Written Component 3

Create a piece of writing that uses specific writing structures, tones, or organizational methods to enact or embody your position

Exercise in style” Raymond Queneau
Complied writings of the same story reinterpreted by individuals
“Species of Spaces”George Perec
Descriptive documentation of observation of every detail

These are descriptions and notes of my iterations, roughly grouped by themes. This is intended to clarify what’s been presented.

Imagine how boring it might have been – to repeat 40 times the same message, and the message is made of one word. Generally, there is a word/message when I start drafting the work. But the message is pointless, it is blank, it is just one word. The variations are expanded from personal knowledge and comment on life.

Is it an experiment in expending visual language? narratives? interplay between text and image?

12 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed once in Week 1.

  • Started with “Isolated”
  • Multiplied number “Isolated human”
  • Categorised a group of “isolated human” as a community, the text “community” acts as metaphor for human society
  • Performed a scene of “isolated human”’s human contact, classified this interaction as an interaction that does not exist.
  • Performed a dialogue between two “isolated human” with a sentence that is often used in the news during pandemic.
  • A sequel of the dialogue above with a positive response.
  • Presented the relationship between a brick wall with the word “Together”. Brick wall acts as a metaphor of togetherness.
  • Presented at the relationship between loose bricks with the sentence “We are not together”. Bricks act as a metaphor of looseness.
  • Presented a general fear of the public on showing symptoms of illness during pandemic.
  • Performed scenes of lockdown with the use of dialogue, showing the change of mood.

33 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed twice in week 1 and week 3.

  • Started with “A date”
  • Performed a date scenes in the modern times, in which one can leave quickly. No commitment required.
  • Followed by a change of focus. “Love” is presented with two closely attached protagonists.
  • Presented a different variation of relationships – Love between three.
  • Presented tinder as a variation of relationships, in which one can meet many others, overlapping with others’ dates
  • Replaced “tinder” with “Glee” showing the complex “you love him, he loves her, she loves you.” relationship in the TV show Glee.
  • Used loose bricks as metaphors of love(s), visualised how “love spread” is spread literally + how “lost love” equals to disappearance of bricks
  • Used brick walls as metaphors of lovers/ human, visualised how “blind love” is being unseen literally + how “first love” equals to queueing up to the first in line.
  • Defined “love” and replaced “love” with synonyms.
  • Straightforward presentation of the word “love” and use of colour red.
  • Presented the chained nature of love relationships
  • Presented intensity of love in relations to the distance in letters.
  • Used a protagonists – brick walls as characters again
  • Performed scenes in a love relationship aka. “cheating”
  • Metaphorically used brick walls as human/lovers, and presented a queue of humans as an alternative option (plan B) to one.
  • Expanded brick wall to the edges, brick wall acts as isolating device between two humans/lovers.
  • Selected circles from the previous iteration and metaphorically used them as carriers of love. Love is at two opposing destinations.
  • Switched focus from “destinations/journey of love” to “weight of love” , in which love is split into layers and compiled to become one “love”.

45 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed three times in week 1, week 3 and week 5.

