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Category Archives: INSPIRATION

Tomoyuki Kambe is a Japanese artist who works mostly with natural materials in his artworks, and they usually depict scenes in nature. His works exude calmness and serenity and the same can be said for his working methods and working philosophy. The artist was born near a river in Gifu (the Nagara river I think) and takes the river as his main source of inspiration for his paintings.

Here are a few of his works:


Tomoyuki Kambe_Swirl

The artist remarked that he thought these goldfishes of different colours of yellows, reds, and blacks, portray how he though the world should be. To him, the world should be a place which is filled with diversity.

Tomoyuki Kambe_At his usual place

Tomoyuki Kambe_The future when I don't look yet

I believe just as the world is made up of multitude of microscopic creatures, and similarly, our society draws on a variety of smaller components for direction and shape. 

~Tomoyuki Kambe

When painting a picture of crabs, like the one below for instance, the artist will first go to the river to catch some crabs and observe them for a period of time. After that he will start to work on his paintings with the help of assistants.

Tomoyuki Kambe_ Personal Space

A member of the audience asked “What do you do with the animals after that? Do you eat them?”

The artist laughed and waved his hands in the air and replied “I cannot”. He said something along the lines of all life, no matter how small, is sacred. He says that he sometimes names the animals and keeps them as pets. He thus has a lot of animals in his house, both live ones and preserved ones.

Here are some of the materials which the artist uses

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The artist talked about a kind of Japanese paint called Iwaenogu. It can be made by grinding different minerals (both natural and synthetic ones), and then mixed with an animal protein called Nigawa which acts as the solvent for the grinded minerals. Although the number of colour sources is limited, various colour tones are obtained by grinding down the pigment; the finer the grains, the lighter the shade produced. If you’re really interested, I scanned in the handout they gave out and you can look at it for more infomation. They are so considerate to give out handouts!

There are apparently different kinds of Iwaenogu, having different rarity and prices.

Image (18) Image (19)

These are some samples of grinded minerals.

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After that the artist demonstrated a method of how he applies gold foil to his works using nigawa(animal protein). Here’s a video of that

Another way he applied it was to place the gold foil into a bamboo tube fitted with a metal gauze at the end. He used a brush to push the gold foil against the metal gauze and made gold sprinkles which can again be stuck onto the paper using nigawa.

He asked for volunteers to try out applying the gold foils, and they got to keep the paper with gold foil on it after that!

There were also sculptural pieces done by some potters on display around the room.

Here is the artist’s site

I really liked the artist’s works and his working methods. He’s really respectful of all life forms, and I think it is interesting how he compares animals to human society. Also, when asked how much does a piece of his work cost, the artist replied that he is only interested in making the artwork, but not in the financial aspects.

On a side note, it is also interesting how the english translation of the title his works, which sometimes sound grammatically wrong, help to retain and enhance the cultural flavour which his works have.

The artist is having an exhibition at the Mandarin Gallery for about a month or so. Do visit!


Another thing that has inspired me for my coursework are the people who surround me everyday

 To clarify: I am not making my coursework to address these people, or to react to them. I am saying I am sure these people around me have inspired me without me knowing, subconscienciously. Therefore when I say that they inspire me, I mean they are so interesting to observe and I shall make something that has some elements or essense of them that I believe had impacted me in the choices I had made.

Let me talk a little about my paternal grandma

My childhood with my grandma was… not very pleasant. She was very nice to me but I didn’t really like her, so I didn’t treat her very well. After taking care of me for a while, she went back to her house, then returned again in 2009 to take care of my brother, along with my grandpa. What I see in front of me I feel, is something like a repeating cycle, but I think my brother has a nicer personality, or is more sensible than me.

So my grandma stands and cooks in the kitchen every night, untill recently. Recently, she likes to hang out outside, so my grandpa cooks in the kitchen instead. Last time, while watching my grandma cook I would feel bad for not helping for, and also bad for knowing that I should help her in some way but I am just too lazy to do so. When I observe her, she is just standing, holding a spatula in the right, her left on her hips, and just standing there, with downcast eyes staring , sometimes at the food, sometimes I don’t know where. And I thought: does she feel lonely? After cooking dinner, she would watch the 7pm drama everyday without fail. So it kind of seemed like everyday she was waiting to go through a same ritual at night, cook dinner, eat dinner, watch drama, go hang out outside.  She was in a repeating cycle, where her actions do not change, but the environment around her does. It is kind of sad, perturbing to think of, but actually, all of us are basically leading the same type of lives. Everything in our life is a cycle, a standard ritual we all follow. Wake school eat work sleep wake school eat …

(Sidetracting a litle:

I also came acoss a video once, which questioned: Do we actually have free will?


Waiting is to me, a break from the various stages in the cycle.

I remember Jizz asked me if I could live nearer to the school, would I want to do so? No, cause I enjoy just sitting on a seat and listening to music, of not having to do anything, but just sit and wait for your stop to come.

 I think this is kind of complementing to Lisa he’s work ( her tag line : STOP RUSHING START LIVING). okay not that much, a little bit. Let me draw an analogy, that from the moment we are born, the tape starts to play. When we are accomplishing something, the tape plays; when we are resting/ not doing anything, the tape is on pause. When we die, the tape is stopped. So our lives are constantly in play mode, except for those parts when we don’t do anything ( like sleep, stoning, contemplating, thinking) (Excretion is still considered doing something, cause you’re getting rid of waste products from your body.)

On saturdays my mom is in charge of cooking, and when she is too tired to do so, we just order pizza. When we order pizza, I am in charge of cooking canned soup, and making the salad. Then, I find myself in my Grandma’s shoes : all alone in the kitchen. Cooking alone can be a lonely thing, especially when your kitchen is the cramped and messy kind. All the other ‘presences’ are non-living objects. In the kitchen, I am constantly on play, except when waiting for the soup to boil, to get some rest. I think this is a simple analogy of how our lives work. Keep being on play mode, until you have to wait for something. It’s a simple situation I am familar with and that I can easily recreate, so I decided to stick to that idea.

Iumazark is one of my favourite artists, I first chanced across his work on deviantART, and it has never ceased to amaze me ever since.His works are such an inspiration because they always arouse such subliminal feelings with very simple and delicate drawings.

He has very fine and detailed linework and intricate designs in the background, providing a nice setting for each pictuer. The figures he potrays are quite simplistically shaped. The people do not stand strongly in terms of facial features, there is less details  on the face compared to the rest of the picture. But there is just something about the figures that is very striking. I think i was quite influenced by how the subjects may sometimes be grotesque but still graceful at the same time. I think I was inspired by how they are dark, ghostly and gentle at the same time.

There is so much detail on the fabrics and background, but the face is left plain clean, which brings our point of focus to the face. The colours are also mostly murky brown green, a river of gray blue running through. Not exactly clean colours, but the picture overall is just very calming and therapeutic. I also like the rough, course feel that his works have. The dirty colours feel like an ‘imperfection’, something old and faded, but they also feel kind of futuristic at the same time. The sketch-iness are also a pleasant touch that give the work more edge, volume, power.

I think I was quite inspired by how he conveyed emotion, even thought the figures lacked expression on their faces. Also, most of the people do not quite address the presence of the audience. In most cases, the figures appear to be staring at some point off canvas, they seem to be thinking about something, troubled by it perhaps. The figures have pursed lips, downcast eyes, something we normally do when we think/ or are in our own world; they appear to be quite separated from reality, even numbed from reality. I liked how he created emotion and movement in the picture even though the subject matter is so still ( a little dead even), but it’s interesting to experiment: how do you evoke emotion without expressions of emotion? The characters are a little quirky, having their own confidence and attitude, even though their expression may not say much about themselves.

When someone smiles at me, I feel a little surge of hapinees too, if I feel that her/his smile is a genuine one. People often point me out for a lack of expression, and maybe that’s why i’m kind of interested in exploring this.

More omg at here or here

As I wrote in my journal with some changes:

I was very excited about Tate Modern, and the experience has not disappointed me. It was so exciting to be amongst these very varying, striking pices of work. It was also a refreshing chnge from the usual classical pieces we normally see. This has raised awareness about how art can be expressed. It is not mere painting and delightful images, but but art is also what can appeal to the senses to give the audience a wondorous feeling in the gut. I am greatly encouraged to be more experimental and daring with my coursework, to not merely focus on pleasing the audience by providing visual delight. i understand that the works here are not the kind that people usually do not immediately understand, or might question the point to the work, but I really enjoy them, and the stories and intention behind each work also make the work highly interesting.

