours as burst of highlight
  • Neon colours against palette of darker colours
  • Monochromatic colour palettes (especially purple) are used well; brings about sense of mystery
IV. Robin Eisenberg
Works by Robin Eisenberg
Style & Technique References
I. @dirtyrobot
Works by @dirtyrobot
Works by @sloppy_joseph_
Works by @lumps_uk
  • Use of abstract symbols and objects in place of emotions and human physique
  • Use of bright colours
  • Humorous facial expressions
  • Attention to detail through outline
  • Creation of texture through line work

Process & Drafts

My process involved brainstorming for a concept, planning for the art direction and style (and at the same time looking to reference artists for inspiration), gathering content through asking friends for personality traits, and experimenting with colour palettes.

Brainstorming for concepts
Planning panels
Associating objects to personality traits
Associating objects with personality traits
Associating objects with personality traits
Draft sketches

[Final] Project 3: Ego


For our final 2D project, we were tasked to apply our knowledge of colour properties to create equations with panels that represented ourselves in different scenarios.

Final Product

Project 3: Final product

The concept I decided to base my panels on is portraying personality traits during significant stages in my life, as well as how they change during scenarios most prominent during that particular stage. Therefore, I approached friends I hung out with most often during those stages and asked them to describe my personality. I then drew self-portraits that embodied a combination of those traits given to me as well as my personal interpretations of myself, followed by pairing them with particular and the following outcomes.

To establish a better sense of continuity, and to make the panels more interesting to look at, I decided to follow a movie-inspired layout where the self-portraits are done and laid out in such a way that they resemble photographs to be submitted for casting calls, the settings resembling movie sets (complete with film equipment and dramatic lighting), and the outcomes as movie posters of different genres.

In terms of style and colour, I was inspired by some of my favourite illustrators on Instagram, namely lumps_uk, mc_wolfman, dirtyrobot, and Robin Eisenberg. Inspired by their line work, attention to detail, interesting subject matter, and vibrant colours, I wanted my works to emulate that as well. I therefore aimed to create panels that relied on symbols and colours to convey the intended message and mood, and at the same time, embodied a sense of awkwardness and humour to add a layer of vibrancy and fun.

Techniques Applied

Since I was planning to head in the comic book-style of illustration with heavy outlines and focus on details, I thought that a bright and vibrant colour palette would only be fitting. The colours used are also selected based on how filmmakers use particular colours to convey a certain mood or personality.

Equation 1

The first equation was meant to depict my childhood. The content displayed in the three panels shows my personality as a child, followed by settings that depict the events most significant during that period of my life, followed by how my personality changed according to said event.

Panel 1
Equation 1, Panel 1
Left: Original
Right: Printed

Staying within the context of a casting call, the personality traits reflected in this panel comprise of others’ interpretations, as well as my own, of my personality during my childhood days. The traits and symbols depicted in this panel are:

Mild Calm and bored facial expression
Sheltered and pampered Objects commonly associated with royalty (the sceptre and cloak)

The gadget holding up a rotary fan to keep myself cool

Closed-up Translucent astronaut helmet

I decided to go with an analogous colour palette for this panel, choosing shades of blue and green. I initially started with green as a base colour, mainly because of its colour psychology, where filmmakers are said to use green in film to depict immaturity. Vibrant shades (high chroma) of blue and green were then used to complement the style of heavy outlines, while varied tones of blue and green were used to create shadows (muted tones) and highlights

Panel 2
Equation 1, Panel 2
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The setting of this equation is meant to depict a birthday party, but set up in a style of a movie set. Looking back on my childhood, significant memories that stand out usually revolve around birthday parties and how there would always be something that usually goes wrong – like at my 8th birthday party, when one of my friends cried because she lost her sock, and another cried because a hairbrush got stuck in her hair (this was my fault), and how I completely forgot to find one of my friends during a game of hide-and-seek and left her while I went to play video games. It was also during such events that I was always tense as I had to socialise with others, and I did not want to do that at all.

Based on colour psychology, it is said that filmmakers tend to use yellow to portray a sense of uneasiness. I therefore used yellow as a base as I thought it was the most appropriate colour to portray a happy event (i.e. birthday parties) as something that is tense and uneasy for me, as a child.

