Greco Romano

Through the maze of city endless streets and winding alleyways…

The travel through and between cities was also an enlightening and amazing journey. The first seven days were mostly done on foot and via train (Frecciargento Trenitalia) and what I saw was truly breathtaking. Although most already know Italy and Greece for their amazing advancement in architecture and art from early on, what amazed me was their ability to maintain these sites in incredibly pristine condition. What is more, they have somehow succeeded in designing and building around these manmade marvels to integrate today’s modern comforts and culture. For instance, in the streets and alleyways near Soggiorno Oblivium, Florence (the hotel I was staying in), there was evidence of intriguing street art, in which one designer had cheekily changed the street signs with those that he had integrated stickmen into (seen in the gallery below), all of which could be bought from a shop along Via Della Spada (Mio Store) if one sought to bring home a piece of Italy or European street culture home with them. However, obviously European street art cannot exclude the infamous graffiti that still covers its countless square meters of train stations and under-the-railway-track walls, all of which, even without truly understanding their language or meaning, can been seen to carry a significant part of their writer’s heart and soul, their mark and voice for the generations to come.

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Now, cruising the Mediterranean we land on the shores of some of the many Greek islands – Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Athens, home to white washed town, clear blue waters and amazing panoramic sites. Most know Greece for The Acropolis, Agora of Athens, Ruins of Ephesus and Rhodes. However, among the ruins, the culture has developed many modern additions, attracting tourist from around the world. As the smell of souvlakis and kebabs finds its way into the nooks and crannies through the maze of streets, you can sense the modernity of Greece all around you yet, you also sense with it comes dash of ancient Greece in the mix. It is almost as if you can hear ancient history speaking through the city walls of Old Rhodes. Locals wear smiles, eyes filled with personal stories, eager to share. Streets lined with shops resurrecting artifacts of old so that you can keep a piece of Greece. Upcoming designers peddling their wares in quaint little shops carrying carvings and symbols from a Greece forgotten.

…sharing with us the art, heritage and culture from a Greece less travelled and long forgotten.

**Moving to USA for my studies!!!!!!** STAY TUNED

Masquerade Memorandum

I finally managed to sit myself down to start the story of my Mediterranean masquerade. My travels (with my family of course…) lasted roughly two and a half weeks travelling through Italy and Greece. Now many would already know of the turmoil devastating the European Union because of Greece, and that it has span the last few years and has made its presence felt now more than any other time. Fortunately (or unfortunately – due to higher exchange rates), my family and I were there before all the chaos. However, even with all the underlying problems Europe has never failed to entice and charm me, and if asked, I would go back there at the drop of a hat. What made this trip unusual was that apart from the Vatican City Museum and the Sistine Chapel, I did not visit any other art or history museum. That is not to say we missed the Roman Coliseum, The Pantheon and The Greek Acropolis among many other sites. So as you might have gathered, this post is not so much about the art, but rather the food and human culture that I, like my parents have fallen in love with. But, where to begin…

Street Art and Culture – Venice, Florence & Rome

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Starting my journey in Florence, I was immediately surrounded by grand architecture and amazing street art that is nowhere similar to those dotting the Big Apple or any fast-paced cosmopolitan city. The amazing thing is that what you may have heard in fantastical and romantic stories of Florence, Venice, Rome, and many other cities through Italy are in actual fact true. Each street corner, alleyway and avenue, you would hear the melodies of accordionists, guitarists and flutists permeate the air and find their way into your soul. Accompanying these musicians in their harmonious melodies are their visual counterparts. They line the IMG_1956 streets selling panoramic landscapes of hand-drawn, hand-painted watercolors that capture the essence of Florence. For a small price, you can even get your portrait drawn, in black and white or colors, caricature or realistic, you just have to find the guy who specializes in the style you desire. Now some may assume that, like many other technically skilled artists who seek to capture the same subject matter, their works would be almost identical, would be surprise to find that they are mistaken. Somehow, though subject may be the same, these artists have managed to diversify through varied techniques and personal preference in color schemes and tonal values, each giving an their touch on the city and country they call their own.

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This could be said for the other two places I visited – Venice and Rome. Naturally these three places each distinguished themselves from any other part of Italy and the rest of the world. During my trip there, I managed to catch glimpses of the Venice Biennale. However, the point of the trip was not to catch the various exhibitions scatter around the city, but rather soak in the atmosphere that we hear so often in books, magazines, reviews, etc. Once again, this culturally saturated town never failed to amaze. Staying near a local wet market near the waters edge, you could just walk right up to part of the Grand Canal and experience the rhythm of everyday life in this unique city. During the trip, countless people spent their day just basking like lizards in the summer sun, watching the boats go by. IMG_1702As the sun sets and the warm glow of tungsten light cast long shadows on the streets of the city, tourist attractions such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco takes on a different rhythm. Like moths to a flame, people would be drawn to the cafes that surround the square with bands playing their personal renditions of famous, distinctively recognizable scores, classical or otherwise. Each time one band stops, the crowd moves to another, and then another, right through the night. Simultaneously, if you were to turn around, intermittent camera flashes mixed with lit up helicopter toys filling the air like scattered fireflies.

For once, strangely enough, being in the crowds are worth it, because you know that no one will see even if your body is tempted to dance to the music.

To be continued…

Links:
Accommodation
Soggiorno Oblivium (Florence) 
Restaurants
Vini da Pinto (Venice)
Trattoria – Bar PONTINI (Venice)A MUST GO
Agricola Toscana (Florence)
a casa ca.fe (Florence) – To start the day
Nerbone (Florence – Mercato Centrale)
– Grom (Everywhere)

Prints can be bought on:
500px: wanny225
Society6: 
thewanone

The Art Update: “Teacher ah, can RE-submit this work or not….?”

Re-submit

Verb

  1. To submit again: “Teacher, can re-submit this work or not…?”

Before we embark on my Mediterranean Masquerade, let me bring to you the upcoming School Of The Arts, Singapore (SOTA) Visual Arts faculty exhibition – Re-submission!!! Opening on the 22 July 2015 at the SOTA Arts Gallery, this exhibition will span two weeks, feature practising art teachers from SOTA.

This time, the tables have turned. Held just after the International Baccalaureate Visual Arts interviews, you will see teachers scurrying around to set up their personal works in the short span of one and a half days for this special exhibition. Mind you, they will have to juggle between this and their busy teaching schedule, which just makes this exhibition all the more exciting!

Now it is the student’s turns to comment on their teachers!

For more information, scoops and current SOTA students’ opinions and anecdotes on their teachers,, visit the Re-submission Faceboook page here! But, no spoilers will be given!

Late nights, balancing the teaching and creating, the question remains – What will the teachers “re-submit”?

Participating artists:
Vincent Leow, Jason Lim, Tan Wee Lit, Thomas Cheong, Zainudin Samsuri, Adeline Lim, Clara Koh, Chen Zi Wei, David Gan, Wesley, Fang Siwei, Liao Jie Kai, Ong Hui Har, Yap Kheng Kin, Nyan Soe, Khew Huey Chian, Zen Teh, Tricia Lim, Lydia Wong, Leroy Sofyan

Information:
Re-submission
Instagram: @_RESUB
Contact: resubmissionsota@gmail.com
Co-curated by: Resub Team
SOTA Website

Cardboard Carpentry

An interlude to all my history of art, I bring to you Cardboard Carpentry. Inspired by my travels to清境 (pronounced qing1 jingo), Taiwan, I have attempted to take cardboard to another level but try to make it into furniture like those I have seen in the Carton King. These pieces are works-in-progress and are far from completion. Whatever you see below has been made purely from “recycled” cardboard boxes of televisions, washing machines, etc.

THE MOTIVE & INSPIRATION

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Rather simple – to find other uses for cardboard beyond the circular process of making more boxes or for purely aesthetic ones such a scrapbooking or mounting images on a surface.  As mentioned earlier, the tables, chairs, bags, games, etc from Carton King, 清境 got me thinking about the potential for the material. It is almost an everyday material – your bulky packages arrive in them and electronics are encased in huge ones amongst so many other things. I am not saying that we do not recycle them enough or more efficiently than when I create them, but rather I hope that this is an alternative that could get others going on the potential of it.

I wanted to stretch the material even further and try experimenting for myself with it. I asked myself if  someone else could do all that with the help of machinery, could I do it without, and if so, what would I make and how would I make it? As I mentioned in the post, 清境, I highly doubt that the cardboard used at Carton King came from recycled boxes simply do to the sheer volume of cardboard necessary to make all the goods for sale. In addition, the process of making all these goods are not only labor intensive, but also demand clean, unadulterated cardboard for a sellable finish.

THE MATERIAL

At its most basic form, it is essentially paper (or most times recycled paper) that has been treated to withstand handling, wear and tear, etc. Some have been treated to the extent that they are waterproof on the surface or reinforced with strong adhesives and numerous layers. The standard cardboard will have a corrugated “core” that enhances it’s strength, yet allows it to maintain a relatively light mass so that it does not add unnecessary weight in addition to the object that it contains.

