Part Three

Research #3

[found media] videos and music used in addition for my own project



The videos above were chosen because I was drawn to them visually and/or lyrically. The common themes/motifs in these videos are a struggle of some sort - internally and/or externally. They also all have aspects related to youth as well and notes of struggling mentally. 



Henrik Uldalen


Flare image source



Fade image source


Emersion image source


I was drawn to these three works in particular, as I felt like they were a pretty spot on visual representation of what my own experience with depression (and anxiety). I read his bio after having looked at his work and it explains why I feel like his work is what it feels for me like to deal with depression. 

From his website,

Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen (1986) is a self-taught artist whose creative production revolves around classic figurative painting, presented in a contemporary manner. Henrik explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Though a figurative painter, his focus has always been the emotional content rather than narratives.  The atmospheres in his work is often presented in a dream or limbo-like state, with elements of surrealism.


thoughts I had re: the interviews/quotes below

  • over the course of this project I think I went into the whole researching about my own cultural heritage aspect thinking that somehow something deep down would click and it would fill the hole I have when it comes to my cultural background. It's not to say that I'm unhappy about having researched a little bit more about a few aspects regarding my background but I think I have come to a realisation that I might be more okay with living in the grey area than I thought I was. Growing up and having moved around to various countries every few years always had moments where I realised that I could never quite belong somewhere - there were always small instances that made that divide so blatantly obvious and it always made me think 'how nice it must be to be able to belong somewhere without feeling like you're always the outsider.' or 'it must be nice to be able to live in one place you're entire life and be able to build a strong network/community around you.' 

 below are excerpts from interviews which I relate to personally + culturally. 

'You Don't Look in the Mirror and Mentally Remark on Your Asianness All the Time': An Interview with Kim Fu

 "For me there were two big turning points. I grew up adjacent to Vancouver, where it was quite racially diverse and there was a high percentage of Asian people my own age. I did my undergrad at McGill, so when I moved to Montreal, it was kind of a shock. It wasn’t the first time I had encountered casual and inexplicit racism, but it was on a different level in Montreal. Just walking around the street and the things people would say to you and the conversations they’d strike up at the laundromat. Honestly at that point, [my race] was a background part of my identity. It didn’t seem as salient to me as it did to all these strangers in Montreal.

The other thing that happened was my father passed away. In the course of his illness and then death, I realized I knew so little about his life and his parents. I think because other people saw me as Chinese, [I had] that feeling of disappointing people or being inauthentic. The first thing they see you as is Asian, but then you’re not Asian enough. There was this period of time where I was trying to learn, I was reading tons of books and watching movies, and learning to cook, I was trying to get in touch with this heritage like it was going to explain something to me. And sometimes it did, but in this very distant and abstracted kind of way. I read Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw and I felt like the way depression was depicted in that book spoke to experiences I’ve had with depression more than say The Bell Jar, and that didn’t feel coincidental. That felt like a cultural thing."

"A writer recently posted on Twitter that he had his manuscript rejected because his Korean-American character didn’t spend enough time thinking about being Korean. And it’s like, that’s not what you do. You don’t look in the mirror and mentally remark on your Asianness all the time."

"She’s very beautiful, so from a young age that affects how people talk to her. There’s a line where when they’re young teenagers, one of her white friends says “You’re so lucky, Asian girls can be so weird looking but you look totally normal.” Someone has said that to me! As a kid, you know what they mean. They mean certain aspects of your appearance lean white, so aren’t you lucky that you have some white features. As a kid, you absorb that kind of thing, “Oh right, looking more white is a good thing, that’s what being attractive is.” For Dina, with her whole life wrapped up in her appearance, of course race is going to be more salient for her. I feel like I’m using the word “salient” a lot."


The Year of Hyphenates by Kim Fu

"When people ask where I’m really from, I don’t insist that I was born in Calgary; I answer what they’re really asking, at length: my grandparents were from China, my parents were from Hong Kong. When I’m contacted as an expert source on China, a country I’ve never even visited, I refer them to other thinkers and writers. When waiters assume I can’t speak English despite the giant hardback novel propped before my plate, when white people at bus stops and laundromats and workplaces and my own readings launch into broken Mandarin or their opinions on the one-child policy and the virtues of Asian wives, I’m unfailingly patient and polite. A drive-by “ni hao, baby” or “Go back to China!” almost doesn’t register as sound, like the continuous buzzing of overhead power lines."

"It wasn’t until my early twenties that I realized I’d failed at whiteness. And because I’d spent my childhood and teen years working so hard at it, I had failed at Asianness, too. I reached adulthood without learning the language of my parents. I suddenly found it humiliating that I couldn’t speak to a butcher or waitress in Chinatown, or to members of my own extended family. I became conscious of knowing almost nothing about Chinese history, Chinese culture, or my parents’ lives. I regretted having had so few Asian friends. Like so many other Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians, I had been taught to distance myself, to equate accents with stupidity, to strive to be an exception—not like other Asians, especially first-generation immigrants. I’d accepted that a white girl in a cheongsam was quirky, but if I ever buttoned silk higher than my collarbone, I became a fetish object. I’d been putting on an ineffectual show of whiteness my whole life, and it hadn’t worked."

"Since I was constantly identifying as “Chinese” because people were constantly asking, and I wanted it to feel less like a lie. So I went to the library and got out all of Wong-Kar Wai’s movies. For years, I made an effort to watch Chinese films and TV shows. I learned to cook Chinese food, I read almost every novel written in English about modern mainland and overseas Chinese, and I pestered my mother with painful questions. I started doing language tapes in multiple Asian languages. I’m fond of the Pimsleur series, despite—or because—lesson one in every language begins, “Imagine you’re an American man.” There’s something fittingly punishing about that. I will always play an American man in these dialogues."

"This past summer, I visited Hong Kong for only the second time. I’d been taken for a brief visit when I was four, which left only a faint impression of claustrophobic apartments and vicious mosquitoes. In 2016, I went determinedly as a tourist. Acting as though I had another connection seemed pretentious, or even appropriative."

"But once we were there, it became clear I could not experience the trip the same way as my white husband. My inability to speak the language offended people deeply. Pretending I wasn’t wandering through the neighborhoods where my parents grew up and my grandparents died, that this place hadn’t haunted my imagination, seemed equally false."

"Standing in a packed subway as it scraped the ocean floor in Victoria Harbor, I did not feel the promised comfort of being surrounded by people who look like me. I felt tall and thick, corn-fed, bizarrely dressed. As conspicuous and foreign as I did at home."


'Why Are We Always Food?': An Interview with Celeste Ng


Interviewer: "I found it really interesting how in Everything I Never Told You, which was set in the 1970s, the kids felt like outsiders because they were mixed. And then in this book, set in the 1990s, mixed kids are seen as something desirable, the perfect amount of exoticism. Lexie says to her African-American boyfriend, “If we ever had kids, they would be adorable because mixed babies always come out so beautiful.” I think as there are more interracial couples and therefore more multi-racial babies, we’re also starting to see this pushback against the idea that mixed babies are going to save the world. Full disclosure: I’m half-Japanese and half-Caucasian."

Interviewer: The Richardsons view themselves as really progressive people who don’t see race, but then they say a lot of things that are subtly racist or made me feel uncomfortable. Like when Lexie is looking at [the baby] May Ling’s skin and describes it as the colour of café au lait. I feel like every woman of colour has had their skin described as the hue of a hot beverage at least once in their life. 

Ng: Exactly! What I hoped readers would get out of that is this little moment of slight cringing but also laughing. “Oh you’re chocolate-coloured, you’re mocha, you’re biscuit-coloured.” Why are we always food? And it’s so often a hot beverage, which is so weird. 

[premiere pro tutorial]

accessed 15 mar 2018

This was the tutorial that started my process into working and creating a moving image piece. I wanted to alter my clips in a way which would conjure up a feeling of longing/nostalgia and in turn loneliness. I thought of older technology used and thought of VHS tapes (before they were wiped out). This tutorial led me to explore and find other effects and settings I could use and manipulate in Premiere Pro. 

[online article] Tea if by sea, cha if by land : Why the world only has two words for tea

Tea if by sea, cha if by land : Why the world only has two words for tea

I have always been interested in languages and this article about the etymology is really interesting. In Malaysia we use both 'tea' and 'cha' depending on the language/dialect you're speaking in. This was something I hadn't realised until I saw this map and read the article below. 



"With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term— in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.

Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “chaspread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

The term cha () is “Sinitic,” meaning it is common to many varieties of Chinese. It began in China and made its way through central Asia, eventually becoming “chay” (چای) in Persian. That is no doubt due to the trade routes of the Silk Road, along which, according to a recent discovery, tea was traded over 2,000 years ago. This form spread beyond Persia, becoming chay in Urdu, shay in Arabic, and chay in Russian, among others. It even made its way to sub-Saharan Africa, where it became chai in Swahili. The Japanese and Korean terms for tea are also based on the Chinese cha, though those languages likely adopted the word even before its westward spread into Persian.

But that doesn’t account for “tea.” The Chinese character for tea, 茶, is pronounced differently by different varieties of Chinese, though it is written the same in them all. In today’s Mandarin, it is chá. But in the Min Nan variety of Chinese, spoken in the coastal province of Fujian, the character is pronounced te. The key word here is “coastal.”

The te form used in coastal-Chinese languages spread to Europe via the Dutch, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and Asia in the 17th century, as explained in the World Atlas of Language Structures. The main Dutch ports in east Asia were in Fujian and Taiwan, both places where people used the te pronunciation. The Dutch East India Company’s expansive tea importation into Europe gave us the French thé, the German Tee, and the English tea.

Yet the Dutch were not the first to Asia. That honor belongs to the Portuguese, who are responsible for the island of Taiwan’s colonial European name, Formosa. And the Portuguese traded not through Fujian but Macao, where chá is usedThat’s why, on the map above, Portugal is a pink dot in a sea of blue.

A few languages have their own way of talking about tea. These languages are generally in places where tea grows naturally, which led locals to develop their own way to refer to it. In Burmese, for example, tea leaves are lakphak.

The map demonstrates two different eras of globalization in action: the millenia-old overland spread of goods and ideas westward from ancient China, and the 400-year-old influence of Asian culture on the seafaring Europeans of the age of exploration. Also, you just learned a new word in nearly every language on the planet." 

Tang Xiao Ming

From The Major Arcana (neocha blog entry) 

Tang Xiao Ming is a Malaysian illustrator with a passion for editorial illustrations and visual storytelling. His illustration series, The Major Arcana, is an editorial approach to the twenty-two card tarot suit. Often used for divination and occult purposes, the Major Arcana has been understood as an archetypal system for psychological and spiritual advancement and has been reinterpreted by numerous artists since its invention in the 15th century.

Tang’s interpretation of the Major Arcana series was a stepping stone for his personal style, which brought about its own challenges and rewards. He tells us about the creative process behind the series: “As an artist, sometimes you’ll run into a brick wall creatively, but it’s only temporary and it has the potential to change your life. It’s only from being stuck that you will start to think differently, and your creative process is forced to change. Because of this, it will unlock further possibilities in life and work.”

Growing up in Malaysia, Tang was influenced by his society’s lack of awareness towards mental health. Instead of drawing influence from local Malaysian art and culture, he focuses on the psychological struggles of young people as a consistent theme in his work. Tang says, “In Malaysia and most of Asia, mental illnesses and psychological factors are not widely talked about – because of this, I think that many of my illustrations are themed around the mind and the emotions, because many of us do not know how to express ourselves or understand who we really are inside.”

Some of Tang’s early influences include notable comic artists Olivier Coipel and Stuart Immonen, as well as graphic novels like Watchmen. Currently, he identifies his primary influence as visual artist James Jean: “Jean’s paintings deal with the unknown – they are very emotionally driven. They relate to me and inspire me to do what I’ve always loved to do, which is to create. I hope that my creativity will, in turn, inspire others and allow them to understand the way that I feel.”


The Fool (0) image source 

the Monkey God in this though!! and Basquiat's crown on top!! I also really liked how the colours go so well together and that he outlined different elements in different colours. 



The Hanged Man (XII) image source

I was drawn to how eerie yet calming this illustration was. the colour palette is pretty vibrant compared to its subject matter. I like how the lack of actual facial features of the Hanged Man adds another level of soullessness to the illustration. I didn't read the title name for this until after looking at the image and I immediately made the connection that the repeated drawings were of nooses not balloons. I liked how that fact added a layer of duality to the drawing - either something negative or positive depending on your state of mind. I was also drawn to the various textures present in the image just from the mix of drawing styles/brushes used to create the piece. Additionally, after having read Tang's introduction on neocha, I was drawn to the fact that he is also a Malaysian and that he acknowledged and highlighted the fact that mental illness is seen as taboo in Malaysia. 

[Malaysia] Traditional Clothing

History of Malaysia: Colonisation

From BBC's 'Malaysia profile - Timeline

  • 1826 - British settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore combine to form the Colony of Straits Settlements, from where the British extend their influence by establishing protectorates over the Malay sultanates of the peninsula.

    1895 - Four Malay states combine to form the Federated Malay States.

    1942-45 - Japanese occupation.

    1948 - British-ruled Malayan territories unified under Federation of Malaya.

    1948-60 - State of emergency to counter local communist insurgency.

    1957 - Federation of Malaya becomes independent from Britain with Tunku Abdul Rahman as prime minister.

    1963 - British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore join Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.

    1965 - Singapore withdraws from Malaysia, which is reduced to 13 states; communist insurgency begins in Sarawak.


From "A Brief History of Malaysia

"During the 15th century the new settlement prospered and grew. The wealth and power of Melaka was based on trade with Arab, Chinese and Indian ships sailing there.

The great wealth of the city-state of Melaka came to the notice of the Portuguese. In 1511 they sent an expedition led by Alfonso de Albuquerque to capture it. Melaka soon fell to the Portuguese artillery. 


In the late 18th century the British East India Company traded with, and partly controlled India. At that time they began looking for a base in Malaya. In 1786 the British under Francis Light occupied Penang and founded Georgetown. In 1800 they took Province Wellesley.

In 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles founded a British trading post at Singapore.

By the treaty of London, 1824, the British and Dutch divided the region between them. The Dutch surrendered Melaka to the British. The Dutch were given control of Sumatra and all the area below the Malay Peninsula.

The Straits Settlements, as they were called, (Penang, Province Wellesley, Melaka and Singapore) grew rapidly partly due to an influx of Chinese and Indian workers. By 1860 the population of Singapore was over 80,000. However although the British East India Company controlled islands and parts of the coast they did not control the interior of the Malay Peninsula. Furthermore until 1867 the East India Company controlled the Straits Settlements not the British Government. However in 1867 they were made a crown colony.

British control of Sarawak began in 1841. In 1840 a man named James Brooke helped the Sultan of Brunei to crush a rebellion. As a reward he was given territory to rule and in 1841 he was granted the title of Raja of Sarawak. Brooke's territory was enlarged in 1853.

Meanwhile Siam (modern day Thailand) invaded Kedah in 1821. They deposed the Sultan. There were rebellions against Siamese rule in 1830-31 and in 1838-39. The Sultan was restored in 1841 but Kedah remained a vassal state of Siam.

In 1853 the British government stopped charging duty on imports on tin. As a result exports of tin from Malaya to Britain boomed. Steamships and the opening of the Suez canal in 1869 further boosted exports of tin. Chinese workers flocked to work in the tin mines of Malaya and on plantations.

However in 1871 the Sultan of Perak died and there was a quarrel over who should succeed him. Furthermore Chinese secret societies fought over who would control the tin mines. The turmoil disrupted supplies of tin to Britain. So one man who claimed he was the rightful heir to the Sultan, Raja Abdullah, made an agreement with the British. It was known as the Pangkor Agreement. The British recognized Abdulla as Sultan of Perak. In return he agreed to accept a British 'adviser' at his court who would 'advise' him on all matters except those concerning Malayan religion and customs.

