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Cover series: Heritage by Izzy Nguyen-Phoec

Table of Contents photography The Gallery Digital Rev Behind the World of Photo-Surrealism

pg.4 pg.13 pg.14

zesty - Stefanie Chan

Fashion A Hole Lotta Love DIY

music Casette Culture

pg.17 pg.18

fashion diy


Art Showcase Where Art Meets Trash And Transforms Life

pg.24 pg.33

casita - Marnfah Kanjanavanit

Literature Less Than Zero


Closing Staff Playlist Last Look

pg.36 pg.38 trashed -Jin Byun

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Staff Editor in Chief

Assitant Editor art director art Assistants Photography director Photography Assistants


Ian Go ‘12 Abe Selby ‘12

Tan Kabra ‘12 Photo Spotlight

Lauren Jung ’12 Jin Byun ’12 Marnfah Kanjanavanit ’12 Abe Selby ‘12 Rachael Hyde ‘13

Kevin Holt ‘12

Lauren Beck ‘12

Music reviewer

Izzy Nguyen-Phoec ‘16

Martin Williams Sponsor

Jimmy Yoon ‘12 Natalie Quach ‘12 Stefanie Chan ‘12 Fashion director Music director

Michelle Varinata ‘12 Bianca Barletta ‘12

Special thanks The Art Department

Paul Griffin

Barbara Harvey

Mark Clemens

The Booster Booth

Lauren Withrow Featured Photographer


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Lauren Withrow Featured Photographer

Editor's note Welcome to the fourth issue of Absolute Art. To old and new readers-alike, Absolute Art is an art and culture magazine produced by the students of Singapore American School. We are responsible for every bit of the magazine: from the arrangement of layouts, to a semi-colon in an article, and to even each penny raised to print. The magazine was first published in 2008 when Hilary Go had a vision of creating a school art magazine which not only displayed student art, but also emphasized publication design and the world of art at large. After two years of publication, new editor Mckenzie Finchum released Muse, the 3rd issue of Absolute Art, improving the standard that Go created. Following a one-year absence, we are proud to keep alive the vision Go and Finchum worked hard to create. A diverse team of thirteen worked countless hours to create the publication you are reading now. We hope you enjoy the features highlighting different elements of the SAS art world. Flipping through the book, we hope you are awed by the art and photography collections “Showcase” and “The Gallery”, peaked by the audio insights made in “Casette Culture”, and learn a thing or two in “DIY”. Absolute Art seeks to showcase the school’s artistic talent, while also acting as a medium for students to discuss and question the topics of arts and culture. Coming back to the SAS scene, we re-introduce Absolute Art.

Ian Go,

editor in chief

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photography The Gallery


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pretty lights -Natalie Quach ‘12

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hallucinations of amphitrite - Izzy Nguyen-Phoec ‘16


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moonlight - Jimmy Yoon ‘12 psychosis - Jimmy Yoon ‘12

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cotton candy - Rachael Hyde ‘13

unititled - Rachael Hyde ‘13 slash of color - Rachael Hyde ‘13

cactus - Lauren Beck ‘12

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bright lights - Lauren Beck‘12

yana - Lauren Beck‘12


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dominique - Stefanie Chan‘12

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artist spotlight:Tan maya Kabra Ever since I got my first digital camera in the sixth grade, photography has always been my “thing”. Taking pictures of architecture, plantlife, animals, and people, I began taking my camera everywhere I went. I’ve always been an animal and nature lover, which lead me to garner an interest in wildlife photography specifically. And as such I began to focus on both flora and fauna as my primary subjects. Having traveled to various wildlife centers around the world, explored the depths of the local surroundings, and wittnessed modern effects on the environment, I’ve built a collection of photos. With this motivation and passion, I continue to take photos daily and explore new places nature has afforded us. Explore more of Tan’s work at


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A photography social network taking the internet by storm

The Digital rev crew attempts to paint a DSLR pink in a challenge episode

Host Kai Wong demonstrates some camera magic in the episode:Leviation Photography

DigitalRev – Do you need tips or tutorials on photography? Or perhaps you need information on a particular camera you have mind? Maybe you’re looking for a certain social network to learn about and share your photography? Then DigitialRev, one of the leading photography social networks, may be exactly what you’re looking for. DigitialRev is a photography social network company based in Hong Kong founded by Richard Yu in April of 2000. His main goal was to create a social network, much like facebook, but photography based where users from all around the world could share their photography, and in return, learn from others as well.

