Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 4 progress report

Book I:

I have finished Book I, but I still need a name for the book before I send it to lulu... anyone got any idea?

Book II:

I will start to shoot the photos next Saturday.

Welcome to the Party of the Human Race

Pray the Devil back to Hell is a documentary about how Liberian women communicated their message of peace through the media. They knew the power of media, they spread the news all over newspapers, internet, and national and global medias. They prayed with handmade signs and printed peace t-shirts, they even threatened to strip naked in public. These women proved that peace is something you make, not something you can take for granted. They used less money/resources and time to make peace, and they earned honor and respect.

What made these women succeed? How are these women special from the rest of the world? Their gender, their color, their nationality, their citizenship… they are not just cartoon figures, they are mothers, they have the power and the guts to stand against men their sons’ age who refuse to share power. Men believe that women cannot be leaders of a political movement or a war, but all these women want is peace. “Peace is about every action we make every day, peace is the communicating.” But communicating leads to conflicts, and conflicts bring war.

Disney stated that women from other countries had much stronger reaction to the movie than anyone in the US. She questioned why Americans did not seem to care about the film while people from other countries equate the movie with their own political background, and are very affected by it. Do Americans really care about anything? When the earthquake occurred in Haiti, there were charity auctions everywhere in America, the Hollywood stars were answering phone calls for donation, and even Lawrence had the orchestra/arts auction for Haiti. But this war in Liberia has been going on for many years and the US doesn’t seem to care. All I could think about was the similar earthquake in China last year, the media did not cover it nearly as extensively as the Haiti earthquake. Hardly any people knew what happened, it is the difference of attention that I don’t understand.

What do we need to pay for justice? For instance, Google was threatening to pull out of China because China was using google to target human rights activists. Google pretended to care about the human rights, but profit was what they really cared about. After all Google is just a company, and a company places profit before free speech or whatever else. Similarly, some people like war because it makes more money than peace.

War is the parent of army. But if you are still proud of your military power, you should be careful, because you might be easily beaten by those Liberian women. They know what it is like to experience war every day, and they have nothing else to lose, which is more powerful than a weapon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

the 3rd Week Progress Report

Week of Jan 18 – 24  PARTLY FINISHED

Set up Exhibition at Mudd Gallery

Event: Down Will Come Baby, Cradle and All
What: Opening
Start Time: Tomorrow, January 25 at 7:00pm
End Time: Tomorrow, January 25 at 9:00pm
Where: Mudd Gallery- Library 3rd floor

Finish Book I and send to  FAILED PART OF IT...
InDesign never liked me...I need help on the cover pages and the page size set-up. The new version changed all their looks and I could not find anything right.

Week of Jan 25 – 31 IN PROCESS~
Start to shoot for Book II

Reflection to The Radicant Part I

The audience is hungry for information.
----Bourriaud, The Radicant

I once read a blog saying that the art without nationality is above all the rest. People talk about their “own unique” cultures because they don’t have anything else to show off. The writer suggests that it is more important to think about “where should we go” rather than “where did you come from”. She says multiculturalism is the outcome of immigration, and the foreign “invaders” call their work “the recognition of the other”.


My American friend who studies Chinese at Lawrence University just came back from a Chinese graduate school. As she was talking about the things she experienced in China, I could only think about how hard my neighbors and friends in China had tried to go abroad. Most of them went to Australia, New Zealand and Canada because it was easier to get a green card in those countries. When they did get the permit to stay, they acted as though they had just received the best honor of their life. And they started to call themselves Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians.


The Radicant talked about secondary roots. I like that word. After staying almost five years in America, I don’t know which culture I belong to any more. “Multiculturalism… conceives the individual as definitively assigned to his or her cultural, ethnic, or geographic roots” (34). I talk about my Chinese radicant all the time, because that is where I come from. I talk about my life in America a lot too, because that is where I became who I am – I am stuck, I don’t know how to define myself and that confuses me. Liese Ricketts told me during a critique: “It is good to feel stuck, because that is who you are.” It seems like because I have roots in both America and China, I have more options in my life, but I need to know which side defines me more.

Can we really free ourselves from our roots? No. “The root is both a mythical origin as well as an ideal goal” (45). I do not want to be called a “Chinese American.” I need to find a better word to define myself, and I plan to spend the rest of my life seeking that word. For those people without roots, I pity you.

Time can do a lot of things to a woman...

I never really enjoy performance art, but I love Laurie Anderson’s shows. They are passionate, inspirational, creative, and powerful. She rocks! I think she is more of an artist than Buckminster Fuller.

Laurie Anderson is anti-technology, which is another reason why I love her, even though she uses quite a lot of instruments and modern lighting in her shows. “Computer is the end of human contact,” she says. I totally agree. I still write letters by hand, I keep a diary, I switched to email and blog only for convenience sake, but I can totally live without my computer and cell phone.

Whenever I try to get away from these modern communication tools, the world seems so quiet, and of course I get tons of complaints about how people cannot get a hold of me. I have a facebook account, only because it is easier to find people than email since some check their facebook more than their email. I do not use twitter, I am no celebrity and I do not need twitter to update my fans. I have a blog, but I only write about what I did that day just as a record for myself. I’m sure nobody will be interested in how many pages of reading I finished that afternoon and how many cups of coffee I drank that day.

The Internet is a new way of communicating. People skype instead of using the phone – I just saw a girl talking to her computer in the café yesterday which is still kind of weird to me – it is cheaper, and people do not need to fly across half of the world to have a business meeting any more. The technology makes some of our lives easier, and lazier.