Until 1874 the British restricted themselves to trade and avoided becoming involved in Malayan politics. The treaty of Pangkor marked the beginning of British political control of Malaya

The British gradually increased their influence over Malaya. More states Selangor, Pahang, Sungei, Ujong, Rembau, Negri Sembilan, Jelebu) were forced to accept British 'protection'. In 1895 the 'protected' states were persuaded to form a federation.

Meanwhile in 1888 Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo became British protectorates.

In the first years of the 20th century the British extended their influence over the Northern Malay states (Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu) were formally absorbed into British Malaya. In 1914 Johor also came under British rule.

In the early 20th century a new industry grew up in Malaya-rubber. The Malayan rubber industry boomed. The Malayan tin industry also prospered and an oil industry began in Singapore. During the 1920s the Malayan economy was prosperous but in the 1930s, during the depression, exports fell.

In the early 20th century while the economy was booming many Chinese people came to live and work in Malaya. However after 1930 immigration was restricted to try and help unemployment.

On December 8 1941 the Japanese invaded Malay Peninsula and they quickly overran it. The last British troops withdrew across the straits into Singapore Island on 31 January 1942. The Japanese invaded Singapore on 8 February 1942. The last British troops surrendered on 15 February 1942. This was a military disaster for the British. Meanwhile Japanese troops invaded Borneo. They captured Kuching on 25 December 1941 and Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) on 8 January 1942. During the Japanese occupation the Chinese were treated the most harshly. Indians were treated less harshly.

In 1944, when the Japanese faced defeat, the British government decided to join all the Malayan states (except Singapore) into a single unified state called the Malayan Union. (Singapore would be a separate crown colony). However there was so much opposition to this plan it was scrapped. Instead on 1 February 1948 the Federation of Malaya was formed.

Meanwhile Malayan nationalism was growing. The first Malay organisation was the Kesatuan Melayu Singapura, or Singapore Malay Union, which was formed in 1926. Others quickly followed it. In 1946 Malay organisations joined together to form the Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu, the United Malays National Organisation.

The Malayan Communist Party (MCP) was founded in 1930. In 1948 they began to attack European estate managers. As a result the government introduced a state of emergency. However communist activity declined after 1949 when the British parliament promised independence. The insurgency continued for some years but it was less of a threat. Communist activity flared up again in the mid-1970s then died down.

In 1955 the Reid Commission was formed to prepare a constitution for Malaya. Malaya became independent on 31 August 1957. The first prime minister of Malaya was Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903-1976). He held office from 1957 to 1970.

In 1963 Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah joined Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia. However in 1965 Singapore became a separate state." 


From: malaysiahistory The Straits Settlements

The Straits Settlements was a tripartite group of British territories located in Southeast Asia .

Originally established in 1826 under the authority of the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867. The colony subsequently was dissolved as part of the British reorganisation of its South-East Asian dependencies following the end of the Second World War.

The original individual settlements were Malacca,Penang (also known as Prince of Wales Island), and Singapore. From 1907, Labuan, off the coast of Borneo, was included in the group. With the exception of Singapore, these territories now form part of Malaysia.

History and government

The establishment of the Straits Settlements followed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, by which the Malay Archipelago was divided into a British zone in the north and a Dutch zone in the south. The British settlement of Bencoolen (on Sumatra) was exchanged for the Dutch colony of Malacca and undisputed control of Singapore. Its capital shifted from Penang to Singapore in 1832.

On 1 April 1867 the Settlements became a British crown colony, making the Settlements answerable directly to the Colonial Office in London instead of the Calcutta government based in India. Earlier, on 4 February 1867, a ” Letters Patent” had granted the Settlements a colonial constitution. This allocated much power to the Settlements’ Governor, who administered the colony of the Straits Settlements with the aid of an Executive Council , composed wholly of official (i.e. ex-officio) members, and a Legislative Council, composed partly of official and partly of nominated members, of which the former had a narrow permanent majority. The work of administration, both in the colony and in the Federated Malay States, was carried on by means of a civil service whose members were recruited by competitive examination held annually in London.

Penang and Malacca were administered, directly under the governor, by resident councillors.

The governor’s wider role

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands (which were settled and once owned by a Scottish family named Clunies-Ross) and Christmas Island, formerly attached to Ceylon, were transferred to the care the government of the Straits Settlements in 1886 along with the addition of Labuan in 1906.

Apart from controlling the Straits Settlements, the governor played the role of High Commissioner to the Federated Malay States on the peninsula as well as British North Borneo (Sabah) and the sultanate of Brunei and Sarawak in Borneo. Since the incorporation of Labuan, previously a protectorate of the British North Borneo Company, he was also governor of Labuan.

The Residential System

British residents controlled the native states of Perak,Selangor, Negri Sembilan andPahang. On 1 July 1896, when the federation of these states was effected, a resident-general, responsible to the (governor as) high commissioner, was placed in supreme charge of all the British protectorates in the peninsula.


The colony was dissolved with effect from 1 April 1946, withSingapore becoming a separate crown colony (and ultimately an independent republic), whilePenang and Malacca joined the new Malayan Union (a predecessor of modern-day Malaysia). Labuanwas briefly annexed to Singapore, before being attached to the new colony of British North Borneo.

The Cocos or Keeling Islands and Christmas Island, originally made part of the crown colony of Singapore in 1946, were transferred to Australian administration in 1955 and 1957 respectively.
-- both additional information to source above (basically supports it, with more/less information)  

seeing as none of the sources above mention the impacts here's a bit of information

From: Britannica - The impact of British Rule

  • "Regardless of the political form, however, British rule brought profound changes, transforming the various states socially and economically."

  • "The Brookes and the North Borneo Company faced prolonged resistance before they consolidated their control, while occasional local revolts punctuated British rule in Malaya as well. ... The Brookes mounted bloody military campaigns to suppress headhunting (practiced at the time by many indigenous peoples of the interior) and to incorporate especially the Iban into their domain; similar operations were carried out in North Borneo. Those who resisted British annexation or policies were portrayed by the British authorities as treacherous, reactionary rebels; many of the same figures, however, were later hailed in Malaysia as nationalist heroes." 
  • "The British administration eventually achieved peace and security ... British officials believed that the rural Malay farmers needed to be protected from economic and cultural change and that traditional class divisions should be maintained. Hence, most economic development was left to Chinese and Indian immigrants, as long as it served long-term colonial interests. The Malay elite enjoyed a place in the new colonial order as civil servants. ... Much economic growth occurred; British policies promoted the planting of pepper, gambier (a plant producing a resin used for tanning and dyeing), tobaccooil palm, and especially rubber, which along with tin became the region’s major exports. Malaya and British North Borneo developed extractive, plantation-based economies oriented toward the resource and market needs of the industrializing West."
  • British authorities in Malaya devoted much effort to constructing a transportation infrastructure in which railways and road networks linked the tin fields to the coast; port facilities also were improved to facilitate resource exports. These developments stimulated growth in the tin and rubber industries to meet world demand. The tin industry remained chiefly in immigrant Chinese hands through the 19th century, but more highly capitalized, technologically sophisticated British firms took over much of the tin production and export by World War II. The rubber tree was first introduced from Brazil in the 1870s, but rubber did not supersede the earlier coffee and gambier plantings until near the end of the century. By the early 20th century thousands of acres of forest had been cleared for rubber growing, much of it on plantations but some on smallholdings. Malaya became the world’s greatest exporter of natural rubber, with rubber and tin providing the bulk of colonial tax revenues.