Panel 3
Equation 1, Panel 3
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The last panel follows the layout of a typical comedy poster; the background is empty and the main characters are usually posed in some kind of comical and cheesy position. As an awkward child forced to interact with others in social settings, it usually ends up with something funny and cringe-worthy happening; hence, I thought a comedy-style movie poster would be apt.

Based on Joy’s suggestions, I used a triadic colour palette (blue-green, yellow, and orange-red) to make it vibrant and eye-catching. I thought the colours worked well with the concept of it being comedic as comedy-style movie posters tend to use bright colours and are typically eye-catching.

Equation 2

The second equation follows the adolescent stage of my life, and revolves around the concept of myself in Secondary school.

Panel 1
Equation 2, Panel 1
Left: Original
Right: Printed

Similar to Panel 1 in the first equation, I consulted friends I hung out with a lot in Secondary school about my personality. The following traits and their respective symbols are based on a mixture of others’ interpretations as well as my own.

Judgemental Repeated motif of pointing fingers (thanks to Ryan for the idea!)
Starting to have a sense of humour Cracks in the television set
Starting to indulge in pop culture (TV shows and movies, especially) Television set

I chose a complementary colour palette for this panel, mainly because of the colour psychology associated with purple and orange. Filmmakers are said to use purple to represent arrogance whilst orange is used to represent humour. Vibrant shades (high chroma) of purple and orange were then used to complement the style of heavy outlines, while varied tones of purple and orange were used to create shadows (muted tones) and highlights, as well as to reflect objects of different values (e.g. the difference between the pinafore and the hand).

Panel 2
Equation 2, Panel 2
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The second panel depicts a school hall decorated for a prom, within the context of a movie set. A significant event during my Secondary school days was prom after ‘O’ Levels where we had subpar food and a peculiar emcee. I used a monochromatic colour palette of pink shades, based on the idea of filmmakers usually using the colour pink to represent innocence and sweetness. I thought using pink, but with darker tones would represent the concept well because of the idea of representing sweet memories with a darker undertone.

Panel 3
Equation 2, Panel 3
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The last panel is meant to depict a poster for an Indie, coming-of-age movie. Using desaturated colour palettes and minimal colours usually present in Indie-style movie posters, I hoped to recreate that in this last panel using an analogous colour palette with shades of pink and purple. Similarly, the tones of pink and purple were varied to create highlights and shadows.

Equation 3

The third equation depicts myself currently, and the content mainly revolves around how I feel about entering the workforce.

Panel 1
Equation 3, Panel 1
Left: Original
Right: Printed

For my first panel, I wanted to reflect the adjectives used to describe my personality by my friends in ADM and my ex-coworkers. The personality traits and associated symbols are:

Opening up more Zipping back skin
Vain Mirror behind
Good-natured Flowers and grass
Like my dog (lazy and calm) My dog in a barrel
All of my past jobs and internships A beer mug filled with coffee, and stationery

For this panel, I wanted to use a complementary colour palette (pink, a varied shade of red, and green). Similar to the previous panels, I chose pink as a base colour because of its association with sweetness. Additionally, using brighter shades of pink against more desaturated tones of green helps draw focus to the objects and making the composition more visually-appealing and not too jarring.

Panel 2
Equation 3, Panel 2
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The second panel in this equation is meant to depict a bar in the context of a movie set. Using an analogous colour palette of shades of blue and green, I tried to vary the saturation levels of the colours to differentiate it from earlier panels. I also found using more saturated tones of blue and green helped in conveying a more sinister and tense feeling, as well as portraying it as an alien-like environment. I felt this helped in conveying the concept better, where working in new places always made me feel tense and always feels very foreign.

Panel 3
Equation 3, Panel 3
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The final panel uses an analogous colour palette with shades of blue, green, and purple. Similar to the previous panel, I wanted to create a more tense and alien-like mood, conveying the same feelings as horror movie posters normally would. By using high chroma shades as highlights with low value and desaturated shades, it helped in conveying the ‘sinister’ and foreboding kind of mood.

Equation 4

The final equation portrays the future and what I hope to be.