  • Started with the word “Excuse Me”
  • Performed a dialogue of “excuse me” and “sorry” – request and apology. With the hand illustration, hinting a sense of rejection.
  • The sense of rejection is further intensified and transformed into being unheard from the use of crowds, dark colours and hole.
  • Added a more literal illustrated scene and dialogue to present rejection and loneliness.
  • Placed a familiar format taken from graphic novels panels to intensify the weight of dialogue. The dialogue is to present rejection and loneliness. The black text at the bottom of the page in contrast to the dialogue panels is to present the internal voice from the speaker – differentiating the split between thoughts and spoken dialogue.
  • Metaphorically used brick walls as protagonists of isolated humans. The word “us” is in contrast with the isolated nature/individualism of a brick wall – hinting “us” does not mean “togetherness” and “closeness”. It is a reinterpretation/re-definition of the word.
  • Directly presented “loneliness” with a dialogue of a lonely human. The human (brick wall) stands among all the other human (other brick walls in this case) – hinting that even the lonely human lives with other humans, he is lonely.
  • Presented a passive attitude and the powerlessness with the dialogue of one lonely human (brick wall)
  • Defined “lonely” with dictionary definitions
  • Replaced the word “lone” with images of brick wall.
  • Presented dialogue and use of hands to hint a sense of rejection.
  • Presented a comical scene with the use of frames, dialogue and sequential images of pushing a fish bowl to the floor and ultimately the fish is dead. The death of the fish can be understood as the consequences of “rejection” or two lonely human.
  • Removed images from the illustration and used “lonely” the text as a illustrative device.
  • Abstracted circle (image) are used as metaphors of “lonely people” (text). The fact that the circles are closely overlapped hinted that they are a group of “lonely people”(text).
  • Removed images from the illustration. The text “Lonely” is used as an illustrative device.
  • Switched focus from “lonely people” to “proportions of loneliness”
    The text “lonely” is used as an image. It is humanised to serve as a hint – its trials to break free.
  • Used a photograph to present a city/community of lonely people
  • Presented “mode of loneliness” in the images of switches
  • Removed images and presented “Alone” in literal flatness
  • Presented “Alone” in relations to the distance of the letters
  • Used grids as an image + metaphor of a cage. “Loneliness” is hinted with a “loner” behind the cage.
  • Presented “Lonely” in its sound in writing
  • Switched focus to “lone wolf” with the sound of howl
  • Presented a scene of a wolf howling with the verbal sound of howling and a dot as the image of a moon

13 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed once in week 3. (tbc)

Human interactions
26 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed once in week 1. (tbc)

27 iterations. These iterative exercises are performed once in week 5

Started with an illustration. The original attempt is to show how prepared I am to carry a handkerchief in summer heat. I started by writing a short description of what is on the page. It ended up with a complex message, with several keywords. I created the next few work by slowly exfoliating some keywords from the message, and presented work that carries a simpler message. It was still too much to work on. I wanted to keep the work consistent in the central message. It was difficult to reiterate the same message while considering the simplest use of text and image. I further exfoliated the message into one word – “summer”.


Raymond Queneau ([1947] 1998) excerpts from Exercises in Style. London: John Calder, pp.17–26.

Georges Perec ([1974] 1999) excerpts from ‘Species of Spaces’ in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. London: Penguin, pp.50–55.

Studio Progress (Week 3)

Download Studio progress at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hj8zhwWtnaYADcgcV33zkEFSfN4HT-el/view?usp=sharing


Hk.dict (2020). Available at : https://www.instagram.com/hk.dict/ (Accessed: 29 April 2020

Xiao Ying (2020) Graphic Communication Design. 18 January. Available at: https://vimeo.com/385633495 (Accessed: 29 April 2020).

Xiao Ying (2020) The dictionary. 18 January. Available at: https://vimeo.com/343306687 (Accessed: 29 April 2020).

New Yorker Cartoons (2020). Available at : https://www.instagram.com/newyorkercartoons/ (Accessed at 29 April 2020)

Work of Ryan Carl (2020). Available at : https://www.instagram.com/ryancarlstudio/ (Accessed at 29 April 2020)

Work of Evan M. Cohen(2020). Available at : https://www.instagram.com/evanmcohen/ (Accessed at 29 April 2020)


Notes – identify qualities/devices in work

What does the picture lack?
What does it leave out?
What is its area of erasure?
Its blind spot?
Its anamorphic blur?
What does the frame or boundary exclude?
What does its angle of representation prevent us from seeing, and prevent it from showing?
What does it need or demand from the beholder to complete its work?

Iteration 51 (Page 52)
The 2 scenes are cropped by the window frames. Only the main character/prop is centred and highlighted with a drop shadows. It looks almost awkward as it was very obvious in the image, hitting the gaze of the viewer.

The sense of space is sometimes highlighted with the use of blank space and eliminating the amount of objects shown/drawn on the image. The main characters and props are often centred. The space surrounding the mains are often empty, hinting a sense of space also guiding the viewer to read the mains instead of backgrounds. The rest of the information is erased as it was predominantly considered by the creator (me) as unimportant.

If we read the text as a verbal dialogue, the work portrays solely the view of the main character which it said “I am so lonely.” Feelings, dialogues, information of the other brick walls (surrounded by the main) are erased. They are considered non-essential. In some ways, harm to the picture.

The rest of the pictures seems cropped by the window frames. On one hand, this method gives a sense of zooming effect, as if viewers are looking into a small incident in details through the magnifying lens.

