[Research & Process] Project 2: Forrest Gump


Art Movements

Dada artists

The aim of Dada Art was an aid to stop the war as well as an outlet to ‘vent frustration with the nationalist and bourgeois conventions that had led to it’. ‘Their anti-authoritarian stance made for a protean movement as they opposed any form of group leadership or guiding ideology’. 

Dada artists are usually agitated by politics and sought to ‘incite a similar fury in Dada audiences’. Dada artworks involve presenting ‘intriguing overlaps and paradoxes’, where ‘they seek to demystify artwork in the populist sense but’ ‘remain cryptic enough to allow [viewers] to interpret works in a variety of ways’. For example, some artists portrayed people and scenes ‘representationally’ ‘in order to analyse form and movement’. Some perceive that in order to understand these works, one must be able to ‘reconcile the seemingly silly, slapdash styles with the profound antibourgeois message’.

Crucial components:

  • Irreverence: A lack of respect for bourgeois convention, government authorities, conventional production methods, or the artistic canon.
  • Readymades and assemblage: Often chosen and assembled by chance or accident to challenge bourgeois notions about art and artistic creativity, bizarre
  • Chance: Used to embrace the random and accidental as a way to release creativity from rational control
  • Wit and humour: Interest in humour, typically in the form of irony; an awareness that nothing has intrinsic value; also gave artists flexibility and expressed their embrace of the craziness of the world, thus preventing them from taking their work too seriously
I. Hannah Hoch
Portrait of Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch, the ‘It Girl’ of Berlin Dadaists, was considered the pioneer of the Dada ‘cut-and-paste’ style. Hiding in a tiny suburban cottage away from Nazi scrutiny, due to her bisexuality and anarchic art, Hoch was branded a ‘degenerate’ by Nazis and being constantly being edged out Dadaists. She, however remained a notable figure in the Dada movement, with her distinguishable use of photomontage, the original ‘art of protest’, and the ‘aesthetic of liberation, revolution, and protest’. 

Works of Hannah Hoch
From left to right: Flucht (Flight) (1931)
Ohne Titel (1930)

Satirising Weimar politics, Hoch’s works are said to be ‘so balletic’, as if her ‘snipped images and dismembered figures dance on the page like leaves in the air’; her work is perceived as ‘tough and punchy, yet always delicate’. Often possessing a ‘narrative undercut’, one can distinguish Hoch’s works through the enlargement of a single feature and deviations from being ‘doctrinaire or narrowly-focused’, where many of her works ‘make men into women and vice-versa’. In contrast to her male counterparts in the movement, Hoch ‘never seems to have lost her characteristic sense of wonder’, possessing a ‘desire to ‘show the world today as an ant sees it and tomorrow as the moon sees it”. 

Surrealist artists

Growing out of the Dada movement, Surrealism was also considered a ‘rebellion against middle-class complacency’, however with artistic influences coming from different sources.

Sharing the same ‘anti-rationalism’ as Dada, Surrealist artists used art as a ‘reprieve from violent political situations and to address the unease they felt about the world’s uncertainties’. This was done through using ‘fantasy and dream imagery’ to create works in a variety of media that ‘exposed their inner minds in eccentric, symbolic ways’, ‘uncovering anxieties and treating them analytically through visual means’.

Mediums include:

  • Surrealist paintings
  • Surrealist objects and sculptures
  • Surrealist photography
  • Surrealist film

Some distinguishable Surrealist factors, methods, and techniques include:

  • Hyper-realistic style (objects depicted in crisp detail and three-dimensionality, emphasising their dream-like quality)
  • Saturated colour schemes
  • Reliance on automatism or automatic writing as a way to tap into the unconscious mind
  • Unlikely and outlandish imagery including collage, doodling, frontage, decalcomania, grattage
  • The ‘prosaic photograph removed from its mundane context’
  • Vernacular snapshots, police photographs, movie stills, documentary photographs posted in Surrealist journals, disconnected from their original purposes
I. Salvador Dali
Portrait of Salvador Dali

‘Epitomising the idea that life is the greatest form of art’, Salvador Dali, one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century is the most famous Surrealist artist. In addition to the fame credited for his works and collaborations with other notable figures, Dali was also renowned for his ‘flamboyant personality and role of mischievous provocateur as much as for his undeniable technical virtuosity’.

His works embody ‘obsessive themes of eroticism, death, and decay’, reflecting his ‘familiarity with and synthesis of the psychoanalytical theories of his time’, his work is embedded with ‘ready-interpreted symbolism, ranging from fetishes and animal imagery to religious symbols’.

Works of Salvador Dali
From left to right:
Persistence of Memory (1931)
Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938)
The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1946)

His body of work also ‘evolved the concepts of Surrealism and psychoanalysis on a worldwide visual platform’, as well as ‘modelled permission for people to embrace their selves in all our human glory’.

  • Shows visual representation of dreams
  • Exquisite draftsmanship and master painting techniques
  • Paved the way for artists to inject the personal, mysterious, and emotional into works
  • Showed that there was no separation between man and work
  • Used avant-garde filmmaking, provocative public performance, and random, strategic interaction, bringing his work to life in ways differing from paintings
  • Spearheaded the idea that art, artist, and artistic ability could cross many mediums and become a viable commodity


Storytelling Methods
Hyperbole Exaggerated statements or claims not to be taken literally.
Metaphor A comparison between two objects with the intent of giving clearer meaning to one of them.
Caricature A picture, description, or imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.
Parody An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
Anthropomorphism The attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object.
Juxtaposition The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
Imagery Words or phrases that appeal to any sense or any combination of senses.
Personification A figure of speech which endows animals, ideas, or inanimate objects with human traits or abilities
Reference Artists
I. David Lynch
Portrait of David Lynch

David Lynch is a director and screenwriter most well-known for his ‘dark, offbeat’ films and TV series, the more recognisable ones including Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks

Works of David Lynch
From top to bottom: Twin Peaks (1990)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Blue Velvet (1986)

Branded with his own style, the ‘Lynchian Style’. Lynch’s films are known to be ‘bizarre’, with ‘dark worldview[s], disturbing subject matter, and a surreal tone’.  In his approach to films, he uses repeated motifs, emphasises on setting, and expands on the idea of ‘superreality’ and the subconscious

II. Joe Webb
Portrait of Joe Webb

Joe Webb is an artist recognised for his ‘collages with a message’. Reimagining found imagery through simple editing, he addresses issues that range from ‘climate change’ to ‘war and inequality’, ‘challenges of living in today’s modern world’.

