The End of 2015

2015 has been quite the roller coaster of a ride for myself.

A majority of my 2015 has been filled with pain and anguish, of which I will continue to endure and work on myself. There are things that I will continue to do and uphold, but there are things which I will let go.

A small but significant part of 2015, however, has been full of joy and amazement. I found myself in a position which I can give back to the community and be in contentment with what I prefer to do (in a “behind the scenes” way).

I have also realised that there are many disillusions and distrust within the community – even with the best intentions, I find myself often in conflict with others. I can see the parallels to feeling insecure of their own abilities, and rightfully so when they can and will be called out on for. Problem is, if everyone can be humble and learn to consult with each other, I don’t see why not everyone can work together towards a common good.

Ego is a major factor. Probably need less drama and self centred-ness as well.

Part of my joy is being able to find colleagues whom I can relate to, depend on, and perhaps, think in a similar general direction – being part of the community and being able to overcome the legacies of our past.

With these colleagues of mine, I chose to cheap out on holiday gifts and made personalised cards for those who matter to me. Each card tells a story for each colleague (or group) with whom I have countless interactions with.

Cake from FK
Cake from FK… Her tiramisu cake was to die for.

You can find more of these illustrations in Card Illustrations.

Of course, some of the more jokey ones would comment on their preference of being gifted chocolates from my table’s stash of snacks, sweets and occasional drinks.

Speaking of cupcakes… I am really fond of salted-caramel anything, but I don’t like it too sweet. In Fluff Bakery, I found a salted-caramel cupcake recipe that I am really content with (that is probably an understatement, I can’t stop myself from waxing lyrical about it to anyone who would listen).

I should write a food column.

My first trip to Fluff Bakery was pretty pleasant (with a group of colleagues) – the varieties of cupcakes and cakes were really drool-inducing. We even got a free cake – it was an Olive Oil Orange Rosemary cake.

When we got back to the office’s pantry to sample our goodies, we invited two other colleagues (CS and BJ) to join us and try the cupcakes. When we got to the olive oil cake, all of us were cautious and yet curious.

A colleague tried it and said it tasted like roast chicken… that raised the caution and curiosity levels even more. Roast chicken, what in the world?

Egged on by CS and BJ, I tried a nibble of it…

Eh?! Mmmmmmmmmmmm..

CS and BJ were puzzled as to my reaction – I had to clarify that the “Eh?!” was in surprise, and the rest of it was just wallowing in taste of the cake. The cake was a little heavy, but the taste was really excellent. I want to eat a whole slice the next time!

Nanman Art Gallery: Wee Beng Chong

Tucked away in the art gallery-centric Tanglin Shopping Centre, Nanman Art played host to pioneering artist, Wee Beng Chong, for his 2015 exhibition of his latest works.

Beng Chong is a prolific and passionate Chinese ink artist, steeped in traditional Chinese literature, calligraphy, seal carving and painting. He currently teaches Chinese ink painting at Nanyang Fine Arts Academy.

While I have met him many times in various society exhibitions through the years, I have never mustered up the courage to approach such a famous painter – I can only admire him from a distance, knowing that I hardly have the knowledge nor substance to hold a decent conversation with him.

By chance, I was tasked to meet him with regards to copyright issues pertaining to the usage of digital images in my course of work. So I met the great man himself, and walked away full of awe and admiration – I was honoured to be politely received and regaled stories by Beng Chong. As a parting gift, he slyly winked and said I should try the roast duck hawker stall just behind his apartment block (it was delicious!).

At his exhibition, Beng Chong was very kind to approach me and welcome me as a friend. I was told that he is a difficult person to deal with – they are very wrong, Beng Chong is the absolute gentleman and artist.

With Mr Wee Beng Chong

My interests in Chinese ink art lies predominantly in the exploration of techniques in medium and brushwork, and the thought processes that each artist has.

Whenever I view art, I look at overall composition followed by meaning. Once I can grasp some potential within a given artwork, I will look deeper into the brushwork and usage of the ink/colour pigments (if you see me inspecting a painting briefly, and then moving on… there is a reason).