In this image, it requires to read it as if they are watching a moving image/movie with subtitles, in which they treat the caption as subtitles, transcripts, scripts of dialogue. It requires the reader to read the brick wall, a non-human character as a living organism, as if they have emotions, facial expressions and the ability to think and feel.

Thoughts – 03/05/2020

I relate to Exercise in style by Reymond Quenaud, in which he focuses on the form rather than the content. He experimented the link between communication and interpretation in the form of writing.

Our iterative methods seem similar but our focuses are different.

In this brief, I create iterations that communicate the same subject but of a different narrative. The format is different, so as the style, hence the narratives of the work has also changed compared to the first iteration. For example, in the “Love” series, the first iteration is to simply present intimacy between two characters. The narratives of the later iterations changed. In “Love” iteration No.20, the image presents a pancake compiled of many layers of “some love’, as if it can be read as – Love exists only if we collect many layers of incomplete love.

Quenaud proves that narrative changed since interpretation of the creator and documentation in writing are different. In my iterative process, I found something similar – even the subject of the message remains the same, the format changed ,hence the narrative also has changed.

It is not to say that the iterative exercises between Quenaud and I do exactly the same thing, as it was hard to distinguish if style comes first in my work.

Right now I am creating another series of iterations on “Ground”.


Thoughts – 30/04/2020

I watched Xiao Ling’s the dictionary 2019 again. I was touched by the fact that she wanted to reshape some of the existing, structured meanings of words. In a way, this is what I have been trying to do – subliming existing meanings of subjects. I want to reshape interpretations of certain subjects/concepts, like loneliness?

Currently, my take is to use drawings/illustrations like comments. It is a short and snappy opinion.

Amended brief (Week 3)


To better understand how graphic communication design plays in this project, it is important to know what it is. According to XiaoLing (2020), graphic communication design comprises of a wide-range of multi-disciplinary mediums and interpretations, continuously influenced by the geographical locations and reshaped by different cultures. The word “graphic” is associated to drawing, while “communication” is often linked to the exchange of information and interpretations ; “design” is often associated with plans and drawings.(dictionary.com, 2020)

Why did I design this brief?

I use design and the iterative process as tools for self discovery. Through creative processes and exercises, I clarify and build a better understanding of my work and amplify the scope of design to make the work more communicative.

Through investigating the possibilities of formats and evaluating work from the Elaborate project and 100 Screengrabs, I found that I tend to eliminate the obviously illustrative props and settings when delivering a message. I utilised the idea of “economy of form”, in which I use as little drawings/texts as possible in one work.

I also depend heavily on the use of “captioning”, particular from iteration No.52 in 100 Screengrabs onwards. The captions give meanings to the work. The complimenting image is often abstract, with no facial expressions nor props. I explore creating ambiguity and characterisation in these work.

The fact that I use text to control meaning plus images to explore ambiguity makes me wonder the possibilities of creating more different formats that fits in this way of working. Here I would like to do more testings on formats and hopefully expand the scope of communicative images.


First, I select one iteration from “100 Screengrabs” and redo it in 10-20 different formats. Then, repeat this exercise until I create 100 in total. Then, review what I have done, how has this changed from the first iteration.


Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore ([1967] 2001) The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Berkeley: Gingko Press.

Susan Sontag ([1965] 2009) ‘On Style’ in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. London: Penguin, pp.15–36.

Xiao Ying (2020) Graphic Communication Design. 18 January. Available at: https://vimeo.com/385633495 (Accessed: 20 April 2020).

Dictionary.com (2020) Available at: https://www.dictionary.com/ (Accessed: 3 May 2020)

Raymond Queneau ([1947] 1998) excerpts from Exercises in Style. London: John Calder, pp.17–26.

Written Component 1 (Week 2)


What is your position relative to discipline of graphic communication design. What aspect of graphic design does it interrogate?

In 100 Screen grabs, I created work with a relatively free flow where I did not set myself any particular boundaries. Instead I intentionally take one or a few elements from one work to developing it in the following one. This led to a discovery of a comic-window format that I applied to more than half of the iterations.

The economy of form has been applied and the message was highlighted with the use of space, text, title, comic panels and a non-human but personified protagonist. I use design/image making as a way to inquire and explore the composition of images, the relationships of image components.

