Workshop reflections— Shelton Chang

DIY moisturiser/insect repellent
Woke up way too early on a Saturday to attend the DIY workshop at the Visitor Centre at Somerset. The first part of the session we learnt what goes into a natural moisturiser. Essentially, it is an emollient-based (in this case we had shea butter) combined with a blend of essential oils. We had the chance to make our own and went on to customise our own scents. I picked my oils based on its skincare benefits rather than the scents so the end product wasn’t the best smelling. Some people prefer a good smelling cream but I personally don’t mind it.

The difficulty came when we started to make our own insect repellent. The shea butter base from earlier had a pretty neutral scent so we were merely just adding oils to it to make it smell better. But the base of the insect repellent was made from neem oil which wasn’t the most pleasant smelling. I really had difficulty trying to mask the “fishy” briny smell. Ended up adding way too much peppermint which kinda stung when it tried on my skin. Despite being 100% natural, not all ingredients are suitable for the skin as undiluted essential oils are particularly sensitising to the skin.

Overall, it was fun and we walked away with 2 of our own creations!

Red Dot Design Museum

We had the chance to tour the Red Dot Design Museum located near Marina Bay Sands. They had an exhibition on the recipients of the Red Dot Design Award, showcasing the works of many talented designers. The exhibition had different sections, ranging from wearable designs to speculative futuristic ideas. There were elaborate and extensive designs but I felt that the minimal designs stood out the most as some fo the items had minor modifications that you would never thought you’d need. For instance there was a hanger that looks like a normal clothes hanger that had a mini contraption that helps to grip spaghetti straps so that it doesn’t slip off, which is a legit problem. The simple solution is integrated seamlessly into the design, makes me appreciate more on such innovations. And that the designer had really understood the needs of consumers and their everyday problems. I think I had too much fun with PUBU, a voice activated robot that responds only in Chinese.

Artist Talk with Nguan

Oh Nguan, the mysterious photographer that everyone wanted to meet. Paid $13 for his talk but this fella should just stick to photography as he wasn’t the most engaging presenter. But he did share a compelling raison d’être, the reason behind his pastel editing and beautiful framing. He had came back after an extended stint in New York and realised that the streets of Singapore was not well loved by photographers and thus wanted to portray Singapore through a romantic lens. He shared some of his thought processes on creating an image and also some of his low-key voyeuristic street photography which got me thinking about ethics in street photography and who owns the right to the image. Is it the subject in the photo or is it the photographers. The proper way to go about is a talent release form to obtain consent. But the beauty in street photography is all about spontaneity and “in-the-moment”. Nguan shares that if the subject knows that he/she is being photographed, they will be more aware and start being “pose-y” which ruins the naturalistic aesthetic that he is going for.

The biggest takeaway would be putting a face to Nguan, which is surprising because we are in the generation where creators are putting their faces to their portfolio as a way to brand themselves. But Nguan lets his photos tell his story, or Singapore’s stories, which I felt really compelled to rethink about my approach when it comes to my work. Thanks to him, I rediscovered that quality work will always shine through amid the clutter and distractions.

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