My Process & Skills (7) Human Rights, Human Wrongs

This is my eighth and the last entry for this semester.
Our class had a final assignment called “Human Rights, Human Wrongs”.

“Human Rights, Human Wrongs” is a poster assignment that allows the student to chose and interpret a social issue of interest to him or her. The student will voice their opinion in the chosen topic by creating a visual, conceptual statement using the juxtaposition of type and image.
The poster is directed at the general public and it’s aim is to create awareness for the issue and invite the viewer to question or consider his or her point if view on the topic. To achieve this, use the medium to your advantage. The poster is a medium whose intent is to grab the attention and draw the viewer in. It can be a powerful medium when designed and executed successfully.

 

The topic I took was child labor abuse in apparel industry, especially in brands so-called “fast-fashion”.

The other day, one of my ESL teachers said, “You fashion-conscious students must buy the fast-fashion clothing wisely, because it’s cheaper than the high-end brands and as fashionable as them! haha!” — I couldn’t believe what my ears heard. Of course, my ESL classmates majoring fashion design never agreed with this teacher.

And I noticed that many American people like her never think of what a fast-fashion means. They never care the reason why fast-fashion brands can sell their products in such a low, too much low prices. They can’t imagine what has happened in the opposite side of the earth, they don’t pay attentions to that kind of news or documentary films.

Shame on us. It reminds me an article about the Tazreen factory fire that killed 112 garment workers, and the Rana Plaza building collapse killing 1,129 people. No, honestly, I totally forgot the names of the buildings and the numbers of killed workers in Bangladesh. All I remembered is this featured image of the article.

http://jezebel.com/whats-the-solution-to-the-worlds-sweatshop-problem-511688272

Well, well, I never say that I’ve never bought fast-fashion clothing ever and forever. Sometimes I do buy their cheap products, as you do. But when I saw the store is filled with tons of cheap mass-products and it looks like mountains of garbage, it hurts my heart every time. I feel so guilty to buy a T-shirt in $9.99. Am I a wise customer, indeed?

So I went to “fast-fashion districts” at Fifth Avenue. You might know where it is, very close to our University Center. I took some spy photos (again! I’m quite good at it), and designed an opinion poster concerning child labor abuse.

 

 

The more cheaper we buy clothing, The more younger sweatshop workers become. Someone should stop this bad loop, and it must be us, customers. We can be more and more ethical.

You can use this poster to your social activities. For example, a protest against demonstration on the street like this.

 

 

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My Process & Skills (6) Twin Box

 

This is my product for Twin Box Project.

Build two 4″x4″x4″ boxes. Then, present 2 companion concepts using your boxes. They can be opposites, twin deities, or any pairing that you would like. The idea is to communicate your concept through these two boxes.

  • To think conceptually
  • To recognize and use the power of metaphor
  • To gain experience solving problems three dimensionally

I chose the theme “Depth/Height” by the result of a majority vote in class. Other themes are “Night/Day” and “In/Out”.

To depict the concept in three dimensional, once I tried to use popsicle sticks, and it totally failed. Then I found a pack of ‘golf pencils’ at Staples. I got cheap 200  short pencils by $15. Not so bad.

 

I measured the height of pencils, neatly arranging in line. Then I built them up to express “Height”. Unexpectedly, it looks like a Christmas tree, while I had imagined it’s gonna like a bonfire.

 

“Depth” box took so much time. I spent about four-times hours compared to “Height”. I cut them up with a saw, sharpened them by hand pencil sharpeners, and sanded them by a rough file and sandpaper, to arrange in line according to height. There are 14 pencils on one side, which means there are total 196 pencils on a box.

 

 

 

I was so surprised that most of classmates and my instructor didn’t believe the pencils were hand-sharpened. Yes, they were!!! I did!!! Until my fingers became swollen, and further and further!!!

They screamed “Why don’t you use an electric sharpener!?” And my answer was “It didn’t work for this kind of sensitive work. Automatic equipment sharpens too much than I desired.”

 

To me, it was not the 2 BOX project, but the 200+ PENCIL project. But I’m happy with it.

 

My Process & Skills (5) Photo Book

This is my product for Photo Book Project.

(I don’t know why but I couldn’t upload my photos on this blog, so I posted them to my site and linked to them below.)

 

For this Book Project, our class had the same theme as Photo Essay Project. Since I finished my Photo Essay with “Texture”, my book naturally has the same theme.

I named this book “You can’t touch this”. There are no captions for each photo, I only put this statement inside of the cover, as an introduction.