Naturally, I am struck by several particular brushwork techniques used by Beng Chong for his abstract calligraphy artworks.

Detail of water-spots

Spots, formed by dripping water on still-wet ink strokes, can create a pattern similar as the above detail of the artwork. In my mind, I can see the frenzied movement of Beng Chong water-spotting the ink strokes to create a multitude of layered spots along each stroke – it would be a sight to behold as I could imagine Beng Chong holding his breath to see the results of his water-spotting as they dried slowly.

From another artwork, another detail caught my eye.

Detail of “water spot-within-water spot”

The formation of the water spot is clear and sharp, without the usual feathering patterns (as seen from the previous detail). Additionally, the “water spot-within-water spot” is truly amazing. I am still figuring out how he managed to create such an effect, and with what.

My close inspection of such details, and my photography of which, made Beng Chong curious. He approached me and asked what I was looking at, I explained to him that I was trying to figure out the techniques that are being used here. He gave me a beautific smile and said, “I am glad someone is asking and thinking about techniques like these. Most people just want to learn things the easy way and call themselves masters of the art or medium. Having you look and understand these techniques and effects, I am glad to know that my brushwork techniques will have a lasting record in art history itself.”

Gosh, I have never blushed so much.

Unknown to Beng Chong, I have known his younger brother, Ming Sheng, for more than a decade.

With Huang Ming Sheng

Ming Sheng is my go-to man for Chinese ink conservation and preparation of Chinese ink artworks. Despite his lack of education, Ming Sheng holds the knowledge and skills to prepare Chinese ink artworks (prior to framing), to repair tears and holes on rice paper, to remove mould and stains from such artworks, and many more restoration issues that Chinese ink artworks will face over the years of being kept or exhibited.

With the numerous artworks (Chinese ink) I have in my possession, as well as the various people I have introduced to him; I can safely say that Ming Sheng outshines all public and private “paper conservators”. I seriously believe that these “paper conservators” should apprentice under Ming Sheng, and learn from him instead of inviting expensive and inexperienced “specialists” from China. However, I know that Ming Sheng would be quite picky on who could enter his workshop (not to mention learn from him).

When I first knew him, I was still very young. My father introduced me to him as the person whom I can rely on for such services. I remembered fondly how he advertised his services – by hanging a flat brush outside his window along Balestier Road. His workshop smelt of glue and paper… a constant humidity and a slight cigarette scent in the air.

In various corners of his workshop, he had bales of rice paper (from various manufacturers and even year of manufacture). I remembered being amazed at a “work-in-progress” where he was patiently splicing paper fibres from the edge of the artwork to patch a hole made by a small infestation.

I also remembered that he suffered from indigestion and stomach ulcers from working long hours without eating or drinking. He is really dedicated to his craft, and I truly respect him for this.

Today, being able to see him hale and hearty… I am truly blessed to be here for Beng Chong’s exhibition.

If you are interested in contacting Ming Sheng for Chinese ink artwork restoration, you can call Rising Studio at 6336 0208 (office hours only). Be polite, I mean it. 😀

Art Fellas: A Lust for Art

The up-scale and forward-thinking The Art Fellas opened their A Lust for Art showcase at the ION Art Gallery on August 19, 2015. It will run till August 28, 2015.

As an insignificant patron of the arts, I like to attend such exhibitions in an effort to expand my network of emerging artists and aficionados. Having the opportunities to speak to them, allows me to hear their personal perspectives and experiences that have led them down this truly satisfying path of cultural awakening.

In contemporary group events, such as A Lust for Art, you can find new artists who are able to showcase their works and hopefully find art lovers who appreciate their works.

One such emerging artist is Hu Jing Xuan of and

With artist Jing Xuan

Her experience, in both traditional mediums, digital illustrations and manga illustrations, exhibits her ability to transcend artistic forms whilst allowing herself to be enthralled by the ambiguities that exist therein – her experimentation is richly rewarded with a lilting gloominess in her CLAMP-inspired watercolours.

