Through this installation, I want to provoke a discussion on the unrealistic requirements of the East Asian beauty standards. I delve into the negative impacts of social and mental pressure from the general public, and how this causes young women to be more aware of their physical appearance.
Due to personal experiences as a young girl in Thailand and Taiwan, negative comments about my appearance have influenced the way I see and cover myself. Therefore, I feel that it is necessary to express my vulnerabilities and anger towards the narrow-minded beauty standards, and to bring attention to the ridiculously idealistic expectations imposed onto young women in Eastern Asia. I have also interviewed several East Asian friends who have been influenced by these beauty ideals, enriching my understanding of how the social pressure affects various young women.
I decided to work with clay, because it is a material that can be manipulated, just like what plastic surgery does to our appearance. Moreover, there is a sense of permanence and vulnerability as clay dries, becoming rigid and breakable. The use of projection for the facial features also symbolizes how the East Asian society projects their negative opinions onto young women without a second thought. In addition to that, instead of illustrating beauty through the facial features, I decided to represent beauty through natural forms, such as flowers, that all symbolize different emotions and subjects, such as magnolias that represent beauty in the Chinese culture.
Ultimately, I want the viewer to feel conflicted, as the viewer themselves is a part of the society that is judging the ‘living’ sculpture. I want to encourage viewers to reflect on the way they view their appearance and others’ appearances, to think about why we, as human beings, are entitled to think a certain way just because of a person’s outer appearance. I also want to inform viewers who are unfamiliar with the East Asian beauty ideals, so that there is a deeper understanding of how the culture that I grew up with is like.
Above are photos of the first small prototypes of the head sculpture made out of molding clay. During the first bridge, suggestions were given to add other body parts that would make the sculpture more intimate.
Thus, I decided to add hands to create a sense of vulnerability, and to depict a common pose, mainly used by South Korean girls, that makes the jawline look sharper and thinner.
Above are photos of the making of the final sculpture, starting with the head, then the two hands.
As the head was heavy, since it was made out of a solid block of white clay, I scraped out the insides to make it lighter and easier to transport around.
This is a photo of the head piece when it fully dried, with the color changing to white.
After the head sculpture was done, I took a photo of it facing forward, so that I could use it as a template to animate on Photoshop.
To start the animation, I drew a pair of eyes and eyebrows looking forwards onto the photo of the head piece. After that, I added multiple layers above it, each layer containing a different frame of the eyes.
Below are some screenshots of the finished animation and timeline:
Below is a link to the video of just the animations:
For the music, I produced the it using GarageBand. I wanted the music to make the viewer feel serene, sad and calm, thus encouraging a reflective atmosphere.
Below are screenshots of the GarageBand process:
Below is the music without looping:
The flowers were bought on the same day to keep them fresh. Specifically, lilies and white peonies were purchased.
in-class teabag exercise:
The teabag exercise helped me get a better vision of what my final installation could look like on a smaller scale. The fact that the tea leaves inside the teabags were so fragile and easily blown away also resembled the East Asian female youth under all the social pressure from the society.