Teaching Materials - Exercise


Name of Artist Educator: Wong Suk Ki
Excercise Category: Class Prelude

Before photography technology was invented, people recorded others’ contours by papercutting.

Concept / Inspiration:

Before photography technology was invented, people recorded others’ contours by papercutting. Keep your heart in a calm state, meanwhile use eyes to observe the people at the front carefully and use hands to manage the angles and ratio. Just like photography, it is an art of observation.


  1. Allow students to get to know how people recorded others’ contours before photography technology exists
  2. Allow students to observe, pay attention to details
  3. Allow students to calm down and focus

Materials / Equipment:

  1. Scissors
  2. Paper


Classroom and outside of it

Workshop Description:

In groups of two, every student would be distributed with three or four pieces of paper, and then they have to take turns to cut silhouettes of partners’ side faces. Cut one paper each time, and three times in total. Everytime when they resume to cut the paper, they would have further observation towards their partners, or could even understand each other better.

After the products are finished, each student picks the most satisfied one from their partners’ products, sticks it onto the blackboard. Let the whole class to guess whose contour it belongs to.

In the past, people treasured up acquaintances’ contour papercuttings, so students are expected to feel the sense of cherishing the existence of acquaintances through the exercise. Therefore, after the products are done, in the ways they preferred, students could stick theirs and partners’ papercuttings on a delicate paper card, to represent they built a close relationship in the same space. They could sign their names under the papercuttings or draw on the them. At the end, encourage them to take their products back home and keep properly. If the partner is a new acquaintance, students could make it a souvenir for the moment they meet each other.

Advanced version:
Each student draws the whole body figure for his/her partner, so the task requires to move the whole body to draw. The one to draw needs to use hands and body to directly feel and sketch the partner’s posture, so it needs direct interaction between both partners, like body or eye contacts. This version of exercise is more about provoking students to have direct body contact with others, while the original one is more about observation.

Note 1: A silent atmosphere must be created.
Note 2: The times of paper cutting depends on the purpose and is not restricted. If the purpose is to train students’ observation ability, they could do three to four times. If the purpose is to help students to stay focus in a short period of time, the times of paper cutting could be adjusted depends on students’ situation.
Note 3: Different demonstration methods of papercutting reflect different relationships, it could be among groupmates or the whole class. Therefore educators could adjust the method according to the effect they expected. If they expect everyone in the class to develop a relationship as a whole, they could let students to stick the papercuttings on the wall together. Besides, each student should be required to cut a silhouette every lesson for attendance counting.

Expected Outcome:

Teachers are able to observe each student detailedly. Since teachers might not be able to have in-depth communications with every student, observation helped teachers to get to know all students.
Students could have static interactions with each other.

Actual Outcome:

Some students worried that they could not finish the task within limited time, so they became impatient and cut the paper roughly, consequently they did not have significant discoveries after three times of papercutting. In this case, educators could allow each group to proceed the activity at their own pace, and should not urge them.


Student Feedback:

It was boring to cut the paper over and over again.
How many times left to go?

Reference Materials: