Bridge 4 – Cultural Jamming

Project Proposal:

I go to the Museum of Sex for inspiration on the weekend that the project is assigned.

At the same time, a new in China which talks about children’s sexual abuse in China (link: catches my attention. The teachers do dirty things to kindergarten students in Beijing, but the media and police try to hide the truth because exposing the new may harm some officials’ benefits. I am extremely angry when I see the news, and I want to criticize this issue in my final project.

I am planning to do a fancy cage covered by sunflowers (sunflower is a symbol of children and future), and there is a big panda rapping a baby panda inside the cage (pandas are a symbol of Chinese people). However, both my classmates and my professor think the idea is too direct, so I decide to turn it to be more symbolic.

I keep the sunflower cage as my starting point, but I decide to make a wind chime since lots of children have one on their bed. I make a hexagonal anti-prism by cardboard, and make sunflowers using acrylic on plaster bandage. The reason I choose plaster bandage is that it has powder that is easy to fall off, and in China we have an idiom called ‘粉饰太平’ (use powder to decorate peace), which means ‘to pretend that everything is going well’. The color I choose is related to autumn, since I always see rotten leaves in autumn.

I face huge obstacles when I try to make the decoration under the sunflowers. My plan of making lots of big Yin (representing dark and government) and one Yang (representing children and light) is denied by my professor because it is too simple and symbolic. At the pont when the idea is discarded, the remaining time is not even one week from the final presentation, and I cannot make myself or the professor satisfied. Suddenly I think about Chinese traditional monsters as an ironic symbol of the head governors who hide the truth. I cut 12 different shapes on wood boards having different thickness, and paint the monsters on them. There is a golden eye on each of them, which indicates that the public and children are peeped, but they are still paying attention to this issue.

After completing these, I connect the woods by wires not only because they are stable enough to support the structure, but also because wires are hard and they can illustrate the hard situation of Chinese children’s future. I replace the Yang symbol by an egg made by clay, because clay has scars when being dried out, which can indicates that the children are in danger.

However, the hard journey is not over. After finishing assembling my work, I set up the work in the classroom one day before the actual presentation, and I leave a note saying ‘do not touch’. However, when I come to the classroom on the next day, the wind chime is thrown on the floor, and the work totally collapses into two part while the egg is missing. My heart is filled with frustration. I quickly re-assemble the parts using glue, and put the wire which should has the egg on it to the top of the wind chime. I admit it is not perfect at all, but it is the best effort I can make in half an hour. My heart is honestly broken because I feel I deliver a disaster to the class.

In the class critique, what I find helpful in the feedback is that I should find a way to connect with my audience emotionally. My work is still too symbolic and abstract compare to others’. I have nothing to say about the craftsmanship because this is the best I can do in a limited amount of time. My work being destroyed is not my fault, and I should not feel guilty on this. However, I still feel devastated after the critique is finished. I have done so well in all assignments but this, and I almost cry after the critique. The only thing in my head at that moment is: why don’t I just screw up everything from the beginning? This is not the ending I want.

Overall, I give myself 80/100 for my final project. This is the assignment that I struggle the most in this class. All of my initial thoughts are abandoned, and I need to solve problems in a short amount of time, and prepare B plans for upcoming problems. However, I have done my best to save it from a total garbage. As usual, I use materials such as wire, plaster bandage and acrylic that I am not familiar with before. The most important thing I learn in this project is to correct the mistakes in a short amount of time, and to give myself courage to keep going after failures. Another important thing for me to pay attention in my next semester is to generate ideas in a short time without thinking too much, so that the making process can be long enough to create a perfect work.

My final project in Seminar (Link:STEREOTYPED ASIAN WOMEN-2naol5i)does not relate to that of Studio at all. The final essay in Seminar is about how Asian women is stereotyped in western world, and the idea starts with the roles Asian women play in western operas. I cannot think about anything about this topic I can do with my Studio class, so the two classes are parallel in my final projects.

For my Seminar class, I choose the theme of stereotyped Asian women for two reasons. On one hand, as an Asian woman, I have experienced too many stereotypes in western countries that I have explored. Second, I am an opera fan, and Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon are two famous operas that I am interested in doing research. I concentrate on the submissive side of the Asian women stereotype because I want to express this on my essay. I want to argue to western people that we are not passive, weak, and dependent, and therefore should not be ignored on purpose.

In fact, I don’t feel confident enough at the beginning. Even I have had a clear outline, I have difficulties to do research because I only know the two example I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and I worry if I can find other proper examples to strongly support my ideas. Fortunately, I don’t face as much obstacles as I do in Studio. I can find what I want easily in Jstor and other sources, and analyze the information quickly (thank to the practice we have done in the talking note in Seminar before). Since I have planned what I want to illustrate in my essay (how western people stereotype us, why they stereotype us, why we should not be stereotyped like that), I can target the resources that are suitable to be applied in my essay. What is more, I have learned the right way to do annotated bibliography in Canadian high school, so I save lots of time on here as well.

Writing is my weak point compare to art craft, but this time I am more determined on searching resources and making decisions in Seminar than Studio. I am completely satisfied that I can do such a great job on my final essay in Seminar. In future when I write essays, I should also have a clear outline without shifting between different ideas, so that I can continue working in a better condition.

Two different approaches on final projects of Studio and Seminar enable me to learn a lot. The good and bad experiences in these courses teach me the efficient and bad ways of completing tasks. The most important thing I learn in Seminar is to analyze information in a short amount of time and create new things based on what I have learned; as for studio, I am benefited by trying new things and explore different concepts. I don’t know what I will face in my Integrative 2, and I don’t want to think about it at this point. I just want to reward myself during the winter break and be ready for the next semester.

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