Lesson learnt

Is it because of the time frame or it is the process of the project?

I learnt that it is important to accumulate visuals (to take as much proper photos and decent drawings) while doing research and working out the content for the project. Because of this short time frame, execution becomes a mission impossible task without any visuals along with the content.

Staying at roughs and sketches won’t work.
Effort is accumulative, not explosive.

Without paying attention on the visuals right from the start, it has exploded my brain this time round.

good luck to me.
a costly lesson.


4th Observation for the project with considerable findings.
Despite that all the people I observed are males, the observation showed significant documentation about personal space.

Some general conclusions.

People with similar ethnic group will tend to sit closer to each other. Surprisingly, they will also chat randomly to each other even though they are strangers.

Personal space is rather tight (estimated on average >1/3 width, approx. 5-10cm) even though their there are ample empty space around them.
Maybe it is because of the social norm at that environment, because of this closeness, it spark communication between people. Or they did not mind the closeness and hoping for interaction to happen to pass some time.
In cases when some felt the intrusion of personal space, (e.g one when an Indian talks on phone and another Indian man sits down beside him with almost 0 personal space, the first Indian man stood up immediately and walks away talking on the phone.)

They have a common intimate action of patting each other’s thigh while talking. (for both Asians and South Asians)

They extend their limbs to declare more personal space. (e.g with bend arm, or both legs crossed on the seat)

In another case, people place their objects around them to declare more personal space.

What’s next?

When I set the project, I was intending to investigate the personal space in a multi-cultural and globalized society. With different mix of people from different background, cultures and upbringing, I hope to find out the difference between them and “hopefully” to derive something from there.

But even so with that, I am still confused.
Confused with how I should present the data. isit a infor graphics? or merely just presenting what I found which everyone can just replicate the project again and again in different context.
What is the “thing” that I want to represent so that viewer will not just “orh.. so that’s the difference” but rather, “hmm.. ya, I didn’t realize that” or more like understanding and becoming more aware of the personal space in daily life. And on top of that, becoming more sensitive and respect different culture background.

I know I am looking more into the tightness of personal space. The tighter the distance, the more it converse. It may tell us about the relationship between the people. Or reflect that they either have no sense of personal space or comfortable with tight personal space.

Don’t quite understand why on the average 40+ males and females in general don’t mind tight personal space with strangers but when they have the chance to take up more space, they quickly move to hog more space.
Why do they behave like that? Are the behaviours conscious or unconscious?

Success of iPod/mobile devices has to do with proxemics?

“…Researchers explain the success of the iPod with peoples’ need to create exclusive private comfort zones in public space. This sounds plausible, and in fact, I wonder what percentage of music player, game console, PDA, and cell phone sales can be attributed to consumers’ quest for overcoming unwelcome intimacy. As people typically avoid eye-contact in elevators, subway trains, and in other forced pseudo-intimate social situations, they find devices desirable that distract them from paying “social attention capital.”

This is especially true for highly stressful situations such as waiting in public, when the whole room seems to stare at you, pitying you for being alone and having no reason to be there in the first place. In fact, I sometimes play with my BlackBerry although I don’t expect any e-mail, and I write meaningless text messages on my cell phone – just to demarcate my comfort zone and appear busy while waiting. A friend of mine once told me that eating alone in a restaurant was initially so humiliating that she took it on as a trial of courage before it eventually became the proud badge for a stronger public self. ”

via Design Taxi

me: It is an irony that because of trying to be in a world to avoid eye- contact with strangers in the public may lead being inconsiderate in the public, thus, invading other people’s personal space.
I don’t know. We are creating a cycle here to distract ourselves from the people around us and be in our own world even when we are outside. Is this the reason why everyone has become individualistic and self-centered?

There is also a difference between the older and younger generation in Singapore. Older generation needs lesser personal space than the younger generation. So did the rise of technology and western culture influence the younger generation? Is the difference in personal space between generation a protest against the overpopulated city?

Even within a circle of friends, you tend to fiddle with your phone and act busy just to fill up that white space between two or more people because of that awkwardness during that moment when you do not know how or what to talk about.
Have we already learnt the way to create a personal space using the virtual world?
Even so, research have also show that personal space is so closely related to us that we bring these behaviour to the virtual world as well.

A little observation

Did my first round of observation yesterday (weekend) at Jurong East MRT from 1pm-2pm and City Hall MRT from 2.30pm-2.50pm, recording down the personal space between the people sitting on the platform “bench”. And also observing the objects with them, relationship with the people around them and hoping to find out what causes their behaviours.

What I can briefly conclude that woman tend to sit closer to woman and man will choose to sit closer to man.
Foreigners (commonly stereotyped as Bangladesh) tend to stand in front of the “bench” and not sit down (but takes up that space that people cannot sit down there)
People are more likely to orientate towards the direction where the train will be coming.

