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Sunday, January 20, 2013

A 10th Anniversary Tribute to Eye é City

Eye é City Book Publications from 2005 - 2010

How is everyone's new year so far? Yes I know. This blog came in very very late. But hey Chinese New Year is coming soon so I'm trying to get this blog out asap. As usual I was busy juggling between my work, family and yes, photography as well but was somehow slacked away and lost in time.

So today, in this blog I want to talk about this Uniquely Singapore event; an annual year-end event that participants would document the social and environmental changes in Singapore on the last 24 hours of the year i.e. 31st December. Yes I'm talking about Eye é City 2012.

Make the jump to read more on my tribute to this meaningful event.


On 31st December 2012, Eye é City marked its 10th anniversary since it all begun in 2002. I took part in the year 2005. I never got to know about this event during the first 3 years until I got more serious about my photography and happened to watch Eye's national TV appearance on Good Morning Singapore! also known as 《早安您好!》in Chinese on Channel 8. Few of the Eye committee members and one of the past participants were invited and talked about the year-end event where they shared their shooting experiences. Some of the past TV interview video clips can be viewed here or below.

《城市的眼睛》《早安你好》专访 2007年12月26日
Eye 2007 on Good Morning Singapore!



《城市的眼睛》《早安你好》专访 2008年12月29日 (上)

Eye 2008 on Good Morning Singapore! Part 1


《城市的眼睛》《早安你好》专访 2008年12月29日 (下)

Eye 2008 on Good Morning Singapore! Part 2

Personally I like to watch documentary films and one particular local TV production, Tuesday Report is my all time favorite. So after watching Eye's TV appearance, I thought to myself that this is a meaningful event and I wanted to take part. Perhaps I could document this ever-changing country of its daily human activities/routines, human gestures, human relationships, environmental and social changes etc etc that constitute to this society of ours. Back then I didn't even know anything about street photography or photojournalism.

On my first participation in 2005, I went out early morning felt all excited and yet didn't know what to shoot. In fact I got 2 friends to join me for the event. At the end of the day, I wasn't quite sure if I got what I wanted. Eventually I realzed I got one shot which was a keeper. That is the one shown below.


Homeless Man and No Littering Sign
© 2005 Martin Liew Photography


This image got selected for Eye's book publication as well as for photo exhibition. I was so thrilled and felt a great sense of accomplishment. From that year event onwards, I had never missed it in years to come. In total I took part for 7 years including the recent one but I skipped once in 2011. The interesting part of this event is, it requires participants to write down the time, location and the reason why they made the images, on a given form sheet. So for the write-up of this image, you can read it on my website here.


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OK on side track, let me shed some lights on Eye's operations. Over the years I had volunteered as one of their Facilitators so I'm able to relate some of my experience working with the Eye committee.

In their usual operational routines, Eye would made public announcements a few days prior to the actual day event via simple promotional posters and postcards distribution at local photographic stores and later on at Arts Institutes and schools, in addition of local papers article publications and TV appearances to create more awareness. Participants would gathered at a destinated meeting venue to register with a small amount of fee and films were issued to them. Yes you read it right. FILM. The film is Ilford XP2 Super; a black and white film which is easily processed in C41 type processing chemicals alongside most color negative films. XP2 Super is a fast film (ISO 400) with fine grain and can be used for any photographic subject with excellent results when there is a wide subject brightness range. The film yields high contrast negatives and has an extremely wide exposure latitude making it suitable for use in varied lighting conditions. And it's cost-savvy for the Eye committee for they got it processed and scanned at a local photo-lab with the fundings collected from event fee.

I can't remember how much the fee was. I think it estimated $8-10 per participant. Circa 2008, the fee had increased to about $12 I think. Be it the participant was shooting film or digital. Yeah I remember all films were sponsored. Of course with additional help from sponsors, supporters and individual donors, they were able to make prints of selected images for photo exhibitions, exhibition venue rental as well as for book publications.

After the first three years, Eye started to accept digital format as digital photography became more popular and more people were picking up photography and could afford a entry-level digital SLR camera with kit lens. Eye even opened up the age group of participants i.e. for those under 18 years of age, to whom are required for parental consent.

On actual day event, participants spent the last 24 hours of the year to shoot and would submit their work on the next day. Participants would choose a new date to return for their best 3 single images selection and/or 5 images for a photo essay, which were to be "judged" for exhibition and book publication. That was when Eye Facilitators came in. I was one of them. The Facilitator's job was simple - assisting participants in their photo selection based on the context of Eye é City goal and vision.

After the "Judgement Day" which might spanned consecutively for 1-2 days, editing and evaluating all submitted images, Eye Committee would arrange for photo printing, mounting, exhibition dates as well as for book launch.

On 3 November 2006, Eye é City was registered as a non-profit society.
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Moving Out. (Last day of Clifford Pier)
© 2006 Martin Liew Photography


In 2006, one of the single shots I submitted got selected - 'Moving Out'. That day was the very last operational day of Clifford Pier as well as all the retail shops. In addition, I had submitted a group of 5 images for a Photo Essay. It was my first attempt in writing a story. Pretty similar to photojournalism. From there, it became one of my personal projects titled 'Unchanged Melody'. I wrote about a junk collector a.k.a. Garung Guni Man.


Garung Guni Man
© 2006 Martin Liew Photography



In 2007, Eye introduced a new category of submission 'Eye Challenge - A Visual Retrospective of the Year'. Its purpose was to enhance historical value of their photo collection and to provide a more accurate point of reference for the society.

It called for participants to submit a set of photographs (4 - 12 images) that reflect and depict the year's events and happenings in the form of a photo essay. These photographs can be taken at any time during that particular year with at least one frame to be captured on the actual day event i.e. last day of that year. The subject and scope of the photo essay was left entirely open to the participant's interpretation.

Here are my contributions from 2007-2010. There are more images than the ones I submitted.

Eye é City 2007:

Singapore National Stadium (Retro Challenge)

Eye é City 2008:


Eye é City 2009:

Best 3 Singles (rejected)

In 2010, I used a swing-lens panorama camera, HORIZON, on film.


Dragon Fountain (Single)
In Remembrance of a Place Once Forgotten... Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (6 of my photographs are featured in Eye's special mention on the railway station)

Early that same year, Eye Committee Chairman, better known as Mr Lee officially announced his retirement. He personally explained that he could not carry on Eye due to a few factors which later on Eye put it in words on their former website in Multiply.com. Here's the message.

After Mr Lee's resignation, Mr Ang Chong Leong took over for a short period of time to settle all matters before making that announcement. If you have read the message, you'd see my name is mentioned on the second last paragraph. Well honestly speaking, I wasn't really officially taking over but by accident.

Mr. Arron Teo and I just helped to shift Eye to an online social media platform on Facebook. We didn't have time to prepare for Eye é City 2011 and since going online opens up more freedom and flexibility, we eventually invited 11 past participants to take part, to whom included Mr Teo and myself. Pity I wasn't around to take part.

Basically we asked participants to submit their best 11 single images and thereafter we would go the usual routine of "judging" i.e. editing and selecting the best 3 singles to be featured on Eye é City Facebook page. After that event, we went stagnate. Staying in silent for the rest of 2012 until early December 2012, when Mr Ang returned to take over again.

This time round, Mr Ang has future plans for Eye which he would set up a new team to keep Eye é City alive and going on Facebook. I hereby wish Mr Ang and his new team all the best in their future endeavors for Eye é City.

Before I'm signing off, here are my work for Eye é City 2012.


I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs all these time, including this one and I shall write and post more in this brand new year. Cheers!