This was a computer-based project, where we worked with Photoshop using both primary and secondary photos to connect two cultures in an abstract way.
For this project, I chose to connect Beijing with Hong Kong, because I’ve lived in Beijing for most of my life, but I was born in Hong Kong, so it will always be a part my identity. This is exemplified by the view outside the window. I’m sitting on a window seat with the Great Wall in the background, which shows that I’m currently in Beijing. My hand is levitating the object that’s hovering above my hand. The object is a piece of land Hong Kong architecture on top. The buildings are not only some of the iconic architecture, but it is also located on the Hong Kong side, mainly focusing on the Wan Chai and Admiralty area which is my most visited area, whether for shopping, dining out, or swim training. By placing the land close to my hand shows that Hong Kong isn’t far from Beijing, and me looking up to it shows that I’m reminiscing about the memories and longing for the next trip to Hong Kong. To add in some cultural aspects excluding the comparison between the old and new architecture of the Beijing’s Great Wall and Hong Kong’s modern buildings, I also wore red to represent the similarities in color of the two places. Then, to add another cultural aspect, I placed traditional Chinese style wood carvings onto the windows on the right to balance out the visual weight of the piece. For this project, the surreal devices I used are Levitation for the piece of land, Scale for the buildings on the land and me in comparison to the window, and finally, Transparency for the window. This work was inspired by Erik Johansson. His work consists of fantastical and realistic aspects that connect together very naturally, which I tried to replicate in mine. My layout was also inspired by an Instagram post on the Photoshop page created by @joelrobison.
Inspired by @joelrobinson
Comparing to my final plan, my actual studio piece looked different than how I had envisioned. First of all, I planned on having the frame zoomed out so you could see the edges of the window seat and the walls on the two sides. I also planned on including fairly lights, occasionally tangled in with miniature red lanterns around the walls that framed the window to illuminate it and bring the focus to the window and make the surrounding walls blur out. However, in the end, I decided not to include this because I had to piece together the window and the marble sill from separate photos. The process of placing together separate cropped out sections from different photos was the biggest challenge, especially making sure it looked realistic. Another challenge was taking the photo of me and choosing the view in the background. I took the photo in Hong Kong and it was constantly cloudy, so the light was white toned, so I chose one where the Great Wall was enveloped in fog.
For this project, I challenged myself with a new technique and ideas. I learned how to change the shapes of objects from separate photos to make it look like one—the marble sill and the bottom of the window frames. I also practiced making drop shadows and testing which tool was the best to adjust the shape and direction the shadow should angle towards. The new idea I incorporated is making this piece more fantastical than real. This is shown by having me levitate the piece of shrunken land.
Artist Habits of Mind: Develop Craft, Express, Engage and Persist
Before creating the final studio piece, we did multiple media testing as a class. We first learned about the surreal devices and how other artists, such as Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Erik Johansson, and Kristy Mitchell. We also practiced transformation in our sketchbooks. Afterward, we learned how to use the tools in Photoshop with the materials that were given. The first being Fruiface which consisted of basic crop and selection skills, then making a kaleidoscope, geometric reflections inspired by @witchoria, double exposure, and creating an inception effect. By learning all these skills helped develop our skills and give an opportunity to include these in our final piece.
This project’s topic included culture. Culture itself withholds a lot of meaning, so there was a lot of ways we could express culture in our piece. I converged Hong Kong and Beijing and chose to express how I identify myself as Cantonese because I was born there and is a citizen, even though I’ve lived in Beijing for the majority of my life. To brainstorm ideas, I made three designs and decided to choose the first one. I then redrew my final idea and added specifics of what I wanted to include and the purpose.
Engaging and Persisting was a challenge. Firstly, having this project be computer-based, you could easily get carried away. Secondly, the process of finding the right images that you need is a hassle which takes up a lot of time. However, the one thing that needed me to persist was piecing together separate images. Out of the 23 layers, the majority was used to connect the images together and adjusting the lighting to make it match.