After tabulation, 17 females and 19 males were recorded. With 20+ and 30+ as majority.
The City Hall MRT observation might be scrape because of one sided outcome. (14 females, 2 males) and due to some other environment reasons.

Will derive more from the scribbles I made during the observation.

Personal space

A Brief for the project: Personal Space

Based on the concept of white space, the project focuses on personal negative space in the public between strangers. For example the distance between people when they sit on a public seat (without division) on MRT platforms and shopping area.

The core of this project was inspired from the interest in observing how people move and behave in a shared public space. There is often a lack of awareness in respecting the private space of the people around us in the public space and this reflects on the socio-culture and the fusion of multi-cultural habits in Singapore.

There might be a presence of culture dilemma in Singapore as the society is made up of people from different countries. Even among Singaporeans, there is a difference of eastern and western culture influence between the old generation and the new generation.

It will start off by looking at different age group of the people in public and recording the distance of personal space between people at different situation. With the data collected, I hope to obtain a pattern where I can create hypotheses to decode what is the cause of these differences in behavior of in the public.

Qualitative research: based on participant observation in actual spaces
Method: Set out the scenario case and age group characteristics.
Words related: Proxemics, social behaviour, insensitivity, socio-cultural, civilised, respect.


White space can often seen as useless and often that white space are sub conscious element in layout and designs that one can hardly notice. But in fact, they are as important as the content itself.

White space is what makes a design stand out. or rather, different. it sets a tone in the piece of work.

Living in the world where information is accessible every second, anyone can almost reach you even when you don’t want to. So I can describe that the white space is getting smaller and smaller. Emotionally if we were to put ourselves on a piece of text, we will look completely cluttered with content. Where is that breather? where is the focus for all these content? how do I know where I am? what is the purpose of reading/viewing?

From a serious point of view, what is the focus in life? what is the most important thing that I should attend to?

I would like to bring up the analogy that introspection is like white space.
It is a necessity.

Introspection help us become aware of what thinking we are thinking. It helps us understand our condition better, which can be translated to a white space where we can understand a piece of design or writing better.

Sometimes when introspection starts running, it is very annoying to have someone slamming a question at you that you have to withdraw from that thoughts you are at. It is as if when you are into a good book and at the climax when someone just blurb out something at you and wants your attention immediately. Since introverts do introspection a lot more than extroverts, I am not surprised that introverts do get very bothered by such experience. And being introverted, we don’t verbalized them other than leaving us very angry about why we are reacting in this manner.

why can’t people respect and be more considerate about stepping into the white space of others? (does it got to do with the society?)

Text are like extroverts, talking to you, waving and speaking non-stop. But without the white space(introverts) around those text, how can we even see the text? how can extroverts become the center of attraction?

People celebrate how good a piece of writing is. But how many are aware of the subtle good typography (aka good design of white space) design?

science article about introspection in brain

what is satisfaction?

the end of something is the start of something else. We get dissatisfied when something doesnt ends. We feel meaningless in life when something didn’t start. So how should we really view things in a way such that there is satisfaction in everything we do?

Is satisfaction a moment or a process? or just an expression to describe positive adrenaline rush in our body…

Perception drawing

Imagine the usual drawing action. The artist look at the subject/object, and the space on the canvas, control the pencil with their hand. Eyes move back and forth on the subject and the canvas.

But if when we are in the state of form where there is joy in perceiving the subject (in this case the flower). Our eyes don’t really move away from the subject.

In this case, that is the methodology used to document the lotus at this stage.

With that method, drawing is just an action of moving our arm. If we put the drawing action into the context of Buddhism in the World of form, we then do not desire to draw perfectly, nor hoping to place part of the flower logically on the paper. Immersed in the world of form, this perception of drawing can explain as an documentation of joy… probably.


Awaiting the rebirth of lotus, the outer petals of the lotus sound like paper. It reminded me of some weird thrill when I get from stepping on dried leaves. The crisp sound. A sense of satisfaction.

The petals are a little brown and its core with spots of oxidation. The lotus seeds giving off a layer of oil when my fingers rub on it. The flower smell a little green.
At first I thought I could split the process of recording into equal parts. Yet I realized in nature and law of Buddhism, there isn’t a clear line of separation. Everything undergo transformation and changes. There are overlaps and recurrence. If I were to split the process into world of forms and desire or into mindset of suffering and impermanence like how I read on theory books, nothing will work. Like how all objects and living things live, they rely on each other, they exist upon the existence of one another. For example, vases exist because flowers exist. Flowers can have their value extended because a vase held them high up. This interrelationship can never be broken.
So the idea in the world of form teaches us that form and materials co-exist.

Initially I thought this concept can be included into the final outcome of the whole rebirth process. Sadly, in the end it didn’t quite fit in.