Today, I went to Archway to set up my work- I had forgotten to sign up for spaces, so I was panicking about whether or not I would find a space. To my luck, I managed to find one- however, I had to paint the wall. This didn't take too long, but I still had to find a plinth to display my Petri dishes on. I asked one of the 3D students if I could borrow one of her previous works as a plinth- she kindly agreed, and I laid a white piece of cloth over the plinth and placed my two Petri dishes over it. Installation was quite straightforward- all I had to do was drill a screw into the wall and hang my QR code over it. I was slightly worried that the viewer wouldn't know how to access the video, especially when being assessed, so I printed off an instructions sheet telling the viewer to scan the QR code to access my video.
I finished installing relatively quickly, and left to Kings Cross to finish off the other documents that I have to hand in on Tuesday. Although the journey to the completion of this project was long and tedious, I have learnt so much, and have discovered so much more about myself and artwork that I am capable of creating.
I began thinking about the layout of my final piece. I showed my video to my friends, hoping for some constructive feedback- they told me that they thought it was really good, and it conveyed the idea of a dystopian future Hong Kong quite well. They stated that it was slightly scary watching the video- it gave of an intimidating feeling, because it was so cold, formal, and distant. This was exactly how I wanted the video to be interpreted- I was very happy with the feedback I received. Thus, I decided to export the video and uploaded it to YouTube. I have also completed my secondary video!
I linked the YouTube video URL to a QR code and printed the QR code out. I had 4 different colour combinations of QR codes- I decided to go with red on a yellow background. I decided to choose red and yellow because those two were the official national colours of China, but also because red and yellow are both really bright colours that stand out. Furthermore, QR codes aren't usually presented in these colours. I feel that by using these bright colours for a QR code, the viewer would be more drawn to the piece, and would also find it intriguing that a QR code is in different colours other than black and white.
Inspired by many landmarks in totalitarian states, such as the Tiananmen Square, and by the Megasaki Municipal Dome I saw in the Isle of Dogs exhibition, I decided that I wanted to make my piece look somewhat like a 'shrine', representative of the godly portrayal of evil leaders and ideologies, similar to my 'Places' project- a sarcastic shrine. I wanted it to look sleek and minimal- After brainstorming many ideas of how I could possibly display it, I came up with 2 final ideas. I will frame the QR code and place it a little higher than eye-level, making it look authoritative and 'high-above'. I will then place the Petri dishes on a tall, round, table, hopefully, borrowed from the cafetorium, that will be covered with a white piece of cloth to make it look clean and sleek. If I am unable to borrow a tall, round table to present my work, I will present it on a table, with a box on top, covered by a white piece of cloth to make it look like a raised platform, and will place my Petri dishes there. I began by putting the QR code into a white frame. I will gather all my materials and equipment needed for tomorrow, and will hopefully install my piece without running into any major problems.
twenty forty seven
I decided to name my piece 'twenty forty seven' (2047), the year that Hong Kong officially returns under the rule of the Chinese government. I chose to use words instead of numbers, because I feel that words place more emphasis on the numbers I am using and the viewer will read it exactly as I want them to, instead of other ways of reading '2047'. I chose to use numbers signifying a date for a continually coherent body of work, as many of my previous pieces are named after specific dates too. I also found that using a date as the title of a piece of work is effective, dramatic, and also puts the viewer into perspective in regards to the context within the said time and space.
Today, I made the resin and completed the main part of my 3D component. It didn't come out as I had planned- It came out better!
I was slightly nervous when I began making it- I am asthmatic, so I was afraid that the fumes and the smell will trigger my asthma. I was also nervous because I had the presumption that I am terrible at 3D work. I knew resin wasn't hard to work with, but I was still a little anxious. To my surprise, it wasn't difficult at all- although it let out a god-awful smell, after I had mixed the resin with the catalyst (hardener), all I had to do was pour out the mixture into a smaller container, then pour the mixture into the Petri dishes. Thankfully, I had the mask, or I would probably have died from an asthma attack.
I originally thought that the resin was a clear resin- however, it came out matte and cloudy, with an amber finish. I thought that this made the Petri dish look even more authentic- as it was cloudy and unclear, the paper underneath couldn't be seen properly- the cloudiness made the bacteria look like mould, which made it even more gross-looking. I thought that this made the Petri Dish and the bacteria look genuine and real. To my surprise, the resin set really quickly.
I was really happy with the outcome, especially when it turned out better than what I had set out to achieve. I must now plan out how I will display my work and the layout of my entire installation. Tomorrow, I will finalise my primary and secondary video, upload my primary video to YouTube, have my QR code complete, go to KX and print out everything I need to complete my sketchbook work, and continue working on workflow.
I focused mainly on completing my video by writing the intro and the end of the video. I also finalised the names of the bacteria, thinking about the meaning behind each of their names.
I wanted to convey the idea of site-specificity in language through the names of the bacteria. I used a combination of a play with words and equivocation to create the names of the bacteria- The Chinese names and the English names of the bacteria are not direct translations of each other; in fact, they are quite different from each other.
'The Bauhinia-Bleakeautonomy Virus' and the 'Five Totali-starian Antibiotic'.
The Chinese names can only be read and understood by those who can read Chinese; thus, I made the names relevant to Hong Kong and Chinese culture. I wrote the Chinese texts in simplified Chinese, but emphasise and comment on the absurdity of the Chinese government through sarcasm, making a political statement against the Chinese government. The Chinese names of the bacteria also involve the use of Cantonese slang/phrases used commonly by Hong Kongers, making the text more relatable to a Cantonese audience, making a connection between my work, Hong Kong, and the viewer. All of this is explained in a 'manual' I made: 'THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THE BACTERIA NAMES', attached to my sketchbook, which explains both English and Chinese names, for both bacteria. I wrote this 'manual' as I was trying to explain the meaning behind the names of the bacteria. I am quite conflicted as to what I want to get across to my audience- To some extent, I want the audience to know the meaning behind the names. This made me question what I view important in my artwork- Do I value what the artwork truly is conceptually, or how the viewers interpret it? I found that the manual I wrote was so literal, that it defeats the idea of the piece being sarcastically conveyed through the perspective of the Chinese government. I will continue to think about what I will include in my final piece, and how I will display it. I believe that I have completed compiling and making my video- I will make minor changes tonight and tomorrow, and will export it and upload it to YouTube as soon as possible.
Friday the 13th
Nothing went as planned. Today is Friday the 13th, so my superstitious ass should've expected everything to go wrong. I went straight to KX this morning at 10:00 to print out my Petri dish designs- the printer I wanted to use wasn't working on any of the Macs, and when I switched to a PC, it wouldn't stop lagging and wouldn't detect my USB. By the time I had managed to finish printing all the materials I needed to make the physical 3D object, it was already 12:00NN, meaning that it was too late to go to Archway to work, as the workshops close at 13:00. I had to think of a way to make it over the weekend- thankfully, I have all the equipment I need to make it, including the mask, the gloves, and the resin. I just need a space.
After discussing with my boyfriend, we decided that although it may violate approximately a thousand health and safety rules, we will make it at his flat, on his balcony. It was the only option I had that allowed me to have time to experiment, possibly make mistakes, and refine the final object. I will go to his flat tomorrow morning to make it.
Since I have so much time, I decided to stay at KX and work on my video instead- I decided to add in glitches to the videos to add the 'VCR' effect to them, making them look 'old' and unprofessionally recorded, contributing to the footage's authenticity and realness. I learnt how to add in glitches through watching YouTube tutorials- surprisingly enough, it wasn't too difficult. All I had to do was add a wave warp distortion to an adjustment layer and make its duration 1 keyframe long, then add it to different parts of the video. I then decided to use the glitches as transitions between my texts and videos.
I also added pitch shifts to all the audio sections- I wanted the audio to sound robotic, to sound inhuman. I wanted to make the audience feel slightly uncomfortable by making the voices of the people in the video sound so unreal and unfamiliar that the audience will feel no connection with them and will find the audio unsettling to listen to. I did this by lowering their pitch down 9 semitones and by upping the cents- I achieved exactly what I wanted, and their voices did sound very inhuman. I also found that this effect adds 'realness' to the video, as in many documentaries and news reports, when those who are being interviewed don't want to be recognised, they not only have their faces blurred out, they also have their voices changed.
I am quite happy with the progress I am making- I have pretty much completed the contents of my video, and only have the intro and the ending of the video to write and insert. I will write this tomorrow, and hopefully, have my video completed over the weekend. I am also looking forward to finally making the 3D piece- hopefully, the resin will set in time, and the Petri dish will come out the way I picture them to look.
Resin! And the video
I was originally going to cut out the bacteria from the prints and layer them on top of the glue- then layer on another layer of clear glue on the bacteria to make them look bumpy and solid. I was going to mix the glue with yellow food colouring and layer the bacteria on the China Petri dish with the clear yellow glue to accentuate its solidity. However, I soon realised that there is no way the glue will dry in time, without air bubbles. I have no idea why I picked glue as the medium- I am so fucking stupid. I then thought about which substances I could use that would harden quickly- I quickly went on Amazon and bought resin. Why the fuck didn't I think about this earlier?
The current plan is to mix the resin with red food colouring, then pour the resin into the Petri dishes. Then, I would layer the bacteria cutouts over the resin, then pour clear resin over the top to seal it.
Fortunately, my boyfriend had resin he was originally going to use for his piece but later decided that he no longer needed it, so I decided to use the resin he bought to make my piece. I realised that I am running out of time- It was already Thursday, and I have to install on Monday. The only time I can work in the workshops is 10:00-13:00 on Friday- I decided that I will go to KX early in the morning when the library opens to print out the petri dish designs, then head to Archway to make the resin.
As for the video component, I have already collected all the videos I need, and I am slowly putting them into Premiere Pro. I decided that I will use black and white for all the videos to make them more coherent- I also believe that by editing the videos black and white, the videos will look like 'CCTV' footage- this gives the videos more authenticity and 'realness'. The monotonous footage will also make the entire video more morbid and cinematic- it adds an aesthetic point to the entire video, and also takes away distraction that colours may in videos. I found a quote said by Roger Deakins, a cinematographer, stating why black and white is effective when used in films and videos.
"[Black-and-white] focuses you on the content and the story, and it really concentrates your attention on what's in the frame. All too often, colour can be a distraction -- it's easier to make colour look good, but harder to make colour service the story. Black-and-white imagery is much more about the balance between the light and shade in the frame, and I think it can help convey story points a lot better with fewer distractions."
I found this point to be really interesting- I found that when I incorporated colour into the videos, my attention was broken up between the visuals going on in the video and the subtitles. The subtitles should be the main focal point of the footage, as many of the audio in the videos were spoken in Chinese. I found that after editing the footage black and white, I paid more attention to the subtitles. I also found that by blurring out the fae of the person in the footage, I take away even more focus on the person and the visuals, and force the viewer to read and pay attention to the subtitles instead. I also decided to use mosaics instead of gaussian blur when blurring out the people's faces. I found that the mosaics effect was more 'real'- it is something that you see on the news, in documentaries, in official videos. It is something often associated with authenticity and privacy. I found that one of the main objectives of this video I am making is to make it look as real as possible- to make it believable, like it is actually how Hong Kong would be in a dystopian future.
In order to edit my videos to make them look 'vintage' and like 'film', I added 100% noise to them, sharpened the videos up by 40%, and upped the contrast. This makes the videos very grainy, making them look more like film, adding authenticity and realness to them. I also believe that by adding all these effects and editing the videos to make them look the way they do now, it has made the entire video into somewhat of a 'documentary'- The monotonous colour scheme gives the video a sense of seriousness and neutrality.
Furthermore, I changed the font and colour of the subtitles- In relation to my own interpretation of the colour, as well as what I saw in the 'Isle of Dogs' exhibition and what I read in the 'Red, Blue, White: Global Colours' gallery, I decided to use red as the colour of my subtitles. Not only is red the national colour of China, but it also evokes left-wing ideologies, such as communism, and is found in several totalitarian states. It also stands out against black and white, making the subtitles legible, and also putting the focus on the text instead of the videos. I also changed the text font to Courier Sans, instead of Arial. Courier Sans made the text look more 'real' and believable- I was quite intrigued in why I, as well as so many other people, think this. I knew that courier sans is the standard screenplay font- but why? I read an article that stated that because all scripts are written in courier sans, and because of how shapeless and formless the font is (it is also a font often associated with technology and AI), it takes away any sentiment or emotions from the writing- the font is not distracting the viewers from the actual text. It is an emotionless font, that does not sentimentalise what is written. After reading this, I decided that it was definite that I was going to use this font- It was exactly the interpretation I was going for; the coldness of the Chinese government whilst speaking to its audience, subtly evoking control over the audience.
I have also begun thinking about how I will display and present my work- I have decided that I am quite keen on using a QR code to link the audience to my video, that will be uploaded onto YouTube. I feel that by using a QR code, this allows the viewer to interact with my piece of artwork- this is something that I have aimed to achieve, since the beginning of this project. I also feel that by using a QR code, I am commenting on China's newly implemented social credit system being accessible on everyone's phones- the idea that mobile phones are so important when it comes to living in China, that your entire social status depends on this tiny app installed in your phone.
I will continue editing my video, finalising and finally uploading it onto YouTube for it to be made into a QR code. I will also begin thinking about the descriptions and the names of the bacteria. I will also be making the resin for the Petri dishes as soon as possible, hopefully on Friday, if everything goes as planned.
The materials I ordered on Amazon have finally arrived- I began making the piece, recording each step. I left the Petri dishes to dry in my kitchen overnight. To my surprise, everything went as planned- I filled up 4 Petri dishes with the substance, but will probably make more, just in case. I first poured the clear glue into a container, and mixed red food colouring with the glue- it was quite difficult at first to determine how much food colouring to add, as adding too much would take away the transparency of the substance, an effect I wanted to achieve. After mixing the approximate correct amount of glue and food colouring together, I used a foam brush to cover the bottom of the Petri dish with the substance. However, I realised that I shouldn't have done that, as this makes the coverage of the petri dish uneven and inconsistent. I restarted by directly pouring the substance into the Petri dish, allowing the substance to spread out evenly. Currently, I am quite happy with how the Petri dishes look when they are still in liquid form, I am a little worried about how it'd turn out when it dries. I have noticed that there are quite a lot of air bubbles in the Petri dishes- hopefully, this will not take away the authenticity of the piece. I am also slightly worried about whether or not the glue will dry in time. I have also thought of another possible way to make the Petri dishes- instead of layering the entire 90mm diameter paper of the entire layout of the Petri dish I created in Photoshop, I will cut out the yellow and white bacteria from the edited photographs and layer them on top of the dried, clear, red glue. Then, I will put a layer of clear glue on top of the bacteria to secure the positions of the bacteria in the Petri dish and to make them look more 'real'. I have thought about mixing clear glue with yellow food colouring, and layering lots of it on the bacteria in the China Petri dish, in order to make it look solid and bumpy, thus possibly adding authenticity to the Petri dish. I feel that the transparency of the glue is very 'Petri dish' like- I wish to preserve this effect.
As of now, I am also working on the video component of my piece. I have collected 4 videos so far, and am still waiting for more from my friends. I have begun compiling the videos together on Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and have begun to blur out certain participants' faces in the videos. I have yet to add the intro and outro to the entire video piece, and subtitles to the individual videos.
I believe that so far, I am progressing stably and to my expectations- I hope that I will keep this work ethic up in the following two weeks, as time is running short, and I have quite a lot to complete. I realise that I have a lot of material to my piece- I am afraid that I may be too ambitious to intend on completing so much in so little time, but I feel that it is doable, as long as I keep myself motivated. My plan for the week is to carry on documenting my progress of thought and practical work in my sketchbook and workflow, and go to Kings Cross to print out the Petri Dish bacteria. I may also make 2 more Petri dishes to experiment with.
After visiting the science museum, I have decided that I will create a 3D component to my piece. I felt that this would add authenticity to the piece, making it more 'real' and 'believable'. Influenced by the installations of the bacteria I saw in the science museum, I wanted to make a 'zoomed in' view of the bacteria, showcasing the bacteria under a microscopic view, as well as an actual, physical Petri dish.
The way I want to display my work is to have a yellow backlight for the Petri dish, with the photograph of the bacteria I photoshopped earlier inside the Petri dish. So far, I have a few ideas as to how to do this: I will make a red, clear slime to fill in half of the dish, layer the photograph over, and layer another layer of clear slime over. I searched up how to create clear slime,
However, I noticed a problem- the slime won't solidify, and I want a substance that will harden in order to make the Petri dish and bacteria look real. I then decided to use glue instead- I realised that I could mix clear glue with red food colouring to make it transparent, which would work the same way as it would with the slime, except it would harden. I would then repeat the same steps, layer the photograph over again and layer another layer of clear glue over to seal the contents in the Petri dish. I quickly ordered the materials on Amazon- clear glue, red food colouring, and Petri dishes. I wasn't sure where this was going, but hopefully, this experiment will work, and it will lead me to develop into the final piece that I will submit.
I also began to think about the layout of my piece; I was originally going to display the petri dishes on a back acrylic sheet, with a hole at the back, attached with battery operated LED lights behind/edge of the Petri dish. The LED lights will go through the hole, the battery pack hiding behind the black acrylic. However, I wasn't happy with this idea at all- I further refined the idea, and decided that I will present the Petri dishes on a table. I will make a clear acrylic box, and will place the Hong Kong bacteria into the box, accentuating the idea of 'quarantine' through the isolation of the bacteria. I will then present the China bacteria on a clear acrylic stand, open for the public to touch and view closely. I feel that the contrast between the way the two bacterias are displayed can convey the idea of independent thought in Hong Kong to be considered a virus, and the strength of the Chinese government; how the Chinese government wants their 'ways of thinking' to be considered the safe, correct way of thinking.
I have also mentioned that I wish to incorporate a QR code, that will link to a video. I have decided that I will compile a video of local Hong Kongers who state why they identify as a Hong Konger and why they do not support the Chinese government. The idea of this video is to show the audience the 'people who have caught the virus', telling the audience to look at the video compilation of those infected and to contact the authorities immediately if they know anyone who shares the same way of thinking. I asked some of my local friends from Hong Kong to record videos of themselves commenting on why they identify as a Hong Konger rather than a Chinese person, why they might support Hong Kong independence, why they don't support the Chinese communist government, etc. etc.
I posted on my Instagram asking my followers to help me complete my final piece by contacting me if they agree with the statements made above. To my surprise, I have received quite a few videos from a few of my followers that I have never met. I have also decided that I will blur out their faces and possibly change their voices if they feel uncomfortable with me showcasing them on a public platform. I decided to do this due to the fact that the topic of discussion is a sensitive subject in China, and I feel that this would add authenticity to the piece and the video.
I feel that this current idea of my final piece conveys my original theme of commenting on the Chinese government's severe infringement of the right to free speech in Hong Kong. So far, I have figured out my ideal set up for my final piece, and have written down my plan for the week.
A political statement
Today, I went to Kings Cross in hopes of gaining more inspiration and to further develop my work and my ideas. As I was brainstorming, I was thinking about the relationship between the flag of China and the flag of Hong Kong- I feel that the flag of Hong Kong, although is an official flag, is also a political statement.
Since I am looking at the Chinese government perceiving Hong Kongers' thinking as a 'disease', I wanted to further develop my idea through playing with the idea of 'bacteria'- I decided that I would edit the flag of China and the flag of Hong Kong, making them look like bacteria found in a Petri dish. I could then take this experimentation and possibly develop it into my final piece.
I spent the day editing the Petri dishes on photoshop, starting from scratch. I didn't encounter many problems, and I quickly finished the task. I found the results to be quite interesting. I showed my final outcome of this experimentation to my friends and family- while some of them didn't quite understand what I made and couldn't tell that it was the flag of China and the flag of Hong Kong, some of them understood straight away. I realised that if the viewer didn't realise that it was a political piece, they wouldn't make the connection- however, after explaining the idea, they found the idea to be quite straight-forward and direct. I liked how the underlying theme of this piece is subtle, yet obvious at the same time.
As I was talking to my friend about this piece, she suggested that I could make an animation of the bacteria moving, possibly engulfing each other. I found this idea to be quite interesting- the bacteria in the China Petri dish could engulf the Hong Kong Petri dish, thus accentuating the fact that China, ultimately, has control over Hong Kong, and that although our 'freedom of thought' may be considered a 'disease' to the Chinese government, in the end, they will create something bigger and stronger to oppress us.
From here onwards, I will further develop my idea and will possibly begin to experiment with animating this current experimental piece.
Work so far 2.0
So far, I have a few ideas- my final piece will have two components- a video and a sculpture. The sculpture piece will be derived from somewhat of a performance.
The sculpture will be of a Petri dish with a piece of paper inside, saying '香港不是中國‘, meaning 'Hong Kong is not China', and it will be classified as a 'disease' in 2047, the expiration of the one country two systems scheme that is currently running in Hong Kong. The video component of my piece will be of Hong Kong locals saying the sentence '香港不是中國', the sentence found in the Petri dish- they will be saying the sentence towards the inside of the Petri dish, so that the 'bacteria' from their breath will be inside the Petri dish, which will be the 'Independent Thought Disease. I am fortunate enough to have a bunch of friends from Hong Kong who are both politically engaged and are studying in London- thus, I will request for their assistance in order to complete my piece. However, I had to think about how I would present the video, and how I would make it interconnect seamlessly with the Petri dish.
Relating back to my previous experimentations and plans for my final piece, I decided that it would be interesting to put a QR code inside of the Petri dish instead of the actual sentence- the QR code would link to the video on YouTube, which will be a compilation of the videos of my friends saying the sentence, so that the people who visit the gallery can scan and view the video.
In regards to the 3D component of my piece, I have an idea of putting the Petri dish inside of a sealed, acrylic box. I feel that this exemplifies the idea of putting those who have the capability of thinking freely into quarantine. This also accentuates my idea of exaggerated propaganda- which will also be an element of humour, which can be interpreted in a way that I am mocking the Chinese government for their extreme extent of censorship in Mainland China.
So far, I am quite happy with this idea- however, I feel that I must further develop and refine this idea. I will further research on how museums exhibit bacteria and germs, and how I can make my piece more relatable to the theme of disease and bacteria.
A thought disease
Unclear of how I will progress my work, I went to the exhibition 'Isle of Dogs' at 180 the Strand to look at the set, props, and figurines made to create the stop motion animation, Isle of Dogs, directed by Wes Anderson and released on the 30th of March. I also visited the exhibition in hopes of gaining inspiration, however insignificant it may be. I didn't hold high hopes, as it was a 3D sculpture exhibition after all, which was completely different to what I am focusing on in my current project.
When I visited the exhibition, I wasn't too clear on what exactly the Isle of Dogs movie was about- all I knew what that it is the second animation directed by Wes Anderson, and since I quite like Anderson's movies, I decided that it would be worthwhile to visit the exhibition, However, as I toured the exhibition and looked around at the sets and props that were being showcased, I found out more about the synopsis of the movie, which I outlined in my research page:
The 'Isle of Dogs' is set in a dystopian future Japan- the government decides to banish all dogs onto an island due to an outbreak of biohazardous canine flu. Atari, the main character, hi-jacks a Junior-Turbo Prop and flies it to the Isle of Dogs in order to find his lost dog, Spots. Along with the help of 5 other canines that were banished to the Isle of Dogs, Atari attempts to find his long-lost guard dog, and the audience will get to find out the future of Atari, the 5 dogs, and the prefecture.
In the beginning, I was only quite focused on and intrigued by the realistic figurines and the extraordinary detail in each of the sets and figurines- however, knowing about the general synopsis of the movie allowed me to gain more insight into why the props and sets were made and why they were made the way they were. The use of characters, how they were chosen to be created and displayed, how the Megasaki city itself looked like- they all reflected a totalitarian state in their own, unique way that was subtle, but at the same time, obvious. I continued to think about the storyline of the movie- how the canine species was exiled from a city- an entire species was banished in a dystopian future. I was intrigued by the fact that the government had taken this extreme step- I don't believe that the animation itself has much political significance, however, I began to think what it would be like if I put this in a political context. What if the Chinese government treated the way Hong Kongers think as a 'disease' that could be spread? I decided that I will further explore this theme when I get home, and begin planning my final piece. Hopefully, I will stick with this idea and won't make more changes to my idea for my final piece.
As I am working on this project, I realised that I am a person of 三分鐘熱度, a common idiom used in Chinese meaning '3-minute passion'. I fail to be patient with my work and what I am doing- I always want to change ideas because I get bored of them, or I no longer have the passion to make it. I find new, interesting ways to create my work, just to abandon the idea in the end. Although throughout the making of this project, I had legitimate reasons for doing so, I realised that this was something I did for many of my previous works and pretty much everything in my life. I realised that this is something I should improve on in the future, and I hope that I will stick with my next project idea, see it through, and persist with an undertaking until it is completed.
I did it but not really...
Today, I redownloaded xCode ver. 9.2- I went to kings cross and began to start from scratch.
And I finally fucking did it- I figured out what went wrong yesterday. Although the tutorial said that I only had to put restraints on the top and both of the tailings, I realised that I had to put constraints on both tailings, the top and the bottom. This was a silly mistake that I had just so happened to miss.
After this breakthrough, I felt a lot more relieved than I was yesterday. I continued with my original plan of making the app, and began re-designing the outlook of the app. This didn't take long as this was the 6th time I had put in the exact same graphics and designs into the storyboard of the app. After doing so, I began coding. I originally dreaded this step of creating the app- Although I have coded before, I coded using HTML language, and xCode uses Swift, which are quite different from each other. However, I found that it wasn't necessarily too difficult or challenging- in the end, the act of coding is quite literal; you input the codes you want the app to do, and it will do it for you. Problems I encountered weren't really problems at all, but minor errors when I was inputting the codes. Although that is the case, I have limited knowledge in coding and could only code a very simple, functional app. The only thing I found difficult during the entire process of coding was how repetitive and boring it got.
By the end of the day, I had finished coding the questions and answers section and a temporary results page of my app. I felt incredibly relieved- I thought that I had made huge progress in my final outcome of this project. I then decided to go home and take a break after staring at the computer for the whole day.
When I got home, I opened up the software again to continue to make further changes. However, I found that in the very beginning of creating the storyboard, I had chosen for my app to only be accessible on iPhones. Furthermore, I realised that the app could only be displayed properly, with all the correct measurements and alignments, on iPhone 7s and 8s. After realising my mistakes, I attempted to fix it, but the constraints that had to be set were all too different between the different iPhones, and I couldn't change the accessibility of the app from iPhone only to universal after inputting all the codes and creating the design of the app. I also noticed that when I began to create the storyboard, I had forgotten to tick the box that would allow for my app to be rotatable 90 degrees or 180 degrees. Because of all of these mistakes I had made, which I so conveniently realised at the very end of creating almost the entire app, I knew that I couldn't submit it to Apple- they wouldn't approve it due to their app requirements.
Although I am far from believing that I had wasted 2 days working on a not-exactly-functional app, I realised that I am beginning to run out of time. I had to think of options quickly.
If I couldn't upload my app to the app store, perhaps I could upload it to my phone? I quickly searched up possibilities. Little did I know, Apple is quite the bitch, and won't allow you to do that unless you are an Apple Developer, in which case, I am not, and definitely will not pay 299USD just to upload one shitty, hardly functional app that I had made.
I decided to run my app on a demo screen and screen record my app to show it's functions and what it can do- I am currently working on editing 4 videos, each of which shows the different results I had previously written and set out in my plan. As I am doing this, I am and will also be thinking about how I could develop this idea even further and create a final piece I can present in Kings Cross. I am slightly afraid that after all the experimentations and work I have done for this project, I might end up with a shitty, insignificant piece that I won't be happy about.
What the fuck
I began to work on xCode today- I watched YouTube tutorials on how to make a quiz app, and followed the steps shown in the video as I physically made the app. However, although I followed each step precisely, the outcome wasn't the same as it was shown in the tutorial. Everything went smoothly until I embedded my Q view and A view into a stack view- the stack view wouldn't pin to the constraints I had set, and the 2 layers merged into one layer as a whole. I didn't notice this problem until I ran a storyboard file, where the app is shown on a virtual iphone to allow the creator to see exactly how it'd look on a digital device. I tried to fix this problem by not embedding the 2 views into a stack view- instead, I manually adjusted to height and width of the 2 views. I then ran another storyboard file- I found that the previous problem I had encountered didn't happen this time. However, I then encountered another problem- by not being able to embed views into stack views, I couldn't exactly develop my app any further, as stack views are essential to several components of my app.
Attempting to tackle this problem, I re-started the process of creating the app on xCode 5 times from scratch, paying detailed attention to the YouTube tutorials and making sure I followed each step accurately. Unfortunately, I still failed to create the design I wanted.
Regardless, I attempted to re-create the appearance of my original hand-drawn design of the app on xCode. I found that it was difficult to add any sort of graphics into the app. I have either underestimated the complexity of the software of have just overestimated myself. Sadly, I believe it is the latter.
I then realised that I had downloaded xCode 9.3 Beta Swift 4- this is the newest version of the software, only released very recently. Many of the tutorials that were shown on YouTube were demonstrated using older versions, such as xCode 9.2. I will re-download the software of xCode9.2 and attempt to create the app from scratch again. Hopefully, it will work this time.
As I was reviewing my project proposal and reevaluating my initial project ideas, I came across my initial researching path of looking at banned books in China. I suddenly had an idea of how I could further develop my project. I began to think of ways I could add to my project, taking into account of my original idea of creating a series of pieces that interconnect seamlessly that was inspired by Eddie Peake's Concrete Pitch, one of the initial influences of my project. My final outcome doesn't necessarily have to just be an app- I could incorporate different physical components mentioned within the test-takers results to complement the app. For example, since I am only incorporating the English corporate jargon-y, flowery version of the test results, I could create a 'banned book' containing the true translations to the Chinese version of the test results. I could also add in components like a camcorder, to represent step 3 of the '30 Day Transformation Scheme', the final step of the painful and inhumane process of ideological reprogramming. However, this is only an idea- due to time constraints, I must first complete my initial idea for my final outcome, and further develop it if I have time.
You will no longer be granted the right to freedom
Referring back to my previous test-takers results page, I wrote 4 separate outcomes for the 4 divided groups. I stuck with the idea of using corporate jargon to write the English text, while using direct, propagandistic language to write the Chinese text. An example can be seen below:
You have scored under 10.
You have failed the test.
You have disobeyed the government and have disagreed with the core values of our great country.
You will no longer be granted the right to freedom.
This application has an internal GPS system, and you are currently being tracked down by the government forces.
You will be subjected to the full length of the newly implemented ’30 Day Transformation Scheme’, where you will be reprogrammed ideologically and will be subjected to various methods of physical and psychological coercion until you recant your intentions of opposing the government of the People’s Republic of China.
You will suffer from extreme consequences for the choices you have made.
If you attempt to escape, consequences will be even more severe.
Re-written English version:
You have scored under 10.
Oh no! You have failed the test.
It is with regret to inform you that at this moment, we must recant your privilege of independence in our state.
As this application has an internal GPS system, you will soon be contacted by a member affiliated with the National People’s Congress.
You will be escorted safely to a blissful place of re-education, where you will undergo the newly developed ’30 Day Transformation Scheme’. Throughout the scheme, individuals affiliated with the government of the People’s Republic of China will assist in remodelling you into a worthy Chinese national, and will not cease until your transformation is complete!
You are truly blessed to have the opportunity to experience this newly developed scheme that was designed specifically for those who have the same results as you! We hope that you feel satisfied with this decision that was made for your own benefit.
I found it relatively harder this time to translate the text- my method was to write the English directly translated version first, then write it in Chinese, as I found it easier to gather my thoughts in English. Although I am a native Chinese speaker, I found it difficult to directly translate everything; there are certain words in the English language that the Chinese language doesn't necessarily have, and vice versa, such as 'ideological reprogramming'. I also found it slightly difficult to make certain negative sentences be interpreted positively. I spent quite a while trying to make 'You will no longer be granted the right to freedom' sound good.
In just under 5 hours, I finally finished writing all the result pages for all 4 groups!
As of now, I have figured out all the content within my app regarding language and text. Now, I must begin designing the app.
After creating the '30 Day Transformation Scheme' and figuring out how I will divide the test-takers into groups, I began to write questions I could ask in the test. As aforementioned, all questions will be opinion-based. I incorporated the use of corporate jargon in several of the questions I proposed, and made a lot of the questions sound very flowery; I added positive adjectives to things the Chinese government may want to be portrayed as 'good'- for example, instead of 'our leader', I wrote 'Our great, supreme leader, President Xi Jinping'. As I was writing these questions, I gradually found that the over-usage of detail along with flowery adjectives usually does the trick when it comes to portraying something undesirable as something favourable. In a few questions, I also demonised foreign countries and accused foreigners of ignorance- I took this as an inspiration from my interview with a Mainland Chinese friend, in which he stated that the Chinese government's intention is to portray democracy as a trick created by America, and for the people to believe that democracy is the dark side of capitalism. Here are a few questions I have proposed that I find worth noting:
- As a Chinese National, do you feel the unquestionable duty to disseminate our great country's core values and beliefs to your country's people, as well as ignorant foreigners?
- Are you willing to unite as a country and take part in assisting our great country to achieve the 'China Dream' of freedom, justice, and equality for all, through a socialist system?
- Do you agree that it is essential for the government of the People's Republic of China to monitor the people's every move, in order to ensure the safety of the people and to penalise those who violate the law?
- Do you believe that it is important to be dedicated to and assiduously provide your devoted services to our great country?
- Do you agree that by implementing a social credit system in our country, we are striving towards utopia?
I have yet to finalise which questions to incorporate into the test, but so far, I have roughly 25 questions. I am quite happy with the progress I am making- referring back to my timetable that I made at the very beginning of the project, I believe that I am managing my time relatively well. I will begin to re-write the results page for each 4
I am quite happy with the progress i am making. next, i will begin to re-write and refine the test-takers results for each of the 4 groups.
30 Day Transformation Scheme
My original idea was to throw everyone who didn't get full marks (20 out of 20) into jail for disobeying the government- I felt that this truly shows the extreme lengths the Chinese government can take to create their version of 'utopia'. However, realistically speaking, that's quite impossible. I'm sure more than half of Hong Kong would be thrown in jail if this system was implemented. Thus, I decided to divide the results into 4 sections:
0-10/20: Death row
11-15/20: Solitary confinement
20: Peaceful life
However, after putting more thought into it, I feel that this is still too extreme; this makes it just as unrealistic as throwing everyone who didn't score full marks in jail. Although that is the case, I liked the idea of dividing the test takers into 4 groups- I feel that this comments on the social hierarchy in China, and the social credit system that is soon to be fully implemented in China. I decided to stick with dividing the test takers into 4 groups, but decided that I had to rewrite the punishments of each group. I had to think of different ways the Chinese government would punish those who disobeyed them- I began thinking of Chinese groups that have been punished and persecuted in China in the past. This was when I remembered Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is a modern Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centred on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. They were persecuted due to the government's fear of its popularity in China. The Chinese government claimed that Falun Gong is a menace to society, that it is a superstitious, foreign-drive, tightly organised, dangerous group of meditators. They were also fearful of history repeating itself- that Falun Gong would turn out to be a religion-turned-rebellion.
'The persecution of Falun Gong' was a campaign in 1999 that was initiated by the Chinese Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, to eliminate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. I read through articles and interviews of those who survived the persecution, and took note of how they were treated in order for them to recant their beliefs.
Through this, I created my own 'scheme'- a persecution of Hong Kongers who disobeyed the Chinese government. I called it the '30 Day Transformation Scheme'.
In this scheme, there are 3 steps-
Step 1. 10 Days: The individual will be subjected to the full length of the newly implemented '30 Day Transformation Scheme', where the individual will be reprogrammed ideologically and will be subjected to various methods of physical and psychological coercion until the individual recants their intentions of opposing the government of the People’s Republic of China.
Step 2. 20 Days: The individual will then have to attend a mandatory brainwashing course in which the individual will be re-educated and be indoctrinated with Chinese propaganda.
Step 3. The individual will be presented with 5 documents they must sign in order to show their dedication to the country. They will also be required to record a mandatory footage of themselves praising the government, the country, and Xi Jinping.
I later refined the 4 sections of the results of my test:
0-10: Re-education and transformation- Full length of the 30 Day Transformation Scheme
11-17: Brainwashing classes- Step 2-3 of the3 0 Day Transformation Scheme
18-19: Step 3 of 30 Day Transformation Scheme
20: Granted a peaceful life, as long as individual stays out of anything that conflicts the government and the communist party's ideology
I believe that this is a true projection of future Hong Kong and China, as sad and as shitty as it sounds. I found it quite scary that I actually made up an entire scheme- I feel that I am in too deep into putting myself in the shoes of the Chinese government. I found myself slightly afraid of where this project is going- I have to take a step back and take a break.
I began to think of topics I could base my questions around- I referred back to my research about the Xi Jinping, the Chinese government, recent news about China, my PPP bibliography, and my previous experiments to come up with relevant topics. I found that the most prevalent topics are privacy and mass surveillance, devotion to the country, identity, and the idea of disseminating the country's core values.
Through this, I also began to develop questions I could incorporate into the test. I decided that all the questions that will be asked will be opinion-based, as opinions reflect each individual's morals and values. The Chinese government clearly has their own set of morals and values- thus, if the individual's answers reflect a set of morals and values that do not match up with the Chinese government's, the government will deem them as 'wrong' answers, and will punish the individual.
As I wrote down possible topics and questions I could incorporate into the test, I was suddenly reminded of the '20 Questions' game I used to play when I was young. Player 1 asks 20 yes or no questions to player 2- once 20 questions are used up, player 1 cannot ask any more questions. If player 1 guesses the object player 2 was thinking of, player 1 wins. I really liked the idea of asking only 20 questions- I feel that it is the perfect amount of questions to ask to briefly, but not completely, understand someone/something. Thus, I decided to use 20 questions in the test to determine whether or not the individual taking the quiz is a worthy Chinese national.
I also began to research how to make a quiz app- I watched several YouTube tutorials, and played around with XCode. To my surprise, It wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated. I probably assumed that it would be difficult and challenging because I had the presumption that I am technologically inept.
I also began to think about how I would present this app in the exhibition- unfortunately, I could no longer apply for the iPad demo, which would have been perfect for this project. I was originally going to have the app presented on my phone- however, I didn't think this was effective enough. I wanted my app to be accessible to every single audience, to exist in every single audience's phones. I then decided that I could make a QR code of my app, so viewers can scan and download the app, and physically take the test themselves. I felt that by making my project accessible to the public majority, it also complements the idea of disseminating the country's propaganda.
However, the current problem I am facing is how I am going to upload the app- In order for people to download the app, the app has to be on app store/google play. I am slightly worried that the app will be rejected by app store due to it being too political. However, I will still submit it to the app store once I am done creating it, and hopefully, they will approve it. If not, that's just another piece in itself. I will continue to think of other ways to present my final project.
A meeting with myself 2.0
I have recently developed an idea for my final outcome- So far, I think I am making good progress in terms of consistently working in my sketchbook and researching for my project, and have done quite a few experimental pieces that have led me to the development of my current, and hopefully final, idea. I believe that this project is possibly one of my most ambitious projects; I have always stuck with mediums such as painting and drawing, and have only begun working with photography and film this year- to create an entire application is quite challenging for me, as I believe that I am quite technologically inept.
I have finalised my idea for my final piece, which is to create an iPhone app, and I will begin creating the app this week and over the Easter holidays. I have just downloaded XCode from Apple Developer, an integrated development environment for macOS containing a suite of software development tools developed by Apple for developing software for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. I will start watching tutorial videos on how to create an app on YouTube, and will experiment with the software to familiarise myself with the application. I will also start writing the questions I will incorporate into my 'quiz/test', and will begin designing the layout of my application. By the end of Easter, I aim to mostly finish creating the app and finalise my final project.
I went to Kings Cross to print out my remaining screenshots that I was going to stick into my book, frustrated that I haven't thought of a new idea yet. To some extent, I felt angry at myself; I had forgotten why I began this project in the first place. I projected all my anger into my sketchbook.
I started reflecting and thought about the components of my work so far that I didn't like: I found that the current work I am making is far too complex- there were too many hidden meanings- this destroys the entire original meaning behind the piece. As I broke down the components of each of my works, I realised that I like creating work that is straight-forward and direct: it is what it is. There are no hidden meanings, just my main concept that is addressed directly. Although that is the case, I found that I create a lot of work that aren't necessarily straightforward and easily comprehensible to the viewer, but are for me. This doesn't mean my work is literal- concept is obviously still the most important aspect of my work.
I began to refer back to my previous experiments for this project for possible inspiration. I reviewed my first experimental piece- 'Managing the Truth'; the idea of site-specificity within language and text (English vs. Chinese) still intrigues me; I want it to be a significant component of my work. I began by thinking of a literal, obvious way of conveying this idea: through a video, I will speak in Cantonese, with English subtitles. I will talk about the flaws of our country and system using Cantonese, but will praise the Chinese government in English in the subtitles. I began by writing down things I could say and things I could write (subtitles). Through this notion, I can successfully convey the idea that only we, as Hong Kongers, will know our suffering, as well as the idea of reflecting people's ignorance as they are manipulated through text and media.
As I was planning out this possible outcome, I was also thinking about works I have seen in galleries and exhibitions that I could take inspiration from. I remembered a piece called 'Sometimes Doing is Undoing and Sometimes Undoing is Doing', a video piece by Francis Alys. I found it clever that he incorporated two videos on two separate screens, where both people in each video are doing the same actions and essentially reflecting each other, but they are filmed and interpreted in completely different standpoints. I liked the idea of having two points of views.
Through this, I suddenly had an idea of making two videos that juxtapose each other; the two videos show the 'consequences' of two different actions that relate to the same subject. I called it 'Choose Your Fate'. In Video A, there will be a local Hong Konger who is begging for help- this person is clearly in distress and is obviously desperate, saying things like 'We can't live like this anymore.'- The video would then cut off with the person looking shocked. The video ends with a gunshot. The ending is ambiguous. In Video B, a local Hong Konger will be talking about the greatness of the country, and will praise the supreme leader Xi. This person will spread positive messages of the government and the country. However, I will subtly hint that the person is being threatened to say these things; perhaps in the background, a person with a thick Beijing accent will speak in Mandarin to the individual in the video, telling the person what to say and threatening to hurt them if they don't do as they say.
However, I thought that this idea was a bit too literal; although it was a development of my initial idea, I didn't like how it was so immaturely executed. I was thinking about the website I had started creating, and remembered my idea of my piece being interactive. I thought: What if the audience could literally 'choose their fate'? I then remembered the games I used to play on my phone, where we could choose different paths and it'll lead us to different consequences, sort of like a 'butterfly effect'. I wanted to make a game that the audience can play; the objective of the game is to see whether or not the player can pass all the levels and end up not 'dying'.
The game would be set in 2047, when Hong Kong and China officially reunite. Background information of the game would be included in the very beginning:
It is the year of 2047. Hong Kong and China have officially reunited. You are born in the year of 1999, and have experienced the city running under the 'one country two systems' scheme. You have had a taste of both Capitalism and Communism. Now, you must choose your fate.
I began to plan out the components of the game- questions I could incorporate into it. I had the initial idea of the audience choosing between A. 'I identify as a Hong Konger' and B. 'I identify as a Mainland Chinese'- those who choose A would be redirected to Video A, and those who choose B would be redirected to Video B. I wanted my piece to really mimic an actual video game- I thought that I could convey this idea through the ending of the game- The ending of A would be 'Uh Oh! You have died.' and the ending of B would be 'Victory! You have passed this level', similar to the way video games usually end. The endings would also be a mocking comment on the Chinese government, a light take on serious consequences, as dying as a result of disobeying the government is a reality in China.
However, I thought that this idea was not realistic enough- it seems too much like a fantasy. The idea of a 'game' takes away too much of the seriousness of the issue I was addressing. I need something more real- I need to actually put the viewer in perspective.
Then, I had a sudden idea:
An iPhone app that is mandatory in every Hong Konger's phone in 2047- in order to continue living a peaceful life, the 'player' must pass all the questions.
I was really happy with this idea: I feel that this final outcome can get the idea of a 'dystopian future' across, and can also comment on China's new social credit system. It's sort of like a game, but instead, it's something that everyone has to do in order to sustain a steady life. A twisted version of a fun game/quiz.
However, I had to think about how I am going to incorporate the idea of site-specificity into my piece, as well as the idea of corporate jargon, and equivocation.
I then thought that perhaps I could incorporate it into the ending (results) of the quiz/test, conveying the idea of site-specificity through language and text. I began by writing the Chinese version of the results, then directly translating the writing to English, then re-writing the English version to make it sound flowery and less aggressive.
You have failed the test.
You have disobeyed the government and have disagreed with the core values of our country.
You will no longer be considered a Chinese national.
This application has an internal GPS system, and you are currently being tracked down by the government forces. You will suffer from serious consequences for the choices you have made. If you attempt to run, consequences will be even more severe.
We hope you enjoy life in prison.
Re-written English version:
Oh no! You have failed the test.
You have failed, but that is okay. We hope that one day you will learn and appreciate our country’s core values, and will honour your country the same way as those who have passed the test.
As of now, you will be placed with others who have the same results as you. Together, you will learn the greatness of our country and the success of our government!
As this application has an internal GPS system, you will soon be contacted by the government authorities, and they will escort you to a place of blissful learning.
We hope that you will enjoy the educational program that you will soon have the exceptional opportunity to experience!
Through the use of corporate jargon and equivocation, I have successfully twisted the interpretation of the text, when they both essentially hold the same meaning. Again, as aforementioned, this reinforces the idea of people's ignorance, as well as the manipulation of society through text and media. I also found that through this notion, I am able to subtly highlight the differences between western propaganda and eastern propaganda; the west control their people through love and praise, the east control their people through fear.
I will continue to develop this idea through writing the other side of the results and will continue to explore how I am going to develop and create this application.
I have been working on my website for 3 days- As I carried on editing photographs and writing text for the website, I felt that I had forgotten the main objective of my project. I was more focused on working on the website and creating the website rather than the idea behind the website. I felt lost and frustrated, as I didn’t know how to progress. I didn’t like how my work has developed; the website, although (not going to lie) is aesthetically designed, I was aware that the idea of a ‘dystopian’ future Hong Kong was underdeveloped and wasn’t clear. It seemed more like an actual tourism board that celebrated the idea of Hong Kong and China being as one, rather than a projection of Hong Kong turning into a shithole in the future.
I had to clear my thoughts and re-clarify the main point of my project to myself:
- Playing with language; the use of equivocation and corporate jargon within the texts. Using said techniques to describe Hong Kong in English, so the reality of the city is hidden behind flowery language. Then, translating the text to Chinese- however, instead of a direct, accurate translation, I will use patriotic and propagandist language.
- Site specificity; as the project is exhibited in London, the main audience will not be able to understand the Chinese text. Thus, they will believe that the Chinese texts are probably just direct translations of the English text, when in actuality, it isn’t. Through this, I aim to prove that propaganda and information can be easily fed to people; you show them what you want them to see, and they will believe it. People trust the media blindly.
- Reality vs. Dream: How Hong Kong is in reality, and how China perceives Hong Kong VS. how Hong Kong is depicted in the western world, and how China wants the western world to perceive Hong Kong
- The audience is taken away from the dream by the ‘Insider’s Guide’ page, where the truth of Hong Kong is revealed in text and in photographs.
I found that I really want to include the idea of site-specificity: I feel that this reflects the truth of people’s ignorance, as well as the manipulation of society through text and media. However, I also want to incorporate the use of corporate jargon in texts that describe photographs of places in Hong Kong that are obviously undesirable and objectionable, where the texts attempt to justify the photographs using flowery language.
I am currently very stressed because I feel that I am unable to incorporate both into one final outcome through an idea that I am fond of. I also feel that I am running out of time. I will continue to ponder about this tonight.
Disclose Hong Kong
I began to research different ways of creating a website- I found squarespace.com, an online software that you can build your website on. I began experimenting with it, and began to think about what I should incorporate in the website in order to get my idea of a dystopian future of Hong Kong across to the viewer. The idea behind this website was inspired by my first experiment, 'Managing the Truth', where I incorporate both English and Chinese texts. The translations between the two languages will not be direct translations; the Chinese version of the website will be more patriotic, aggressive, and assertive, whereas the English version of the website will be softer, more flowery, and less aggressive.
The idea behind this is 'site-specificity'; as I will be presenting to an English audience, the fact that they will not understand the Chinese version of the texts will reinforce my idea of how people blindly accept information they see, whether or not they be true or false. By indirectly translating the texts, I will also convey my message of how the way the Chinese government wants the western world to perceive their country and their system, and how Hong Kong is depicted in the media and the western world, versus how China truly is, and how they rule Hong Kong. Only us, as Hong Kongers, will truly know and understand our suffering; Hong Kong is but a gold-plated piece of shit.
As I was making the website, I realised how difficult it was to make the website accessible to both English and Chinese audiences, while altering the way the two audiences interpret the text through the use of corporate jargon and equivocation. I found that adding adjectives to subjects enhances this idea; for example, one of the sections of my website is called 'Our Leader'- However, if I directly translate the Chinese version of the same page title, it would be 'Our great, supreme leader'. I found that flowery language may not be necessary in writing the English version; as long as I write the English text from a 'neutral' standpoint, and the Chinese text from an extremely patriotic standpoint, I can successfully convey my idea.
I also began to work on editing photographs of modern Hong Kong, 'China-fying' them to make them look like areas found in China, rather than in Hong Kong. Adding the flag of China and the face of Xi Jinping usually does the trick; however, I have also experimented with altering and replacing colours such as blue, green, pink, and other bright colours, to colours closer to yellow and red, which are the two national colours of China. By doing so, the idea of China-fying Hong Kong will be subtle, but prevalent.
I will continue to write more of these texts, work on my website, and will continue to edit photographs of Hong Kong in the next few days.
A meeting with myself 1.0
I will begin to take advantage of our studio space by making use of the walls- I will stick my printed copies of my works onto the walls, to get a clearer image of what my work will look like when it is displayed. By utilising the walls, I will also have a clear view and layout of everything I have achieved so far, thus being able to know how I should further develop my work. Also, I will begin to start talking to more of my peers about my work; gaining and 3rd party perspective is essential in creating a successful piece of artwork, as I can get an outside perspective of how I can improve and alter my work to clearly convey my underlying theme. Also, I will start researching not only for and about my concept and my theme, but also for formats of display. I will periodically revisit my workflow to review my research and reflections, possibly gaining more inspiration and ideas from them after re-reading them. I will continue to experiment with my final outcome and will start actually making my final piece.
In the next few weeks, I will continue to research about propaganda in the east and the west, the history behind them and the way they are disseminated. I am also interested in how social media can play a role in propaganda. I will also begin to look at websites and digital/online ways to carry out my final outcome- So far, I have changed my idea from creating a physical travel guide to dystopian Hong Kong, to creating an interactive website, similar to a tourist board or a travelogue, to promote a dystopian vision of future Hong Kong. Today, I will continue to look at the Hong Kong and China tourism boards, and possibly begin designing one of my own.
Today, I had my progress tutorial- I found it to be extremely helpful, and I feel that I finally have a sense of direction of how I will develop my final outcome.
In terms of my medium, David suggested that I should think about how I will display and format my work- for example, the propaganda poster that I made: will it be disseminated digitally, or physically? Why? I hadn't thought about this point before- I realised that the medium it is shown in affects the audience and the individual viewer, as well as the interpretation of the work. He suggested that I further explore how propaganda posters are disseminated and displayed, rather than focusing on how they are made.
After explaining my idea of creating a tour guide/photography book of a dystopian vision of future Hong Kong, David asked if I would consider making my work an online piece- something interactive; the final piece could be a digital book, where it can be accessed on the internet- after all, books don't have to be physical. I should also buy the Hong Kong travel guides ASAP, selecting scenes that are appropriate and that I can work with, then photocopy the pictures in the book- I could then work on the photographs, and decide if there are enough photographs to create a book, or maybe even posters.
I was pointed in the direction of researching more about Western propaganda, and how the west creates propaganda. David raised a really valid point- propaganda is not only prominent in authoritarian states, it happens everywhere, even in countries that are considered 'free' (although I do strongly believe that free will is just an illusion). I thought that it would be interesting to take the way the western world creates propaganda, and possibly include it in my current work. I will also further explore and research into the history of Chinese propaganda posters; the morals the posters (government) is trying to convey to their people, and the narratives found within the posters- I could borrow these ideas and put them into my own propaganda posters, that I will be continuing to make throughout the next week.
David also suggested that I take a look at the Hong Kong tourist board- Has anything changed since the protests happened, or even just in recent years, with the growing conflict between Hong Kong and China? How has the visual language of the news changed, in order to attract tourists? In my final outcome, I could include elements of critic on what the tourist board does and doesn't talk about, how they manipulate the news, the media, and people's minds.
I was suggested to look at Soviet Realism (Soviet propaganda), how they are created and how they are disseminated. Similar to the DPRK propaganda, they hire out artists to create posters to disseminate. I was also suggested to look at Paul Seawright's 'The Map', which resonates with my current work in terms of concept and medium.
David also told me to look into 'penny pamphlets'- how communication is achieved through the spreading and swapping of pamphlets. This reminded me of the kidnapping of the booksellers- the reason why they were kidnapped was due to the selling of a 'banned book'. I then realised that it is possible that printed copies of things, such as books and pamphlets, may be more prominent in China, due to media censorship.
I spent the day exploring more about 'sesame credit' and China's social credit system- I found that 'sesame credit' was apparently run by Alibaba, and that the system was actually on the Alipay application. After learning this fact, I was deeply concerned- being a Hong Kong citizen, it is difficult not to have an Alipay account. I logged in the application to investigate- surely enough, 'Zhima credit' (Zhima is the pinyin for sesame in Chinese) was an option to click into in the app. Seeing this, I was worried that they may have taken my information without my knowledge. I was relieved to see that I was not registered to be part of the 'Zhima credit' system, as I am 'not real-name authenticated', meaning that I have not authenticated my identity through giving my personal details, such as my national I.D number, mobile number, and real name, to the company. Although I was relieved to know that I had no part of this system, I found that it was worrying enough to fear for my information to be taken without my consent and be registered to a system I did not agree to; to have this fear itself alone, is a strong indicator of China's growing power and control over their people. Even as a Hong Kong national, I still find myself bound to the governmental system of China. Learning about the Zhima system, I can see myself working towards a more technology-based final outcome. Although currently, I am unsure of what I will do, I plan to brainstorm more ideas about how I could carry out my final piece in direct relation with the research I have been doing, especially about China's Social Credit System.
Over the weekend, I picked up 1984 from the library and have been to the Kings Cross library 3 times- however, I have achieved nothing and have found no motivation to work at all. My ideas are not flowing like they were 2 weeks ago, and I have no idea how I am going to develop my work. I am looking forward to my progress tutorial on Wednesday- hopefully, my tutor will be able to give me some sense of direction, so I will have a general idea of how I can further develop my current work and idea. So far, I have a rough idea of what I'd want to do for my final outcome- I have yet to buy the Hong Kong travel books, read them, and work from them. I have been continuing with my research about the current state of Chinese and Hong Kong politics, and have been reading into different ethical theories and philosophers that have relation to my current work.
Travel guides and photography books
As I was walking to my boyfriend's house, I was thinking about the movie 10 Years; I found it so clever that the producers and directors managed to portray such a fucked up but accurate dystopian vision of Hong Kong. From this, I suddenly had an idea of my final piece. I remember seeing Hong Kong travel books in airports, and photography books of old and new Hong Kong when I was home; what if I made my own travel book, of my own interpretation of a future dystopian Hong Kong? Possibly documenting important areas, statues, monuments, and buildings in Hong Kong, perhaps ones that have relation to when we were under British rule, and edit these places in photoshop to exhibit how they would look in 29 years, when Hong Kong is once again returned to China. I could also create certain aspects of Hong Kong that do not exist (yet) that have been implemented by the Chinese government, as my own personal projection of Hong Kong in 29 years. However, I am unsure of how I will obtain these photographs of the current/old Hong Kong, as plans have changed and I am no longer returning home for Easter. As of now, I will look on the library database to see if I could loan out some travel guides/photography journals of Hong Kong, and buy some travel books to read and to research about, recording how and what they document in these books, and how I could possibly create a convincing travel guide myself.
Work so far 1.0
So far, I have fulfilled everything I wanted to achieve, but have yet to visit exhibitions. I am currently waiting for a book I borrowed from the CSM library, 1984, and plan to read it over next week. I plan to visit at least one exhibition over the weekend, possibly the House of Illustration. I have been distributing my time quite well, conducting interviews for research with Chinese friends I only see during class time, completing sketchbook work, as well as doing mini group critiques. During self-directed study days, I work on workflow, further develop my ideas, and create experimental pieces. I plan to carry on creating more experimental pieces developed from my previous experiments today and the rest of this week.
The China Dream
Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviours and official actions favourable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.
We had a group crit in the morning today- I explained what I had explored regarding corporate jargon and perception management, and someone asked: ‘Is that similar to propaganda?’. This put a new idea into my head- propaganda is perception management.
I wanted to further explore perception management and propaganda in the People’s Republic of China. I conducted an interview with a friend who grew up in mainland China, and asked him why the Chinese government is so against true democracy. He told me that the Chinese government tells the people that true democracy is a trick, that democracy in America is controlled by the rich and is the darkness of capitalism. I found this incredibly ironic; there was absolutely no difference between the people of authority between China and America: both countries are controlled by the rich.
The Chinese government plants the idea that democracy is undesirable by telling their citizens that democracy was created by America as a cover and an excuse for the US government to interfere with other government affairs. He further explained to me that some people don’t support democracy in China due to the fact that not everyone is educated; the country was only set up 70 years ago, but already they have experienced countless unfortunate incidents; it is very difficult for the majority of the people to be educated.
However, this does not answer the question of how the government spreads these messages to their people. I knew that propaganda posters were very popular during the 1960s, where Mao was portrayed as a godly figure. However, having been going to China every month back when I still lived in Hong Kong, I did not notice such extreme propaganda, and have not witnessed the existence of propaganda posters in modern China. I decided to further explore propaganda in China by looking at propaganda posters; little did I know, propaganda posters still exist everywhere in China, and I have actually seen these posters, I just didn’t take much notice of them, because they looked like any generic 21st-century poster. Instead of portraying the President of China as a godly figure, the posters consist of simple writing that convinces the people of what they will obtain from the government’s totalitarian rule: they call this ‘Socialist Core Values’. Words such as ‘democratic’ ‘freedom’, ‘equality’, and ‘justice’ are found on these posters, as well as ‘the communist party is good’ and ‘socialism is good’. President Xi’s face can be found on most of these posters- Although the style and design of the posters are modernised to fit in and relate with the current modern world we live in, the ideology and message the People’s Republic of China is ultimately conveying are essentially the same as it was in the 1960s. The words ‘China Dream’ can also be found in several of these posters- I found his incredibly ironic, as they clearly copied the national ethos of the United States, the ‘American Dream’, yet they portray America as an evil country that they must not trust.
I then asked myself this question: if this is how China wants the world to perceive themselves as, how does China want the rest of the world to perceive Hong Kong? How will they do this? I decided to apply the tactic of using propaganda posters to promote ‘Socialist Core Values’ in Hong Kong. I believe that part of the 'China Dream' is to unite all the cities and sovereign states that are officially part of China, including Hong Kong. I then decided to create a propaganda poster that would be relevant to Hong Kong and could possibly be put up in a dystopian Hong Kong in the future.
Managing the Truth
I recently started looking into the basic law of Hong Kong, researching about the laws of freedom of speech. I came across chapter 3 of the basic law, which highlighted the fundamental human rights and duties of Hong Kong SAR residents. I was in awe at the extent and number of cases where these laws have been broken, where there were people of authority who knowingly violated these laws during protests, using the excuses of ‘controlling the crowd’ and ‘following orders’. Police brutality has been a prevalent issue in Hong Kong, and I was interested in how there were obvious loopholes in the law- people of authority could be excused from such behaviour through very specific circumstances, and the interpretation of written law can be altered on a subjective basis.
I wanted to experiment with the idea of two things that oppose each other without the knowledge of the viewer, similar to the alteration of the interpretation of the basic law of Hong Kong. I wanted to further develop my previous project, 280914, by altering the relationship between audio and video in a short film. In my previous piece, I made subtitles that matched exactly to my audio narrative. I wanted to develop this by juxtaposing the two; making the context of the audio the exact opposite of the message I am conveying in my video. However, I will be recording the audio in Cantonese, and I will be writing the subtitles in English. Site-specificity is an important component of this experimental piece, as being in London will mean that most of my audience will not speak Cantonese- they will not know what I’m saying in Cantonese, but will be able to read the subtitles. I will be re-writing the law using corporate jargon, also referred to as ‘corporatese’, when the language lacks clarity and is tedious, making meaning and intention opaque and difficult to understanding, thus leading to a false conclusion which the viewer may not even realise
Truth is a commodity
As I was reading my Personal Project Proposal, I realised a lot about the work I create and the underlying themes of most of my works. I realised that all art contains intimate motifs.
Over the weekend, I travelled to Cambridge to visit a friend; as I was on the train, I saw endless fields that connected with each other seamlessly- this struck me with the idea of how we are all interconnected with each other. I was amazed by how each one of us lives individual lives, creating our own individual narratives, yet we branch out and we meet new people, becoming part of their narratives while also adding them to our narratives; we are all connected. We all link to each other to create one ultimate narrative, made up of 7 billion people. This made me realise that nothing ever really ends; similar to the butterfly effect, one completely irrelevant action may have changed someone’s life dramatically.
Self-reflective poetry has always been a prevalent component of my artwork. Within our massive world, I wanted to create a small circle, a circle where every single person is completely oblivious to the fact that they are connected with each other. I wanted to achieve this by writing poetry for strangers, writing poetry on the street and giving them out, making connections between me and the stranger, between the different strangers who have received my poetry, and between myself and the world. I wanted to give the people a part of me to take away with them.
However, the notion of ‘nothing never ends’ intrigued me. I couldn’t let it go.
Can I create something with nothing? Can I deceive my audience? What is real? Is it possible to make something the viewers have no access to, but will still perceive it as something incredible and mind-blowing? I realised that this was basically a reflection of modern day media- we are given bits of facts, but never the full picture, and we form inaccurate conclusions and judgements that dominate our perception of the world. Our source of information are always limited, yet we form these judgements without having a single doubt. We believe everything the media says.
This reminded me of a series of episodes on Jimmy Kimmel live, called ‘Lie Witness News’. In the show, the ‘reporters’ ask for opinions of strangers on things that aren’t real and have never happened. I watched the ‘New York Fashion Week’ episode, where the 'reporters’ asked designers and fashion enthusiasts about their thoughts and opinions on made up designers. To my surprise, almost all of the people that have been interviewed pretended that they knew exactly who the ‘reporter’ was talking about, despite the fact that they weren’t real. This made me realise how ignorant people can be; they follow like sheep.
I discovered that truth is, in fact, a commodity, and that everything we know can be a lie- we simply would not question anything. I found this highly relevant to the political situation in China; the government wants their citizens to be like sheep, so they will blindly follow and believe what the government says. Through this realisation, I decided that I wanted to further develop my previous project, 280914, and create another political piece, this time exploring the relationship and conflict between Hong Kong and China.