When things slow down a little at uni, I enjoy venturing out to nowhere in particular with my camera in hand. When I'm out, I try not to be simple a viewer - I try to be an observer. I enjoy discovering new things and small details that we would usually take for granted. It really is quite fun, too. Some recent photographs taken in the past two weeks or so:

I love observing details like this. Unexpected materials engaging each other.

Materials crudely joined together, can sometimes be quite beautiful.

A sign that has a history, tells a story. In this case, a 'after hours return' chute outside the Albert Park Library. Once taped.

A photograph that depicts movement and perceived sound.

Beautiful timber staircase leading up to Until Never gallery in Melbourne.

Block Arcade

Royal Arcade
These photographs aren't as strong as I'd like them to be, but I'm still, and constantly learning (aren't we all?).

Jessica Tong

I have been friends with Jess since high school in year10, when I first moved to Singapore. She is quite a character, and is currently studying interior design at UNSW in Sydney. Jess is an amazing realist painter, and I think her paintings really reflect her view, her depiction and thoughts of the subject - subconscious or not. Here are a few snippets of her work, from her blog.
Sketches for a milk powder formula dispenser - don't you love seeing thought processes down on paper?

Food masher for babies - what a cute little design too!

Product sketch of Twist Bench by Kenan Wang

A particularly lovely product sketch of Espresso Machine, 1967 by Bo-Ema

Jess makes industrial design seem different and interesting. I suppose it is very much similar to architecture (but of course, at a different scale) - where pragmatics and aesthetics come together. Concepts, inspirations, working and reworking, the process, hard work and the final resolved product (or structure). It makes me want to do a short course on industrial design, just to see what it's like!

Most of all, I think, with anything at all (especially in the design field), we have got to have some fun!

Following up yesterday's Zumthor quote in Thinking Architecture, here is another one that has inspired me today. Please take your time to read and understand it:
"What interests me in this story reported by [Italo] Calvino is not the exhortation to precision and patient, detailed work with which we are familiar, but the implication that richness and multiplcity emanate from the things themselves if we observe them attentively and give them their due. Applied to architecture, this means for me that power and multiplicity must be developed from the assigned task, or, in other words, from the things that constitute it.
John Cage said in one of his lectures that he is not a composer who hears music in his mind and then attempts to write it down. He has another way of operating. He works out concepts and structures and then has them performed to find out how they sound."
So often as design students we fall into the trap of the former, i.e. waiting for that lightbulb moment and scramble to put it down on paper. I want to be like John Cage, my work a result of iterations, patience, hard work that come together at the end. I struggle in trying to achieve this, sometimes telling myself not to wait for that lightbulb moment, or to draw 'random' inspiration from images I had seen the day before ... but still cannot help myself doing so. But, I am willing to work for this Cage/Zumthor-style work ethic - the result and sense of achievement will no doubt be priceless.

Your Colour Memory, 2004 - 2005, by Olafur Eliasson (Image from NY Times online)
Last year, we designed an art pavilion to house Olafur Eliasson's Your Colour Memory. Our work was encouraged to emanate from what we had at hand a la John Cage. My pavilion was based on attraction, a result of a rigorous but rewarding process of site analysis. That semester was the best I have had so far at university. Each semester after that just seem mediocre, unfortunately. To sum up the project, I would say that it all came naturally. Amazing feeling. I felt like I had reached a whole new level of understanding on architecture, and I still do. A later post will be dedicated to this project. Here's a sneaky peek: 

A bit busy with uni lately. Friday is my favourite day. We finish studio at noon and the rest of the day is mine. I usually wind down the week by having lunch in the sun with a good book. This afternoon was spent reading Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor. It is an incredible book - for me, the book and Zumthor's practice encapsulate the architecture that I want to be involved in, that gets me excited. The sensorial experience of a space, the journey, the atmosphere! Thinking Architecture is written in a very concise manner - every sentence means something. It takes me awhile just to get through a page, but it is a beautiful and rewarding experience reading the book. OK, I sound like I am in love with this book, and I admit it, I am indeed in love. I have just started reading it, but I can already feel it has the potential to be life-changing (or at least, a major turning point) - a bold statement, yes, but I stand by my words.

My favourite part from today's read:                                                                                                                "If a work of architecture consists of forms and contents that combine to create a strong fundamental mood powerful enough to affect us, it may possess the qualities of a work of art. This art has, however, nothing to do with interesting configurations or originality. It is concerned with insights and understanding, and above all with truth."
We have just begun our project for the semester at uni, so I will, without a doubt, try and translate the above statement into my work.

Christian Boltanski

One of my favourite installation artists is Christian Boltanski. He is also a photographer, sculptor and painter. I came across him looking through the art book cabinet in high school, and did a few papers on him - endlessly inspiring. A lot of Boltanski's work reference self identity and the Holocaust, which is another passion of mine (that is, the history of Nazi Germany). His body of work evokes emotion within his audience; photographs of the children become personal, his installations engage viewers on a sophisticated, personal level. I particularly love the siting of some of his installations, just imagine being in that space with these incredible, strong images and atmospheric lighting! They seem so natural, that they belong at that one particular site and would just be wrong if done somewhere else. Less words - here are some of his work:

C. Boltanski Archives, 1965-1988, 1989 (Image from Centre Pompidou online)

Contacts, 2002 (Image from Artnet)

Advent, 1995 (Image from Tate online)

Just a note to myself: maybe write a bit on artists Andreas Gursky, William Kentridge and architect Peter Zumthor in the near future.

One of our two main focuses in this semester's design studio is iteration. I've found that this is a very useful and helpful way of working. It helps me think, not in my head but on paper which is of utmost importance in communicating architecture - and something I definitely have to work on still.
I took this photo as a self-reminder, it is from the current exhibition on the architecture of LAB on at NGV Australia at the moment. 

I stumbled upon it when I saw John Brack's exhibition. Sidetracking here, but I enjoyed Brack's passion for the observation of the human condition. The way in which he translated it onto canvas, was very powerful and somewhat, I think, distinctively Australian - both his more literal earlier work, as well as his later work. My favourite out of his later work, I decided yesterday, is  The Battle (more specifically, the Battle of Waterloo). It was the fact that he set out to do what he thought was impossible, i.e. depicting the grand scale and immense detail of a battle. Below is an image of the work for just a quick reference, but please realise that the actual canvas is 203 x 274cm.
The Battle, 1981 - 1983 (Image from abc.net.au)

The Golden Egg

This wee conceptual project - more of a failed experiment really - was done in year 10 visual art in Singapore. It references Aesop's The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg, but transposing it outside the farm and into a larger, societal and contemporary context. It is also based on Korean artist Do-Ho Suh's Floor, whose work I still greatly admire.

Terrible photo, but it is the only photo I have of it, unfortunately. Perhaps one day I'll revisit it and properly set it up and document. Yes, I will do that.
I need Lego people.

Looking through the photos on my laptop - found this! This was a bi-annual sculpture competition organised by City Development Limited (CDL) in Singapore. I entered as part of a school project in year 10 in 2005, when I was still studying in Singapore. The winning sculpture was to be realised (or maybe it has already), was to complement CDL's luxury apartment development at Marina Bay in Singapore, named The Sail @ Marina Bay. Actually, I just did some googling, and according to the CDL website, commission for the winning entry is underway and now to be built at City Square Mall - yet another new shopping centre ... just what Singapore needs, eh? There were some amazing work there at the final exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum, by people of varied profession, background and age, even someone who was 13! My friend Jess and I were shortlisted to be in the finals - hers was eventually chosen to be part of the exhibition. As you can imagine, it was a big thing for the both of us at the time, especially her! We got buffet vouchers as a result, which is always good I suppose!
The image quality is poor, and it's the only photo I have left of it as I've changed laptops over the years. The theme was 'Live, Work and Play', I thought it was appropriate that my sculpture be based on sails as I see sailing as a lifestyle, a job (for the lucky ones!) and a leisure
 activity. Anyway, here it is, my sculpture based on the fluidity of movement of sails:

The winning sculpture: 
I do respect the artist's thought and work behind the sculpture. However, I don't see how or why, it was picked as the winner. Especially the fact that it was a project that was to be built in a public setting, to be viewed/enjoyed by the general public who may or may not be able to appreciate conceptual art. Now I'm not clear on how tall the winning sculpture would actually be 1:1*. My main opinion is that the competition asked a sculpture that would complement the apartment building, but I think such an iconic sculpture, depending on the scale, would simply overwhelm it. Would be interesting to hear what the thoughts of the future residents at The Sail. To each their own, though.

