Tag: The Substation

Need to organise the diversity

Of late, I have not been able to gather my thoughts and thread something deeper out of them. Maybe I miss the long train trips to school, where I could let my mind run and focus, nowadays time is just too short for me to muse. Instead, I’m going to run a short list of thoughts, after all like the director of a short film said, she liked to make short films because if it’s bad, the pain is short, the disappointment after is short and well in general, life is short, isn’t it?

The problem with news
I was just thinking about a friend who graduated in engineering and loves photography and thought she sounds like a news story because that is unusual. But on second thought, that’s not unusual anymore, in the “new” world today, values of the past become unusual again. That’s on top of trying to outdo what was new. Maybe nothing new can be created… wait, I think Jameson or Lyotard talked about it before. Darn, nothing new here.

On the same note, there is one recurring story line that I am getting bored of. Basically, homosexual repressed in a hetrosexual society, rediscovers his homosexuality and lives happily ever after. I think it’s a starting point of such identities becoming included part of society and when enough of us get bored of the theme, it’ll be nothing new.

The 4th Singapore Short Film Festival
I caught the first set of films today. I was really impressed with For a Few Marbles More, a Dutch film about a group of children fighting two bullies for their right to the playground — short, sweet and funny. The Iranian film Cyanosis, about the life of a painter was a bit slow, but how the director used the paintings as part of the story-telling process was interesting.

Finally, the three local films stood out for different reasons. Londres-London had something interesting going on conceptually but it’s delivery was stunted and I only truly appreciated it when the director explained the movie. Kichiro was lots of blood and gore and I had my eyes close for quite a bit and the director did confess that he was simply exploiting the opportunity to feature violence and I have to say kudos to that. The most curious film for the night was My Keys. I was ready to pan it because it did seem quite ridiculous, a man finds out he is locked in because he can’t find his keys then prays to Guan Yin who appears with his keys but never gives it to him and flies off with it. Moreover, it’s cast were both models from some beauty competition which I highly suspected was to allow him to get sponsorship. It was only when the director explained that he wanted to convey the feeling of being cheated to express how he felt when a good friend he lent money to ran away with it. You had to give it to him.

Brochure Collection
What is with the k e r n i n g of the Singapore Short Film Festival brochure? C a n y o u i m a g i n e r e a d i n g t h i s… Postmodern layout can sometimes be so non-functional.

I finally got hold of the 21st Singapore International Film Festival’s brochure too, the cover was not very impressive too, compared to a few years back.

My favourite brochure this time was The Substation’s “What’s On Jan – Mar”, the events are sectionalised into white boxes that allow the reader to interact and make notes on it. It would have worked even better if the boxes contained the dates and times for the events too.

Cool stuff to share
Teabag font for free! <http://www.josbuivenga.demon.nl/fertigo.html>
Hilarious intellectual stuff and really beautiful publications
Into the Wild (2007)
Inspiring movie, especially when you’re weary of life, and Sean Penn directs!
Woodneuk House
Read the historical background then see my photos of this abandoned house
Cool T-shirts and information graphics
Another nice tote bag and t-shirt site, and your purchase helps a cause

Post-event thoughts

In a week, I’ve attended the Singapore Design Festival, Singapore Writers Festival (poorly designed site) and the 10th anniversary of The Substation’s Movings Images program (it’s still on!) and I would like to make these observations.

Concept is king
…but that is one thing that is an exception rather than the norm in the much of the work I have come across. Especially when it comes to design, I think many people still have that idea that it is mainly an aesthetic tool rather than a problem-solver. I think Mr Fong of 
Ethos Books, a local independent book publisher, put it very simply when he narrowed it down to two things when considering design or anything in general, what is it you wanted to say and to whom. With

Passion drives you and inspires others
This was most evident in the seminars I attended as part of the Singapore Writers Festival. I came away most from Mr Fong and Mr Raman Krishnan, a independent book publisher in Malaysia. These two speakers knew why they were in the business and were more than willing to share their thoughts on issues, unlike some of the other speakers who most of the time gave really general answers. It definitely helped that both were championing local works and Mr Raman Krishnan also spoke about how Singaporeans and Malaysians knew little about each other’s talents despite the commonality in culture. They definitely inspired me because they were not just in things for the money.

Get back to basics
Especially when it comes to design, put aside all the frills and then the question to answer is, have you got your basics right? There was this pair of chopsticks in the “Iamacreativeperson” exhibition (which was a rip-off as compared to Utterubbish) that was elevated on one side so that the ends do not touch the table for hygiene purposes. However, that would mean the user has to consciously place it on the elevated side for it to be effective. I thought that really defeated the purpose of the design by simply not solving the problem and instead added a layer of complexity.

Singapore culture: always anti-government?
This one came about after watching 
Hosaywood.com’s Zo Gang (Hokkien for Do Work) and Zo Hee (Hokkien for Do Film) and I was wondering to myself if the portrayal of Singapore culture in films was increasingly being monopolised by a group of select film-makers, often English-educated Chinese, who focused on topics like lampooning the government, championing Hokkien and Singlish, and focusing on the underbelly of Singapore. What about the rest of our culture, for instance our other races, our history, our politics… I think institutional checks like The Films Act are in a way limiting the diversity of films produced here. Ironically, in order to comment on politics, films have to portray it in a less “serious” form to engage the audience and escape getting in trouble with the government. This dumbs down the political engagement of the audience and also defeats the government’s call to take politics seriously.