It is easier to be lazier.

Reflection to Buckminster Fuller

Call me Trimtab.
---- Bucky (Grave of Buckminster Fuller)

The Dome Over Manhattan Island designed by Buckminster Fuller reminds me of the Bubble within Egyptian Religion.

Dome Over Manhattan Island

Ancient Egyptian Goddess Shu

Ancient Egyptians believed that they lived in a bubble, which protected them from chaos. The goddess Shu separates the sky and the earth, and the sun dies every night only to come back to life each morning. I don’t understand why Fuller chose to isolate Manhattan from the world – at least it seems like that was his intension to me – and I also don’t think it fits Fuller’s “socio-economic system” that he was trying to build.

Fuller was an architect, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. But he seemed more like a careerist to me. He blamed everything on the death of his first daughter, and I think he lost his mind after that. Artists are crazy, we all know that.

But can we even call Fuller an artist? We can say his creations began as oversized sculptures, but now these sculptures are widely accepted as architecture. The structure of Montreal Biosphere can now be found everywhere.

I love architecture, I wanted to be an architect when I was little, but Buckminster Fuller’s designs are too futuristic for me to handle. Sorry, Bucky.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekly Goals

2009-2010 Winter Term

Week of Jan 11 – 17 FINISHED!!!
Photos for Exhibition at Mudd Gallery (collaboration project)

It was an interactive piece. We made molds of life-size baby dolls with as many different kinds of media as possible: plaster, plastic, wax, clay, and wet clay and burn it after… When we had enough casts, we host an event at the amphi theatre and asked students to come join us drop the casts from above.

It is a collaboration project about child abuse and we learnt how to work with others and think about other people from it.

Mudd Gallery Opening:  7 p.m. Feburary 25!!!
(The image was too big to upload, Please come to the exhibition and check out!)

Week of Jan 18 – 24 IN PROCESS~

Set up Mudd Gallery; Finish Book I and send to

Hyped as the “Paris of the East”, Shanghai was a bustling cosmopolitan city with a foreign population approaching 70,000 by 1930. It held one of the busiest ports in the world and became the center for business in Asia. This influx of multi-nationals brought along new ideas and a new way of life and living, unlike anything China had experienced in the past (A Glimpse at 1930s Shanghai). 1930s’ Shanghai is a very typical time and place in the Chinese history, it was a city full of neon lights, money, crimes, mafia, and parties, it was a city full of hope and opportunities, and it was also a city full of hopelessness and threat of death at any time.

However, if I could travel through time and go back to a certain period of time and location, 1930’s Shanghai is my No. 1 choice. Inspired by Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills and Tseng Kwong Chi’s East meets West series, I realized that I could go back to that certain time through photographing, just like a dressed-up party. Not only did I go back, I also began to examine closely of what people were thinking then.And that is how I started this project.

Week of Jan 25 – 31 
Start to shoot for Book II

The time during the Culture Revolution was a completely different subject matter than 1930's Shanghai. It was a time when nobody thought about what they wear -- men and women wore the same clothes! It was a time when there was no gender differences, people were so pure and innocent. It was probably the most significant period in the modern Chinese history.

Week of Feb 1 – 7 
Shooting for Book II~

Week of Feb 8 – 14 
Shooting for Book II and have a few satisfied photos

Week of Feb 15 – 21 
Finish shooing for Book II

Week of Feb 22 – 28 
Finish Book II; Scan the negatives and send to

Week of Mar 1 – 7 
Frame for Exhibition in May; Research

Week of Mar 8 – 14 
Get the Final Copies of Book I and II; Start to write the paper

Week of Mar 15 – 21 
Final Week (presenting Book I and II)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reflection to Les Paul: Chasing Sound!

I didn’t know who Les Paul was when I was editing footage covering his death. Wearing a blue sweater, he was playing the guitar on the stage during his 90s. But as soon as I saw his image again on the screen last week I knew it was that guy who cannot leave the spotlight even though he was 90 years old. After the successful documentary Les Paul: Chasing Sound!, although I am no musician, I understood that to those who worship guitars, he was a legend and his music was his legacy.

Les Paul was a musician, inventor and engineer. He knew how to market himself, even though it cost him his marriage. I cannot help but say that his success was not all about his genius but also luck, Les Paul might not have gained fame and success without luck. Paul was born at a time when the explosion of technology occurred – it is to say that we presently are fully developed, but we are no longer surprised by the development. Of course everything turning digital is a big step, which also results “questionable” art and questions of what makes an artist. Post-modernism would have happened anyway. Without Marcel Duchamp’s fountain, the movement would have continued.

I keep wondering what role Mary Ford was playing in Les Paul’s life. Was she his wife first while being his collaborator or was she his collaborator, but also being his wife? I checked out four CDs of Les Paul after the screening and there was an episode of Les Paul Show in which he made her promise many times that she would not touch HIS stuff. It made me sad that the only thing he needed from her was her voice, not her companionship.

Reflection to Fat Possum

I’ve been to several underground bands’ concerts and 80% of them were better than what we usually hear. The Hill Country Bluesmen in Mississippi were certainly one of those. Most of them had never left the small town which kept the originality of their music. They have their own unique style of music and they never think about changing. There was no outside influence by other musicians, again, because they never left the town. They enjoy their time and are content with a simple life. Many in the town were getting old and sick, they live in shacks, they smoke, they use guns to fight, and they are proud to be like that.

Money seems like it would be an issue but they never think so. Life is good enough with just a guitar. They are proud to not have toured and they’d rather believe their music is an entertainment to themselves than other people.