  • Some Chinese, Malays, and Indians benefited from British economic policies; others enjoyed no improvement or experienced a drop in their standard of living
  • Between 1800 and 1941 several million Chinese entered Malaya (especially the west-coast states), Sarawak, and British North Borneo to work as labourers, miners, planters, and merchants. The Chinese eventually became part of a prosperous, urban middle class that controlled retail trade. South Indian Tamils were imported as the workforce on Malayan rubber estates. At the turn of the 19th century Malays accounted for the vast majority of Malaya’s residents, but the influx of immigrants over the subsequent decades significantly eroded that majority. A compartmentalized society developed on the peninsula, and colonial authorities skillfully utilized “divide and rule” tactics to maintain their control. With most Malays in villages, Chinese in towns, and Indians on plantations, the various ethnic groups basically lived in their own neighbourhoods, followed different occupations, practiced their own religions, spoke their own languages, operated their own schools, and, later, formed their own political organizations. 
  • .... 
  • The occupation of Malaya and Borneo by Japan (1942–45) during World War II generated tremendous changes in those territories. Their economies were disrupted, and communal tensions were exacerbated because Malays and Chinese reacted differently to Japanese control. The Japanese desperately needed access to the natural resources of Southeast Asia; they invaded Malaya in December 1941, having neutralized American military power in Hawaii through the Pearl Harbor attack and in the Philippines through attacks on Manila. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese controlled the peninsula, Singapore, and Borneo. Pro-communist, predominantly Chinese guerrillas waged resistance in Malaya, and a brief Chinese-led revolt also erupted in North Borneo. In many places increasing politicization and conflict within and among ethnic groups developed as a result of economic hardship and selective repression; in northern Borneo the rule of the Brookes and of the North Borneo Company was permanently undermined, while in Malaya the Chinese and Malays also realized that British domination was not everlasting. Nonetheless, most people welcomed the Japanese defeat in 1945.
  • "Colonial rule succeeded in rebuilding and expanding the economies of the two colonies, with rubber and timber providing the basis for postwar economic growth. ...British leaders proposed a Malaysian federation as a way of terminating their now burdensome colonial rule over Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo, even though those states were historically and ethnically distinct from Malaya and from each other. It was in many ways to be a marriage of convenience
  • rest of article talks about the process of malaysia's independence from britain. wasn't exactly what i was looking for in terms of wanting reports of the realities of being colonised (ie working conditions, living conditions, what life was like)

thoughts i had while reading about the impacts

  • colonisers back on their bs 
  • lmao "peace and security" ok  
  • keeping the class divisions as a way of oppression -- further creating inner turmoil .... a way of maintaining rule over 
  • "as long as it served long-term colonial interests" sips tea. ok. as long as it benefits the economic growth and political power of the british empire its fine :)  
  • mm yes look at the natural resources that impacted the environment greatly all for the benefits of the west while not doing much to help with the industrialisation (and in turn development) of the area in which these areas produce such resources and no mention of the conditions of those working in these industries 
  • 'devoted much effort to constructing a transportation infrastructure' with again, no mention of the costs and impacts made to those who worked to build them :) 
  • fun fact: my grandma used to work in a rubber tree plantation 
  • intersting how they only mention japan's colonial occupation as one to be disruptive of the economy and an increase of communal tensions 
  • "burdensome colonial rule" LMAO 
  • will i find an article about the actual conditions of working on those plantations and mines ?? will i find anything about the impacts of colonisation on the indigenous tribes in malaysia? 
  • questions i have: would malaysia have been better off if the british hadn't colonised it? 
    current answer: the Dutch/the Portuguese/the Japanese would have probably colonised more of Malaya  
  • interesting how the school my mom attended was most likely a product of colonial rule
  • the last bullet point in the resource below, reminded me so much of my education in international schools. out of the multiple international schools i have been to, only 2 have been outspoken and have enforced the use of English in school at all times except for language classes. Their reasons for it mainly were under the grounds of language exclusion, which is understandable but at the same time knowledge itself is lost when such restrictions are placed. My naive and dumbass 5 year old self took what they said in school about only speaking in English and applied it at home which, I've been told by my mom that I used to be fluent in Cantonese until we moved to Hong Kong which is so painfully ironic seeing as Cantonese (as well as English)  is the language spoken in Hong Kong. 


Short History of Malaysia (pdf link

  • " These regions, although blanks on the map, were populated, their peoples interacting with others in the Malaysian territories. However, tracing this interaction through either Malay or European documents is very difficult. The interactions were not always positive and in some regions Malays, Minangkabaus, Bataks, Rawas and others captured non-Malay peoples for slaves. Many of those groups developed elaborate avoidance procedures which allowed them to trade without direct contact. The effect of increased colonial influence produced very different responses among the indigenous peoples in different areas." p138
  • As shifting cultivators, the Semais were vulnerable to the effects of colonial ‘development’ policies which demanded increasing areas of land. Foreign investment in mining increased the numbers of Chinese and Indonesian workers being brought into the peninsula and efforts to locate new mineral deposits took them into areas which were traditional domains of the Semais. As well, the British policy of encouraging intensification of rice production and the spread of plantation crops brought Malays and others into competition with the Semais for agricultural land. The colonial officials wanted to see development accomplished with the utmost speed so that revenue would flow and infrastructure (roads, railways) could be established. Negotiation with the Semais over access to their lands was not part of colonial policy. p138-139
  • Unfortunately, relations between the Semais and outsiders were not always peaceful. There are many European reports about raids on Orang Asli to capture women and children, who would then be sold to become labourers or household servants. In these raids, it was not unusual for male Orang Asli to be murdered. Information on the perpetrators of the raids is less clear—Malays were certainly involved in the procurement and sale of the Orang Asli but some Orang Asli groups themselves may have been coerced by Malays to raid others. In the northern parts of the Peninsula, Thais sometimes captured Orang Asli for their curiosity value as well as for their labour. p140
  • One of the long-term effects of slave raiding has been Orang Asli distrust of dealings with Malays. In many of their oral traditions, outsiders are depicted as dangerous, untrustworthy and to be avoided. In Malay stereotypes of Orang Asli, the image of a less developed, uncivilised, culturally inferior group may well be linked to Malay folk memory of the time when many of the slaves and dependents in Malay society were Orang Asli. p140
  • On the grounds that he was dealing with a piratical people, the governor summoned several Royal Navy ships to shell and destroy Bajau settlements. The local chiefs responded by sailing to Sulu to seek the sultan’s assistance. In their absence, the governor decided to establish a new trading centre to attract more passing trade to the Darvel Bay region. He selected a mainland site not far from the Bajau island and named it Semporna, appointing a Chinese trader to represent the company and promote the settlement. p142
  • By 1857, migrants from the Dutch territories had swollen the numbers at Bau. The miners were under the influence of an aggressive secret society and were smuggling opium, for which some miners were convicted by Brooke’s representatives. The situation was tense but became critical when new taxes were announced on gambling, opium and the export of gold. Each tax directly affected the Chinese miners. All kinds of rumours circulated in this heated context and the angry miners expressed their frustration by mounting a surprise attack on Kuching in February 1857. Europeans were captured and two children and several British settlers were murdered. The Malay quarter of Kuching was sacked and totally destroyed. p144
  • From about the 1850s, the pace of Chinese immigration increased due to a constellation of factors: unrest in China (associated with the Taiping Rebellion), poverty in the southern provinces of China and a dramatic increase in demand for tin (for plating containers—‘tins’—for the food canning industry). This meant that Chinese could be induced to leave their homeland by promises of employment and a better life. The period of so-called ‘coolie’ migration began. p148
  • Large numbers of Indian railway workers played a vital role in establishing and running the first lines which linked interior production sites with coastal ports. The British encouraged Indians to come to the Peninsula because they were accustomed to working with them in colonial India and because many of them understood English. Indian labourers were recruited using agents who either visited India personally to select workers, or had local subcontractors who assembled men on their behalf. p152
  • The largest mines and plantations were foreign owned and controlled and totally dependent on cheap labour. The tin and rubber were exported as raw materials to be processed outside the Malay territories and sold at vastly increased prices to the world’s markets. The profits in large measure were paid as dividends to their foreign sources of investment, with only minimal amounts being returned to Malaya to develop the infrastructure needed to facilitate production and export. p156
  • In 1923, Kedah signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain under which the British adviser remained but it was spelled out that no major decisions concerning Kedah’s sovereignty or future could be made without the sultan’s agreement. By this time, British officials seem to have come to a realisation that not one of the Unfederated States would join the federated system without being coerced to do so. p165
  • The Malay vernacular schools were under a colonial Department of Education whose policy was to teach basic literacy and skills, such as handicrafts and gardening which, most colonial officials argued, would not disrupt the traditional lifestyle of the Malays nor lead to changes which might result in ‘social unrest’. p171-172
  • They were concerned also that the Malay elite, the traditional aristocracy whom the British had maintained as rulers of the peninsular states and were educating at the elite Malay College to continue to rule the Malays, seemed closer to the British than to their own people. They spoke English, dressed like Europeans, enjoyed English sports (including horse racing and gambling) and sent their sons to England for higher education. p175
  • He was insistent that locally born Chinese be recognised for their contribution and commitment to Malaya and treated more equally. He pressed for better education for all peoples in Malaya and for an education in English for all who desired it. He believed also that Chinese language instruction should be available for Chinese children in English schools so they could preserve their own customs and heritage. Tan Cheng Lock was outspoken in his criticism of British discrimination towards the different groups in Malaya. He called for more local people to be included in the civil service and warned that society would be divided into a hierarchy of British, Malays and others unless there was more equal treatment of all peoples in Malaya. p180 -- a source that talks about the treatment of Indian migrant workers during the British colonial rule in Malaysia. I'm not really surprised at this more disappointed in the treatment of migrant workers if anything. 