Shop – DigitalRev also has an online photography superstore with the latest and greatest cameras and accessories available, some of these including the brand new Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D4. But there are pros and cons to this online superstore. A pro is that the store updates very frequently, therefore, it will probably have in stock products that are newly released. The downside is that because the company is based in Hong Kong, the price conversion is a little steep, (depending on where you live) so it might be good to look at your local store first before you decide to buy something from this e-store.

DigitalRev TV – DigitalRev TV is a video channel with host and co-producer Kai Wong and cameraman Lok Cheung. On this channel, Kai reviews many different cameras and explores a variety of photographer tutorials. But rather than the photography videos found on YouTube, the ones found on DigitalRev TV incorporate a sense of humor to make the videos more entertaining. Though it may seem like Kai only fools around, he definitely knows what he’s talking about, offering a lot of useful information about cameras and photographic techniques. This channel not only covers camera reviews and photography tutorials, they also have special events that incorporate entertainment and photography. A recent one the show hosted was “The Internet’s Most Talented Photographer” where DigitalRev was trying to look for the best Internet photographer from around the globe.

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Behind the World of Photo-Surrealism : Lauren Withrow Written by Rachael Hyde Photography can be used to document biology, take cheesy prom pictures, capture landscapes. More recently, this versatile field has given photographers the opportunity to look towards false impressions of the real.

At only nineteen years of age, photographer Lauren Withrow has had the guts brave the obscure waters of this world. Withrow began her artistic experimentation via Flickr, as an “escape from reality”--something she had a particular distaste for. It was because of this detachment from a dull reality that she first “decided to explore the worlds inside [her] mind”.

In the early days she would start with a basic concept or theme to portray. Then, she would sketch out her vision the best she could before heading out into the world armed with a camera. Withrow’s photo style and technique, still seen in her present-day work, is dark, morose, and eerie--edgy themes she’s always been attracted to.

Using editing software like Photoshop, anything was possible.

She explains, photography is “either [an] extension of what I’m feeling,


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going through at the time, or an idea I wanted to portray. And therefore I place symbols in the images”. However, most of her symbols are never blatantly portrayed, and therefore add to the fleeting perception viewers experience. The product of Withrow’s photo-surrealism is accomplished through nothing but arduous work. She notes that it usually takes a good three to four solid hours to create an image to her liking. The results, when done exactly right, appear as if from a dream--making people stop, stare, and question.

the big blue - Stefanie Chan‘12

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“Instead, she is like the loud, crazy neighbor type who trashes every single piece of your closet�



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A Hole Lotta Love Written by Michelle Varinata

Ripped tights, messy hair, vintage/babydoll dresses, smeared lipstick, baby barettes and Mary Jane shoes. You know your mom will definitely let you out of the house, right? Instead, she will scold you for looking like Courtney Love, the lead singer of Hole. Love is a style icon beloved by fans (like me) and fashion designers for her girly grunge looks during the early ‘90s. Her style is the antithesis to the polished glamour with her juxtaposition of Lolita-esque childishness and Nancy Spungen’s punk rock sexiness. In

fact, Love never tries too hard to be sexy; her outfits defy the conventions of femininity. What makes me fall in love with Courtney is that her attitude brings the whole package together. Love isn’t like the controlled, polished cookie-cutter type like Madonna. Instead, she is like the loud, crazy neighbor type who trashes every single piece of your closet. Plus, Courtney Love isn’t afraid to shock her critics with her riveting performances. For instance, if you go on YouTube and watch her perform “Violet” at the 1995

MTV Awards, Courtney’s voice is abrasive. When she yells, “mine is FOREVERRRRR!” you feel her voice chilling up your spine. Her disheveled hair, smudged makeup and low-cut pink vintage slip instantly grabs your attention. Not only do I fall for her spell, but Courtney also enthralls the fashion world. She inspires Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, Meadham Kirchhoff, Tavi Gevinson, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and several fashion editorials. Now that you’re ready to try the look, why not wear it with Love?

