Plus: meet the thoughtful Little India resident who takes them.

Jeffrey Koh is a man of many talents. When he's not doing cultural robotics research at the University of New South Wales, he's helping on various design projects around town, most recently with design firm Chemistry for the upcoming Archifest. Between all that, he runs a pretty fun personal Instagram account full of beautiful pictures, mostly of his neighborhood of Little India. He recently started using the filter app Prisma (you've probably played with it; it's the one that makes all your photos look like modern paintings), and we've been loving the colorful, slightly surreal representations of Singapore. Here we talk to Jeffrey about some of the most interesting images.
 
What do you like about the app?
With tools like Photoshop, one can have ultimate control in the manipulation of an image. This level of technicality can negate the serendipity of the image creation process. Prisma brings back this serendipity, as you won’t really know what the outcome will be unless you apply the effect and see for yourself. 
 
 

A photo posted by smallcaps (@jtkv_koh) on

 
The filters tend to make Singapore look extra special.
Singapore is very special, in the sense that it’s as special as anywhere else you are at in any given time in your life. There are always innate details to a time and place that can speak to you, from coffee in plastic bags to the sounds of mahjong tiles clacking, pouring out from family clan clubs that I will never get to see but sometimes get to hear. By choosing to capture these moments means that some aspect of Singapore, no matter how mundane, can be special to you. 
 
 

A photo posted by smallcaps (@jtkv_koh) on

 
How do you decide which filters to use?
It’s certainly not scientific. I tap a few filters and see what resonates with me. Sometimes it’s line quality, sometimes it’s palette, sometimes it’s dissonance. It’s a feeling, and I suppose this will be the reason for most who use the app, and therefore it’s an affective process, which is nice.
 
 

A photo posted by smallcaps (@jtkv_koh) on

 
What are your favorite places in Singapore to take pictures?
The Singapore Art Museum is a nice place to take photos. It helps that it’s packed with excellent art, I suppose. My own neighborhood of Little India is also a place I like to wander and capture. Best neighborhood on the Island. Little India represent!
 
 

Hungry Ghosts

A photo posted by smallcaps (@jtkv_koh) on

 
Do you have a favorite picture?
I personally find that taking portraits using Prisma are quite difficult. Still-life and scenic images tend to resonate better with me. I particularly enjoy a photo I took during the Hungry Ghosts celebrations outside my window one evening as it captures some of the mythology surrounding the festival in my opinion.
 
 

Weekend Groceries

A photo posted by smallcaps (@jtkv_koh) on

 
The Mustafa Centre picture you took is particularly great, too.
I really enjoy that picture as it illustrates a day-in-the-life of everyday Singaporeans. As a photo it’s an entirely uninteresting image, but with Prisma the pastel colors generated by the florescent lighting, the patterned repetition of the produce and ceiling, the forms contained in the the plastic bags and the man’s shirt, make it a scene that can be read as a narrative. It’s a story that I participate in. Everyone has to eat.