Works of Joe Webb
From left to right: The Cloud Eaters
Citizens of Earth
Antares and Love
Stirring Up A Storm

“Joe navigates a rich landscape with grace and humor, making nice with many recognizable visual pastimes. He plays them against each other in a way that puts different eras in dialogue, allowing characters to travel far from their 50’s Home Gardening Magazine roots to the far cosmos. He flirts with the themes of nostalgia and loss but ultimately composes lighthearted images that are in dialogue with today’s sampling culture, collapsing and hacking together sources from across the universe in fun and rudely jacked up color schemes.” – Wangechi Mutu

III. Eugenia Loli
Works of Loli

Collage artist Eugenia Loli is most known for her style of works where she uses ‘photography scanned from vintage magazines and Science publications’ to ‘create bizarre visual narratives’ that have hints of ‘pop art, dada, and traditional surrealism’.

IV. Nicolas Bruno
Works of Nicolas Bruno

Nicolas Bruno is an established photographer who suffers from sleep paralysis, a condition in which ‘keeps him in a halfway state between being asleep and being awake’. Through his haunting, yet incredible images, he recreates the experiences from his dreamscape. He starts with experimenting with dream recollections, ‘creat[ing] a concentration of work’ where he ‘[warps] his anxiety into a positive product and expresses his vision to the world’.

Learning Points
  • Distinguishable factors of Dadaist works
  • Distinguishable factors of Surrealist works 
  • Varying methods of using found imagery in forming new compositions 
  • Different, modern approaches in Surrealist art


The processes in this project is made up of two main stages: preparing the compositions and silkscreening. 

Preparing Compositions

In preparation for composing our prints, we were first required to have an understanding of the two major art movements we would be drawing inspiration from; Surrealism and Dadaism. This was followed by selecting our movie quotes. 

QUote Picking

When selecting appropriate movie quotes, I began with narrowing down some of my favourite films and directors, keeping films with excellent dialogue and writing in mind. I then filtered through these films by bringing in the direction I was going for; using David Lynch’s method of dissecting reality into three states – being awake, sleeping, dreaming (and limbo, added as a personal choice). The quotes were then categorised into the respective states. 

Quotes Category: Awake
Quotes Category: Asleep
Quotes Category: Dreaming
Quotes Category: Limbo

The quotes were then narrowed down further after considering their literal context and if taken out of context, their ability to reconstruct a completely different and surreal narrative. Some of the words that stood out in the quotes were also taken into consideration. After deliberating and brainstorming some ideas, I decided to go with the following quotes:

Dreaming: Baby Driver (2017)
Awake: Her (2013)
Asleep: Trainspotting (1996)
Limbo/Sleep Paralysis: Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Composition Arranging

After finalising the quotes and having a clear direction in mind, I was ready to layout the compositions. Since this was based on Surrealism, I decided to take the quotes completely out of their contexts and focus only on selected words and ideas.

I. Composition 1

‘He’s a looney. Just like his tunes.’

Keeping in-line with depicting the state of dreaming, I wanted to create a composition based on the nonsensical nature of dreams. The following images show different compositions and ideas. 

Composition 1: Drafts

Drafts 1 and 2 reflect the same concept; portraying the madness associated with conspiracy theories through the use of symbols such as aliens, red thread and thumbtacks, and spaceships made up of musicians, vinyls, and bell jars. Draft 3, on the other hand, depicts a man who has ‘lost his senses’, and as a result, has his sense of hearing and taste jumbled up, resulting in him wanting to eat music. However, given the nature of the images in threshold and halftone value, they were not able to fully form on the silkscreen. 

Composition 1: Breaking down ‘looney’ and ‘tunes’
Composition 1: Breaking down ‘looney’ and ‘tunes’
II. Composition 2

‘Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel.’

Exploring the state of being awake, Composition 2 was originally meant to represent the sense of feeling and touch.

Composition 2: Drafts

With regards to feeling, I wanted the composition to show various levels of emotions; the use of knives to represent anger, pill bottles to represent sadness, and flowers to represent happiness. The repeated motif of hands and the third eye were meant to embody the sense of touch. However, after consulting, the message being conveyed was not as clear, and I decided to try another concept of divinity and depicting an entity who has reached the pinnacle of feeling all there is to feel. 

Composition 2: Breaking down ‘felt everything’
III. Composition 3

‘I chose not to choose life. I chose something else.’

Expanding on the state of sleeping, I wanted the composition to convey a narrative of what happens to one’s body when one chooses to sleep instead of facing life.

Composition 3: Drafts

Satisfied with the elements used, I chose to try out different layouts as the layout was pretty messy; the main focal point is difficult to pinpoint. This was adjusted by changing the directions of the geometric patterns, as well as altering the Life Magazine direction and adding more elements representative of the situation. 

Composition 3: Breaking down ‘not to choose life’
IV. Composition 4

‘I’m nothing. I’m not even here.’

Based on the state of limbo or sleep paralysis, I looked to photographer Nicolas Bruno for inspiration. Known for his works where he captures moments and figures he witnesses during his encounters with sleep paralysis, his works echo Surrealist elements and reinforces the terrifying nature of sleep paralysis. 

Composition 4: Drafts

Generally satisfied with the layout of the composition, I just experimented further with changing some of the elements to make it more visually appealing. In this case, I swapped out the paper bag for a potato sack to make the figure seem more terrifying and draw a better sense of unity amongst the elements.

Composition 4: Breaking down ‘nothing’ and ‘not even here’


This project also had a silkscreen component which allowed us to learn more about preparing for and exposing our own silkscreens, followed by printing our own tote bags. 