Some of the works I saw:

Venus of the Rags  1967,1974
Venere degli stracci

Marble and textiles
displayed: 2120 x 3400 x 1100 mm

From the Tate Modern website:

Pistoletto was interested in broadening the material language of Arte Povera, and in creating complex juxtapositions of modern and historical images and ideas. Venus of the Rags appears to bring together an iconic figure of classical culture with the detritus of contemporary society as the solid Roman goddess props up a randomly formed pile of gaudily coloured second-hand clothes. In fact the figure is based on a kitsch statue found in a garden centre rather than a genuine antiquity.

When I first viewed this work, I didn’t react much to it, cause I just thought: Oh, its a statue of a naked women and her front is covered by this large pile of clothes. Okay.  However, after visiting Musee D’Louvre and browing the web, I discovered its more than just a white sculpture placed next to a pile of clothes…

Here is a sculpture in Musee D’Orsay called ‘Venus de Milo’.

It’ so funny, how the work Venus of the rags played around with the work Venus d Milo. At the Louvre, the art guide was telling us all about how beautful this piece of work is, and telling us to take a few moments to just walk around and observe how the sculpture managed to portray the female body in such a beautiful way.  He told us look how softly provocative the sculpture is, with the cloth slowly slipping off. And there in Tate Modern, someone is poking fun of it. It’s brilliant really and I wish we had viewed the works in reverse order so I could get the intention of Venus of the Rags right there on the spot. There’s interesting comparison, like how VR showed the sculpture standing somewhat like she is embarrased, trying to hide amongst the clothes, and VM stands tall and proud, with so many people standing around here trying to snap a decent picture. There’s also this comparison of old age vs new age perception of beauty I think. It’s a work of interesting juxtaposition to great effect. I also discovered that the one in Tate Modern is a recreation piece.

I liked this way of poking fun at things, being so subtle and requiring the audience to figure out what is the intention behind the work by themselves. I actually wanted my coursework to ‘be more interactive’, I had this dream in Secondary three to make something that people can play around with. But in Secondary Four, that idea kind of died down, or rather it developed in another way, i think this work does not require physical presense of the viewer to understand the work, just by viewing it online now, you can understand the intention of it. So I like the idea of that, mentally browsing the work and relating to events that happened in your life, stuff that you have seen. Can I say the work is more universal? Cause all people have a mind to think about stuff, and this comparison of two items is probably a comparison most people can draw, regardless of culture, race or gender. I hope my coursework can achieve some sense of that (and some similar thoughts on the MonkeyLove post.)

Another piece in Tate Modern is

Video Trans Americas by Juan Downey

20 min video installation

A youtube video of how the work kinda looks like (in the dark):

From Tate Modern website:

Video Trans Americas documents Juan Downey’s travels across the Americas, recording the diverse cultures of the continent.

A landmark in early video art, Video Trans Americas combines aspects of travelogue, visual anthropology, the study of architectural and geographical space, politics and poetry.  He initially envisaged his project as a road trip, ‘from New York to the southern tip of Latin America’, during which he would videotape aspects of the distinctive cultures (‘art, architecture, cooking, dance, landscape, language, etc.’) of the regions he passed through. At the same time, he would show the local inhabitants previous tapes shot along the way, as a way of sharing information and overcoming the isolation of individual communities.

So what i find interesting about this work, was how he made use of multiple multiple screens that are placed such that viewers have to move themselfs, to travel from screen to screens to view the works. The images that are flashing across the screens are also not particulary outstanding; they are in black and white, having an old film quality, and what they depict are not necessarily the most exciting events that happen on Earth. But what I think is definitely present in the videos is a presence of human essense, spirit of life, melancholy, such that you can very easily find yourself just standing in front of a screen to stare at what is happening, then moving on to another screen to see what else is happening.

I was also quite inspired, or perhaps intrigued, by the usage of multiple screens, to flash many many moving images at the audience. It’s much more intensive than just a single screen with moving pictures on it. I had wanted to use this concept in my coursework, but later tossed it out of the window to be pragmatic. I think maybe the effect can still be achieved with frequent cuts between two different clips, as this also has the effect of different images flashing at the audience.

On what the work is trying to show,

In practice, the fourteen videos that eventually formed the installation were made over a series of journeys between 1973 and 1976. Each video is positioned on a map of the Americas to show the location of filming. Downey made successive visits to different places chosen for their cultural significance… highlights their importance for contemporary society as well as the value of surviving indigenous cultures and peoples.

It is interesing, the method of presentation of his travels. It allows the audience to sort of ‘travel along’, sort of like going on a mini adventure too. While viewing, I suppose you can be more conscious of your environment and the people around you, when the artist is trying to point out the cultural and geographical gaps between audience and subject.