[book] Chinese Myths and Legends by Chen Lianshan


Below are excerpts from the myths and legends which interested me the most. In all honesty, I was overwhelmed at how many myths there were that all related to one another due to the dynasties they were written in. The sheer volume of them further emphasised my lack of knowledge on my ethnic heritage. Also, these could be seen as not being the best sources to use seeing as they are translations and interpretations of the myths and legends in English - so there are meanings that most likely have been lost as a result. But I guess that's what I get for not knowing the language (and dialects) my parents speak. 

Universe in Myth: II. Ten Suns and Twelve Moons p20-22
why I was drawn to it: 

  • I only knew the Greek myth of Apollo driving a sun chariot daily and this is the first time that I've heard the Chinese version of it. I think in terms of imagery and symbolism, this version is more ethereal and mystical due to the animals (dragon) being used in the later version of it.  
  • It made me think about my childhood obsession (of sorts) of space and planets - which led me to think about all the times I would stare at the moon whenever I could see it. There's something really comforting about being able to look at the moon when you're alone.  
  • [side note: a big mood. i too, long to be as mysterious as the moon.] 
  • [side note 2: find/take footage of the moon if making a video??]

quotes from the myth/legend: 

  • "Ancient people paid special attention to celestial bodies. They believed them to be the origin of light and the origin of life. There are many mythological tales about the sun, the moon and the stars." 
  • "Xihe is the mother of the suns, and Changxi is the mother of the moons"
  • "The story of the sun riding a three-clawed crow is particularly ancient, and changed during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). The Huainanzi says: Xihe, the mother, drives six dragons to pull a carriage for her son's travel through the sky. This tale is similar to the Greek mythological tale in which Phoebus Apollo drives a sun chariot every day. The chariot is pulled by four strong horses shooting flames from their mouths." 
  • "Compared with the tale about the sun, the corresponding story about the moon is incomplete. We only know that Changxi gave birth to twelve moons, she lived in vast wild land in the west and bathed her sons - moons - every day." 


Universe in Myth: IV. Deities' World in the Sea p26-28

"The ancient Chinese believed that deities were sacred and difficult to approach. They did not have any special authority and never intervened in the lives of ordinary people. They were immortals and led a life of leisure. Humans desired such a life. This explains why Chinese people have practiced austerities to learn the so-called "method for being immortal."" 

I'm not sure if being Chinese diaspora has made me react this way but I have found this to be simultaneously true and untrue. I know so many working adults (of Chinese descent) who work so much that they don't have time for leisure, as if the word 'leisure' doesn't exist in their vocabulary. But it's also true in the sense that there are many foods that are said to be good for your health and that they will help with longevity - these are often suggested whenever I visit my relatives. 


Shaohao, the God of West Heaven and Zhuanxu, the God of North Heaven: III. Cutting off the Link between Heaven and Earth p78-79

"For a long time after, the universe is quiet and Zhuanxu feels satisfied with what he has done. Soon, he begins to think he can do whatever he wants. He changes the cosmic order arbitrarily and tyrannizes the other gods. The wildest thing he does is to fix the sun, moon and stars on the north sky, and stop them from moving. As a result, some areas have plenty of sunshine while other parts people are plunged into total darkness. All creatures suffer greatly from the tyranny of Zhuanxu." 

The two underlined sentences were ones which resonated with (and could be metaphors for) my own personal experiences with mental illness. I do have periods which are significantly worse compared to other times but it's always really hard when I think I've been doing relatively okay only for my depression (or whatever this is) to come back harder than it did previously. 


Myths and Legends inn the Era of Yao: VIII. Chang'e Flying to the Moon p 110-113

To be completely honest, I was more drawn to the two paintings which depicted the Goddess Chang'e than I was to the myth itself. Both paintings have a regal and ethereal quality to them. I think the wispy-ness of the clouds and of Chang'e's dress plays a roll in this, as well as the varying opacity of the paint used. 



Johnson Tsang


Shaping Love (Lucid Dream Series) - image source

Although I am aware that the subject matter of this sculpture is not directly related to depression, I felt that this was a pretty accurate visual representation of what depression feels like to me - something-i-don't-have-control-over, suffocating, painful, restricting, confining. I was also drawn to this because of the sheer craftsmanship and skill Tsang has demonstrated in every ceramics piece he has created. He was the first ceramics sculptor that I ever saw manipulate the medium he works in in such varying degrees. 

Jia Aili


The Memory Of North Willow Grass Island (detail), 2012-2014 - image source

I'm not too sure about the context behind this painting but I was drawn to it due to how apocalyptic yet calming the image is. The ghost-like quality to the bed placed in front of the faceless figure with its head on fire is sort of a visual representation of what it's like for me on days I feel so incredibly numb - in that something is happening around/to me but I don't react to it. 

[movies] Spirited Away

Spirited Away 

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The first time I watched SPIRITED AWAY I interpreted Chihiro’s name being taken away from her by Yubaaba as an act of ownership and in a way dehumanising Chihiro. The second time I watched the movie (this time around) in conjunction of me having written my thoughts unfiltered (see notebook) about my two names it emphasised that feeling of regret I have in not sticking to my actual (Chinese) name. 

From (article): The Meaning of Studio Ghibli's 'Spirited Away', the Best Animated Film of All Time

Caught in the flow of narrative are some of the most beautiful stills in modern cinema, let alone animation. As critic Roger Ebert pointed out in his review of the film, each frame is made with an overwhelming amount of "generosity and love". Dozens of different creatures are made for each moment, every last detail penned by hand in the corners or background, where anyone else would make shortcuts. Importantly, we have time to breathe and live in Miyazaki's world. He said that these scenes where nothing really happens are called "ma", or emptiness. "The people who make the movies are scared of silence so they want to paper and plaster it over," he said. "They're worried that the audience will get bored. But just because it's 80 percent intense all the time, doesn't mean the kids are going to bless you with their concentration. What really matters is the underlying emotions – that you never let go of those." Interestingly, it's the "ma" moments that have become iconic as the film has aged – Chihiro standing on the balcony outside the bedroom looking out to sea, lost; Chihiro and her friends, No-Face, Boh and the Yu-Bird sat looking lost on a train.

This beauty is universal, but of course there's subtlety that's lost in translation. Plenty of Japanese speakers have pointed out the visual clues in the film that non-Japanese speakers wouldn't know. When approaching the doomed theme park market in the opening, in one frame we see the Kanji character, 狗for dog, but this could suggest the homophone "kuniku" which literally means bitter meat, meaning something which requires personal sacrifice. Another character here for "bone" seems to hint towards an idiomatic phrase hone-nashi meaning to lack in moral backbone. When the father marches greedily through an arch, a Japanese viewer would note that some of the characters on it are back to front, supporting the unease Chihiro is also feeling. Some viewers have highlighted the repetition of the characters "yu" and "me" in the film since "yume" means dream in Japanese. 

Names themselves are important as a signifier of identity throughout. Chihiro's name literally means "a thousand" and "asking questions" or "searching/seeking". When Yu-baaba takes a character from Chihiro's name to cruelly rename her and sign the contract handing the girl over to her, Chihiro's new name, Sen, just means "a thousand". She's stripped of that meaning; she's herself but there's a part of her that's missing. The other characters' names also have literal connotations. Boh means little boy or son, Kamaji means old boiler man, Yu-baaba means bathhouse old woman or witch and Zeniiba means money witch. 


Hiraki Sawa

Fantasmagoria - Seen at PARAFIN gallery


photograph taken of 'fantasmagoria' 


photograph taken of 'fish story' 



photograph taken of ''

features I noticed while watching '' (2017) -- copied from my Notes

  • two screens
  • opening of fire burning in dark
  • faded out to black
  • different perspectives of a scene -- not necessarily shown at the same time
  • use of tripod: still shots
  • use of black screen
  • use of black and white footage in some scenes: emphasis on light vs dark
  • contrast in colours/time of day/light and dark
  • shot in the snow and underwater
  • post: edited contrast??
  • scene of balloons illuminated at night, other screen is under water
  • sound on two speakers that rotate around a pillar(?) 
  • use of layers present: still image over moving image -- opacity changed (multiple exposure effect) 
  • scenes where you can see the filming take place: higher placement of the camera -- CCTV feel of observer being observed
  • contrast black and white and sepia 
  • sound of what's happening in the scene and also the ringing-sound-you-get-when-you-run-your-finger-around-a-wine-glass 
  • camera plunged into the ice hole: movement contrasts the other (majority) of scenes which were still shots 
  • light on snow in the dark: looks ethereal, unreal, otherwordly
  • more instrumental soundtrack after balloons lifted up in the air -- upside down on second screen
  • snow falling upside down layered on scene of man working
  • both fade to black -- flame on smaller screen looks fucking sick omg


another photo taken of '' - this part was where the light was in the hole drilled into the ice and Tetsuya Umeda was walking around in circles on the snow and it just looked so cool and looked like space but it's footprints in snow illuminated by light 


After having read the press release after having watched his films (see PDF below this block): 

  • the man Sawa filmed working throughout this video is the artist Tetsuya Umeda
  • filmed on the frozen Lake Shuparo in Hokkaido and the idea "was to light the lake from the inside, below the ice. ... I filmed from a distance as he bored through the ice ... The way the light refracted through the water was incredible." - Sawa

From Parafin's Artists page

  • "Hiraki Sawa’s video installations present intimate observations in transitory landscapes, familiar surroundings often inhabited by anoetic forms. Trees growing from a table, or a clock suddenly endowed with legs are natural interventions made by Sawa, yet extraordinary and unpredictable for the audience. His use of animation, sharp attention to lighting, and meticulously composed shots, are amalgamated into layered works. Sawa has the ability to manipulate his imagination into a tangible dimension that sits between the parallel languages of sculpture and film."

  • Sawa’s work is often described as hypnagogic, however he would argue that he is simply shifting his frame of reality.

anoetic: a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content. 

 hypnagogic:  relating to the state immediately before falling asleep.


Hiraki Sawa 'fantasmagoria' press release

MURAKAMI x ABLOH press release


Gagosian Gallery

Honestly, I went out of curiosity wondering what Abloh would have made in collaboration with Murakami outside of his company offwhite. Personally, I don't quite understand the whole hypebeast movement but it was still interesting to see how two different artists with their own distinctive styles came together to create a series of works. 





Akira Beard

Artist Decoded by Yoshino (podcast) #88: Akira Beard - "Love in Spite of Everything" 

  • Akira Beard re:getting a degree in Japanese as a Japanese-American: born in Japan, visited every few years, went back to Japan at 19, always feeling alienated whenever he went back, culture shock in the sense that he felt at home 
  • Yoshino (interviewer, 4th gen. Japanese American): feeling ashamed that he doesn't speak Japanese/doesn't know a lot of his own heritage 
  • Akira Beard: themes of identity -- self portraits + writing in journals
  • discovered the idea of impermanence when his life was falling apart: naively thought something was going to last forever and then it doesn't and then realising that. 
  • 'learn from pain ... process: integration of work and life ... creating work that was a distraction from life'
  • stoicism: ".... just let the pain happen know that its gonna end at one point and just dont add to it"
  • wrote every positive memory he could remember in the last 5 years 
  • protective of the integrity of the soul

Akira Beard: Love in Spite of Everything &emdash; "The Paradox of Pain", ink on paper, 5.5", 2013 

The Paradox of Pain (2013) - part of the 'love in spite of everything' series


I looked into Beard's work due to the themes present in his work - alienation, pain for example. I found the work above, The Paradox of Pain, interesting due to the combination of the crosshatch drawing and the handwritten text. My first impression was that the work was about something personal due to how 'rough' and 'unrefined' it was. 


From the description box: 

"About the Work The latest work to utilize real time tracking and face projection mapping using a state of the art 1000 fps projector and ultra high speed sensing, ‘INORI-PRAYER-,’ has been released. This project was born when Nobumichi Asai (WOW) approached collaborators TOKYO (, the dancing duo AyaBambi, and the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo.

This project began when songs were created about ‘life,’ a theme proposed by Tanigawa (TOKYO), who acted as this project’s director. Creative and technical director Asai (WOW) and CG director Shingo Abe (WOW) completed visual production and programming based on inspiration they obtained from the songs. Aya Sato added the choreography, and TOKYO completed the project by making it into a video.

Radioactive’ is the inspiration that Asai felt from music. ‘Radioactive’ wields destructive power, and from that brings ‘death’, ‘suffering’, and ‘sadness’. And then, the ‘opportunity’ to overcome those things. Accompanied by the overwhelming performance of AyaBambi, a visual synchronization of black tears, skulls, faces being severed, Noh Masks of agony and the Heart Sutra have sublimated into a single piece of work.

The face mapping system made it possible to follow intense performances, which was impossible until now, thanks to the use of the state of the art 1000 fps projector DynaFlash※1 and ultra high speed sensing. The initial dilemma of speeding up the tracking to the detriment of performance latitude was resolved by the WOW team, Professor Watanabe, and Tomoaki Teshima (EXVISION), who trimmed several milliseconds during a trial and error period that lasted approximately three months, enabling the completion of this system※2. The projected image looks like it is integrated into part of the skin, and the expressions on a subject’s face, when it is distorted or transformed, are exponentially enhanced.

*1: Jointly developed by the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo and Tokyo Electron Device, and commercialized by Tokyo Electron Device.
*2: Dynamic projection mapping technology, developed by the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, was used for hand tracking and projection mapping. Face mapping technology, developed by WOW Inc., was used for facial tracking.

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images are screenshots from the video

I was drawn to the video due to recognising the dancing duo, AyaBambi. This video was important in that it demonstrated the possibilities when creating a moving image. It showed the possibilities of using projectors as part of the work, not just something to display one's work. Overall, I just thought this video was absolutely break taking - the projections in combination with the choreography especially. 

short films

Both of the short films above captivated me for several reasons. One of them being the drawing style. I think the main factors were the fact that they were able to create such a immersive world in a relatively short period of time and that they both dealt with heavier topics, respectively death and Alzheimer's (i'm guessing). Coda in particular was really calming for me to watch. 


Hong Kong Strong. I am so blown away at this short film. I think that it captured the energy of Hong Kong beautifully through the way it was filmed, edited and through the use of vibrant colours. This was an example of what moving images can look like when you are immersed,  aware and a part of the culture in which you are filming. This also made me feel really nostalgic and made me think about my childhood in Hong Kong. 

Rebecca Farr

After having watched Bath, I was interested in seeing how another artist would work with the element of water. Farr's series Out of Nothing uses water as a central theme and motif in the works made. I was drawn to the colours used, as well as the fact that all the figures in the paintings are faceless. 