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Ripped and Bleached One-Shoulder T-shirt Sick and tired of having that plain old tee in your closet? Wanna channel your inner grunge goddess meets Jennifer Beals in Flashdance? Unwilling to pay $1000 for a ripped up Balmain tee or $5 for a Forever 21 copy? It’s time to do some DIY! Speaking from personal experience, I enjoy doing DIY since I like to be creative. Being creative encourages me to alter old clothing such as my old red Esprit t-shirt. Another reason I like to do DIY is that whenever I go to Topshop, which is my favorite store, I often feel unsatified since some of their clothes feel uncomfortable and/

or have poor cutting. Besides being unsatisfied, I also loathe the way how designer labels (i.e. Balmain) make an item that looks like you can do it at home and put in a ridiculous price tag. For example, Balmain’s ripped t-shirt for $1000. For this DIY project, I am inspired by Frances Bean Cobain’s ripped shirt, the cover of Nirvana’s Bleach, Flashdance, ‘90’s grunge, a pair of bleached jeans, tie-dye and off-the-shoulder tees. To start, I marked my red Esprit t-shirt with tailor chalk, cut it across the shoulder and ripped it

with a Gilette Venus razor over a layer of newspaper. To get the tie-dye look, I scrunched up different sections of my shirt and wrapped rubberbands around it. Working with bleach is extremely hazardous, so I sprayed bleach directly into the shirt. Afterwards, I placed the shirt into a bucket of vinegar and took off the rubber bands. Voila! I instantly feel like I came straight out of a rock concert.


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DIY Painted Jeans

Written by Michelle Varinata Known for its reputation as “artsy fartsy high schooler”, painted jeans have been slowly coming back into fashion thanks to the likes of Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler. Because of its recurrence, I’ve been yearning for a pair of painted jeans by Proenza Schouler ever since I saw it in Teen Vogue. While flipping through the pages, my face literally dropped when I see the price tag: $500. Who’d wanna pay $500 for a PAIR of painted jeans? My anguish over the cost of these Proenza jeans has inspired me to customize a pair of old skinny jeans. For my inspiration, I am inspired by the aforementioned jeans, the Alexander Wang runway show, Jackson Pollock, OPI Shatter, Meadham Kirchhoff’s crackled glitter t-shirt and spray paint. The splashes of glitter and metallic hues are something that I wish I will see on a pair of jeans. Pretty cool, eh?

To begin, I lay down a pair of jeans on top of a newspaper cover. I paint the jeans by using gold fabric paint in X strokes and squirt a bottle of apricot glitter-based fabric paint in different directions all over the jeans. Note: The apricot glitter-based fabric paint will turn into a sheer apricot base with bluish green glitter. After squirting the said bottle, I use the same paintbrush to paint the copper all over the jeans in different strokes. To add more oomph, I squirt a dash of yellow and pearl green fabric paint straight

from its tube. The purpose of having these solid colors is to neutralize the glitter. Additionally, I squirt two tubes of copper and bronze glitter in different directions for a more Pollock-y effect. The last thing I suggest is a motif, which makes your jeans feel more special. In this case, I draw a heart the back pocket of my jeans and a unicorn on the other pocket in white textile marker. Now that my I got my wish, I am looking forward to rock them in town!

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casette Culture Albums and Artists worth listening to

tiny Ruins New Zealand’s best kept secret -Bianca Barletta It’s hard to not be transported to a different world as soon as Tiny Ruins comes on. Her recent album, Some Were Meant For Sea, is one that deserves your full attention. The native New Zealander takes a very minimalistic approach to music with gentle acoustic guitar notes. Along with each subtle note Tiny Ruins’ lyrics are intricate and involved. At first listen Tiny evokes the familiar sounds of countless other female singer-songwriters who whisper and croon into their microphones.


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With every listen, each track seems to stop being a song but rather a well-woven story of another lifetime. Hollie Fulbrook (a.k.a. Tiny Ruins) says she’s inspired by news stories, and intertwines them with personal experiences. Her songs range from being about road trips, to Romanian traffic controllers who take ballet lessons, to Brazilian priest launching themselves off cliffs with helium balloons. She’s pretty out there. But, despite her eccentric lyric choice, Tiny Ruins is

one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.

listen to: • Bird in the Thyme • Pigeon Knows • Little Notes Visit At: •

prodigy: brad oberhofer Brad Oberhofer, 20-yearold singer, is set to rock the very foundation of music, as we know it. At first glance he seems just the same as any other young hipster attending NYU. But, beneath the vintage shirts, unkempt curly brown locks, and facial scruff, shines a budding boy genius. After a major car accident in the 7th grade Brad discovered an affinity for music—he became a prodigy. He began hearing notes and melodies, as clearly as he could see images. Brad released his first orchestral piece— at all of 14 years old. And by the time he was 16 he’d composed and conducted his first sympho-

ny, making his professional debut as an adolescent. Like most great music masters, Oberhofer’s musical style has since grown in depth from his early work. He now trends towards the more “out there” sounds, incorporating far more expressive beats and notes. Oberhofer’s album Time Capsules II is an extremely dynamic example of his genius, opening with a beautiful piano arrangement and escalating to a point where it sounds like five pairs of hands playing. Yet even during the chaotic moments Oberhofer’s work seems well composed and relatable. His album is unique in

the sense that it appeals to two audiences: the trained technical musician and the untrained ear. Oberhofer is an up-and-coming name to look out for, heading his own unprecedented style of music.

listen to: • Away Frm U • Heart -Bianca Barletta

of monsters and men -Izzy Nguyen-Phoec

After winning the 2010 Músíktilraunir, a nation wide annual music competition in Iceland, and recently releasing their debut album, Of Monsters and Men are already gaining much attention from everyone. Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed them as the next Arcade Fire and Mumford and Sons.

Ragnar þórhallsson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Árni Guðjónsson (accordion, keys), Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (acoustic guitar, vocals), Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (drums), Kristján Páll Kristjánsson (bass), Brynjar Leifsson (electric guitar) formed their indie folk band back in 2010 when they practiced at each other’s homes and played at small gigs. Now, they’re their taking on the world, playing in Canada, the U.K and the U.S and working on the release of their album worldwide. Their debut album, My Head Is An Animal, contains 11

genre-blended songs. Each member has a favorite type of music so they incorporate everything to make an amazing new sound. Starting off with acoustic only, their sound has grown to new heights with the incorporation of drums, bass, piano and the accordion. The name of their band reflects the lyrics of the songs, which often talk about monsters, both fictional and human. “We’re just kind of inspired by the whole weirdness of everything,” says Ragnar.

listen to: • Little Talks • Mountain Sound absolute art


hoodie allen Ivy league grad. former google employee. rapper. -Kevin Holt After three releases as an unsigned rap artist, Hoodie Allen has gathered a huge following on the internet. While I’m not personally a fan of hip hop, I instantly fell in love with his latest EP. All American has a different sound when compared to Leap Year and Pep Rally, but still combines rap and pop elements. The songs are originally produced

rather than being mixed, with the instrumentals being upbeat and well varied. I can guarantee that these songs will have you singing along. Every song flows incredibly well and has memorable hooks. Lyrically, the EP is creative and makes various references to both pop culture and Hoodie’s reflections upon on his own success.

This release shows Hoodie’s creative side and talent as a musician. All American is something you definitely need to check out, along with his previous releases.

listen to: • No Faith In Brooklyn • High Again • No Interruption

florence +the machine ceremonials -Michelle Varinata

Imagine yourself at a party where you are dancing along to the music. As you dance, you hear the melodic beats concealing the dark lyrics and haunting wails that will never leave your memory. This combo makes Florence + the Machine sound like any other band, but there’s something about them that makes Ceremonials worthy of a


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Cartier diamond. Ceremonials is an eclecticism of gospel, baroque pop, Motown, gothic and tribal elements. I’d say that this combination for an album sounds like salad being tossed around, but Florence Welch’s powerful voice makes it all blend like melted icecream. For instance, whenever you listen to “Shake It Out”, you feel like you want to dance and sing along. Her voice and composition are not just the main assets of the album. The real gem that stands out is Welch’s killer songwriting.

