Sights & Sounds

The Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC) is a design competition organised by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, open to all university and college students around the world. It was first held in 2010, and every year the committee sets a theme, under which submissions are supposed to be framed.

TISDC 2013’s theme is “Sights & Sounds”, and calls on students to:

Open your senses! With your nose, hear the tears of dolphins. With your ears, gather the taste of running water. Let your tongue see those fighting for justice, and your skin breathe in the rhythm of the run, and your eyes open wide and swallow the forest in a single glance.

I thought the theme was really intriguing, and so decided to come up with a series of poster designs for the Visual Design category. After reading the short write-up for the theme of the competition, an idea formed in my head, and I decided to come up with a series of posters focused on the sights and sounds of LGBTQ individuals in Singapore: judged by society and even by their family, but yearning for the simple luxuries of normality.

I designed 4 posters, the first 2 surrounding the theme of “Sights” and the next 2 focusing on “Sounds”. In hindsight, submitting 2 visually similar designs for “Sights” and 2 for “Sounds” probably wasn’t the best idea, so I chose the 2 designs that I liked the most for this post.

Can we hold the hands of our lovers in public without fear of discrimination?

Sights refer to the sense of vulnerability when a LGBTQ individual makes him or herself open to society: to stay in the light, in the gaze of the majority whose minds seem – as portrayed by the mainstream media anyway – so closed.

Sight Detail 1

I chose an image close to everyone’s hearts, but made deeply complex for LGBT couples: a pair of hands, stretched and tightly held together. No  simpler act could possibly attract more judgement, and yet the holding of hands is a fundamental show of affection so many straight couples take for granted.

Sight Detail 2

A darker colour was selected for the fonts so they fade slightly away, not only to focus a viewer’s gaze on the hands, but also to show how quietly ignored this simple but profound question can be.

You are a disgrace to our family and to the community

Sounds is about the voices we often hear, and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from outside. More often than not, the voice that haunts LGBT individuals (especially closeted ones) comes from within. And it’s often the internal voices and sounds that hurt the most.

Sound Detail 1

Sound Detail 2

 Although I didn’t get through to the next round of the competition, I kinda like the designs.

Sound Detail 3

And lastly, here’s the write-up for my submission:

While Singapore is widely recognised as an advanced nation, its treatment of its LGBTQ citizens remains backwards. Homosexual behaviour between consenting males, whether in public or private, is criminalised. This means gay couples who hold hands in public face not only social, but also legal, opposition.

Most of the discrimination, however, stems from fear and ignorance. These posters hence aim to increase the acceptance of LGBTQ Singaporeans by showcasing their sights and sounds: their fear of being seen holding hands; their need to hide their identities to escape from discrimination; and the hurtful voices stuck in their heads.


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