Restedoil on canvas 2016  - image source


From the website Farr writes: 

"In March of this year my father died after a year of struggle with brain cancer.  At the time of diagnosis I was developing a body of work about spiritualism and embodiment within the cultural mythology of white/Western privilege. Referencing Goya’s Disasters of War prints, I was painting thick oil studies that shifted and moved away from logical narratives, emphasizing a crisis between abstraction and physicality.   As his illness progressed I was suspended from my usual art practice and in that space of strangeness and grief I closely held my father as layers of complex material that had always been too difficult to unravel yielded, fell away and exposed many of the themes I had explored in paint for over a decade.   My gaze had been altered and with that came the realization that my work navigating large swaths of American history was also and had always been a familial portrait.

In a blended transmission of the chosen religion of Buddhism, a cultural inheritance of Christianity and a personalized touch of hippy my father created an enlightenment mythos that nested my childhood.  For much of my life we carried on a conversation about the nature of “self” constructing a slippery slope of abstracted states of being. We would read, meditate, practice Aikido and talk in karmic loops for hours.  My father offered his deepest heartfelt wish that I find a path that lead to the end of suffering and together we would ponder enlightenment with an infusion of old testament style longing for the Garden. My childhood imaginings of this awakening read more like a sermon inside of a Baptist revival tent. I imagined literally shucking my ego like an ear of corn. The only remains a static and perfect moment of liberation; no more suffering and nothing complicated or messy to be ashamed about

Through many years of meditation and life rubbing up against this fantasy I have come to realize just how improbable living would be in such a state. In my fathers death there was an unexpected radiance in the room and a conclusion to our long weaving conversation. And in that freefall space we both reached for different kinds of freedom. Out of Nothing is an expression of that conclusion of conversation, a ritual of individuation and a process of letting go.  As my father has been released into the great mystery of nothing I have been invited to come out of it. 

Water is the medium by which I have drifted through this process of grief. Both the large scale oil paintings of figures bathing at night and the sculptural installations of cotton and burlap washed in plaster reflect this element. The sculpted cloth installations move in and out of a temporal field in three parts, Pre form, Form and Letting go of form. These spaces articulate the passage of the body from stretched open to bundled and layered to discarded remnant.  The figurative paintings reside within the space of Form as pairs floating, swimming and thrashing towards a new mythology of self.  The figures washed in forgiveness and desire of all the messy shifting states of embodiment.

My father’s painting rests in the final room.  A horizontal landscape of light and water which faces a final discarded bundle of dusty burlap set against a sea of plaster and chalk. In this space I celebrate his freedom. I feel his stillness, a perfect hum of energy unbound by gravity and breath and I lovingly let him go. "

[music videos]

I was drawn to these music videos both visually and due to the content of the respective lyrics in the songs. 

I was drawn to the colour scheme and the use of water as a motif. I was also drawn to this as I could relate to the emotions portrayed through the text used and through the visuals. The hopeless wanting and longing to feel some sort of comfort and to be with someone. Water has several connotations, a few of those being: a life source, a source of cleanliness, movement, power, a sense of comfort, nature. These connotations in combination with the text (and audio) made me think about my own personal experiences and emotions when it comes to the topic of hopelessness and longing. 


I had to look up the lyrics and luckily found another video which explains the meaning behind the song (see below). I was particularly drawn to how the video was edited - the use of chroma keys to alter and change the surrounding background. I was also drawn to the use of a black screen, where you could hear a voice over, near the end of the video. For the song itself, listening to it was really calming and soothing, even though I didn't really know what DEAN was saying. 

 below are parts (subtitles which I just typed up here) which i could relate to or that I thought I could implement into making my own project (like the part about being honest about myself). 

2min9 seconds Q: How did you compose the song ‘Instagram’?

A: I wanted to compose an album that’s really like ‘me’. People who are in their 20s and 30s are not really different from me. So if I could speak truthfully about myself, people could empathize with me. So I started to observe myself as objectively as possible. Then I realized that I’ve been on Instagram whenever I get the chance. Even when I don’t have a good reason, I habitually get on Instagram. From that small habit, I thought about composing the song ‘Instagram’. The thing is, I often felt depressed when I got on Instagram. I follow people that I look up to and people that I like. Compared to those people, I feel infinitely small and lacking. And see how many pretty, handsome and cool people there are on Instagram I kept compared myself to them, and my friends going to these cool places…. While I was worn out from working in the studio. It felt like I was a lonely island placed away from all those people. That’s really what got into me. So I thought about composing a song that because I was sure that I wasn’t the only one who felt like this. This feeling of relative deprivation. A song that gives out that vibe of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ living in a city

4:30 Q: so you’ve visited your ex’s Instagram page for your song

A: I like composing songs that I feel. Photos that I posted on Instagram are something that I want to become. In the world everyone likes that fake side of me. How the person who knows who I really am would be like. On Instagram, people who are really attractive often gets a lot of DMs, but that’s actually just something that comes from just the looks and all those people don’t know how you are really like. How would the person who really knows who I really am would be like?

5:06 Q: So you think that Instagram is a ‘waste of time’?

A: I know that it’s a waste of time, but I can’t help myself. Everyone knows that social media is a waste of time. But there is so much information on social media too. I want to quit because I know that it is a waste of time but at the same time I’m afraid of missing all the information. But nowadays I started to know too much about things and that’s making me more stressed out. I often think about how it might have been better off not knowing about it. So, I continue to be on social media although I know it’s a waste of time and it’s pretty much a cycle of those feelings

5:35 Q: So ‘instagram’ is a song that you composed to empathize with

A: That’s right. My next album is for myself that I wanted to listen to and that could console me. I often had severe emotional ups and downs. I felt somewhat insecure after releasing my previous album because of all the sudden happiness. So I wanted to compose songs that could console me and I wanted to listen. Then maybe someone will be consoled by them too and someone might want to listen to them. It’s an album that I wanted to listen to without caring about what others say


[e-flux articles]

The Missing Front Line - Carol Yinghua Lu (Journal #80 March 2017)

"Young artists, novel and appealing, are quickly drawn into the art system. Frequently they enjoy an extended honeymoon period of being viewed, supported, consumed, discussed, and described. Meanwhile, artists who have been working since the 1970s and ’80s are highlighted as part of a particular art movement, even being lauded as the movement’s leading or representative figures, gaining the affirmation of the art system. These older artists have been brought into international exhibitions that focus on presenting Chinese art, and have been the center of attention for collectors and the art market. However, after so many years, their work remains undescribed in terms of its art-historical relevance. They circulate without being critically examined, considered, or analyzed. A widespread anxiety remains among these artists, born in the 1950s and ’60s, about whether the attention placed on them will shift, with the passage of time, to their body of work. As it is, their practice is reduced to a few representative achievements before the discussion moves on to focus on their market value. Very little transcends the topics of supply and demand. We could say that in over thirty years of the progression of Chinese contemporary art, much work and thinking has yet to be described or contextualized art historically."

"The existing narratives of contemporary art in China rarely consider anything prior to the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Contemporary art is treated as a new phenomenon, easily distinguished from what came before it. The prevalent disregard of the three decades immediately following the founding of the People’s Republic gives a false impression that contemporary art can be free of any inherited ideological framework. Since 2013, the artist Liu Ding and I have been researching the historical narratives and ideological frameworks of Chinese contemporary art in a sixty-seven-year timeframe."

"Clearly, the politics of names is also the politics of memory." 

"The practice of contemporary art in China has always worked within a framework of official permission and refusal, official control and relaxation. In popular perception, however, this official framework is simply dismissed as an external condition that contemporary art practice situates itself in opposition to, basing its legitimacy on its divergence from and disregard of the state’s ideological structure. On the contrary, in reality contemporary art practice in China is always directly subject to such a fundamental framework of ideas. One manifestation of this subordinate relationship between contemporary art and the state’s ideological structure is the imagination of the West and the Western art system in the self-projection of Chinese contemporary art. Once, when I was interviewing artist Shi Chong, he said,

In the 1980s, we were still in the process of learning. We were learning Western classical art, on the one hand, and Western modern art, on the other. It was right in the middle of the process of switching from one to the other. In fact, after the 1990s, whether it was rooted in Western classical art forms or in Western modernist art forms, we were all searching for the greatest possibilities."