* The competition did not ask for a set scale.


Photography is a passion of mine. I've learned, very recently, that photos do not necessarily have to look pretty or be aesthetically pleasing. Instead, I try to think before I shoot - what am I looking at, why am I taking the photo ... After that, when I'm home looking over them on the computer, they mean much more to me as they have been well thought out - there was a specific reason behind this photo and I have captured it. The best advice an art teacher back in high school was that: take a hundred photos and if you're lucky you'll have 3 good ones to work with (or something along those lines!) - made possible by the good ol' digital camera!
But of course, for a bit of fun, I still do take photos 'just because', photos without much thought/reasoning behind them. If not, as I've found, photography just becomes something that is too serious, unenjoyable, dry, restrained, controlled etc., you get the idea! Keepin' it real, and fun.
Wow, too many words! Several photos now, oh, and please do click on them for a somewhat larger version, they really are better that way!:

The Arts Centre and the Yarra

Moomba Fest

Vault (or 'Yellow Peril') by Ron Robertson-Swann in front of the ACCA

Port Melbourne

Arab St, Singapore

Site Plans

I remember drawing these - site plans help one understand the surrounding context in a different way. Personally, once I have understood what I have drawn (2D), it is much easier to then go to the site and translate that into the physical environment (3D). In other words, I love looking and reading maps. This interest was particularly useful in the Rome trip, where we had to study maps by Tempesta and Nolli, and then comparing them with prints by Falda, Vasi, Piranesi - to see how the urban pattern of Rome had evolved. 

Anyway here are some site plans (and siting diagram, second drawing) of Gasworks Arts Park done last year - these were hand drawn. Just to put them in context/scale though, the first drawing was on an A4; the second drawing on an A3:

Just a few site specific sensory/atmospheric sketches done last year for a project. The first three are of the ACCA and Jim Lambie's installation at the ACCA, and the fourth of Gasworks Arts Park in Port Melbourne.

Earlier this year in January, I was fortunate enough to be selected, along with 20 or so other students, to spend a month in Rome studying art history (plus a few days in Siena and Florence). The subject was titled Renaissance and Baroque Rome, and was led by David Marshall, Lisa Beaven and John Weretka - their depth of knowledge was both endless and inspiring. It was a truly amazing and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Additionally, we got to see buildings and artworks that previously only existed in pages of history books - all those art and architectural history lectures came alive, it was absolutely overwhelming. It was a bit daunting at first, being an architecture student surrounded by art history students ... it was different, and exciting. The amount I have learned from the trip, I can talk about for days, but I will spare you that conversation (for now!).
Here are some photographs from the study tour (our own version of the Grand Tour, perhaps?) - I think I will only post up several photographs per post, more Rome posts to come. Let's have a look at St Peter's and Bernini's magnificent piazza (Bernini's architecture at its best I think! Actually, I consider it more a sculpture than architecture - sculptural architecture (?), to be honest) this time:

Tomb of the great Alexander VII


I love watercolour, but certainly don't use it enough. It presents the user with so much freedom and can show confidence; yet at the same time you know you need to get it right because it dries quickly. I became interested in watercolour after an art exhibition back in high school, where there were a few amazing watercolour paintings by an obviously talented and skilled teacher. I really should practice and experiment more in this medium!
Anyway, some watercolour work I did in second year (on a handy A5) - I'm not skilled at all, but it was a lot of fun:

1. Preston Mosque

2. Hare Krishna Temple, South Melbourne

3. Russian Orthodox Church, Brunswick

4. See Yup Temple, South Melbourne


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