Category Archives: Sketches

Doors – Physical Manifestation of Conceptual Transitions

In the beginning…

There were doors…

14497Now a flashback to past! Back to Space. I hope those who are checking have begun reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, for I drew inspiration for my initial works mainly from that novel.

Moving on to doors…

This body of works come as an exploration of what we so often take for granted. Yes, we know that a basic room is made of four walls and a door, possibly windows thrown inabbas-kiarostami-photography on the side. However, we recognise the walls that lay right there in front of our eyes, but often neglect the entrance into that space. This consideration made me question – how do we view doors? a transitioning point into another space or a mere object barring the way and obstructing movement between spaces?

In my opinion, doors signify a transitioning point between one space and another. Even as they stand alone without her brother, solid, concrete walls, they divide space according to where they are placed. Many see walls as the main divider of space, I on the other hand was always intrigued by doors taking on that role instead. That idea conjured images of C.S. Lewis illustration of the cupboard in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, where the four children step into the wondrous magical land of Narina simply by stepping through the door of a cupboard in the attic. Similarly, Neil Gaiman’s novel, Neverwhere, depicts a girl who can open doors to any place she desire to go to, a room, an alleyway, etc. These inspirations emphasised my concept of a door being a transtioning point, a divider of space and made me further question the functions of a door and people’s perception of what a door is.

I then went on to break down the door, literally and figuratively. This came in the form of discovering how the components of a door were made – the hinges, the frame, IMG_1645the door itself, and attempting to recreate all these components myself form the raw materials I had on hand in the studios.This process saw me buying all the different variations of hinges that I could get my hands on, garden gate hinges, typical door hinges, even “manufacturing” my own hinges varying in size and material to really feel how each part of a door contributed to the entire system that we see in every room. In going through this process, I discovered the process of art making, handling and feeling the material, to stretch it to its limits and push it further than I have ever done before. IMG_1538I would flatten, hammer, even soften aluminium just to create my own hinges. In that rigorous, laborious journey, I found satisfaction in simply “making”, and it gave me such great joy to just appreciate the final product and know that I saw IMG_1539 2the process from beginning to end. The simple realization that I was actually creating the door from scratch made me reflect deeply on the art making journey that all artist embark on. That, as artists, each component, whether it be a brushstroke or a single nook made by a chisel, matters greatly in the grand scheme of things. it is an initial step in to the creation of an entire system thatIMG_1642 2 allows a work to become whole and, ultimately, convey what the artist’s soul want to share with his audiences, to challenge norms and draw viewers out of their comfort zone.

At the end of this investigation, I came up with a series of works that represented my exploration and research over the year. (I know most might think “one year is a long time for such few works”, but I will explain later.) These series sought to break down the conventional concept of the door and in doing so hope to subvert people’s stereotype of what a door represents. For instance, in the piece on the right, I delineated the wall and the door in three-dimensional space through the use of a line. This use of the line arose as I considered the simplest form of mark making and how it could be translated from two-dimensional to three-dimensional space. Its final manifestation was to be a single beam that would be “drawn” across the space I wished to divide. It would start at one end, connected to the wall, and run, roughly at an average person’s shin, to close to the other end. At that point, the beam would rise then continues to the end of the wall to form the form of the door. By breaking down the form to the bare minimum, I hoped to challenge the conventional stereotype of the door – can it just be the outline? Is that line sufficient an obstruction for people to realise the existence of that door? And that, I believed successfully captured the essence of the exploration at that point.

Now, I hope you all enjoy the galleria below:

2) Door (1)
Door (1), 2011
36 x 24 x 22
Plywood, Manufactured hinges
3) Door (4)
Door (2), 2011
36 x 24 x 18
Plywood
4) Door (3)
Door (3), 2011
36 x 24 x 18
Plywood, Acrylic Mirror
5) Door (2)

Door (4), 2011
36 x 24 x 22
Plywood, Manufactured hinges
6) Door (5)
Door (5), 2011
70 x 29 x 27
Plywood, Solid Wood

References:
Abbas Kiarostami Photography
Neil Gaiman’s – Neverwhere
C.S. Lewis – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Grasping The Intangible, Manipulating The Metaphysical (Cont’d)

Since you have already read my short little “monologue”, I want to give you an initial glimpse into my works in yet another verbal expose. This short segment comes from my Artist/Candidate Statement during my IBDP years and was submitted as a part of my examination requirement together with my Visual Arts portfolio. This statement is an attempt to summarize all my thought processes and conceptual thinking into a compacted summary. So here it is…

My investigation draws inspiration from architectural elements – not the physical, but rather the negative spaces created after a structure has been erected, spaces within the frames in which we exist. Initially, I had difficulty condensing this ambiguous theme into something that reflected my experience and area of interest. It called for much thought and experimentation, including exploring basic visual elements that could express my concern with space, and approaches such as to-scale maquettes and observing people’s reactions to space.

In this exploration, I looked at space not so much as a place for exhibition, but as a material in itself – something that could be manipulated and controlled. I sought to create works that would not only exist as objects, but also respond to a variety of environments. Through my works, I aim to bring to awareness how I approach and experience a space, as well as the potential I see for it. While examining linear elements and the lighting that architects and artists use to define certain spaces, I created responses in the form of doors, site-specific lighting works and “line” works. I believe that these lines and lighting techniques are objects that define space in a subtle manner, but are often overlooked and misunderstood.

Artists like Peter Callesen and Anthony Mccall have spurred me on to work with different media such as paper and light, and to approach them through various less conventional techniques that draw attention to elements of space.

As my works are impacted by the surroundings in which they exist, in the process as they are altered, re-made or take on different forms, the material carries with it a sense of “history”, of continuity. These works represent part of an on-going investigation that grapples with the intangible. The process of working with space knows no limit.

Now most may wonder why post this block of words talking about a concept of space but to not actually demonstrating the use of space through installations and sculptures? The answer is simple – a book started this investigation. The book’s title, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman is a bestselling author of fantasy novels, elucindating intricate details in deeps mysterious novels. Neverwhere portrays the journey of a girl, Door, who can open any door to any place she desired. This got me thinking about transitional spaces, questioning “what makes a door what it it?”, “does a door truly matter to the space?” and “what defines a door and its existence?”

For those who have not read Neverwhere, I strongly encourage you to do so. Afterward, share with my your insights and thoughts regarding the characters in relation to my concept of transitional space. In my opinion, it was the best and most unforgettable of Neil Gaiman’s collection of novels.

Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical

At last!!! I can present to you my body of works that I conceived during my International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). This program requires students who take art to create and exhibit a body of work, and their processes, that revolves around a theme of their choice. The medium and specialization is unspecified and students are then graded not by their specialization, but purely as art “majors” by artist-examiners from other IBDP schools.

However, in SOTA, things ran slightly differently and it was to my benefit that they did. Given the choice of actually choosing a specialization, I chose sculpture and this gave me a wide exposure to a variety of mediums and techniques within the specialization. As, most might see, I am not a classical sculptor, dabbling in stone or wood carvings. Being more of a contemporary sculptor, I put concepts before my works in the hope that the concepts will speak through my pieces to audiences. All this is done with the aim of challenging stereotypes, norms and other conceptions that people may have. Now some may wonder, “How can a person with little or no classical training come up with something that can truly be called art, or abstract art for that matter?” That, I will let you as audiences decide for yourselves. For me, it has always been about my processes and my journey of self discovery and creation. Through that, I hope people will see my works as substantial pieces that speak for themselves in more ways than one.

To start it all of, I will introduce to you the concept and theme – Space. As you may have read from my posts, space, to me, is more than just a place for displays or somewhere that we exist. It is a medium, intangible and vast.  My two-year investigation drew upon the negative spaces of the more commonly thought of architectural elements of positive space. Perceiving space as a material rather than just an environment opened up my eyes to the potential of this medium. Inspired by artists such as Peter Callesen, Olafur Eliason and Anthony McCall, I sought to create a reciprocative relationship between audience and the environment, one that is continuous, and appeals to not just one audience, but many regardless of upbringing, race, religion,etc.

This body of works that I am about to present to you over the next few posts will bring you through my processes and tell you a story like you have never heard before. And do not forget that all this is an ongoing process to dabble with the profoundness of space. I wish that as you read and view my posts, you contemplate about the spaces that you exist in, even as you read this post, and see if you can think out of its confines to see it as a place of contentment and satisfaction. If you do not, I challenge you to change it, to create it as it were, and make it into your own.

Designer Recycler

As promised, a sneak peek into what I am currently experimenting with:

image

What you see are two paper bags, one inside the other, cut with random geometric designs and layered. These two bags are from two different supermarkets – Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, given to me by my girlfriend during her current tertiary education in the USA.

This was inspired by two service trips to Cambodia where I saw handicrafts such as wallets, handbags, etc. that were made by street youths and adults to supply them with a source of income. Now what sets these handicrafts apart from others is their innovative and creative use of materials. They are in actual fact made of recycled materials, including soda cans and newspapers, among others. What astounded me was that these materials, uninteresting and “useless” as they would usually seem, were made into really durable, waterproof items that were functional. So, after I was presented with the numerous paper bags, it brought to mind all the handicrafts I saw in Cambodia and made me ask myself if I could do something similar; something that had functionality as well as artistic design. So that is what you see before you in the picture above.

At this moment, the paper bag is reinforced around the rim and interior. As I mentioned earlier, it is one bag inside another, making it stiffer and, therefore, stronger. Hopefully, in the near future I will be able to make it more functional and longer lasting so that it can be used for a wider range of purposes. Currently, 99 percent of the materials are totally recycled and recyclable, and I hope to keep it that way till the end.

Right now, I need to find ways to stiffen the paper even more without compromising the idea of recycling so that it’ll be more durable. Also, I am thinking of more ways to make them more functional so that people can use it on a day-to-day basis.

If any of you guys have any input, it would be greatly appreciated :))) I hope you stay tuned for updates and hopefully, just hopefully, I’ll be able to unveil my body of works. SOON…

My inspiration:
Friends International – Mith Samlanh
Peter Callesen

In a Bottle: Perennial Night Flower

Another bottled work with an origami piece inside, the Chinese Vase. The name was simply derived from these crucial two years in my schooling life, thus the name “perennial”. This small piece was given to one of my design teachers at School Of The Arts, Singapore for her help in the installation of my work at i Light Marina Bay 2013. As much as it is a simple piece, I like want to bring to mind how simple “experimentation” and mediums can always create a beautiful piece.

Once again, I have used light as part of my work in order to draw focus to the simple origami inside, and also to give a certain edge in the darkness. To me, this blue flower glow brings to mind the winter solstice where fields of spring flowers, just peaking through the snow are bathed in the glow of the night sky. On hindsight, this piece represents a new start due to my dry spell prior to the light installation at i Light Marina Bay 2013 and serves as a reminder that there is beauty in simplicity.

Somehow, I have grown rather fond of pieces that involve both light and sensitivity to the medium that challenges my ability towards the material in terms of size and delicacy. The size of this bottle is roughly 3cm in height and in diameter.

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Hope that in the future I will be able to create more works with an even greater sensitivity to material and subject material. I also expect myself to get more intricate in the designs.

If anyone has any other suggestions as to what materials I could try and what subject matter I could put in, I would greatly welcome the suggestions!