Panel 1
Equation 4, Panel 1
Left: Original
Right: Printed

This panel’s self-portrait is based on what I’d hope to be in the future. I hoped to represent the idea of a personality being formed through some ribbons forming a face with a mass of pink goop.

I used an analogous colour palette of yellow, pink (varied shade of red), and orange. I chose these colours primarily because of wanting to experiment with other colours as well as seeing which are best fit for representing excitement and joy. The bright and warm shades helped in better conveying the message of how I am looking forward to the future.

Panel 2
Equation 4, Panel 2
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The second panel portrays a laboratory dressed up like a movie set, a common setting in sci-fi movies. Using a monochromatic colour palette of desaturated yellow with a heavier focus on darker tones helped in establishing the overall mysterious mood.

Panel 3
Equation 4, Panel 3
Left: Original
Right: Printed

The final panel is meant to recreate a Sci-fi movie poster in a non-existent place. I wanted to show that I was looking forward to the future by showing myself waiting on the side of the road for something.

The panel uses a triadic colour palette of red, yellow, and blue, and is modelled after vintage Sci-fi movie posters, where more desaturated colours are used. Wanting to be more adventurous in using colour palettes, I found using this particular triadic colour palette interesting and helped to recreate that vintage-style kind of poster.


  • Time was a big issue for me as hand-drawing then digitally altering them and digitally painting them was extremely time-consuming. As a result, printing the panels were compromised due to time restraints.
  • Some of the prints did not come out as expected as well. Trying out a new printer, due to time restraints, some of the colours in the prints came out darker, especially the pink tones in the second equation.

Feedback & Improvement

Feedback left by classmates
Feedback left by classmates
  • The first panel of the second equation could have used a yellow as opposed to orange to make it less jarring.
  • The third panel in the third equation could have benefitted from using a more varied colour palette

[Moodbox] Project 4: Ma’s City of Voids


Leading up to the submission of our final model, we were tasked to create individual moodboxes that gave a visual representation of the sounds we produced as a group. The moodbox was meant to capture the ‘mood’ of the sound sample as a physical expression, displaying specific sections of interest, and showing how the positive volumes affect the negative voids, correlating to the spatial and textural qualities of the sounds and silences.


Final: Individual moodbox

Based on one of the sound compositions my groupmates and I created, the final moodbox is a depiction of both the structure of the composition’s soundwaves, as well as a representation of the adjectives used to describe the sounds used in the composition.


Sound Analysis

The moodbox is based off a sound composition my groupmates and I created. The instruments used were:

  • A glockenspiel
  • Rhythm sticks
  • A triangle

Since the three of us did not have extensive backgrounds in music, we decided to take another approach in creating a composition; instead of playing the instruments as how they are intended to be played, we used their physical structures to create sounds. The ‘ticking’ noise was a result of hitting the side (made out of plastic) of the glockenspiel with a stick, the ‘scraping’ noise from dragging a rhythm stick (made out of wood) across the rough surface of the studio table, and the ‘ding’ from hitting the triangle.

Soundwaves of composition

We also experimented with volumes by varying the levels of the ‘ticking’ and ‘scraping’ to establish clearer Dominant and Subdominant factors. Following a beat of 4 counts with the ‘scraping’ and ‘ding’ coming in at varying intervals, the composition resulted in the soundwave depicted above.

I. SOUNdwave interpretation

Inspired by the look of the soundwaves, I wanted to recreate the progression of the composition being soft in the beginning, louder in the centre, and soft again at the end, thereby establishing a ‘rippling’ effect. The moodbox is therefore circular to better establish the ‘rippling’ effect. This is further emphasised by the folds created by the felt and the radial display of the moodbox’s different elements.

Closeup of final moodbox
Variance in height in materials
Dispersion of voids, from minimal to maximum negative voids

Zooming further into the soundwaves, it is much more congested in the centre as opposed to the beginning and the end. To represent this, the elements of the moodbox is crammed in the centre and dispersed towards the ends, attempting to show variation in voids – minimised voids (minimal negative voids) in the centre and maximum voids toward the ends (maximum negative voids). This is further emphasised by layering netting in the centre. The frequencies in the soundwaves are also of varying heights. The highs and lows of the soundwaves were recreated in the moodbox by varying the heights of its different elements (as displayed by the cotton buds, safety pins, and needles).

