Bathed in a warm, evening glow, brimming with evocative imagery and doused in pastel colours, Shin Oh’s 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops series is the visual embodiment of nostalgia. “I’d describe myself as someone who’s stuck in the past,” Shin begins. “I often feel nostalgic and reminisce about how things used to be.” This is why, she explains, “every piece of mine revolves around real life, be it past or present, but never the future.” The project was created for the 1000 Tiny Artworks exhibition, curated by Artists of SEA, a platform showcasing Southeast Asian artists, and is created using volumetric pixels, or voxels. Used in popular games like Minecraft, Teardown and The Sandbox, Shin describes voxels as “technically pixels in 3D – pixels are square, voxels are cubes”. And whilst Shin identifies that “room art” is pretty common in 3D art, she attests to never having seen any such art that interacted with Malaysian culture or spaces.
“The buildings I created for the series are shops that most Malaysians will be familiar with,” Shin explains. Before starting the project, Shin had a lengthy, “heartwarming” chat with her mother. Listing down the many shops they had discussed, she then filtered them down to ten shops which she then studied and “visually” sketched. “I’m not in the habit of sketching my art because drawing sucks,” Shin laughs, “my ‘sketches’ are all in my head, I visualise everything in my mind”. So whilst all of the shops are imagined, they take interior inspiration from places close to Shin’s heart; the chicken rice stall is inspired by Emporium Makan Klang, a 50-year-old food court in Shin’s hometown of Klang which got demolished due to light rail transit construction. “If we don’t support old shops, they’ll be gone forever,” Shin says. “I tried to ‘preserve’ the old shops through this series […] I hope when people see it, it will remind them to go and support their small local businesses.”