In most of the songs that comprise the album, Welch concentrates on themes like death, broken relationships and terror, which are evident in the lyrics. If you hear “What the Water Gave Me”, whose subject is a suicidal lover, Florence sings, “Lay me down/Let the only sound/Be the overflow/Pockets full of stones”. The melancholic, yet memorable lyrics demonstrate Welch’s songwriting prowess. Personally, I do own this album and it’s definitely the most amazing aural ceremony.

Lana del rey

Lana del Rey caused nothing short of a musical controversy after the release of her latest album, Born to Die. For the past 6 months the album has garnered lots of mixed reviews and criticism, centered on her style, lyrics, personality, and general attitude. Born to Die has provoked the music industry into

-Bianca Barletta rethinking the importance of the Internet in modern music, not for the distribution benefits, but for its power to create new names of the trade. Its hard to say exactly where Lana del Rey would be today if not for all the internet hype over her weak performances and empty lyrics. But, nonetheless, there is one lesson to learn from Ms. Del Ray: that any publicity is good publicity. It all began with the release of her songs Video Games and Blue Jeans; two that seemed to stand out and force us to take an emotional look inside. Her slow drawl that accompanied the detached look of the world felt true and realistic. Unfortunately these harmonies

were not followed through with the rest of the album. As a self proclaimed “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, an old soul, many of her 1950s influences seem forced and more like an advertising gimmick than a fluid sound. Despite her failed attempt of transport us to a world of Lolita, bubble stick lipstick, gangster boyfriends, Diet Mountain Dew, and tacky Americana, Del Ray’s strong melodies and chords open up the door to nostalgia. In essence, Lana del Rey created a great pop album meant to open the hearts of girls through the radio, just not a great album in itself.

Light up My life:

The Lumineers

-Bianca Barletta The Lumineers are America’s response to Britain’s Mumford and Son’s. The Lumineers self-titled debut album can be described with one word: perfect. Imagine bottling up that feeling you get when hanging out with friends on that perfect night, or looking at the perfect sky with a special someone, or even the satisfaction of a perfect conversation. That’s exactly what The Lumineers do; they make you remember all the fleeting moments you shared with friends, family, and lovers.

They’ve finally put out an album that reminds us all that’s good about being alive. This Americana-folk trio, hailing from Colorado, has breathed new life into a genre that was becoming redundant. Each song carries its own style with unpolished earthy instruments: guitars, banjos, piano, and cellos. It is hard to find a better first album that can dis-

play such an array of talent. The Lumineers sound like a bunch of friends who took some instruments into an old barn house and started playing to capture the feeling of night.

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Showcase exceptional art by exceptional artists


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heming - Claudia Vesga ’13

vomit - Chealsea Lin ’13


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unititled - Carolyn Koh‘12


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prayer beads - Ellen Son ’13

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plastic surgery - Jin Byun ’12


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flower - Lauren Jung ’12

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tranquility - Marnfah Kanjanavanit’12


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Where Art Meets Trash and Transforms Life Vik Muniz is a photographer who’s artistic style compares to few others; his preferred media: photographs, sugar syrup...and trash. In a collaboration with the garbage pickers of Latin America, Muniz fathered a line of photographic portraits, titled “Pictures of Garbage”, made entirely of trash. In his recent works Muniz has transformed the classic photo-portrait with unheard of mediums. Few would imagine that a paintlike concoction of sugar syrup and scavenged garbage would suffice in lieu of art supplies, yet Muniz uses them as he would any other medium. Although Vik Muniz grew up poor in São Paulo, he eventually made his way to New York. Living the “Indie” dream in the East Village,the struggling artist capital of the world, Muniz experimented with photography and drawing.

Muniz has spent his career caring for neglected objects. He has an affinity for materials that seem less than workable.