II. ADjective interpretation
Moodbox Conceptualising

The moodbox is also a representation of the adjectives used to describe the composition.

After listening to the composition, I interpreted it as sounding quite sharp, heavy and rigid in nature, having an irregular pattern of both focused and dispersed sounds, with a touch of softness and fleetingness. The descriptions are represented by the following elements:

Adjective Sound Element Moodbox Structure
Sharp and sudden ‘Ding’ from triangle Use of needles in the centre
Heavy and rigid ‘Ticking’ Height of elements remaining at a low level
Irregular pattern ‘Scraping’ and ‘ding’ coming in at varying intervals Variation in materials
Focused and dispersed ‘Ticking’ and ‘scraping’ sound focused, ‘ding’ sounds dispersed Radial layout of elements
Soft and fleeting ‘Ding’ adds a touch of softness to the composition and sounds fleeting as it lingers Use of cotton buds

Creating the Moodbox

The moodbox is made with the following materials:

  • Cardboard; base
  • Felt; base
  • Transparent plastic; centre
  • Foam; centre
  • Laundry bag netting; centre
  • Needles; centre
  • Safety pin; centre
  • Tips of cotton buds; scattered around

The materials were put together mainly by pasting and piercing – namely, piercing the needles and safety pins through the foam and laundry netting.


I. Feedback & Improvements

The moodbox could have made a better impression if it was bigger in scale. Furthermore, a better choice of materials could have been used to represent the different elements of the composition.

II. Learning points
  • The rigidness nature of the ‘ticking’ can be recreated in the next model
  • The metallic nature of the ‘ding’ can be recreated in the next model as a finishing touch i.e. subordinate
  • The rhythmic pattern of the sounds can be explored in the next model

[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.

[Research] Project 4: Poetics of Time

Time in Film

Time Travel 

  • Back to the Future
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Interstellar

Alternate Time Lines

  • Donnie Darko
  • Mr. Nobody

Repeated Timelines

  • Groundhog Day
  • Happy Death Day

Artist Reference

  • TeamLab
  • Rube Goldberg machines
  • Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei
  • Alexandra Dementieva, Anna Frants & Aernoudt Jacobs
  • Brian House – Animus


  • Subject, form, context and content on the use of time and space in film, video, sound and, performance art, or interactive art installations
  • Compare and contrast the artworks

Use of Time & Space

Performance Art

I. 3rdi
3rdi by Wafaa Bilal
Subject Day-to-day activities
Form Photographs
Content Experiences of artist’s daily life
Context The need to ‘objectively capture [his] past as it slips behind [him] from a non-confrontational point-of-view’

Waafa Bilal is an Iraqi-American visual artist and university professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, who is widely recognised for his interactive and performance pieces.

3rdi, a contemporary art project, was commissioned by a new museum in Doha, Qatar. The project required Bilal, in the name of art, to undergo a procedure to have a small digital camera implanted in the back of his head, ‘as an allegorical statement about the things we don’t see and leave behind’, aiming to raise ‘important social, aesthetic, political, technological and artistic questions’.

The camera was intended to capture his everyday activities at one-minute intervals 24-hours a day, then transmitted to monitors at a museum, creating a ‘three-dimensional, real space-and-time experience’.

One of the social conditions we live in is surveillance and what I wanted to do as an artist, I wanted just to reflect it simply to the public in order to initiate that platform so we enter the dialogue. - Waafa Bilal
  • Concerned with the communication of public and private information to an audience so that it may be retold, distributed
  • Political dramas which unfold through my past experience and into the present where they interact with the currency of media as the dialectic of aesthetic pleasure and pain
  • The 3rdi is just such a platform for the telling and retelling of another story
  • During my journey from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, on to Kuwait and then the U.S., I left many people and places behind. The images I have of this journey are inevitably ephemeral, held as they are in my own memory. Many times while I was in transit and chaos the images failed to fully register, I did not have the time to absorb them. Now, in hindsight, I wish I could have recorded these images so that I could look back on them, to have them serve as a reminder and record of all the places I was forced to leave behind and may never see again.
  • Need to objectively capture my past as it slips behind me from a non-confrontational point of view
  • Anti-photography, decoded, and will capture images that are denoted rather than connoted, a technological-biological image
  • In this way I become locked to the story as its teller, passing the interpretive mode to an audience with little context so it may be transformed for their subjective interactions and subsequent expressions. Using this narrative triangle, the work will comment on ways in which imagery is used for the telling and retelling of stories, whether they belong to us or we make them ours.


