A Zeitgeist Project — Chinoiserie Portraits

10:54 PM



I've been meaning to post this personal project of mine since it came to fruition, but my hectic schedule and procrastinating self (more latter than former, actually) just kept pushing the update back till today. Anyway, here it is, its debut a year later than it should be.
I'm so pleased that I finally got around to organising this project — shooting the book, selecting the photos and placing them into presentable layouts.


I worked on this coffee table book in the later half of 2018, as part of a zeitgeist assignment in LASALLE that allowed us to freely explore anything that was meaningful or of interest to us. At that point in time, I remember being vaguely interested in working on something close to home, and thus the eventual decision to explore my own roots: the Chinese culture. Since I was working on Singapore Grandmothers for my main studio project, there was also some correlation there, which made everything more manageable.
Who would have thought that the Asian aesthetic wounded up informing the majority of my school projects thereafter? There's the China Doll one, and another on Modern Samurai (probably will post about it someday) for my Year 2 Semester 2 projects.
Even the FYP and graduation project I'm currently working on is on the Singapore woman - which will be something I'm really excited to share if it all turns out well.

Anyway, I digress. So this coffee table book, titled "chinoiserie" was a result of my research and explorations into different myths, legends and symbolisms in the Chinese culture. It is a part photography, part publication project. Needless to say, I was so hyped up about the photo series and editorial layouts I could experiment with. For the outcome, I added in my own interpretation of these Chinese beliefs based on my personal experiences with influences from popular culture.




Decided to go for a more clean and simple feel with the layout and font choice. And then open binding with red threads for a more oriental finish.


Also played with transparency film to replicate the look and feel of 35mm films. I also used it as an overlay for white text that accompanied some images. This was something I chanced upon while experimenting with different types of paper, and I really love the results!!



And for more of the photos that were not featured in the selected publication shots above:





The entire project costs me about $300 odd (wElcOme 2 aRT $cHoOL). Test prints, final printing and binding was around $200, while the rest went into my props and deco such as the fabric backdrops, flowers, fruits and whatnot. This is also after I scrimped on models and studio spaces (I shot everything at home in budget settings lmao) if not the cost would've been higher. Fellow students pursuing art/creative fields would understand... :')

But honestly, no regrets. I love the outcome of this 128-page publication. I have the utmost gratitude for the friends who helped me out with this shoot. It was fun directing them, and they wounded up looking so different from their everyday selves haha.
To date, "chinoiserie" is still one of my favourite works. I had the freedom to do whatever, got to experiment with mediums that were still quite my style, and I enjoyed shooting casual portraits together with still life.

Now that I'm in my third year and in the midst of my FYP, I am stoked to get to the experimenting and shooting part already. If you (or anyone you know) happen to be looking for a photographer, please do consider hiring me!! I need all the funds I can get for my FYP, and your freelance gigs/offers can help me out a lot! Feel free to email me at mirabelle.koh@gmail.com or drop me a dm on Instagram here.


That being said, I'll try my best to write on this space more. Except that, I typically only have the projects that I've been working on cause y'know #adulting #oldalready #nosociallife.
Also, I realise that the Shirakawa-go post has been doing really well!! I'm humbled to know that my time in Gifu was helpful others. So I do hope to continue writing more travel-related posts, but they will have to wait till my next break... Am keeping my fingers crossed for the next venture heh.

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