I incidentally used design/image making to subliming certain concepts, ie. the isolation and loneliness within human, library and society in 100 Screen grabs. I take design as a way to redirect and refine information. I would like to create work with a extent of “relaxed irreverence.”

Does it confront or exploit a principle of form, meaning, distribution or circulation?

My 100 screengrabs tried to exploit the economy of form. The use of space, dialogue, static titles, non-human but personified character and comic panels since iterations 36, explores the limit/potential of form.

The meaning of work changes throughout the 100 iterations. That is because there was no intention in keeping the content consistent. The messages of work varied, some says nothing, some are about love, some about isolation.

The meaning of work may varied among different viewers. It depends on how intensively and extensively they have taken visual training, ie. in reading symbols, colours, light etc. I have come to realise that measuring and refining the image’s power and the way it works can be problematic and very complicated., according to Mitchell (2015).

I want to shift from power to desire, hence explore on the desire of images as Mitchell (2015)suggested, the image born and personified would become an existing separated from the creator’s intention. It has a “life” of its own.

In iteration 52, the inwardness of the character in the top window , the invisibleness of the brick wall blending in the many brickwalls and the absence of expressions make it seem beyond desire, in comparison to the obvious facial expressions when a dialogue is made in classic editorial illustrations and classic figurative paintings. But the verbal text “I am so lonely.”in the bottom window sends a totally contrary message. If we read this text as words spoken by the character, the brickwall, the whole look of the brick wall changes, as if the brick wall is a living person who suffered from loneliness. The image sends incompatible messages about its desire : it doesn’t want to be seen, it wants to be seen, it wants to be heard.

Iteration 52

This analysis only briefly identify what iteration 52 wants. According to Mitchell (2015), “…The question of what pictures want certainly does not eliminate the interpretation of signs. All it accomplishes is a subtle dislocation of the target of interpretation, a slight modification in the picture we have of picutre (and perhaps signs.) themselves.”. Like people, pictures have to helped to recollect it through a dialogue with others, through analysis.

Hopefully through analysing images, as the brief below suggested, will help in building a better understanding on how images work, what do image want and what do they lack.



This brief is intended to explore what pictures want without overriding the maker’s desire or the beholder’s (viewer) interpretation.

How can we identify the desire of an image? How will it help us build new images that better communicate/signify the maker’s desire?

First, I will select a few images from 100 Screengrabs and apply the question “What do images want?” With reference to W.J.T. Mitchell (2005), he suggests a few questions to turn analysis of pictures toward questions of progress, effect, and to put in question the spectator position:

“What does the picture want from one or from “us” or “them” or whoever?
Who or what is the target of the demand/desire/need expressed by the picture?
What does the picture lack?
What does it leave out?
What is its area of erasure?
Its blind spot?
Its anamorphic blur?
What does the frame or boundary exclude?
What does its angle of representation prevent us from seeing, and prevent it from showing?
What does it need or demand from the beholder to complete its work?”

These offerings serve as a starting point to better understand an image and the “intuitive” process of image making.

In the meantime, I will study the work of Barbara Kruger. I am aware that the context of her work and my 100 Screengrabs are different. But the economy of form – in other words, use of text and dialogue, synchronised.

In terms of pushing it forward by making, I will select one iteration and re-iterate it with the same context/message. Next, combined with the readings and questionings above, make an analyse with these iterations.


W.J.T. Mitchell (2005) ‘What Do Pictures want?’ in What Do Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp.28–56.

Barbara Kruger (1981), Untitled (Your gaze hits the side of my face.). Available at: https://medium.com/artbloc/your-gaze-hits-the-side-of-my-face-b3d244aade77

Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore ([1967] 2001) The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Berkeley: Gingko Press.

Susan Sontag ([1965] 2009) ‘On Style’ in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. London: Penguin, pp.15–36.

Studio Progress (Week 1) 100 screengrabs

I started working with my poster for the exhibition on the last day of term. The poster was a summary of my Elaborate project. I intentionally set myself to select one or a few elements from the one before and expand them in the following image.

fyi my elaborate project explores the relationship between media, perspectives and content. I did a few performances in the library to actively intrude on others. This is to explore design as exercises to generating and interpreting content.

For high resolution file, download it from this link. Alternatively, you can view the blurry one from below.