II. Death Bear
Death Bear by Nate Hill
  • The Death Bear is a dude in a bear suit who comes to your house and takes away stuff to bring you closure; sort of like the Salvation Army, but in a bear suit.
  • They assemble letters, a candle, a blazer and present them to the sinister costumed bear who appears at her door.
  • The seven-foot-tall character created by performance artist Nate Hill visits homes across the borough, a furry spectre acting as part psychologist — part sanitation man.
Death Bear will take things from you that trigger painful memories and stow them away in his cave where they will remain forever allowing you to move on with your life. - Nate Hill
  • Give him an ex’s clothes, old photos, mementos, letters, etc. Death Bear is here to assist you in your time of tragedy, heartbreak, and loss. Let Death Bear help you, and absorb your pain into his cave.
II. We See/We Hear/We Are
We See / We Hear / We Are by Man Bartlett

Read more about the project here: https://personofthecrowd.org

Collectively, this is a culmination of both physical and virtual wanderings into the nature of what it means to be a flaneur in the 21st century, and, fundamentally, what it means to live in contemporary society.

We See 

  • The text you see flashing is an A.I. Bot’s real-time interpretation of the Instagram photos being tagged #personofthecrowd
  • These translations of images will be projected alongside ‘WE HEAR’ 
  • To participate, post a photo to Instagram using the hashtag; your photo can respond to the exhibition, both inside of the museum and the events in the surrounding area, reflect where you happen to be at the moment or, more abstractly, something you stand for

We Hear 

  • ‘We went to 30th Street Station to act as flaneurs of sound, spending 11 minutes listening to the space around us, then writing down what we heard and reciting it to each other’
  • Results edited into a 7-minute video, to be shown alongside ‘WE SEE’

We Are

  • Commissioned performances will be documented on this site
  • Various ancillary materials drawn from and related to these performances will be incorporated and dispersed throughout this site, with the aim of creating a new, digital-based work as performative documentation
III. The Akasha Model
The Akasha Model by Man Bartlett
Subject ‘Archetypical record of all sentient thought’
Form Interactive installation
Content Sounds of artist’s brain waves; interactivity, sculptural objects
Context ‘Emphasise the philosophical difference between perceptual knowledge and reality and how this manifests in the interaction of technology and culture’
  • Emphasize the philosophical difference between perceptual knowledge and reality and how this manifests in the interaction of technology and culture
  • Bartlett is concerned with action and repetition and “the manipulation of the relationship of a medium to itself
  • A project that includes a sound installation, interactivity, and sculptural objects
  • Artist recorded his own brain waves during a series of different thought exercises in an attempt to create an ‘archetypical record of all sentient thought’
  • This exhibition is an immersive installation in our Project Room. The recording is a 24 minute loop, broadcast wirelessly to headphones via an FM transmitter in the gallery. The entire installation includes sculptural ears, headphones, and transmitting and receiving equipment.
Similarities Differences
3rdi Explores the concept of time

Taps into artists’ private lives

Based on linear time


Documented according to real time; not edited


The Akasha Model Based on biological time

Mixed media

Art Installations



II. Magic Carpets by Miguel Chavelier

Magic Carpet

III. The End by Andrea Galvani


Mr. Nobody (2009)

‘A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible.’















Oli Rodriguez: The Last Seduction and Man Bartlett: The Akasha Model



[Final] Project 2: Forrest Gump


After a long, treacherous journey of cropping images and freezing in the dark room, we finally get to present our compositions and silkscreen products! The following post will be detailing the concepts and techniques behind my four compositions as well as the feedback received during critique. 

Final Product

Final product
Left: Printed compositions
Right: Totebag

Intrigued by the surrealist art movement, I intended to create compositions based on the methods of storytelling adopted by surrealist artists. The compositions were a result of attempting to emulate the approach in creating films by renowned filmmaker, David Lynch. Inspired by his methods of addressing the ‘various layers of reality’, namely waking, sleeping, and dreaming, I wanted to create compositions that depict narratives related to those areas. The stage of limbo/sleep paralysis is added as a personal choice.

The documentary (around 06:22 – 06:54) discusses his film’s trademarks and recurring motifs used, as well as how his works focus on different layers of reality. 

Keeping the different states of reality in mind, the movie quotes chosen are to serve as textual representative of the states, as well as to give a context to the related composition. 

Composition 1
Composition 1: ‘He’s a looney. Just like his tunes.’ – Baby Driver (2017)
I. Concept & Approach

Composition 1 is a pictorial representation of the movie quote ‘He’s a looney. Just like his tunes.’ from 2017’s Baby Driver. Aiming to depict the state of dreaming, I wanted to establish a surreal setting by having things emerging from a man’s head, and using an under-the-sea theme (as shown by the deepsea diver helmets, squid tentacles, and goldfish) to show the nonsensical nature of dreams. To further reinforce a dream-like state, the elements pictured are a result of putting non-related objects together; this includes the straightjacket made up of tentacles and leather straps and a band of deepsea divers. 

The elements used are also representative of the words ‘looney’ and ‘tunes’. For ‘looney’, I chose to use a clown with a crazy facial expression and tentacles and leather straps forming a straightjacket. For ‘tunes’, I chose performing musicians (a singer, banjo player, and saxophonist in this case). 

Composition 1: Silkscreen on tote bag

II. Techniques Applied

Using a combination of storytelling methods, I tried to construct an accompanying narrative for this composition. The composition was a result of expanding on caricature and anthropomorphism, which is evident in the clown’s striking features being exaggerated (swapping his long tongue for a squid tentacle), as well as using tentacles to resemble a straightjacket. 

Some of the principles of design I experimented with included: 

Balance and unity
The Gestalt Principle (proximity)
Scale and size
Textures and values

Following a star-like layout, I wanted to establish a sense of balance by aligning the main elements with one another; the structure of the main elements – the clown and deepsea diver musicians – are parallel to one another, and from the vertical centre, the elements and breathing space on the left and right sides are somewhat similar (e.g. the goldfish on the right balances with the squid tentacle tongue, and the musicians on the far left and far right balance with the leather straps on the bottom of the tentacles). 

I also tried to experiment with a proximity in the composition; having images of musicians with completely non-related instruments and attire, I wanted to try using proximity to establish them as a whole, and therefore, placed deepsea diver helmets on their heads to reinforce them as a group of related elements, and at the same time, contrast them against the clown and goldfish. 

The elements are also a result of varying scales and sizes. In terms of sizes, I wanted to reinforce the idea of dream-like states and surrealism through enlarging typically small objects and downsizing life-size objects; enlarging goldfish and downsizing humans. As for scales, similar to the idea behind the goldfish and humans, the composition is made up of life-sized goldfish and squid tentacles, different from their realistic counterparts. Additionally, having two contrasting scales of human figures (i.e. the clown and musicians), helps to establish a more surreal mood. 

With regards to value, I wanted to create contrast by varying the levels of threshold; this is shown in the black and white spaces in the clothing of the clown and musicians, and the textures given off by the tentacles and deepsea diver helmets. The textures of the tentacles, different types of clothing, and shine in the helmets and goldfish skin, also helped in creating contrast. Threshold was also useful in creating a silkscreen print as it helped formed the figures. 

Composition 2
Composition 2: ‘Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel.’ – Her (2013)
I. Concept & Approach

Composition 2 is a representation of the quote ‘Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel’ from 2013’s Her. Following the concept of David Lynch’s various stages of reality, this composition explores the state of being awake, depicting a divine entity who has reached the pinnacle of feeling all. 

Focusing on the words ‘felt everything’ and the idea of the divine, I wanted to use a combination of recognisable religious symbols; lotuses and lit candles to represent Buddhism, a halo to represent Christianity, and the repeated motifs of hands to represent Hinduism. To further emphasise the idea of the ‘all-seeing’ and the worshipped, I chose to have a realistic third eye sat atop a Greek sculpture bust. 