Silkscreen process

The silkscreen process, although tedious, was eye-opening. We were taught the process of preparing silkscreens, the technical aspects of each procedure, and the functions of various materials. 

Personally, I faced quite a number of challenges in exposing my own screens. After preparing my first composition, I was quite satisfied with the layout and the elements I used; the positive feedback received made me all the more confident with how the print turned out. However, given the nature of the original images, they did not turn out very well when imposed with halftones and threshold and as a result, the silkscreen print did not turn out as expected. 

Silkscreen: Trial 1
Silkscreen: Trial 2

Given the time constraints left in preparing other compositions and the limited time left in exposing our screens, I was not able to experiment with varying levels of threshold and halftone, and had to change the top half of my composition completely. 

  • Using threshold and halftone values 
  • Adjusting compositions to fit the layout of found images, therefore working in reverse
  • Silkscreen issues and pinpointing exactly where the problem rose from

Link to final:

[Final] Project 2: Forrest Gump





A Romance for HER (and him)


10 Famous Surrealist Artists You Must Know




193 Portrait of David Lynch






Surreal Collages by Eugenia Loli






[Planar & Plastic] Project 3: Mnemosyne’s Scent


This segment of this project explores two areas; planar and plastic models. Constructing planar models is an outlet for us to experiment with planes while the plastic models are a lead-up to our final product involving the pleasant and unpleasant memories associated with certain scents.

Final Products

Final: Planar model (front view)
Final: Planar model (side view)
Final: Plastic model
Concept & Approach
I. Planar Model

The planar model pictured above is a result of experimenting with the idea of contrast. Strips of different lengths and widths were used, focusing on altering their physical structures to create swirls and rigidness, and varying heights from its horizontal base.

II. Plastic Model

The plastic model pictured above is a sculptural representation of both a pleasant and unpleasant scent that evokes an accompanying memory. 

Structuring the sculpture based on height – where the main elements are found on the top and bottom – is representative of the idea of achievement VS failure. 

The top half of the sculpture represents the pleasant memory (i.e. Daler Rowney acrylic paint), whose accompanying memory gives me a sense of achievement and familiarity. In addition to elevating it to represent a ‘high point’ in my life, I also used swirls of plastic to surround a ball in the centre to represent the sense of familiarity and comfort the scent evokes. The transparency of the plastic also reinforces it as a ‘refreshing’ scent, something paint is typically associated with.

The bottom half of the sculpture, on the other hand, represents the unpleasant memory (i.e. coffee beans). It is based on the notion where despite it being my favourite blend of coffee, it still evokes unpleasant memories; this was done through creating a flower-like structure encompassing a smaller structure punctured with holes. The smoky, lingering smell of the beans is shown through the upwards-flow of the flower-like elements, translucency of the plastic, and strips of plastic bags stuffed into the centre, masking the punctured plastic within. 

Techniques Applied
Sketch Analysis: Planar model
Planar Model Principal axis, broken planes, use of voids



Rule of thirds

Dynamic compositions (wedging)

Plastic Model Contrast

Melting and soldering

I. Planar Techniques

The planar model has a vertical principal axis, with the use of broken planes as demonstrated by swirls from the SD plane, where it does not fit in a box when elevated. The structure of the planes also managed to create symmetrical circular voids. 

II. Hierarchy

The planar model also uses hierarchy, evident in the use of Dominant (D), Subdominant (SD), and Subordinate (SO) planes. The D plane is reinforced through its thick width, the SD plane shown by its thinner width, and the SO plane portrayed by its short length and width. 

III. Contrast 

Contrast is demonstrated in the planar model in its physical structure; the planes vary in rigidness (displayed in the SO plane) and swirls (displayed in the D and SD planes). 

Similarly, the plastic model uses contrast in its varying segments; straight and upright elements (the connecting straw and circular plate), and swirls created by the flower-like structure and the bottom and the wrapping strips of plastic at the top. Contrast is also emphasised through varying opacities where transparent plastics were used at the top, along with translucent plastics at the bottom (strips of plastic bags and sanded plastics).

IV. Rule of Thirds

The planar model also makes use of the Rule of Thirds. This is evident in grouping the majority of the model (D, some of the SD, and SO planes) at 1/3 of the base, with the remaining 2/3 of the SD plane extending outwards. The Rule of Thirds is also shown in the SO plane where 1/3 of its length is wedged.

V. Application Techniques

The planar model is structured using wedging as opposed to pasting. In addition to creating more visually-appealing models, it also helps in creating dynamic compositions where the planes use various angles of dependent balance to hold one another up.

The plastic model’s structure is created using methods such as heating and soldering. Heating melted and moulded the plastic (shown in the flower-like structure), while soldering formed patterns (shown in the punctured structure). 

Research & Process


The scent I chose that reminds me of a pleasant memory is a particular brand of acrylic paint, namely Daler Rowney paint. Coming from the exact same tube of paint, the scent takes me back to my first wall mural art project that I took part in with some friends a year ago, which gives me a sense of familiarity and achievement as well as the fun memories that went along with it (e.g. climbing an extremely tall, rickety ladder when we were all terrified). The scent that evokes an unpleasant memory, on the other hand, is a particular brand of coffee beans that my workplace serves. Even though it remains as my favourite coffee, the smell emitted reminds me of busy days, rude customers, messed up orders, and the trouble I’d get into for not doing a good job with making coffee.

Mindmap: Pleasant and unpleasant scents
Plastic & Design
Veronika Richterova’s Recycled PET Bottles

Based in Czech Republic, Veronica Richterova is a designer/artist most notable for her works involving recycled PET bottles. 

Works of Veronika Richterova
Works of Veronika Richterova
Works of Veronika Richterova

Considered a guru in ‘up cycling plastic bottles to create nature-inspired and cartoonish sculptures’, the artist has gained recognition for ‘cutting, heating, twisting, melting’ and ‘transforming plastic materials’ in a number of ways. Her fascination with plastic bottle extends further when she writes extensively about the usage of plastic bottles and its history of mass-production.

Learning Points
  • Methods of melting plastic
  • Interesting structures to sculpt plastic
Planar: Sketch Model 1
Planar: Sketch Model 2
Positive Improvements
Model 1 Interesting composition Refrain from pasting

Extend length of SD

Move composition to 1/3 of the base

Reduce length of SO


Link to Fashion Accessory final product and process:



[Fashion Accessory] Project 3: Mnemosyne’s Scent


The final segment of Project 3 involved taking inspiration from the high fashion world, as well as elements from our plastic prototypes and planar models to create a fashion accessory that embodies the pleasant and/or unpleasant scents we discussed earlier in a composition that demonstrates planar techniques. 

Final Product

Final product
Final product (lit up)
Concept & Approach

Inspired by the interesting compositions seen in avant-garde fashion, we wanted to create a fashion accessory that echoed the works of Alexander McQueen. Finding versatility in body jewellery, we decided to make an arm band using a combination of planar structures, incorporating elements that represented the memories evoked by our pleasant scents. Our product was also structured in such a way that it has the ability to stand out in a dimly-lit environment.

Techniques Applied
Sketch Analysis: Arm band
Dynamic compositions
I. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is represented through the use of Dominant (D), Subdominant (SD), and Subordinate (SO) elements. The D element is reinforced by its length and bright white colour, the SD element is reinforced by its combination of transparent body and black colour, as well as its smaller size in comparison, while the SO element is reinforced by its contrasting gold-rose colour and scale being the smallest of all the elements. 

II. Contrast

The product was also meant to create contrast through its varying colours and textures. The variety in colours is demonstrated by the black SD, the white D, the metallic colours in the second SD, and the incorporation of light. Texture, on the other hand, is varied through the use of different materials; acrylic for the SD’s body, textured paper for the D, and metal wires for the second SD. 

Contrast is also used in the model’s layout, where the structures are aligned in such a way that they contrast against one another. This is seen in the second SD (i.e. the metal wires) going in the opposite direction of the D (i.e. white structure) plane, and the SD (i.e. black base) standing upright, contrasting against the angled positions of the previous two elements. 

III. Wedging

Wedging was used in joining the D plane to the SD structure.

IV. Dynamic Compositions

Wedging the structures together helped to create dynamic compositions, where the D plane uses Dependant Balance against the SD metal wires to hold itself up. 

Research & Process

Alexander Mcqueen
Works of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen was once the head designer of the Louis Vuitton-owned Givenchy fashion line, and launched his own menswear line in 2004. Earning the title of British Fashion Council’s British Designer of the Year four times, as well as being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, McQueen was most notable for his signature dramatic style of clothing, ‘pushing the limits of what people expected from fashion’. 

learning Points
  • Varying ways of experimenting with planes in fashion accessories
  • The use of different materials in making the planes seem more visually-appealing
  • Variance in texture and opacity
  • Structuring planes

The accessory involved fusing together two of our planar models, since they were quite similar in structure and composition. 

Final planar model
Dhanu’s planar model

Link to planar and plastic models:



4D: Clock Time

Keeping the idea of clock time in mind, I wanted to experiment with plot time and tried depicting an event happening in a linear manner, something progressing over time, but in a span of 30 seconds.

Here is a video of Jiayi eating a bag of chips from the point she opened it to the point she threw it away!


[Final] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

Gaia’s Ikebana

After a couple of weeks of conceptualising, going grocery shopping for ingredients, and scouting for branches and leaves around the campus, it was finally time to present our models.

Final Model

Experimenting with dynamic compositions through the mediums of food and Ikebana, my final model was meant to portray the season of Summer.

Final (front view)
Final (top view)
Final (closeup)
I. Concept

I wanted the model to show a dish being formed in a more abstract manner. This was attempted through dissecting the food items; the ice-cream cone was turned on its head with the bottom (or apex) facing upwards and yoghurt placed outside instead of within. The sphere (macadamia nut) was also placed alongside the ice-cream cone with a drizzle of yoghurt to represent it flowing downwards into the granola mixture and joining the rest of the ingredients.

When I came across the word “Summer”, pictures of Summer-based recreational activities immediately flash through my mind. These activities are usually held outdoors under the hot sun; they include, but are not limited to, state fairs or fun fairs, beaches, and picnics.

After conducting some research and assembling mood boards and reference images, I felt quite drawn portraying a typical Summer picnic. I wanted to experiment with the idea of packaged and compact high-end ingredients (usually easy to transport), and platters that are usually brought to picnics. The addition of props and greenery to the foods could also help in establishing a varied and interesting colour palette of both earthy tones with splashes of vibrant colours, conveying a mood of calmness in a time of celebration and being carefree.


II. Principles of Design
Sketch analysis of final model

Some of the design principles applied in the model include:

Design Principle Evident In
Dynamic Composition Angles at which volumes are balanced against
Rule of Thirds Sizes of volumes
Hierarchy Sizes, colours, and materials of volumes and props
Harmony Composition of model and visuals of volumes
Contrast Materials, textures, and colours of volumes and props
II.I. Dynamic Composition

The volumes (cone, sphere, and cylinder) used in the model are structured to reflect different kinds of balances. The cylinder, in relation to the base, uses Independent Balance, where the angle of balance is less than 45°. It is independently related to the vertical and horizontal axis in such a way that it is able to balance itself regardless of whether it is physically supported by other structures.

The cone, in relation to the cylinder, uses Dependent Balance, where its axis is propped up against the axis of the cylinder, depending on it for physical visual structure and balance.

The sphere, on the other hand, uses Precarious Balance, where its angle of balance is more than 45°, seeming as though it is holding its own balance and can fall apart once its support is removed.

II.II. Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds is applied in the sizes of the volumes where the height of the cylinder is approximately 1/3 of the cone, the diameter of the sphere approximately 1/3 of the diameter of the cylinder, and the sphere placed 1/3 alongside the axis of the cone.

II.III. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is applied in the volumes and props used in the model.

Dominant Cone, Branches Cone: Emphasised through size and colour (brown as a base colour due to its subtleness)

Branches: Emphasised through their sizes and physical structure

Subdominant Cylinder Emphasised through its size and transparency; transparency to take its attention away from the Dominant cone in case both volumes are too similar in size
Subordinate Sphere, Flowers, Yoghurt Sphere: Emphasised through its size

Flowers: Emphasised through its vibrant splash of colour against a palette of earthy tones

Yoghurt: Emphasised through its physical structure and colour as a “finishing touch”

II.IV. Harmony

Harmony is displayed through the model’s composition where the volumes and props are placed within close proximity; the branches and flowers are grouped together while the food items form another group. Harmony is also shown in repetition of certain elements; the same yoghurt used in the cylinder is drizzled on the cone, and the granola used in the cylinder is also scattered around the base. The idea of unity is also reinforced through the colour palette where earthly, more muted tones are used (displayed in the base, the shades of green and brown in the branches, and the colours of the cone and sphere), complemented with a splash of colour (in the cylinder and flowers).

II.V. Contrast

Contrast is reinforced through the use of a variety of shapes, materials, textures, and colours displayed in the volumes and props.

Cone Made up of grainy, geometric patterns with brown colour (earthy tone), which contrasts against the cylinder.
Cylinder Layering within the cylinder helps create an earthy colour palette (granola and yoghurt) with splashes of bright colours (mango, honey, blueberries), and contrasts against the cone.
Sphere The deep brown colour of the sphere contrasts against the brown tone of the cone and is also contrasted against the white yoghurt drizzle.
Branches The physical structure of the branch, as well as its size, contrasts against the rigid nature of the shapes.
Accents The accents (flowers, scattering of granola, fruits, yoghurt) are vibrantly-coloured, serving as a contrast against the muted colours of the other elements, and is also meant to capture the vibrancy of Summer in a more subtle context.

The contrasts between different elements help to clearly identify the Dominant, Subdominant, and Subordinate elements as well.

III. Research Applied
III.I. Food & Taste

The research on food and taste came in handy when sculpting my model; deconstructing flavour profiles, and techniques in layering and plating. Some of the methods I applied includes:

Flavour profiles Expanding more on the idea of low, mid, and high notes in flavour profiles, I wanted to enhance the Dominant, Subdominant, and Subordinate aspects of the volumes.

The cone (Dominant) being a plain ice-cream cone establishes the base flavour. The cylinder (Subdominant) comprising of granola giving it a subtle flavour. The sphere (Subordinate) along with the fruits being a representation of bursts of flavour.

Liquids Use of honey as a liquid to create difference in texture.
Dairy The yoghurt helped to add a layer of white space within the cylinder.
Choosing plate colours Choosing a transparent cylinder to help bring out the vibrancy of the ingredients within.
Variety Difference in textures and colours of the ingredients used helped to establish a sense of contrast. The blues and yellows used within the granola complemented one another as well as contrasted against the earthy tones of other elements on display.
Garnishes Garnishes through the scattering of oats were used sparingly.
III.II. Ikebana
Branches, leaves and flowers used in Ikebana

My model was meant to embody some of the aspects of the Moribana style of Ikebana. Inspired by the Water-Reflecting Style, I placed a layer of honey at the top of the layered granola, with the cylinder serving as a container, and bent the branches towards the cylinder, in the hopes of it being reflected on the reflective surface of the honey.

I also wanted to experiment with the technique of Landscape Moribana, where it represents the beauty of natural scenery. In addition to using real plants and branches, I tried to mimic the ‘Near View’ used in Landscape Moribana, where scenes are portrayed as if it is happening before one’s eyes; zooming into the leaves and flowers used.

The principles of Ikebana are also represented; asymmetry in the branches being on one side of the model, materiality in the use of branches, leaves, and clusters of flowers, and harmony through the colour palette used (deep tones of brown and green accompanied with a splash of bright pink).

IV. Feedback and Improvements
Closeup of subordinate
IV.I. Changes to Subordinate

I would change the Subordinate (macadamia nut) to a blueberry instead. Using a blueberry would give a better consistency to the concept of ingredients rolling down the cone forming the granola dish, as well as establish better harmony in repeated elements. It would also serve as a better contrast to the colour of the cone, making it have a better sense of a “finishing touch”.

IV.II. Cutting Back on Clutter
Previous attempt at making cone seem more dominant

I would also cut back on the amount of materials used in the Ikebana aspect. Keeping in mind the minimalistic nature of Ikebana, I would remove the flowers and some of the leaves, keeping behind the physical structure of the branch with a few leaves.


I. Drafts 1
Drafts 1
Left: Model 1
Right: Model 2
Sketch analysis for drafts 1
Top: Model 1
Bottom: Model 2
Positive Aspects Changes to Make
Model 1  Dynamic composition used

Volumes can be seen at different angles

Change cone to Dominant

Change location of sphere

Change sizes of volumes to clearly establish Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate

Model 2  Dynamic composition used

Volumes can be seen at different angles

Change cone to Subdominant

Change cylinder to Dominant

II. Drafts 2
Drafts 2
Left: Model 1
Right: Model 2
Sketch analysis for Drafts 2
Top: Model 1
Bottom: Model 2
Positive Aspects Changes to Make
Model 1 Dynamic composition used

More obvious display of Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate

Apply rule of thirds to size and placement of volumes
Model 2 Dynamic composition used

More obvious display of Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate


Link to research:

[Research] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

[Research] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

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

Season of Summer

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

Mindmap on Summer
Mindmap on Summer food

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

Mood board for state fairs

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

Mood board for the beach

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

Mood board for picnics

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

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

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

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

 Food & Taste

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

Chart on flavour profiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.I. Dinara Kasko
Works of Dinara Kasko

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

II. Features & Styles

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

Some of the more prominent Ikebana styles include:

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

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

Arrangement became a kind of microcosm representing the entire universe

“Standing arrangement”

Tall, formal arrangements

Grand and imposing

Arranged ways of nature

Chabana Prominent during popularity of tea drinking and ceremonies

A more informal style

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

Rustic simplicity and minimalism

Nageire Popular with merchant class and general public

Means literally “to throw in”

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

Freestyle form usually done in a tall vase

Emphasis on the natural form of the flowers

Shoka Popular with the rising merchant class

A style that was easier to learn as compared to Rikka

Easy to carry out

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

The branches formed an asymmetrical triangular shape

Used fewer materials (showing influence of Nageire)

Moribana One of the most popular styles

“Piling up of flowers”

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

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

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

Upright, slanting, water-reflecting

Uses a shallow container and kenzan

Jiyuka Encourages contemporary artistic expression

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

Creative design, not confined to flowers

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

Naturalistic: Underlines natural beauty of the floral materials

Abstract: Highlights design qualities of flowers and leaves

II. I. Moribana Style
Moribana style

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

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

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

The floral style is rich in subjective and expressive possibilities

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

Colour Scheme Moribana: Expresses beauty of colour

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

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

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

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


Landscape Moribana: Beauty of natural scenery is represented

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

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


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


II. II. Jiyuka Style
Jiyuka style

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

III. Principles of Ikebana

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

Some of the primary aspects that Ikebana features include:

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

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

Asymmetry Uses empty space as essential feature of composition

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

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

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

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


Link to final:


I. Combining Foods






A Study of Flavor Profiles


II. Ikebana


Ikebana: The Art of Flower Arranging








[Final] Project 2: The Subverted Object


Final presentation

For our next project, we had to adopt the mindsets of surrealist artists and philosophers and give new meaning to an average, everyday object through the medium of photographs. Experimenting with the idea of semiotics, we were tasked to capture an object in its literal form followed by completely subverting its literal form and purpose.

The object (or model) I will be working with is a safety pin.

Research & Reference

To kickstart this project, I looked to surrealist artists and photographers for inspiration.

Rene Magritte
Works of Rene Magritte

An iconic figure in the surrealist art movement, Rene Magritte is an artist most notable for his “witty and thought provoking images”, which feature “simple graphics and everyday imagery”. Magritte was once a practitioner of Impressionism, but chancing upon the imagery featured in Giorgio de Chiro’s The Song of Love impacted him so greatly that it became a significant factor in changing his style, for which he became famous for.

Giorgio de Chiro’s The Song of Love

Magritte’s works conveyed “themes of mystery and madness to challenge assumptions of human perception, often “forcing viewers to look outside of the norm and focus on the distinctive features which were not originally present”. He believed that “what is concealed is more important than what is open to view”, which translated to his works that often have an aura of mystery.

"Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." - Rene Magritte

It is relatively simple for one to distinguish Magritte’s works; this is mainly due to  his distinctive style which encompasses the portrayal of objects – usually familiar and mundane objects – as symbols and placing them in “unusual contexts and juxtapositions”. These objects are placed in “dreamlike surroundings”, which are usually similar to one another and juxtaposes against the objects. With his playful and provocative sense of humour, Magritte conveys his fascination with a “paradoxical world” by presenting objects in bizarre flights of fancy blended with horror, peril, comedy and mystery.

I hope to adopt Magritte’s approach of using juxtaposition as a tool to create a sense of mystery. This can be done through pairing contrasting objects or placing mundane objects in unusual settings.

Tommy Ingberg
Works of Tommy Ingberg

Tommy Ingberg is a modern surrealist photographer who “creates minimalistic and self-reflecting surreal photo montages”. He plays with the idea of “human nature”, using his own “inner life, thoughts and feelings” as the main basis in his pictures. His works comprise of “simple, scaled back compositions with few elements, where every part adds to the story”, but with “gaps for the viewer to fill”. 

"For me, surrealism is about trying to explain something 
abstract like a feeling or a thought, expressing the 
subconscious with a picture." - Tommy Ingberg

Inspired by the subject matter portrayed in his photographs, namely the idea of combining the physical attributes of humans and objects together, I intend to experiment more with the idea of pairing the physical aspects and functions of the object with human personalities, emotions, or physicality.

Kyle Thompson
Works of Kyle Thompson

Kyle Thompson is a modern surrealist photographer whose images mainly comprise of self portraits taken against landscapes that feature empty forests and abandoned homes.

Thompson describes his works as an outlet of “encapsulat[ing] the ephemeral narrative, a non-existent storyline that exists only for a split moment”, which “lives on in a constant unchanging state”.  He aims to show the “collapse of narrative” as there is “no defined storyline with a beginning and end”, creating a “loop”. The human figures in his images often have covered limbs or are hidden behind calm and melancholic demeanours (evident in their facial expressions or gestures); “by diverting the view of the face, the images become more ambiguous”, making the viewer “no longer able to tie a defined storyline to the image”. Thompson’s works therefore “evade narrative and easy answers”.

"I do a lot of images about self-destruction, often translating it a bit literally and imagining my body as something delicate and breakable like glass that is shattering." - Kyle Thompson
Void by Kyle Thompson

Thompson’s images are usually centred on the idea of loneliness – the backdrop and subject matter featured help to convey this emotion. Location-wise, his images are usually set in “lonely dreamscapes”, places that are commonly empty (forests and abandoned homes). Reinforcing the idea of loneliness, his images have a minimalistic look which is achieved through simplifying everything in each shot, “remov[ing] certain details so that the images are easy to relate to, but difficult to define”.

I was inspired by Thompson’s technique of using subject matter to convey loneliness and emotion. Limiting the set-up, in my opinion, not only draws focus to the subject featured, but also helps in giving the object an emotional aura. I therefore intend to adopt his idea of limiting subject matter, and at the same time, focusing on “elegant compositions, rich colours, and powerful juxtapositions” (acclaimed factor of his images), to convey the intended message and creating emotion.

Task 1: Denotation

For the first task, we were required to portray the object in its literal form, both in physicality and functionality.

Task 1 Image 1
Task 1 Image 2
Task 1 Image 3

This task required us to capture two main aspects of the assigned object – its physical attributes and functionality. Since this series is to convey a straightforward message to viewers, I wanted to make use of different principles along with the pin’s environment to emphasise its physical attributes and functionality.

The first image shows where one can typically find a safety pin; in a sewing box. It also shows the safety pin as something that exists in abundance – one would usually purchase a handful of safety pins as oppose to just one pin. The second image focuses on the main function of the safety pin; to fasten clothing. The last image focuses on the physical attributes of the pin, the most prominent being its sharp point.

Principles Applied
I. Varied Angles
Image 1 Top-down angle
Image 2 Eye-level
Image 3 Eye-level

I wanted to photograph the pin using different angles to highlight certain elements. In the first image, I used a top-down angle to show the pin in its usual environment; doing so helped me to clearly establish the physicality of the entire pin as well as the environment. In the second image, I used an eye-level angle to show its main function. Having the pin situated at an eye-level also helps to clearly establish the subjects in the shot and how they relate to one another. In the third image, I used an eye-level shot to show the pin’s sharp point. Doing so again, helps to clearly highlight one of the more prominent physical attributes of the pin.

II. Varied Shot Scales
Image 1 Wide-shot
Image 2 Wide-shot
Image 3 Extreme close-up

I also experimented with different shot scales. In the first image, I used a wide-shot – in my opinion, I consider this a wide shot due to the smaller sizes of the objects portrayed – to establish the pin’s usual environment. Using a wide-shot helps in clearly portraying the environment, as well as forming a more interesting establishing shot. For the second image, I also chose to use a wide-shot to show its main function – similar to the idea behind the first image, it helped to clearly portray the subjects in the shot and their relations to one another. As for the last image, I used an extreme close-up to draw focus to the pin’s sharp point.

III. Cropping

Cropping was another principle applied. In the first image, I cropped out the rest of the sewing box as a means to draw focus to the pile of safety pins but at the same time, keeping certain elements in the background to convey the setting to viewers. Similarly, in the second and third image, I chose to zoom into the safety pin as opposed to having the subjects in their entirety; this was meant to highlight certain aspects of the pin and draw focus to its literal functionality, clearly conveying the message to viewers.

IV. Symmetry

The shots were also captured with the intent of keeping everything symmetrical. This was to emphasise on the safety pin’s rigid nature, as well as reduce clutter from the other elements in the shot, keeping the focus to the safety pin.

V. Colours & Textures

Since the shots in this task were meant to clearly convey the pin’s physical form and functionality, I used colours and textures to emphasise its structure and at the same time, make the shots more visually appealing. In the first image, I tried to capture the patterned background of the sewing box along with the colourful spools of thread; they were also able to serve as a contrast to the pin’s metallic colour. The wooden frame of the sewing box also served as a contrast to the pin’s metallic material. As for the second image, using a blue and white striped fabric complementing the pale blue background and skin colour helped to make the shot more visually-appealing. For the third image, I chose to have the pin situated against a plain, subtle background to emphasise the pin’s sharp point.

Research & Process
Task 1 test shots

To prepare for this task, I dissected the safety pin’s physical structure and functionality and chose certain attributes to highlight. These attributes included its sharp point and clasp, its rigid nature and metallic body, its typical existence in abundance, and its function of fastening fabrics. With that, I proceeded to think of structuring shots in such a way where I can highlight these features.

To highlight the pin’s metallic and rigid structure, I tried to contrast it against softer textures; this was done by placing it against materials such as cloth and felt. I also experimented with different textures of fabrics when fastening the safety pin to them – this was done to see which gave better visual appeal and at the same time, keeping the focus drawn to the pin.


Task 2: Connotation

The second task then required us to subvert the object’s meaning, capturing its cultural relevance and meaning, as well as celebrating, changing, or critiquing its meaning.

Task 2 Image 1
Task 2 Image 2
Task 2 Image 3

The safety pin, as small as its structure is and direct as its functions are, has a long history. Hence, I wanted to take the attributes and functions displayed in the previous task and completely subvert their meanings. The images are related as follows:

  • Task 1 Image 1 = Task 2 Image 1
  • Task 1 Image 2 = Task 2 Image 2
  • Task 1 Image 3 = Task 2 Image 3

The first image of this task was meant to convey an alternative scenario where a safety pin was regarded as a rare object of high-end culture and something only the wealthy can afford. Contrasting against its relating image in Task 1 (which displays the safety pin as a basic tool in sewing and the tendency for one to easily find and purchase them), I wanted the image to show the safety pin as something associated with royalty. With a make-shift display, I tried to recreate an auction display or art exhibition with satin cloth and fairy lights to give the safety pin a “high-society” aura.

The second image, on the other hand, was meant to represent two things – a contrast against its main function, and a homage to its role as a fashion accessory in the punk rock movement and haute couture. Relating back to its literal function displayed in Task 1 Image 2, it contrasts against this by showing the utilitarian nature of safety pins can be subverted and they can be shown as something useless, being used merely as an accessory; instead of having a useful feature in fastening fabric together, the safety pin can also be used to further enhance one’s appearance. 

As for the third image, it shows the pin as a “utilitarian superhero”. This is meant to pay homage to its role in European culture, where a safety pin is worn as it seen as something that wards off evil, as well as relating to Task 1 Image 3, where it highlights the pin’s sharp point. The image is meant to convey the safety pin as a superhero through mimicking the well-known moment where superheroes sense trouble and immediately go into a costume-change moment.

Principles Applied
I. Varied Angles
Image 1 Eye-level
Image 2 Eye-level
Image 3 Low angle

Similar to earlier shots, I wanted to experiment with different angles. For Images 1 and 2, I used an eye-level shot. Using an eye-level shot in Image 1 reinforces its intended concept and setting; since the image was meant to convey the idea of a safety pin, an object of royalty, housed in an exhibit, having it at eye-level helps viewers to experience the scenario better. Using an eye-level for Image 2, on the other hand, helps to position the subjects better, showing a clearer shot.

As for Image 3, I used a low angle. Since the main subject in the image was supposed to represent a superhero, I thought it would be fitting to use a low angle so as to paint the subject in a more “heroic” manner, and something that people tend to look up to and highly regard.

II. Varied Shot Scales
Image 1 Mid-shot
Image 2 Mid-shot
Image 3 Wide-shot

I also used varied shot scales to better relay the intended messages. Since the images were meant to portray the objects as something of importance – an object of royalty and a superhero – I used mid-shots and wide-shots to show the entirety of the object. Using a mid-shot also helped in conveying the subverted function of the pin more clearly (in Image 2).