More than twenty years ago, a certain hit tune of M.C.Hammer had hailed around the world. A Japanese little girl also loved it, and interpreted the lyric; “Anything essential coolness is untouchable to your hands, because it’s always intangible.”

Since then, I have been fascinated to release a shutter to it. Something far away, something over the fence, something only visible in a finder. Something tactile but not touchable. All photographs in this book were taken in New York City 2015, and have a kind of texture. Unkempt plants, stickers placed by hands, or old trodden lacking pavements. We can see some patterns and orders in them, but it’s not with a computer-measured neatness. An error attracts us to touch it, just like a hole in a hand-knitting sweater.

But you, and even I, can’t touch this. These are all tactile things that you can only feel its beauty through printed pictures.

 

I used a technique of accordion folding, and chose red and black cardboard to the cover page. All I focused on was “Texture”.

These are some of mock-ups, which were made by recycled paper, small sticky tabs, a cardboard which picked up from the refuse room of my apartment.

 

 

Bottle Project: Reveal.Conceal.

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For the past month (or so), our class has been dedicated to the Bottle Project. The prompt was to take two empty Fiji bottles- a liter each- and transform them using any medium or any technique to portray two companion concepts. Let the brainstorming begin as you can see above! Don’t worry those are only two pages of the six.

From there, I decided to explore the idea of Reveal and Conceal because I very quickly focused on playing with wax and melting it over the bottles in some capacity. The initial concept was to construct a candle using one of the Fiji bottles as a mold and have the wax melt over the other Fiji bottle which would conceal whatever was inside. The problem with falling in love with a technique so early on is that it is so hard to let it go when it just isn’t working!

I spent the next 2 weeks continually building candles, melting them, and getting a lot of the below over and over again!

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At this point, I was definitely having more fun with the inside bottle. I made small strips of paper that have the prompt “When I am alone in my apartment…” and had pretty much everyone I saw finish the sentence. It was great getting to interact with everyone and see the different levels of uncertainty people had with this. I then had them push the paper into the bottle themselves to keep their anonymity.

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It was time to move on with the outside bottle especially since the wax didn’t necessarily enhance my reveal/conceal concept. After researching new ways to make a mold of the second bottle, I decided on paper mache to build a cast that could open and close revealing the inside bottle.

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From here, I knew that I needed to paint the outside of the bottle to make it more graphically appealing as well as integrate it with the inside bottle. I decided on staying with the black/white/grey color scheme but playing with a darker background and white typography. Therefore, I painted grey horizontal strips that progressively got darker down the bottle. While I was questioning the grey rings and thinking about changing it to just black, Carmile so nicely pointed out that it plays into the idea of people’s layers and what everyone choses to reveal and conceal to the world. Then adding typography to the outside really brought it all together and integrated the inside bottle and outside shell nicely!

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Below are a few pictures of my finished bottles. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

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Manhattan Street Performance: A Photo Essay

The process of developing my photo essay over the course of two months was an interesting one.  For worse or for better, very little of my original idea survived to the final stages of the process.

If this project taught me anything (in fact, it taught me many things), it is that sticking to your original vision of a final product can actually limit its development. As my Digital Layout professor KC Witherell says, “Don’t get married to an idea.”  This project, like all others at Parsons, put me to the test: could I gracefully allow my ideas and my work to change from my original vision?

When we were first assigned the project, I had my heart set on photographing the performers who jump on the subways and dance on the poles; I saw them everywhere I went during my first month in New York, and I thought that the way the performers affected the body language of the subway riders was very interesting.  People immediately cast their eyes to the floor, to the wall, anywhere but at the performers.  By betraying even the slightest hint of amusement or attention, it was as if the subway riders were entering into a contract with the performers: you must tip us.

Alas, the very day I decided to photograph the contrast between the performers’ body language and the subway riders’ body language was the last day I saw the subway performers until–get this–3 days after the final photo essay was due.  I spent the first weekend of the project riding around the city for hours until finally I decided to cast a wider net and photograph performers anywhere I found them, and any form I found them.  I photographed violinists, break dancers, saxophonists, children’s entertainers, bands; everyone I could find.  I tried to get close-ups of the performers’ faces and the spectators’ faces, looking for contrasts.

After the first critique with Michael Durham, former photojournalist at Life Magazine, it was decided that the close-ups weren’t really working, and in fact the most interesting photos were of the breakdancers.  Photos from days of photographing were discarded.

At that point, too, I needed to come up with a concept for the text that would accompany my photos when they were bound into my final book.  Luckily, with inspiration from Michael Durham, the idea to interview the breakdancers for my text came quickly, and the following week I went back to City Hall where I had initially seen the street performers to ask some questions.  After weeks of observing street performers, I had grown very curious about the lives they lead.

When I got to City Hall, I saw that many of the performers I had originally photographed were there again in the same spot, nearly a month later.  I watched a performance, took some photos, and then approached some of the men for an interview.  I am naturally shy, so the thought of choosing people as my subjects in the first place had been a bit nerve-racking; the thought of interviewing my subjects was even more so.  Ultimately, though, I’m so glad I chose to do these things for my work, because the results were so rewarding.  This is the work that I’m most proud of (so far) at Parsons.

With my photos taken and text written, I set about the task of laying out my book and then binding it.  This took some weeks of revision as well.  Some photos of my mock-ups:

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I decided to make my book into a circle accordion.  That way, my book would fit neatly into a cover and could be pages through as an ordinary book, but could also be displayed in a circle to mimic a street performance: photographs of performers in the center; spectators circling around.  I had to scale my book down slightly for practical reasons. Finding reasonably priced and manageable ways to print a document that’s 6.25 inches by 85 inches was unsurprisingly a bit of a mission!

Here are some photos of the (almost) final version (small refinements will be made before the end of the semester):

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Though the process was long, this was a project that I enjoyed from start to finish, and learned many things along the way.  I discovered that I love bookbinding, and that interviewing subjects isn’t half bad either.  I’m looking forward to producing many more photo essays in the future!

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Felix Pfäffli

As I mentioned in my previous post, due to my trip to the Poster Show at the Cooper Hewitt last Spring (along with my work on posters for class), I have a newfound appreciation for poster design. Certain designers in the show stood out to me in particular. One of the contemporary designers that I have come to like is Felix Pfäffli (who I was surprised to learn is only three years older than me!)

“Feixen is the graphic design work of Felix Pfäffli. Felix was born in 1986. In 2010 he graduated and started his own studio «Feixen». In the summer of 2011 he was appointed as teacher at the Lucerne School of Graphic Design to teach in the fields of typography, narrative design, and poster design. Since 2013 he is a member of the AGI (Alliance Graphique International).”

Here is some of his work:

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Photo Essay

For my photo essay, I started to think about the places that I was going to be for the next week.  I knew I was going to be in New Orleans traveling the following week to look at wedding venues, so I thought that would be a great place to take photos.  However, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have time to do the assignment so I started out with some photographs from home at the local duck pond we have, wanting to do a Hockney inspired spread from there.  Of course, the moment I began to do that, Storm Joaquin was headed our way, so every picture that I took was very grey due to the bad weather.  So I waited until I took the trip to New Orleans.  I have included some of my favorite photos from the research I did that week about Hockney and Picasso. image007image002

These were two quotes in particular that I really liked about Hockney as well:

“He took multiple pictures, concentrating on some areas, and ignoring others. Hockney then selected the photos he wanted to use, placed these onto a board, arranging them by the same decisions of “line and form” that he used when drawing a picture. The end result Hockney called a “Joiner,” a multiple photographic portrait of a place or individual, which gives the viewer a better sense of space and time than any ordinary snapshot.”

“Hockney would have had to bend down to photograph the floor, climb up ladders to photograph the street signs and walk down the highway to photograph the horizon.”

image005 The last photo being a guitar by Picasso which I found similar due to its different view points.

I have also added the next photo to this to show some of what I was looking at for the duck pond collage that I decided in the end not to put up for my assignment, but it was my first try at the Photo Collage.  I tried it many different ways and had different pathways leading to other areas but I just wasn’t into it.

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I then went to New Orleans and printed a bunch of photos I took from the first day that I arrived there.  I finally zeroed in on this one location that I really liked, and started playing around with the different photographs I took from that place.

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This was the first version that I created by playing around with zooming in and out of a photo and adding some extension.  The final one that I went with is listed below.

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I really liked this final version that I went with.  I wish I had played more with the side of the photograph and taken more photos. I definitely didn’t see the vision behind this collage until I had sat down with the printed photographs and played around with them.  I agree that the other side of the house should have been played with more. I just didn’t have enough time to do it in.  I do love how it got me started with thinking about the photo essay and it is now the first photo that you see when you open up the book.  I really enjoyed this project and wanted to go back out and do it again a couple of times.