II. Techniques Applied

Similar to Composition 1, I used literary devices to help construct a narrative for Composition 2; hyperbole and imagery were mainly used. Hyperbole is evident in taking the sensation of feeling everything and exaggerating it by featuring a being that has reached the utmost point of feeling all there is to feel. Imagery, on the other hand, is shown through the motifs of hands and eyes to represent the sensation of touch, reinforcing having ‘felt everything’.

Balance and emphasis
Scale and size
Textures and values

Keeping the theme of divinity in mind, I wanted Composition 2 to echo that of psychedelic patterns, thereby following a radial layout, with the hands, lotus, and halo forming a circle, encompassing the bust in the centre as the main element. Its radial layout allowed for balance, with the elements on the left repeated and aligned on the right. Emphasis is also achieved by placing a contrasting element (i.e. the Greek bust) in the centre, breaking the repeated motifs of hands and lotuses. On the contrary, the repeated motifs of hands and lotuses in a radial format also help to create a pattern. 

Composition 2 also expands on the idea of scale. Having trouble finding a suitable image of a halo, I decided to enlarge a picture of a gold ring. In terms of scale, the enlargement of the gold ring into a halo helps to reinforce the composition’s surrealist style. Originally a small object, especially in contrast to hands, lotuses and sculptural busts, the gold ring is now enlarged to the point that it becomes the largest and most prominent element in the composition, further reinforced by its black and white value achieved by threshold. 

With regards to value, I chose to use halftones for the majority of the elements. Because of the nature of the original images, halftones had to be used to clearly depict the elements. However, the halftones displayed in the bust were able to create an interesting texture and contrast, showing signs of light and shadows, thereby giving it a more realistic depiction. As mentioned previously, the halo was created using threshold as a means to show contrast to the other elements, as well as to create a variance in texture. 

Composition 3
Composition 3: ‘I chose not to choose life. I chose something else’ – Trainspotting (1996)
I. Concept & Approach

Composition 3 follows the quote ‘I chose not to choose life. I chose something else’ uttered in 1996’s Trainspotting. Representing the state of sleeping, according to David Lynch’s dissection of reality, this composition is a representation of what happens to one’s body when he/she decides not to deal with matters in life and goes into hibernation mode; construction workers performing maintenance work on the body to prepare it for another day of work. 

Echoing the idea of sleep, the elements, namely the man sleeping with smoke coming out from his head and mobile (an ‘adult-style’ mobile made up of doves instead of toys, to symbolise peace as a mechanism to fall sleep) above, are representative of the state. I also chose to draw focus to the words ‘choose’ and ‘life’, where to reiterate the idea of ‘life’, the symbols chosen were the Life magazine and a man sleeping, while the industrial switch on off-mode symbolises the notion behind making a choice. 

II. Techniques Applied

When analysing the quote, I used hyperbole and parody to help reconstruct a narrative completely different from its original context in the film. Originally based on choosing to take heroin in the film, I wanted to completely deviate and exaggerate the idea of choosing between facing life and going to sleep, also creating a parody of what happens to one’s body when he/she goes to sleep. 

Scale and size
The Gestalt Principle
Textures and values

Similar to Composition 1, Composition 3 follows a star-like layout, with the main element (i.e. the man sleeping and Life magazine) placed in the centre, and accompanying elements extending from them, with the exception of the mobile placed on top. This helps in drawing the viewers’ attention to viewing the supposed main elements, followed by its accompanying minor elements, establishing emphasis.

Composition 3 is also a demonstration of variance in scale. To reinforce surrealism, some of the human figures in the composition are shrunk; by contrasting them against a regular, life-size human, it reiterates the surreal mood of the composition. Size was also shown in showing the gradual decrease  in the sizes of the construction worker in accordance to the perspective of the composition; the worker in the front is the biggest and the one in the back is the smallest, helping to establish a sense of foreground, middle ground, and background. 

To make a more interesting and visually appealing composition, I used geometric patterns to establish a base. The patterns helped in establishing a sense of direction for the composition’s layout; the arrow-like shapes help to draw the viewers’ attention to the main elements (i.e. the man sleeping and Life magazine). They also create a contrast in texture and value; made up of solid black and white values, they contrast against the halftone value of the main elements and the threshold textures of the construction workers and industrial switch. 

I also wanted to expand further on using proximity in the Gestalt Principle. Since the construction workers were a minor element, I wanted to group them together to establish a better sense of clarity; this was done through downsizing them to roughly the same size as well as using the same values of threshold to unify them. The same technique was done for the mobile, where the metal frame and repeated motifs of doves were used to show that they belong to the same group. 

Composition 4


Composition 4: ‘I’m nothing. I’m not even here’ – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
I. Concept & Approach

Composition 4 is a reconstruction of the quote ‘I’m nothing, I’m not even here’ from 2014’s Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Meant to depict the state of sleep paralysis or limbo, the composition tells the story of an unknown figure disappearing through a portal in the ground. Inspired by photographer Nicolas Bruno, whose works revolve around capturing moments he witnesses while experiencing sleep paralysis, I wanted to create a composition that mirrors the terrifying nature of his photographs and the accounts of people who suffer from this state. To do so, I blurred out the identity of the human figure in the composition by placing a sack and deer antlers over her head. 

Deconstructing the words ‘nothing’ and ‘not even here’, the elements chosen are supposed to revolve around the idea of travelling and disappearing without a trace. This is shown through depicting a suitcase, airplane seat, direction arrow, and the figure waving goodbye, as well as the portal underneath. 

II. Techniques Applied

In constructing the narrative of this composition, I tried using hyperbole and anthropomorphism. Exaggerating on the words ‘nothing’ and ‘not even here’, I wanted to give the composition a surreal feeling by using a non-realistic way of disappearing (i.e. a portal), as well as using hints of anthropomorphism (assigning deer antlers to a human figure). 

Textures and values

Similar to Composition 3, Composition 4 follows a simple layout of having the main focus (i.e. the human figure) in the centre of the composition with accompanying elements branching out from it. This helps in directing viewers’ gaze to the main focus followed by the minor elements, also paving the way for emphasis by drawing attention to the centred main element. The elements also attempt to achieve a sense of balance by aligning with one another; the slanted planes of the arrow, airplane seat, and suitcase are parallel to one another. The placement of the hamburger with a straw in the centre also establishes a more balanced look between the upper and lower sections, thereby helping to create a neater and more visually-appealing layout. 

Additionally, reinforcing the concept of the figure disappearing into the portal below, I tilted the elements in the composition, and cropped out the bottom of the suitcase. 

Composition 4 also uses patterns, as seen in the circular portal at the bottom. Similar to earlier uses, the solid black and white value of the pattern helps to create contrast in texture and shadows against the halftones of other elements, as well as create variance in structure with its repetitive geometric shapes as opposed to the organic shapes of other elements. 

Feedback & Improvements
Feedback left behind by fellow classmates
Feedback by fellow classmates
Positive Improvements
Composition 1 High contrast helps to make it seem more vivid and its wild nature

Simple composition with minimal elements

Unequal sense of balance; the elements on top outweigh the bottom, making it seem more heavy

The under-the-sea theme could have been swapped out with something more related to the quote

Composition 2 Good use of symmetry and balance  Reduce the use of halftones to create more variety and contrast
Composition 3 Use of lines helps to draw viewers’ gaze to the main focal point The use of threshold for the construction workers and doves could be improved upon; their features are not clearly distinguishable
Composition 4 The elements used as symbols are straightforward  The pattern used could have been swapped out for a more radial pattern to make it more obvious as a portal and to make the composition more visually-appealing


Unpredictability of images

The main challenge I faced in this project is the unpredictability of the images used in the compositions. Keeping the requirement of using only found images and black and white tones, it was challenging and tedious to find suitable images and altering their brightness, contrast, and saturation values to compliment one another. Furthermore, having minimal experience with halftone and threshold, it was difficult in adjusting the black and white values of the images to clearly show the details and at times, they would just appear as blobs of black and white, or grey circles (if using half tones). However, with tutorials, I was able to get a better idea of how to use halftones, and using trial-and-error methods with a bunch of different images helped in this process.

Link to research and process:



Composition 1:








Composition 2:








Composition 3:











Composition 4: