i have been working hard for the past few weeks updating my website. still not happy with it. actually i don’t think i will ever be. www.shawnsoh.com
Movie Interest - Her
If you are a Tumblr fanatic, you would have heard about Her, a movie about modern love story. To be brutally honest, I have always had a weakness for romantic tales about unrequited love but this one really stood out for me. Moving past the beautiful cinematography, colours in the film and subtle acting, I found that this movie was a master in articulating the state of our modern society – a world juggling in between of advances of technology and spirit of humanity.
Words fell off the mouths of the characters and perfectly reenacted scenes of daily life and told the plain truth of mundane daily living. Absolutely beautiful. A few months ago I switched my graphic design route to a film and moving image route. I wanted to take a risk and see if the film world would help me articulate my design thinking more. What I learnt is that film has this space to create emotion. I guess it is pretty obvious to many but what if one designer became more sensitive to the subtleties in life and started to be good at articulating those moments? What if that language was brought into print, sculpture, spaces? A week ago I was thinking if I made the right choice of the change. Now I think it is helping because I am learning to see things I don’t. Maybe the ways of becoming an artist ‘realised’ is to take risks continuously, to go through the rickety shaking and constant fear… maybe we need these uncomfortable moments to realise who we are as people (and creatives) and what we can do to give back to the world we live in.
Sidetracked a little but I do strongly recommend you to watch the movie.
Azamat Akhmadbaev, Scannin’ Ё Blood II, 2014
Art Interest – Sensing Spaces
Last week I visited the Royal Academy of Arts, Sensing Spaces exhibition with two of my friends, Natasha and Manon. I have a strong interest in spaces so this was an exciting day for me. Upon entry we were greeted by a large hall with quotes from the various artists that were involved in the exhibition. I won’t try to give out too much details here because I really would like you to visit the exhibition. So I will share my thoughts and feelings about it instead.
I loved how the artists were able to create work that was an extension of themselves. The picture posted above is a space done by Diébédo Francis Kéré. He is a Burkinabé architect born in Gando, based in Berlin, Germany. In his work, he wanted to bring the sense of community in his hometown into a city environment. He wanted to celebrate interaction that he felt was lacking in our modern society; and the idea of everyone bringing a piece of themselves to a space, quite like what he grew up with in his hometown. In the exhibit, people were encouraged to make things with long coloured straws and stick them into the corrugated structure. Besides the point that it was the most popular exhibit, I really liked it because I felt the work he did was a visual articulation of his beliefs. His inspiration was drawn from himself and things he grew up with. His work was a true extension of who he is.
Artists like him makes me feel hopeful. In contrast to the experiences and opinions I have had/heard, this makes me feel like there is a possibility to produce a successful design that communicates something that is true to the voice of the designer. This statement is probably too much of a “carebear” slash “I Have a Dream” moment but I want to be that sort of person who makes work that speaks and touches people, educating and encouraging people to be more of who they are and celebrating the things in life we often look over.
I have been interested in the idea of looking, in the context of faces. The people we see everyday have more of a story than what we see. We don’t know who people really are, just who we think they are. Our stories are trapped within our bodies, and occasionally revealed in our faces.
Every friend we have knows a fraction of who we are. They see our faces but relate that image based on their personal experience with us. What about our birth parents? We carry a resemblance to themselves. How does that make them feel? I would think it is strange. Watching someone who looks like me, eventually behaving like me and maybe making the same mistakes I did.
I stumbled upon a book by John Berger. He speaks about looking in terms of a photography. He speaks about capturing an image respects the laws of memory. The image is conclusive of something in the past and present.
If we want to put a photograph back into the context of experience, social experience, social memory, we have to respect the laws of memory. We have to situate the printed photograph so that it acquires something of the surprising conclusiveness of that which was and is.
- John Berger, About Looking
Then he begins to bring photography into a metaphor of a window that frames private or social activity.
Each window frames the locus of private or social activity. Each frame contains the sign of a lived experience. The triptych as a whole assembles the sum of these signs of experience, which are massed together according to a visible law of accumulation, brick upon brick, storey upon storey, window by window… The windows disclose what is insider their buildings. The windows present the life or lives of their building.
- John Berger, About Looking
In our daily lives, we move quick and complacent. We do not frequently stop or linger at moments. Maybe in photography we are forced to look at a person in context. In a still moment, our minds begin to open and apply the laws of memory and time. We see an image but in our minds heighten what is, was and could be. In a picture, our minds open, we become self-aware and maybe more human.
a video articulation based on an experimental project about changing perceptions
This project is an experiemental self-portrait about the act of introspection and the slow (and sometimes unresolved) process of realisation. I struggled with the project a little because there was a lot of things that I wanted to say with the piece. But most importantly, I wanted to create a melancholic mood as that seems to be how I feel when I am introspecting anyway.
I used mandarin characters because I felt that as a Singaporean-Chinese artist, I have not tapped into my culture as a form of visual language. Using mandarin characters also meant that the meaning behind words will not be a distraction to my audience (who don’t know mandarin), instead the “feeling” spoken language spoken will be communicated. The flickering is to imitate the way ideas and words resound in our head when we go deep within our thoughts. And with the act of introspecting we cross a line and where it takes us into places. We feel the gravity and pull of our emotions, drawing us into that awkward juxtaposed feeling of knowing and unknowing.
Click here to watch the video
Introspection as a Form of Inspiration
My friends and I were talking about childhood memories at a bar. One of them was telling me about how he was so obsessed with fame and when he was a child, he would pretend to be a rock star and create a stage for himself. He started describing to me the feelings he felt and the props he made. As he told his story, I began to weave fantastical images of a wild man in a gold suit with wings, singing into a horn-shaped microphone.
Then it struck me.
Maybe the way to realize one’s personal creative freedom is to become more of yourself, to be in tuned with your ideas and dreams, past and present, success and failures… Maybe introspection and peering into personal experiences can be a form of ‘true inspiration.’ Isn’t art and design all about sharing personal perspectives anyway? What better way to realize that notion by harnessing nostalgia and personal emotion? Won’t design then entail much more of a human quality?
So I guess next time you pick up a design book or click on behance to look for inspiration. Maybe we should take a chance and all look within ourselves instead.