KL Dreaming 2014

KL Dreaming from Andrew Stiff on Vimeo.

As we stroll around any city or urban space, its complexity begins to unravel bit by bit. First we look look the familiar, to reassure ourselves. Then gradually, as our confidence grows we look for the unusual and unexpected. Then we look for adventures. The more we immerse ourselves in the experience of the city the more we see. The more we see the harder it is to replicate the experience of seeing the city for the first time. The problem of rediscovering your surroundings every day, was explored by the situationists, who believed no matter how familiar we are with the city, we should always find ways to see it for the first time. Their use of ‘dérive’ as a tool to rediscover the city, has been championed by psychogeographers and this film employs these techniques to the same end. Using KL locations that are familiar to the filmmaker, a gradual unveiling of the city occurs. Through generated barcodes, (using the graphical programming tool processing), the familiar is rediscovered in new ways, as if visiting KL for the first time.

Kampung Hakka 2014

In 2013, a local developer started bulldozing a part of Mantin Town, in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Within minutes there was a huge gathering of local residents, Malay, Chinese and Indian. They were trying to stop the destruction of the heart of Mantin, an area called Kampung Hakka [Hakka Village]. This are of Mantin is over one hundred years old. It is a traditional area built from wood. The area has a very special quality. Whilst run down, and in need of improvement, the pulling down of the kampung would erase a large part of the heart of Mantin.

The protests gathered all sections of the community, reflecting the communal nature of Mantin, and they have managed to stop the bulldozers, for now at least. This film captures the spirit of the protest and also the quality of the kampung, that is still lived in. But for how much longer?

Picea abies 2013

Picea abies is the latin name for the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree has long been the centerpiece of the European mid winter festivities. It even predates Christianity. It is an icon that has traversed the globe, and is now a familiar site in the far east in December. However for the filmmakers family the Christmas tree has become a small token of life left behind in London. Each year the tree is decorated with enthusiasm by the whole family, and is a time to think about family left behind. The tree sits in an original Nonya vase, with the typical icon of the far east, a dragon, which can be seen protecting the tree and the memories it holds.

Picea abies - live screening at the Seoul Media Square, December 2013

Makanan Cina 2013


This short video deciphers a lunchtime eaterie in Mantin, Malaysia. The space has been heavily edited to remove recognisable features and to deny anticipation of a narrative. This space has no narrative, it opens before anyone arrives and closes after everyone has left. It exists as place to arrive, eat and leave, there is no romance or compelling reason to remain, other than to eat.

Situated in a non-descript shop lot that is the same as the furniture and stationery shops that sit either side there is no decoration, and no celebration of space and place. It is compelling because of its blandness. The footage uses objects on the table and adjacent to the table as the focus. A glass mug of Chinese tea is use as a filter, and the grain of an imitation wooden table top offers some relation to the landscape that forms the distant view from the front entrance.

The footage was captured using an iphone 5 and initially edited using imovie. The ease and quality of these tools offers filmmakers a direct way to engage with the spaces they capture, transforming the movie making process from one led by post production to one led by on site interaction.

Gong Xi Fa Cai Pt1

Gong Xi Fa Cai, parts 1+2, is a two part exploration of a small town during the Chinese New Year celebration. Filmed in Mantin Negri Sembilan, the focus is on the shop house infrastructure of the town, as a backdrop to the celebrations of the Chinese New Year.

Part 1 captures the shop houses in two states, at one time both open and closed. This is a reference to the very intimate nature of most shops in Mantin, that operate in both the public and private realms. The family orientated nature of life in Malaysia ensures everyone participates in the daily rituals of commerce.

Gong Xi Fa Cai Pt2

Gong Xi Fa Cai, parts 1+2, is a two part exploration of a small town during the Chinese New Year celebration. Filmed in Mantin Negri Sembilan, the focus is on the shop house infrastructure of the town, as a backdrop to the celebrations of the Chinese New Year.

Part two captures the colours and patterns that form the overall visual infrastructure of Mantin. The beauty of towns such as Mantin lies in its textures and colours. The colours are present in all festivals, including the New Year celebrations. As ‘modernisation’ grips Malaysia, and South east Asia, we are in danger of losing the heart of our towns and cities, as has been seen many times in the West.


This film uses the Faraday sculpture, on a roundabout in Elephant and Castle, South East London, as its central focus. The area is due for renovation and the sculpture will be relocated. Its presence, in the middle of a roundabout which itself is part a major road hub that physically and visually fractures the area, offers the possibility of visually reunified space. The grid of the sculptures stainless steel cladding, is used the divide the video frame.

The language of the grid is a potent one. Its used as a way of defining space, usually for architects who require a space to be measurable, but it can also be seen a way of connecting ideas and their spatial relationships. By applying it to filmed sequences of Elephant and Castle, its is acknowledging the role this sculpture has played in giving an identity to an area often seen in a one dimensional, negative manner. The filming and visual development was completed with the assistance of Katrin Escay. The audio was developed with Matthias Kispert, a colleague from D-Fuse.


Portobello was a commissioned film for the London Design Festival. The location of the film was an area called Portobello dock, which was used to host a number of events for the festival. The newly built office block, completed the regeneration of an area that was developed as a hub on the Victorian canal network.

The dock was used towards the end of its working life, as a collection point for waste material from the North West London borough. Portobello market and Notting Hill’s Ladbroke grove are all adjacent to the site, however the focus of the film was to be the canal itself.

Most of the footage took advantage of the canal, and the delicate patterns that were produced by the slight breeze on the water. By filming the site on the surface of the water the film pays homage to the life blood of Portobello dock, Notting Hill, and indeed to London, the canal itself.

Pasar Malam_2009

Filmed in Alor Setar, Pasar Malam looks at daily ritual as a fundamental aspect of Malaysian life. The Pasar Malam or night market is a vibrant part of life. It is an event that no shopping mall will ever be able to replicate. Their energy is only tempered my the muslim call to the evening prayer. Then after the prayer families flood the market to buy the evening meal

The events that take place in our cities are increasingly important as a survival mechanism agianst the mediocrity of the shopping mall. J.G. Ballards dystopian vision of the modernity is seen as the modern future, by those of do not value their culture. Hopefully the cultural ties to the Pasar Malam will be strong enough to resist.


One of the great events to take place every afternoon in KL is the rainstorm. Thunder and lightning add to the drama. Filmed in Kepong, a suburb of KL, this short video sequence uses grids determined by the structure of the buildings to create the composition for the video. The grid is unified by the rainfall that saturates the whole sequence and KL.


The short movie is part of a triptych, that represents three of the typical methods of architectural representation. The three movies represent Elevation, Plan and Axonometric. Images were captured of facades in London, and composited into a two dimensional space. The direction of the movement is representative of the vertical properties of elevational drawings.


The short movie is part of a triptych, that represents three of the typical methods of architectural representation. The three movies represent Elevation, Plan and Axonometric. Images were captured of facades in London, and composited into a two dimensional space. The direction of the movement is representative of the vertical properties of elevational drawings.


The short movie is part of a triptych, that represents three of the typical methods of architectural representation. The three movies represent Elevation, Plan and Axonometric. Images were captured of facades in London, and composited into a two dimensional space. The direction of the movement is representative of the vertical properties of elevational drawings.


Landscape is another experimental work, that uses as it starting a painting by the French artist Claude Lorrain, called ‘The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba’. The work was the first of an ongoing project that aims to explore the relationship between looking at paintings, and moving image sequences. This project also aims to explore how the compositional elements in paintings can be used to inform the composition of moving images.

Temporal Facades - London Architecture Biennale 2006

Temporal Facades was submitted to the LAB [London Architecture Biennale] selection committee in late 2005. This committee was made up from 19 panel members, including Peter Ackroyd, Paul Finch, Zaha Hadid and Rowan Moore. The project was accepted for inclusion into LAB_2006.

The work was shown for 10 days in Brewers Yard in Clerkenwell, in the offices of BDP Architects. The installation consisted of 12, 42 inch Plasma screens, arranged in the glass façade of an annex building in the middle of the square. The work was selected as a featured project by the organisers.

The project focussed on the relationship between modern London’s dematerialised working practices, the banking industry typifying this, and the more physical spaces of the city. The locations of interest in the films were selected along the route of the biennale. This started in Southwark Cathedral, and ended in Kings Cross. The selected ‘Nodes’ were Borough Market, Tate Modern, St.Pauls Cathedral, Smithfield Market, Clerkenwell Green, and Kings Cross. All of these spaces celebrate their ‘physicality’.

Temporal Facades - Borough 2006

Borough Market used footage of the goods of the market, masked behind the imposing structures of the railway bridges overhead. In the centre of the market there is a junction, through which sky can be seen. The complexity of the space reflected the medieval history of the market. In contrast, Smithfield meat market is a very structured architectural space. The route of the buying public, traders and tourists is East West along the length of the market, whilst the selling traders deliver and process the meat via the North and South flanks.

Tate Modern - Borough 2006

The Tate Modern building has lost its original purpose, and been converted from a former power station to a gallery. This space was selected because it reverses the processes happening in the city. Like its neighbour, St. Pauls, the buildings celebrate the materialisation of the dematerialised [mankind’s imagination]. The footage on both locations deliberately ignores filming the actual structure. The Tate modern footage is made up form reflections photographed, and filmed in buildings across the river, and in adjacent buildings. St. Pauls uses old etchings and drawings to describe is space.

Temporal Facades - Kings Cross + Clerkenwell Green 2006

Kings Cross and Clerkenwell Green celebrate the location rather than buildings. Kings cross captures the chaos of its reinvention, and Clerkenwell Green focuses on the pavement structure that has replaced the ‘green’.

The City Quartered_2004

My film for the 'Beyond The Digital Surface' exhibition, is an attempt to explore the nature of cities, in particular London, by using the idea of captured digital surfaces. In this project I have decided to take two elements and try to stitch them together to hint at the nature of my urban surroundings in London. The two elements I have chosen are, architectural structure, and architectural surface.

The structure I have used is from an old map of Seoul. This map indicates the very formal nature of a walled city, and exemplifies the relationship between structures of habitation, and mankind's desire to formalise his surroundings. Walled Seoul, has a set of strong features that I could use as a structure for the film. The city had four main gates, North, South, East and West. Each gate has its own properties such as colour and a mythical animal. Traversing the city is the river Han. It was the North, South, East and West aspects of the city that I decided to use as a structure for my film.

So I have a structure, the four gates of Seoul's walled past, and I have imposed on that structure the surfaces to be found in London. It is these surfaces that need re-inventing, to be presented in a manner that reflect the nature and re-purposing of physical structures in the 21st Century. I have filmed areas of London, Canary Wharf, Regents Park, the West End and structures that sit on the south side of the river to represent the four points of the compass. The areas I have chosen all have their own unique qualities in both Architecture and atmosphere.

The treatment for each area attempts to play with the contemporary transient nature of the meaning of buildings in London. The reuse of building types in London for other purposes then the original intention is happening more and more. As digital technology makes redundant the need for the traditional building types, vast areas can be re-purposed utilised and the original nature of areas gets mixed up with the contemporary purpose. No longer do the facades display the purpose of the building and so the surfaces have just become patterns that perhaps can be deconstructed and rebuilt to relate to a new medium in a new era.

The City Quartered_2004 - Part 1

The City Quartered_2004 - Part 2

The City Quartered_2004 - Part 3

The City Quartered_2004 - Part 4



The Research Problem

The research problem, explored through my practice, looks at ways in which we can generate and manipulate the urban and architectural archive. In particular the research aims to develop multiple methodologies for the development, storage and manipulation of the archive, in design and creative based platforms. The archives generated have a critical role in helping us analyse, conceptualise, and synthesise our built environments, in terms of heritage, and the dialogue between our urban spaces and their inhabitants. Over the past four years my research has focused on the urban spaces of the Malaysian peninsular.

Research Focus

Central to my research focus is the relationship of digital technology, and how it can used to generate, and manipulate aspects of an archive. Archives, as recently identified by Rem Koolhaus (2014), are important repositories of detailed information, that generates multiple opportunities to compare and contrast different attributes of a given space or environment. The urban spaces in the Malaysian peninsular are changing rapidly, as they rush to modernise to attract international investment through presenting a modernised facade. This has meant the destruction of many ‘unique’ environments that transpose tradition with 21st century ambition. It is not the researcher's intention to use an archive/s as a way of preserving or recording tradition, but it is seen as a tool to capture these events and reuse them in creative contexts. The research aims to develop tools that facilitate interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary research, and working practices. It is these practices that have flourished through the development of digital practice and the theory of digital practices.

Research Methodology

The methods employed in my current research fall under three themes, or methodologies. The first is the development of a schema for the capture of information. To date i have employed the tradition methods of architectural representation, plan and elevation, through the use of still and moving image data. However the wider research needs to establish multiple schemas that can be employed by the differing disciplines, in an inter and transdisciplinary manner. The importance of determining a formalised approach to capturing information has been outlined by Kreiger (2009).

The second methodology is the development of digital online tools that can be used to create and manipulate the archive. In particular the research is interested in the use of HTML5 as a medium that offers compatibility, expansion and support. It offers the development of websites and apps. The particular aspects of HTML5 that have been investigated are the use of the canvas, audio and video tags. Storage has also been explored, through the use of the traditional database. To date web storage techniques have not be used due to standards issues and implementation across different technologies.

The third methodology applies to my own creative output of archival material. Currently the output has been limited to moving image sequences. However, manipulation through graphical programming environments will allow the development of more immersive and installation based outputs.

Current Research Focus

The recent threat of demolition to a one hundred year old village, developed by the Chinese Hakka community, has formed the focus of my recent research activity. The next development is one of collection of audio material, allowing the archive to develop sonic based material, that capture the history, and sound properties of this soon to be lost area. The development of the technology, through a revised web interface forms a structural focus. Storage of data is key issue, that still has no concrete solution. My creative practice work continues to be accepted into festivals and is current my main focus of development.


My research field explores the dialogue between image, both moving and still, and methods of the Archive. Currently the focus of the visual research is exploring the urban fabric in Kuala Lumpur and its satellite towns. This is in part to record the beauty of decay and time, on existing structures, but also to preserve the dialogue between human activity and the structures around us. The Malaysian peninsular built heritage is disappearing fast, and whilst there are many images and records, there is little evidence of a developed methodology to record and store this data in formats that can be exploited by creative professionals and artists alongside historians and archivists. This inter and transdisciplinary approach offers all disciplines a medium in which to develop archival outputs from this area of S.E.Asia continue to celebrate its unique hertiage and cutural practices, and it also allows us to use the archive as a living tool and not a dusty repository of the past.


Krieger, MH. (2009). 'Commentary: pervasive urban media documentation', Journal Of Planning Education & Research, 29, 1, pp. 114116, Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, EBSCOhost. [Online]. Available from: doi: 10.1177/0739456X09338615. Accessed (170612).

Koolhaus, rem. (2014). A Biennale of Knowledge: Rem Koolhaas on The Importance of the Archive. [Online]. Available from: (Accessed 13-06-14)