Degree Show

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Details of the embroidery

 

 

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Entire piece of embroidery on masks
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Design the the wallpaper
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Pattern of the wallpaper. The tiger paw is the logo of the dominant Chinese search engine, which is equivalent to Google; the logo on the camera screen is a popular Chinese social media, which is equivalent to Facebook.

 

 

Clothes made from the large piece of embroidery

IMG_4478IMG_4494 2Artist statement

    My final project comprises a series of hand-made items of clothing hanging from a wall, with wallpaper behind them. The clothes are made with a large machine and feature embroidered Chinese dragons on surgical masks and finely detailed embroidery. Some black and white prints are added to the material before it is made into outfits. The wallpaper depicts the entire dragon, since the embroidery itself is cut into smaller pieces and it is therefore hard to recognise the original picture.

I chose surgical masks as the principal material because they have become ubiquitous in China, especially in recent years, as people use them to combat dust pollution. The embroidery of the large dragon, conversely, represents a more traditional image that was often used to signify power and dignity on imperial buildings and robes. The black and white patterns are printed on the inside of the clothes, and the patterns also contain several logos from Chinese social media, security cameras, eyes and ears, which together represent modern surveillance.

My work reflects the contemporary conflicts between a rapidly developing society and the rigid disciplines that we still preserve. Masks can be interpreted as the environmental costs of industrialisation, but they can also be seen as “filters”, as they are used to filter germs and bacteria in our daily lives. In the same way, the internet is “cleansed”, and all the documents that contain sexual or violent content, or content that potentially threatens our political stability, are erased from the browser.

My work reflects the current situation in China, where the government strictly controls public access to the media. Internet censorship, however, is a more or less universal phenomenon. Facebook, Google, Twitter and similar companies decide what can stay up and what has to be taken down. In truly democratic societies, however, a plurality of information should not be seen as a threat.

A documentary (“The Cleaners”) highlighted the industry of digital cleaning, whereby the cleaners’ job is to remove inappropriate content and create a supposedly better web environment for the public. Nonetheless, their contact with extremely disturbing images and videos potentially leads to psychological problems. Personally, I have derived particular inspiration from the contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, whose work addresses questions of truth and power, and constantly seeks to challenge and inform the public. For example, in his work “Snake Bag”, he undertook an investigation of the Chinese government’s attempted cover-up of a prominent scandal.

This work, then, seeks to address the question of so-called appropriate and inappropriate content. More specifically, how and by whom should such questions be judged? By certain standards or norms – but if so, whose? Which concepts, values or ethics should be deployed to address the problem? Furthermore, regarding social media, how can we find a suitable balance between a forum characterised by an offensive, anarchic free-for-all, or one hopelessly compromised by excessive censorship?