I am looking forward to her development and growth in Singapore’s art community.

Mixed-medium artist, Yeo Siak Goon, has always been a favourite contemporary artist in my network. His artwork orientation shows his uncanny ability to fuse de-constructive elements into familiar cultural frameworks.

With artist, Siak Goon

Beyond his artistic talents, Siak Goon is a mentor and adviser in many aspects of my work in publication and design (in traditional mediums and digital platforms). His sharp eye for details and perfection allows me to learn a lot from his skill and knowledge.

The Fence of Incredulity

Sometimes, out of boredom, I trawl the depths of Reddit for entertainment. There are a few gaming-related subs that I visit on these trips, such as /r/WorldofTanks, /r/Eve, and /r/citiesskylines. Beyond these Reddit subs, I don’t venture too far as I have no idea what dark corners of humanity bring me in the void of Reddit.

In this game, World of Tanks, you play as an arcade version of a tank crew in various tanks – so it is basically pixel tanks shooting other pixel tanks.

However, now and then, a nugget of brilliant comedy gold shines through and blinds readers (aka Redditors) into submission. This post at /r/WorldofTanks, was called [OT] 4chan determines the velocity necessary for a walrus to penetrate a T-72M’s upper glacis.

Click to enlarge!

4Chan is another user board/forum on the Internet, but I would like to provide the warning that you should not go there. I find Reddit safer (at least these specific gaming-related ones) and interesting to read.

In all earnestness, a reply made on Reddit itself paved the way for this 4Chan post into the Halls of Legends.

 [–]Cidious[NARWL](Scrubwhisperer)Sabot_Noir 220 points 4 days ago*

So obviously OP didn’t account for Walrus normalization and basically set up the Walrus to impact at 0 degrees from normal which is fine I guess…

However, I am more disappointed with the failure of OP to calculate the yield deflection of the steel (you use the elastic modulus which is about 200GPA or the elongation at break which is 22%) and further OP failed to appreciate the consequence of this failure on their calculations. I’m using SAE 4340 which has very similar properties to MIL-DTL-46177 RHA the current US army standard. At 22% elongation the metal would be deflected into the tank by a distance of 1.05m if we apply that elongation along the armor plate’s short axis.

Additionally OP Failed to account that the metal under elastic deformation (read as prior to reaching the yield stress) acts like a spring with the internal stresses and thus also the force opposing the Walrus increasing in an approximately linear fashion. This means that OP has overestimated the required energy by a factor of 2 no matter whether we accept the other assumptions. Not to mention that since we only expect to see the yield stress at the plastic deformation threshold we have no bearing on weather the yield stress would even be reached by a deformation of .5m. From above we may conclude that 0.5 meters would only bring the plate half way to deformation and thus OP has further overestimated the energy required by another factor of 2.

I’m giving OP a C on this assignment because I want them to understand that they can do better. I will however allow OP to come to my office DURING OFFICE HOURS, to discuss some extra work which would demonstrate that OP has a more complete understanding of the principles at work here (do another problem right and I’ll make the grade a solid B).

That said I want to commend OP on attempting a Graduate level problem as an undergrad; the attempt to apply statics principles to a highly dynamic situation is as heroic as it is whimsical. For a more realistic evaluation we would have to consider the heat generated by dynamic strain and how that could lead to thermal softening which would concentrate the deformation into shear bands leading to cracking and failure.

We could also get a more accurate picture by representing the Walrus as a hyperbolic distributed load instead of a point force since the Walrus is large and mostly liquid upon impact.

Finally we don’t actually have to assume the Walrus is combat reinforced if we instead are willing to consider the effect of extreme sheer on the liquefied Walrus and how it would restrict the dissipation of kinetic energy and create a thermal energy hazard to the crew were any of the walrus were to enter the crew compartment through even a small hole in the armor.

Edit: TL-DR A sonic Walrus impacting normal to the UFP of a T-72M would likely result in a crew kill by penetration and infiltration of the tank with superheated walrus gasses.

Never, I tell you, never have I laughed so much I snorted coffee out of my nostrils.