III. Cropping

Cropping was also used in the photographs, especially evident in Image 2, to draw focus to the safety pin but at the same time, keeping aspects of other elements in the shot to clearly establish the setting, thereby better relaying the image’s intended message to viewers.

IV. Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds was considered when placing subjects within the shot; this is mostly displayed in Images 2 and 3 where the subject of focus (i.e. the safety pin) is placed 2/3 in the frame.

V. Colour & Texture

Colour and textures of different elements were also taken into consideration when composing the shots. In Image 1, I used a white satin cloth to form the backdrop; this was meant to highlight the safety pin as an object associated with wealth. The addition of white fairy lights in the background also helped in creating a layer of depth and added more visual appeal. As for Image 2, I chose to have a muted-coloured background to create a neutral background for the bright skin colour and scattering of safety pins. In Image 3, I chose to have complementary colours (yellow and blue) for the clothing as well as a mixture of cotton and denim to provide a layer of depth through different textures. This helped in making the shot more visually appealing.

V. Signs, Symbols & Icons

I wanted to experiment with safety pins as symbols and therefore, portrayed them in situations that convey their cultural contexts. However, viewers are required to have prior knowledge on the safety pin’s history before understanding the images’ concepts.

Research & Process

To prepare for this task, I conducted some research on safety pins and turns out they have quite a prominent history. I then created a mind map to note down the safety pins’ literal functions and their subverted versions.

Mindmap for safety pin subversion
Mindmap for safety pin subversion

In a cultural context, they were a symbol for the punk rock movement where they were conceived as a fashion accessory amongst followers. They then became a fashion symbol in haute couture amongst high-end brands that range from Versace to Marc Jacobs.

Mood board for punk movement

Safety pins also hold a significant role in European culture where they are seen as a symbol of good luck, typically worn on clothes as a means to ward off evil spirits.


Mood board for superhero, superstition, object of royalty

After conducting some research, I decided to pick out a few contexts I could carry forward with. I chose to experiment with the ideas of safety pins as icons of the punk rock movement, a defender against evil spirits, and subverting its physicality as an affordable and insignificant tool.


Task 2 test shots

I experimented with different ways to convey the cultural contexts of the safety pin. I tried object association where I paired the safety pins with objects related to its cultural background – to portray the punk rock movement, I used items commonly associated with the movement (this included splatters of black paint, graffiti art, music instruments, and black clothing and fish nets. Additionally, showing it as a defender against evil spirits, I tried using different representations of evil spirits (having a print of a monster and painting my hand black). However, I felt these shots, although quite straightforward, were not as visual appealing or captivating.

Task 3: Text and Image

Task 3 Poster

For the final task, I wanted to expand on the idea of a safety pin being a superhero. In its physical structure, the safety pin consists of a clasp in which it holds its sharp end, protecting users from pricking themselves; this is symbolic of superheroes, where their main role is to confine evil and protect others. Their heroic nature is further reinforced through their main function, fastening clothing. It is once again, reinforced through its cultural meaning where they are perceived as symbols of good luck and objects capable of warding off evil spirits. Therefore, to show it as a superhero, I mimicked a pop culture reference of Superman in his call to justice.

I used the tagline “The Insignificant Superhero” to reiterate the idea of the safety pin, an object so insignificant due to its cheap production value, small size, and tendency to be forgotten until needed, having a capacity to carry out tasks beyond its appearance. The tagline used is a relay where viewers have to have prior knowledge to understand the context behind the poster. However, in a literal context, the text can serve as anchorage, where viewers who know the main function of a safety pin (fastening fabrics), will be able to realise the usefulness of the pin.

Feedback & Improvements

Some of the feedback I received was that there were other portrayals I could have used to better convey the subverted versions of the safety pin. For example, with regards to it being a superhero, I could have portrayed a scenario where the safety pin is responding to person in need of desperate help but the situation in this case is the person accidentally tearing his/her clothes before an important job interview.

In future projects, I hope to work more on my conceptualising stages and deliver images that are able to clearly convey the intended message.


I. Rene Magritte




II. Tommy Ingberg



III. Kyle Thompson

Kyle Thompson

Kyle Thompson Surreal Photography


What Is Punk? 25 Definitions From People Who Should Know

A completely unnecessary history of the safety pin



[Final] Project 1: Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box: Symmetry

Top: Product in dark
Bottom: Product in light

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

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


Principles Applied

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

II. Macro Application
Product Application (Macro): Garage

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

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

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

Challenges and Improvements

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

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


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

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

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

Project 1: Pandora’s Box

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

Research and Reference

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

I. Dissecting ‘Symmetry’

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

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

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

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

II. Sou Fujimoto

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

House H (2008)

Sou Fujimoto’s House H (2008)

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

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

III. Disparate Bus Stops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Materiality
  • Material as visual and functional element

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

Bus stop by Smiljan Radic

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

I. Model 1

Model 1 focuses more on the concept of Translation Symmetry.

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

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

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

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

Line of symmetry present in frontal view, through wedging

Boxes to be seen from different views

Try out different methods of display for SO

Draft 3 Lines of symmetry

Rule of Thirds (sizes of boxes used)

Established hierarchy

More interesting views from different angles

II. Model 2

Model 2 focuses more on the concept of Reflection Symmetry.

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


Positive Changes To Make
Draft 1  Line of symmetry


Unclear hierarchy: Change sizes of boxes

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

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

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

Draft 3  Line of symmetry

Symmetry more established  in different views

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

Application of Rule of Thirds

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

Draft 4  Line of symmetry

Symmetry more established  in different views

Hierarchy: Change shape of SD, change size of SO

Apply materials

III. Model 3

Model 3 focuses more on Rotation Symmetry.

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

Established hierarchy

Discard: No tilting of volumes
 IV. Preparation for Final

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


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

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








2D Sketch Analysis

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Mass & Void

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


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

Interesting details
Ergonomic and Practical Aspects

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