"The relationship between the internal and the external was also an ideological construct. The phrase “lining up with international practices” became commonplace, but at the same time a strong nationalistic awareness was also externalized in the slogans popular among the cultural and commercial scenes: “only through localization can we have internationalization” and “the more ethnic, the more global.”"

"The 1990s alienated artists and intellectuals from the political agenda of the government; even though they were mobilized and implicated by such an agenda, they could no longer play a critical and active role in defining it. The perpetuation of pragmatism and the industrialization of intellectual and artistic practice aggravated such a divorce. In his observations on China’s intellectual landscape in the 1990s, Wang Hui raises an important difference from the 1980s, namely that the intellectual scene, which saw itself as the cultural elite and oracle in the 1980s, had by the 1990s quickly realized that they were no longer the cultural elites and shapers of values in contemporary China, and that they needed a means of adapting and confronting the ubiquitous commercial culture. This sense of being unfit also permeated the field of art. One striking change was the increasing development of the market and its increasingly visible role as a force in the art system, which was complemented by the emergence of some curators, critics, and artists who became actively engaged in the progression of the market orientation of contemporary art. They all shared the goal of wresting more social space for contemporary art practice, with the belief that by demonstrating contemporary art’s commercial potential they could win more possibilities for expression and practice. They also drew inspiration from their limited understanding of the Western art system, believing the West to be a highly commercial society in which foundations, galleries, museums, and other institutions worked together to promote the commercialization of art. This understanding and thinking led them to actively engage in the project of commodifying and commercializing art."



Williams, T (ed.) 2015, Postcolonialism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories : The Cinema of Evans Chan, Hong Kong University Press, HKU, Hong Kong. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [15 February 2018].

[text] Postcolonialism, Diaspora and Alternative Histories: The Cinema of Evans Chan - Chapter 6: Issues of Decolonization

Zhou Hanshun

Frenetic City (series)



Series Description: 

"To say life moves fast in a city is an understatement. 

People go through life in an uncompromising, chaotic pace, overcoming and absorbing anything in their pathTime in the city seem to flow quicker, memoriesin the city tend to fade away faster. Nothing seems to stand still in a city. 

A UN report suggested that by 2050, the world's population would reach 10 billion, with three-quarters of humanity living in our already swelling cities. 

Hong Kong was my city of residence from 2014 to 2017. With a population of over 7 million but less than 25% of its land developed, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. When I first landed, I was immediately confronted by a society that is in fierce competition for physical and mental space. I decided to capture and re-create the tension and chaos that I experienced in photographic form. 

The photographs were created with multiple exposures of 10 to 25 on B&W film." - Zhou Hanshun



 I really liked how this series plays with the ideas of memory, time and space - all focusing around everyday life. The medium of film photography makes the photos in the series seem less staged because of the different layers in the photo as a result of taking multiple exposures and the locations in which they were shot at. The multiple exposures give an almost haunting quality to the photographs, as if the people captured no longer exist. However, it also gives a strong rhythm and movement in each of the photos. I think another reason why I enjoyed this series was the nostalgia I felt that came with looking at the photgraphs it, having lived in Hong Kong as a child. 

Manal Aldowayan


This project was developed to highlight the unique social attitudes towards women’s names in Saudi society. Men find it offensive to mention the names of the women in their lives and women also hide their identity so as not to offend the other members of her family. This is a custom occurring solely in Saudi Arabia and has no historical or religious foundation.

A wonderful hadith illustrates this concept; Amr ibn Al A’as said: The Prophet (PBUH) was asked (“Oh Prophet of God, who is the most beloved to you?” He said: “Aisha”). There are lessons to be learned from this hadith, The prophet and the Quran all mention women’s names and have never associated a woman’s name to shame or something that should be hiddenTribal and Bedouin traditions also use women’s names proudly. Following in the Prophets example, Saudi Arabia’s founding father, King Abdul Aziz, would take great pride in his sister’s name, Princess Noura. Especially when caught in tense situations he would shout “And I am the brother of Noura!”.

So with no traditional nor a religious basis for this phenomena I took my artwork to the society that encourages the hiding of a woman’s name, and asked them to make a group statement on the subject.

Identity is deeply linked to several elements of an individual’s personality and one’s name is integral among these elements. This fundamental subject forms the basis of my artwork entitled “My Name.

Produced in 2012 - Medium: Maple wood beads with natural wool rope hand made by beduin women. Sizes 4 meters long.  . Editions 9 unique pieces



I was drawn to these sculpture series for several reasons. Visually, I was drawn to their scale and their strong presence when displayed in the room. However, I was more drawn to the piece after having read the description about how the themes of the project dealt with identity - a theme/area I plan on exploring in my own project. 

Kahinde Wiley

'Trickster' (series) 



"Trickster, an exhibition of monumental new paintings by Kehinde Wiley. A departure from Wiley’s practice of painting anonymous sitters, these portraits include a select group of extraordinary contemporary artists––Derrick Adams, Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Yinka Shonibare, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. This will be Wiley’s second exhibition with the gallery and his first in the gallery’s new space. An opening reception will take place on Friday, May 5 from 6-8 pm. The artist will be present.

In Trickster, Wiley explores the range of ways that artists engage with and draw from the world around them. He employs the mythological trickster trope––existent in nearly every culture’s folklore––to not only examine how artists disrupt the status quo and change the way in which we think, but as a signifier of how people of color navigate both real and symbolic social boundaries inherent to their blackness. As Lewis Hyde wrote in the book Trickster Makes This World, “…boundary creation and boundary crossing are related to one another, and the best way to describe trickster is to say simply that the boundary is where he will be found––sometimes drawing the line, sometimes crossing it, sometimes erasing or moving it, but always there, the god of the threshold in all its forms.” Wiley views the artists portrayed––amongst the most important and influential of their generation––as having navigated, pushed and redefined boundaries to establish a new canon within the history of Western art.

Wiley, as is central to his practice, draws on the historically Eurocentric Western art canon as a point of departure for Trickster. Influenced by Goya’s infamous Black Paintings, a series of fourteen powerfully haunting murals, striking in both their dark subject matter and palette, Wiley has restricted his use of color and incorporated barren landscapes into these new canvases. Here, the field becomes a sepia shadow mirroring the subjects’ flesh and enveloping them in a darkness that could be interpreted as either menacing or embracing. The result is a dance between light and dark, perfection and imperfection, hero worship and human frailty.

Kehinde Wiley’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions worldwide and is in the permanent collections of many museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Denver Art Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the High Museum, Atlanta; the Columbus Museum of Art; the Phoenix Art Museum; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Jewish Museum, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. In 2015, Wiley was awarded the US State Department Medal of Arts from then Secretary of State John Kerry. That same year he was the subject of a mid-career survey exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, entitled A New Republic, which continues to travel the country and is currently on view at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio.

A catalogue on Trickster, published by Sean Kelly and Hatje Cantz Verlag, featuring an interview with Thelma Golden, Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, an extensive essay by Cheryl Finley, Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University, and creative piece of writing by Poet Saeed Jones, is forthcoming."



I was drawn to the paintings in the series because of the contrast between light and dark, as well as the portrayal of the subjects themselves. Rarely, do we see people of colour depicted in the ways that Wiley does - positively, strong, powerful. His subjects look so ... regal (is this the right word to use.... i can't think of anything else at the moment but anyways)  in these paintings.  Having read the information regarding the series after looking at the paintings definitely gave me a greater insight into the series. I loved how the series is a subtle social commentary regarding the Art World and how people of colour are portrayed in it.  The way in which Wiley deals with boundaries is something that I can personally relate to - being a person of colour, being a Malaysian Chinese but being so incredibly disconnected from my own cultural background as a result of living overseas for majority of my life (17 years out of 20 years of my existence) , being able to somehow to blend in while simultaneously stand out. The idea of duality and being able to navigate the spaces within and I suppose, out of it is another aspect that I love about this series. 


Examples of how drones can be used to create moving spacial sculptures. I was drawn to these ones in particular because of how their formations and due to their use of LED lights to create dynamic shapes and images.