I really wish we had more time in the museum because I think it is kind of pointless if we just step into a museum to brush past all the works, but never to fully experience one. We were rushing through, trying to catch a glimpse of as many works as possible, in case we missed out any interesting ones. I’d rather visit less museums than have a large exposure to many different works, but never being able to fully understand any of them.

Hunter Freeman

Hunter Freeman likes finding the art in commerce, the humor in a landscape or the uniqueness in a personality.

These photos which feature astronauts doing various everyday mundane things, like laundry, watching the Television, chilling in a cafe and etc, are a very humorous collection of photos. The pictures would not be that interesting if they just featured normal people, that are in a normal outfit, doing these mundane things, but the astronaut outfit really is a surprise to see in such an environment. I couldn’t help chuckling, and it is marvelous how amusing  something that is taken out of context can be.

Many people, boys and girls, might have had the dream of being an astronaut, of being able to experience weightlessness, eat toothpaste food, drink water in the form of a water bubble floating in mid air, eat freeze dried ice cream, take a dump in outer space. Pretty much the most mundane things would be exciting in a weightless environment, in my opinion. There are so many out of this world experiences that an astronaut can do, but here, the artist points out that beyond all that, astronauts pretty much do the normal things all of us do. It’s a very subtle way of doing so, and very effective. I really like how the artist made use of placing something that does not belong into a familiar environment to create such a strange and amusing sight.

More of his works here

David OReilly / Ireland / 2008 / 10’00

PSS is a 10 minute short concerning a troubled relationship between a Cat and Mouse set in the distant Future. The final film was completed in January 2009 and contains 23 episodes of exactly 25 seconds each.

I like the fact that the creator described it as a short ‘consisting of 23 episodes’, and the precision that each episode takes, of 25 seconds. This seems highly related to the setting of the story – somewhere in the future where things are very rapid and mechanical. Like there are so many distractions in life that everything has to be short and quick; it’s like how you cannot switch on a computer without logging on to facebook then youtube, then tumblr maybe.

My central idea in constructing the world of the film was to prove that something totally artificial and unreal could still communicate emotion and hold cinematic truth. The film makes no effort to cover up the fact that it is a computer animation, it holds an array of artifacts which distance it from reality, which tie it closer to the software it came from. This idea is in direct opposition to all current trends in animation, which take the route of desperately trying to look real, usually by realistic lighting and rendering, or by forcing a hand-made or naive appearance. At the time of writing, this trend shows no apparent signs of ceasing. -David OReilly

The animation techniques used seem very rough, course and unfinished, and it something different from the usual dreamworks, Tom & Jerry animation methods used. Dreamworks aims to create a realistic, believable world where everything has tonal values, organic shapes and are everything is all very pleasant to the eye. This unconventional of animation may not be appealing to all audiences, but it definitely brings a new experience to the audience, and judging by the awards and attention and positive comments it received, it was quite well received.

I want to change the way people think about animation, find a language that is unique and honest and shift the focus to encourage a movement in 3D that is independent and free from. -David OReilly

It is also interesting to note how the creator was able to evoke feelings in the audience, when the subject matters were presented as something so artificial and lacking of expressions. The story is also so fragmented. The cat and mouse, whose gender is not specifically pointed out, and also do not speak in a distinct language we can understand. We only know what they are talking about by looking at the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, and I think this helps to emphasize the futuristic and alien feel. Every action each character makes is emphasized by the sounds of its footsteps – a soft knocking sound. The whole experience sort of feels like an old video game, except these two characters are very much alive.

Tags are a way of adding value to something and I used them to explain certain story elements. -David OReilly

There is a tiny break in between each ‘episode’ using a test card like picture, and there is a description at the top of this test card that describes what the scene will be about, followed by some tags of what is in the scene. For example, one of them read ‘6. IN WHICH MOUSE TAKES CAT HOME TAGS: WAITING, CONVALESCENSE, DOCTOR, LOSS’ But this flash is so quick, about a split second of so, it is impossible for the audience to see unless he deliberately pauses to do so. I have tried to pause at every insertion of the test card picture, and I find that reading the comments at the top helped me to make more sense of the story. Without the comments, it presents a different experience where the audience is free to figure out the story by themselves, but when viewed online under control of the viewer, the viewer has the choice to forgo their personal response and see what the creator meant for the story to be. I feel that this plays with the way most people view things nowadays, which is through online platforms like youtube, mysoju etc. We have more control over what we are viewing, and this is very relavant to the setting of the story, in the future.

