Sky Ladder Documentary Reflection

The documentary “Sky Ladder” tells us the story behind the scenes of a famous Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang. Cai Guo Qiang experiments with explosives to form artwork that can be displayed in the sky. Cai Guo Qiang’s grandmother is at a very old age and is unable to travel, but Cai Guo Qiang creates the project “Sky Ladder”. After several trials, he eventually achieves his goal of creating a kilometer long ladder made up of consecutive fireworks.


After I watched this documentary, I realized that art can be expressed not only on a piece of paper and a canvas but can also be expressed using many different ways such as explosives. I also learnt the hard work the artists put behind their work


The issue brought up in the documentary was the environmental harm that the explosives caused, I strongly agree with this issue, but Cai Guo Qiang is currently working with colored powder so it would create the same effect but doesn’t affect the environment negatively.


An important takeaway from this documentary is that in the future, I can learn to experiment with other unique materials instead of using just the traditional materials we normally use.


Converging Cultures (The Furthest Distance) Reflection

During this project, we were asked to create a Photoshop composition using surreal devices. In previous projects, we were more focused on traditional media This project was a challenge for me personally due to the lack of experience with Photoshop.


This project is named “The Furthest Distance” due to the story behind the artwork. The Moon and the Earth represent my two different cultures I am part of, and also implies how the two cultures are very different from each other, just like the diverse environments of the Moon and the Earth. The hand is holding the Chinese culture since I have lived in China for most of my life and my parents are Chinese too. The double exposure effect I have created on the moon shows how the American Culture is further away.


I used scale, transparency, and dislocation in my composition. I played with scale by putting the architecture on my hand when it should be a lot bigger than my hand. I used transparency by lowering the opacity of the pictures of the western buildings. Dislocation is shown in my composition by placing the building on my hand instead of on the ground where it should have been placed.


My artwork was inspired by Jerry Uelsmann and how he utilized a lot of hands in his compositions. I liked how he had dislocated unusual objects onto the hands and created something really different and interesting.  Jerry Uelsmann’s compositions are black and white, but I decided to use color in my composition to experiment what I can do with color.


During the process of creating this product, I encountered many obstacles such as failing to select minor details of one of my primary sources – my hand. I overcame that challenge by using the resources given to help me select those minor details, thus, making my project look more realistic. I also had trouble trying to express what I am trying to convey. I tried different methods such as placing westernized architecture on the background of the composition, but soon decided that it did not fit into the theme of the composition, so I later created a transparent effect on the moon so it would convey the idea that I was not exposed to the American culture as much as the Chinese culture.


Over the course of this unit, I challenged myself to experiment new techniques by watching Youtube tutorials to learn how to create the effect of water being held in my hand. This technique was challenging for me because not only was this new to me, it was also challenging due to the process when I had to erase the additional parts of the water which was left outside of the boundaries of the hand. During this process, I experimented with different hardnesses of the eraser so that the hand holding the water would look more realistic.


In this project, envision was a key point to success. Envisioning is one of the most important things to do for a project like this where you work with unfamiliar media and tools. My sketches I drew beforehand really helped with my project since it gave me a brief idea of what my project should look like before I start, thus, gaining a general direction of where I’m heading. Even though my composition may not turn out like how it was planned, however, my envisioning in this project helped me mature as an artist because I learnt that it is always important to envision and create a sketch before I actually started the composition so I give myself a general sense of direction.




Throughout this unit, I had stretched and explored out of my normal comfort zone with my limited amount of skills in the area of digital art. As mentioned before, I had used Youtube as a resource to develop more advanced skills in digital art. This had really helped me with my progress due to the risks I was willing to take in order to experiment with something completely new and out of reach.

Most important of all, to me personally, is the understanding of the art world. The short clips that we had watched in class really gave me an idea of what digital art is like and the artists also gave me inspiration. Jerry Uelsmann is one of the main artists that had influenced my composition. I was attracted to the hands in many of his works, thus, included that element in my artwork.