Final Creative Piece
What You See. Personal Photography by Lilian Lee, 6 June 2017.
For my Final Creative Work, I decided to create a series of pictures called “What You See”, showing the harsh racially discriminative words people have said to Chinese New Zealanders based on the colour of their skin. I wanted to show that racism is not okay, and show it in a way that we get personal stories from each individual in which they have encountered racial discrimination. I wanted to create something that was Simple, yet Effective and decided to do that using only three elements; Photography, written words and the face. I decided to literally paint the words on their skin to emphasise how judgements and stereotypes are assumed so quickly. I also decided to use the face as the canvas as it’s really upfront and personal and grabs the viewers attention. These words that are said, create a stereotypical mask, an identity that is not us and is assumed. I decided to edit the photos so they were all similar in size of the profiling as well as into black and white. It looked better in B&W as they all look similar like a movement which is the look that I’m going for, but also it’s like a cover to say that we are all the same. The colour of our skin shouldn’t matter and shouldn’t determine the way each of us are treated. We should all be treated the same.
My first attempt was with the girl, “I don’t want to sit next to your kind.” I didn’t really pre-plan the size and the way I was going to write on her face, hence it looks a bit all over the place and some words are unreadable. So as a learning curve for this I needed to change the size of the written word to be smaller, and plan to keep it in the middle. Further attempts for this movement has also made me learnt that the angle for the photograph matters. First few attempts, they look very average, some not leaving enough space to move and edit it much. Inn my last attempt which was with the girl “You are white, so you have no culture.” I took the photograph in a higher angle. This angle gave the photograph another meaning. The individual is looking up, like they are being looked down upon by a dominant race, making them look like the minority in which they are and that is really powerful. So in future further attempts for this movement, taking the photography at a higher angle would be great.
I personally thought that specifically just taking portraits of Chinese living in New Zealand with their stories was racist, which is going against what I am saying. Therefore, for the future of this movement, I would like it to be a space for all races and ethnicities to share their stories and experiences because we have a diverse range of cultures here in New Zealand. Hence, I have other ethnicities within the series of pictures.
The intended space for the series of photographs would be on an online platform like a website, or blog. I feel like since most people are online and are on social media, they are more likely to see it, as things get shared around a lot and it’s easy to do so. Within that blog/movement/website, I would also like a little blurb/story to go with the photograph, so the individual can give context to their personal story. Having it online means that it can go globally as well, and spread awareness as racism doesn’t just happen in New Zealand, it happens all around the world.
I ended up creating a platform for this movement using Tumblr. I attempted to use WordPress, however I felt that they didn’t have the types of themes that I wanted to show it as a collection of photos. It was more like blog rather than a collection. Here is the link below for my attempt website using WordPress: https://whatyouseemovement.wordpress.com/
So I decided to use Tumblr and have found a theme that I like and works well with the movement.
Taking these ideas from Mirzeoff about Visual Activism and Visual Thinking as a mode of contemporary citizenship makes me want to take a stand for what I believe in, wanting to make a change. Wanting to show that racially discriminating Chinese in New Zealand is not okay. Not only just discriminating Chinese, but all races and all ethnicities in New Zealand. It is important to realise it is not just a specific race, but all races. We are all one. The only difference is the colour of our skin and our culture, but other than that we are all human and we all have feelings.
The successes and pleasures for undertaking this project is that I gain knowledge about a problem in our society today. This doesn’t just happen in New Zealand, it happens everywhere in the world. The injustices of being racial discriminated for the colour of your skin, and being stereotyped and labelled as something you are not is just so infuriating. I am really happy with the work that I have created and it was a really fun project. It really got me to learn about a topic that I was interested, and it was also a fun way to gain knowledge about our world. I would like to undertake a project like this again but for another issue and create something out of it.