I also really like the fragmented way the story is told, that there is not a smooth flow through the different events, so I don’t think we are that much drawn into the storyline as compared to when you view a full scale movie. When in the cinemas, they set up a protagonist, a conflict, a story for you to follow throughout as the protagonist tries to solve the conflict. But in PSS, I think the viewing is done more of in the manner as an observation of the cat and the mouse. This way, our mental states are hovering somewhere between reality and this world the film set up. We try to understand how that world operates, while drawing comparisons to this world we are living in now, and we think about if the future that lies ahead of us is something like that?

I am pretty sure there are other things in daily life I view that contribute to the molding of my coursework as well; whatever I view and think of will have an impact. (I think my coursework ideas basically all came from bus trips and sleepless nights.) However, the impact ML made was exceptionally deep and exceptionally good, so I’m going to specifically point it out. 

2007 Festival du Court Métrage
Clermont-Ferrand Grand Prix Prize
*Monkeylove (Royston Tan/Jpn, Sg/2005/Fiction/09’00/Beta SP)

In the winter landscape of Hokkaido, a guy in a monkey suit is searching for lost love. A meditation on life and art, love and longing, “Monkey Love” is lyrical, enigmatic, pensive, whimsical and spare – like a haiku.

After watching monkey love, I felt like my vision field was pulled apart by a couple of inches because it was a very different piece of work. It was a drama, about things that are lost, the search for those things, and love. Normal drama (esp Korean!)about loves are very, dramatic, mostly involving love triangles, weepy female leads and dashing male leads. Taiwanese dramas, mostly idol dramas also mostly deal about love/relationships, and the whole drama appears very ‘cutesy’ and funny, which serves the purpose, as it is meant to be entertaining and allows the idols to capture the audience’s attention.

ML dealed with the concept of love in a very different method, and it was very touching. Not because of the painful relationship between the male and female lead, but because of the essence of the human spirit presented. It was touching, while being soothing and warming at the same time. Having a man play a monkey, by dressing him up in a bright red monkey suit while running through a large white field was very visually impactful. Also, viewers cannot help but feel pity for the monkey prancing around in the stone cold environment; this subtle evocation of emotions.

The interesting contrasts (achieved by frequent cuts) between what the viewers saw, and what the camera crew was experiencing also helped to add a sense of ‘reality’ to the film. People are more conscious of what they view, they can treat it as a piece of reality, despite the outrageous characters, and confusing dialogues.

The ending added a new character to the film, a rabbit, which turns out to be the main interest of the monkey evokes much sense in the film. The rush of ‘sense’ which suddenly comes to the viewer was what was missing from the film.

What inspired me was the ability of royston tan to create so much emotion and sense out of footages that are so simple, quiet and passive. The film does not shout or scream; it skillfully plants these ideas and emotions in people. Thus, viewers are not restrained to have one interpretation of the film, and different audiences will have different reactions to the film. Viewers can ‘complete’ and add to the film in their own way, which makes the viewing of the film rather personal as well. I really liked the ambience the film evokes, and the emotions it placed in me. I wanted to create something as emotional and as subtle. The enigmatic approach to storytelling was also very appealing to me, and I hope my viewers will also feel the freedom to imagine and somewhat ‘digress’ from the film in their thoughts, to think of other events in their life. This kind of, emotional attachment, i guess, is what I think artwork should have. That, people can all relate to one piece differently, and they like it because it draws emotions in them.

On a side note, I was rather impressed by what Royston Tan did. I mean if you compare it to 881, 12 lotus, I assumed that he films quite a bit of retro and old stuff, all those catonese/hokkien-i-dunno-what culture stuff, which was quite distant to me, and quite Singaporean. He just looked like a very 怀旧 guy, which i guess is quite true, after looking at another film he made, called Old Places. He made singapore look so pretty! It was another film that was rather simplistic, consisting of footages of these old singaporean places, and audio consisting of interview of singaporeans, telling their stories related to these places. The film mainly showed these places, and not much other than that was happening, but it wasn’t a bit boring. And although I do not have much memories relating to such places, I was still captivated by it. It was very serene to watch and I highly reccomned whoever is reading this to watch it. Don’t judge it before you watch it! After watching it, I was like, hmmm, singapore is quite a cool place. …

the trailer is 6.42% similar to what the actual thing is like