As can be seen in the image on the right, the corrugation is triangular in fashion, in order to give it some strength and durability. However, more often than not cardboard will end up creased along the hollow areas if bent or folded parallel to the corrugation due to handling and it is difficult to find cardboard surfaces that are not tainted by these crease marks. It is almost impossible to obtain a clean finish if one uses cardboard as the main material of a structure. Pressure on the surface will also cause dents in the cardboard that may look aesthetically displeasing in addition to compromising the structural integrity. Over time, lines are bound to appear and the colour will almost definitely go off if not chemically treated in any way.

Furthermore, this material is susceptible to the elements, rarely lasting a day in inclement weather. In the rain, watermarks will appear in blotches like mould on bread and eventually the card will go soft and lose all structural integrity rending it useless in nearly all circumstances, especially its purpose to protect and contain items. (Do not get me wrong though. Soggy, drenched cardboard still has many uses. However, I was and currently am attempting to keep the material in the condition that I received it in.)

That being said, it is recyclable, biodegradable and in most circumstances environmentally friendly if recycling remains a self-sustaining cycle, easily being broken down and remade into its former self. But, I highly doubt that is the case.

THE PROCESS

As much as it may be hard to believe, the process was rather straight forward. My process of making the chair was an immediate transition from conceptualization to realization. I was determined to not sketchout my plans, dimensions, etc. but immediately start constructing the chair on the spot. This “spur of the moment” methodology is something that I have grown up with and continued to hone after all these years, constantly thinking three-dimensionally rather 20150206_205701than going through the intermediate two-dimensional process of sketches and written words. Personally, I find that this process demands a lot of forward thinking as well as instantaneous problem solving. When a problem comes up during my process, I will have to immediately troubleshoot in order to not ruin the flow of creating the piece. I have applied this process to many of my works which includes majority of International Baccalaureate submissions revolving around the theme of Space. I understand that stating this becomes a matter of trust, as you readers and audiences truly do not know if I actually sketched out any part of my process or not.

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Moving on from the transitionary phase between conceptualization and actually manifesting the product, I contemplated the design and aesthetic look of the piece. At the start, in my mind’s eye, the chair was to be a simple one. It would have a square base of which three sides would act as “legs” or main support of the chair and last would remain unsupported. In addition, there would also be an armrest and a backrest. Overall, It would be asymmetrical in nature.

With that in mind, I started to take measurements from other chairs and used them as references when determining the height of my construct. The cardboard box, which originally contained a SONY Bravia television (Image above), was then divided cut up into separate segments using the fold lines20150103_000033 as guides. The largest area were then divided into three segments which would then become the three sided support of the chair. The unused cardboard was set aside to increase the strength and durability of these supports. The seat area (image on the right) was cut from the other large surface of the box and reinforced with corrugated cardboard that was meant to protect the television from any impact.

After making a hell of a mess in my room, I ended up with the basic components to create the form of my chair (Image below).
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As I imagined it in my head, the chair would not be that aesthetically appealing other than the fact that it was made purely out of cardboard and glue. So in the moment, I made the decision to cut out fame-like shapes at the sides as can be seen in the image above. This simple design was sparked by old Chinese chair 20150103_003231designs (usually cylindrical), where the center of the support would be cut out and a rectangular frame would be left. I believed that that design was simple yet sophisticated enough to catch the eye yet retain the structural strength to support a man’s weight. To enhance the strength of the chair, I made layers of these frames, which unknowingly added some depth to the side of the chair and enhance the aesthetics of the chair further. Keeping with the asymmetrical theme of this particular project, I decided that not all side will have the same concept of depth, with each side being layered with a different number of cardboard sheets. The finished components can be seen in the picture on the right.

In addition to all these “flourishes”, I continually pondered over how I could enhance the strength of this chair, which led me to reinforce the area where most chair legs would be. Making a huge mess, I cut up long, wide strips of cardboard from various other recycled boxes to form square pillared legs for the chair and, after gluing them on, am in the midst of tidying up their aesthetic look but pasting on unmarked strips of cardboard. Due to the small surface area of the contact point between the leg segment and the maid body of the chair, I decided to use epoxy to ensure that the legs remain fast to the main frame. The end product can be seen below.

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As an intermission and with a strong desire to finish “something” and hold it in my hands, I made another small footstool out of the leftover cardboard. This simple stool was made out of numerous layer of cardboard with detachable legs. 20150509_181954Being compact, it also it durable, easily support heavy weights.You can see it from the images on the right. From the top view, you can also see how cardboard is prone to creases and folds. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a project that anyone can undertake and should try at least once if there is any leftover cardboard lying around the house.

References:
The Carton King (thewanone post)
The Carton King (Website)
Cardboard (Wikipedia)

The Art Update: Hans Chew – The Personal Process of Craft

Introducing the up and coming student artist Hans Chew!!! Currently studying his final year in School Of The Arts, Singapore (SOTA).

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Recently, he created a work called Not “Always $2”, 2015 which is now on display outside the SOTA gallery on level 2. What you will see is a vending machine carrying pieces and pieces of handmade, thrown ceramics works, painstakingly created and fired piece by piece. Make no mistake, though these pieces may look mass produced (which they were… BY HAND) they were made individually by Hans himself. The pieces all have an allocated slot and allotted price in the machine, and can be bought like any other drink or snack vending machine. But unlike some gallery pieces that are only for show and lack audience-artwork-artist interaction, you, as the audience can actually purchase the work. Do not worry, your pieces will not break because of the drop. In fact I believe it adds a risk and theatrical/performance factor to the entire piece.

This entire installation seeks to bring attention to the artistic making process, from conception to even selling a work. In his concept excerpt, Hans mentions that in our highly mechanized society, represented by the vending machine, the traditional aspect of handmade 11138672_451158251717640_529051109257572916_nceramics and pottery is being “largely compromised”. By doing so, there is not only the loss of interaction between the artist and his works, let alone the audience. Even though pieces are handmade and unique, he mentions that the transaction is between the “audience and machine” at the “convenience of the buyer who can choose to buy any number of works at a fixed price”. Bearing in mind the concept of price, Hans goes on to bring up the monetary value of handmade ceramics pieces, and how greate11129745_451158248384307_602736312965306191_or “scrutiny” and “reflection” is required in determining the monetary value of each piece, taking into consideration materials, firing, glazing, rental of the machine and the painstaking, time-consuming creation of each piece by the artist himself. By putting similar pieces at different prices, he forces the audience to become an integral part of the entire concept, as they have to “attribute to craft in relation to the price they are prepared to pay”.

Personally, this work speaks volumes of what art is today. Questions such “does the artist’s hands really matter in the process?”, “can mass produced ‘pieces’ reconsidered art?” and “if the work is manufactured by machines or collective body, does it still retain the individualistic, craftsmanship by the person who conceived it?” are coming up more and more  in this art era. Works by artists such as Andy Warhol come to mind, and there always lies that age old question – “what makes an artwork, an artwork?” Today even well known artist are asking others to create their final display work. Whether these pieces are too big for one person to handle, or it is part of the concept, I do not know and do not want to judge. However, I believe that if there is a choice by the artist to make the work himself, no matter how massive, there are good reasons that value add to the concept of that work.

The concept of pricing is also a rather sensitive topic. Someone once told me “how expensive you decide to price your work depends on how much you cannot bear to part with it”, and I believe in that entirely. To artists, each work produced is their bread and butter, yet at the same time, they must also 11149375_10202560223646385_3038000592646586694_ndecide which carries more value – the integrity of the work or “surviving” off the piece. Similar to what Hans’ concept raises, people may not always accept high prices no matter how aesthetically pleasing it is to them and no matter how much they want to give to the artist. For all you know, an expensive piece may merely be the going at the cost price of its materials. Time IS priceless after all.

Considering Hans’ work, concept and process, two points come to mind:

The first point is targeted at audiences and buyers, which is the value of works. For those who do not dabble in the Visual Arts, or have little experience, let me say that each stroke and mark has a reason behind it. It is within the Visual Arts that the phrase “do not judge a book by its cover” plays a significant role. When a viewer judges a work, he must not only take into consideration what he perceives, but the entire process itself. The work may seem deceivingly simple, and the first thing that may come to the layman’s mind would be, “I can do that too”. But can 11136713_10202560222966368_348924248087514288_nyou recreate the artist’s process? The process may have been deep and reflective on the part of the artist, time and money, even blood, sweat and tears could have literally been put in to push this idea he believes in out to the public, you. For those who support the arts through monetary means of purchasing pieces, the gravity of the matter is that you, as the buyer are not only participating in the work, like Not “Always $2”, but you are also supporting, believing and, ultimately, buying the concept in its entirety. So understand the piece, beyond the tangible and perceivable and reflect on the impact that a work can have on yourself.

The next point would be towards artists and students of the arts. (Keep in mind that this is just an opinion.) Works that you create must also have a reason behind them. The artwork, like your eyes, are windows to your mind and soul. Do not create works that you are half-hearted about, because people will eventually see through the facade. You, yourself will also realize on hindsight that there was little value in creating that work. Do not do it for the grade or the recognition, because your entire process from conception to realization has a value, monetary or verbally, that will not only be judged by audiences, but yourself as well.

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Nevertheless, PLEASE, please support Hans in this endeavors and consider purchasing a piece before they all run out. Like all handmade pieces they are still unique in their own way. But before all that just stop… and consider all that I have said, particular the value of concept.

After all, how many can say they bought a unique handmade ceramic piece out of a vending machine.

References:
Hans Chew’s Facebook
Photographs Courtesy of Hans Chew, Rebecca Lee  and Timothy Ng

Atmospheric Affair

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To continue where I left of, this is one of two climaxes of my play. By now those who have been reading are familiar with my work Tabula Rasa. Exhibited in Asia’s only sustainable light festival, iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa is a light installation piece within a shipping container. The container was part of nine other containers stacked up one on top of another to form a three-by-three square grid to form an artwork by the New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. In order to make their work more interesting, they invited various schools in Singapore to submit proposals on installation pieces that could utilize the space within the two containers that sat on the base layer. One of the schools was Laselle, College of The Arts and the other was mine, representing School Of The Arts, Singapore.

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This piece was a major turning point of my artistic process for many reasons. For one, this piece made me think beyond the physical aspects and elements of a space, forcing me to look beyond into metaphysical elements such as sound, wind and light. In many ways, I feel that most developing and practicing artist forget that these invisible elements play crucial roles in the interpretation of an artwork. I, for one, look at all works with this in mind. Ingrained deeply in me are the words “respect the space” and with that planted a seed that continuously tells me to be aware of the space that I am in. This has allowed me to perceive environments in more ways than the usual first impression and contemplate the possibilities of that space whether I use it or not in the future. In addition, the fact that this piece was to be put under the public eye made both the journey and the final product things that had to be carefully considered. Questions like “how will the audience respond?” and “what would people think?” constantly haunted me during the process. As a student artist, audience may be forgiving on some level, however, the fact that it is open to the elements means that you are attempting to impress an idea upon people, who will in turn project their response whether it be desirable or not. Ultimately, your passion for the idea will show through, and, as I believe, people will see into that piece of your soul which you have laid out to the public eye and choose to accept it or not. It is the moment that YOU or I can make an impact. It was a turning point of change for both maker and viewer.

In this piece I used light and a smoke machine to create walls of light, much like the light curtains used in technical theatre. In contrast to those in theatre, I created these walls to be horizontal rather than vertical. This was achieved by constructing a false wall that was flushed to the left side of the container which housed both the LED lights as well as the smoke machine. After fixing the lights and the smoke machine in place, a curtain draped over the gap and the entrance in order to conceal the fixtures whiles simultaneously preventing the excessive escape of smoke from the container. Other than these four components, the rest of the container was left empty for people to walk in and immerse themselves into the installation. From the entire duration of the exhibition, the lights would be left on and the smoke machine was programmed to release burst of smoke at regular intervals to maintain the atmospheric effect within the container.

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The objective of this installation was to sensitize people to the space that they were entering and to make them question “what exactly was the artwork?” By this atmospheric effect within the container, I wanted to see if people realized that as they stepped in, they became part of the work. I hoped that they would be able to “feel” their bodies being severed from their heads and legs due to the walls of light and realise the impact of lighting on any space, thereby emphasising how simple, minimalistic metaphysical elements can change not only a person’s impression of the space, but also change the impression of how others view them in that space.

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As can be seen from the images above, a children may have been the only ones who manage to fully experience the environment created. I believe that with their imaginative capacity and sense of playfulness, they saw exactly what I intended the artwork to do. This brought to mind yet another revelation – sometimes we need not be so serious in viewing works that we have to judge them whenever we see them merely because we have the capacity to do so. Being perceptive and fully aware is one thing. But being quick to judge and criticize falls under an entirely different category. Let us first soak in the atmosphere, the piece’s and our surroundings before we start to analyze and attempt to appreciate what lays before our eyes. Mind you, that I said “attempt to”, as I know that to honestly appreciate something  is easier said than done.

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All in all, this work gave me an opening and also opened my eyes by exposing me more to the world of an artist. Not a “student artist”, but a full, practicing one. I could go on and on with the epiphanies and revelations that flooded my mind and have continuously been doing so, but I shall leave it at that and hope that you take some time to decipher my almost cryptographic handwritings in the following posts that they may both enlighten and inspire you as those revelations have greatly inspire me.