Vik Muniz is truly able to discover treasure in another man’s trash. -Written By Jin Byun

Pictures of Garbage: Irma

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Written by Michelle Varinata Imagine a life of sex, drugs, money, gossip, alienation and parties. Is that something that you would expect from a novel? Nope. Less Than Zero, a cult classic by Bret Easton Ellis, chronicles the debauched lifestyle of Clay, a wealthy college freshman, and his rich friends in Los Angeles during Christmas break. Clay’s activities, alienation and relationship with Blair are documented in a haunting, yet memorable manner. Additionally, Ellis interweaves the drama that surrounds Clay’s friends - Julian (childhood best friend/train wreck), Rip (Clay’s sadistic drug dealer), Muriel (anorexic heroin junkie) and Trent (Chuck Bass gone deranged). To pack the punch, Ellis’ minimalist writing style describes the chaotic lifestyle that feels almost non-fictional. My verdict: there’s nothing less than zero about it!

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Staff Playlist what has absolute art been listening to?

Jimmy Yoon

Izzy Nguyen-Phoec

Best Friend-Jason Chen Missing Piece-David Choi Cambridge-Kina Grannis

Great Divide- Windmills Love Lost (Keljtet Remix)- The Temper Trap Take a Walk- Passion Pit

Ian Go

Michelle Varinata

Crash - You Me At Six No Light, No Light - Florence + the Machine No Faith in Brooklyn - Hoodie Allen Touch Me - The Doors Falling Short - Blue Sky Black Death Violet - Hole

Lauren Jung

Jin Byun

We Are Young - fun. Speeding Cars - Imogen Heap Airbag - Tablo

Chronic Intoxication - Nieve & Cook Now I Know feat. Pismo -Kenichiro Nishihara Trouble Maker - The Koxx

Lauren Beck

Marnfah Kanjanavanit

Sore Thumb - The Format Captain Blood - Chunk! No Captain, Chunk! Fantasy Girl - Man Overboard

Bad Boy - Big Bang Not Over You - Gavin Degraw Dawn - Dario Marianelli

Bianca Barletta Ghosts - Laura Marling Away Frm U - Oberhofer County Line - Cass McCombs

Abe Selby Falling Slowly - The Swell Season Winter White Hymnal - Fleet Foxes More Today Than Yesterday - Spiral Staircase

Rachael Hyde Grounds for Divorce - Wolf Parade The Next Bar - Hey Hey My My 70 Million - Hold Your Horses

Natalie Quach Staralfur - Sigur Ros I Don’t Feel Amazing Now - Guillemots

[Check it out online at ]


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your thoughts We hope you enjoyed the 4th issue of Absolute Art. We are constantly looking for people who would like to contribute artwork, photography and writing material for our future issues, as well as people familiar with graphic and layout design. Absolute Art is a team always open to new members, so don’t be afraid to join at any time of the year. Drop by Mr. Williams room (H401) for contact and meeting details.

Appendix selected photos from (pg. 13) selected photos from (pg. 13) selected photos from selected photos from stock photos from (pg. 20) selected photos from (pg. 38) selected textures from (pg. 1, 2, 3, 47) selected textures from (pg. 13, 46) selected fonts from

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When strolling the streets of their culture laden city, its typical that the average Athenian pass by a series of murals alongside each building. These works, at first glance, are peculiar--to say the least. A beaming feminine grin, the odd elongated head, plastery pale skin: all signature features of this artchitectural phenomenon. These wild images are puzzling. Yet, they never fail to astonish spectators. Much like a Greek Bansky. And, the artist responsible for these vibrant colors smeared across Athens, Alexandros Vasmoulakis. Vasmoulakis is a vissionary who paints the odd quirks of human nature by use of mixed media. His large scale works may be scattered throughout the city, but they are by no means unrelated. The city itself takes the form of a massive portfolio, as viewers have easy access to his cohessive works--walking building to building. The striking thing about Vasmoulakis’ work is in the close-up detail. From a distance, though his work may seem simply painted on walls, most are actually clusters of intricate collage work. His unique use of paper, ink, and acrylic is unlike any other street artist in the world let alone Athens. Vasmoulakis has given birth to the new giants of Greek artwork. His signature series has created a larger than lifesize legacy, rooted in the foundation of every building. Written by Marnfah Kanjanavanit


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Absolute Art Issue 4  
Absolute Art Issue 4  

An art magazine created by the students of Singapore American School.