The history of modern fashion industry with different designer labels began in the 19th century with Charles Fredrick Wroth who was the first designer to sew his label into the garments he created.
In the past, clothes were made from plants, animal skins, and bone. They started off merely to provide covering and protection. Fashion as we know it now, was used to have a control over policing women’s bodies, a mere tool of patriarchal oppressions.
This was practiced by different cultures with a variation for each. Women also had dress codes and its trends were the earliest forms of control over their dressing. Such an example is in relation to the veil they used to distinguish their availability; married from unmarried ones
Since the days of ancient Rome, women and men’s cloth drapery signified different class hierarchies. This distinction was to communicate to men who they could violate.
Stola – Worn by upper class women
Stola – a long tunic (middle)
Toga – Worn by working class women
In Mesopotamia, appointed male judicial officers who were elected, were the ones who had to inspect the women’s clothes to ensure they looked chaste in public. At the time, women were veiled. It was during this time where it was the woman’s duty to avoid male attention by shielding her face and body. This has been generationally passed on up till today, though less obvious. A few hundred years later, the idea of hijab, which translates to “veil” or “seclusion”, was introduced in the Middle East.
In China, bounded feet were an example of a practice that limited women and caused disfiguration and infection, just for the sake or marketability for marriage into well-off families. The condition of her feet meant that her mobility was limited and the option of marrying into a rich family would allow a life of leisure and no work of hard labour.
In the West, corsets were the most well-known fetishes that started becoming popular from the 16th century. It helped create the ideal figure of a woman which also subconsciously limited women in their actions. During this era, women who wore trousers were considered aberrations; an outcast.
However, as much as it was a catalyst of oppression, it has been equally utilised as a revolutionary way for women to be empowered through liberation.
Up until the 19th century, there was no distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear. All garments made were made-to-measure pieces by seamstresses and dressmakers, dealing directly with the client.
These household dealings came to a halt when storefronts started selling ready-to-wear clothing.
Coco Chanel played a crucial role in the hallmarks of women’s liberation. She almost single-handedly transformed the landscape of womenswear in the 20th century with the infamous Chanel tweed skirt-suit; a more masculine silhouette allowing for greater movements. Coco Chanel donned her own pieces and strut about in her trousers in public, which at the time and up until recently in 2013, prohibited women from wearing trousers. This was in Paris.
The precedent set by the flappers of the 1920s, the ever-so-popular Hollywood stars like Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich allowed for the embracement of apparels that were once restricted by modes of propriety. Menswear then became popularised by celebrities and normalised into the woman’s wardrobe.
Diminishing sartorial modesty and propriety became a mission for many women over the years in the 20th century, and the years after. The short labour supply in the Second World War escalated the rights women had. Denim, jumpsuits, boots, and slacks rose in popularity.
The end of the war saw a regression into the traditional gender roles as husbands returned to the workforce and women went back home. This was a period of exaggerated femininity that spurred Christian Dior’s new look of extravagance and glamour; Cinched-in bar jacket, full A-line skirt, etc
YSL introduced their iconic pantsuit for women that incorporated straight-legged trousers, a tailored jacket, an organza shirt, a bow tie and a wide satin belt which readjusted the dress codes for women again, which was not welcomed by many as it broke traditional order.
The 70s and 80s blurred the line between the distinction of menswear and womenswear as powerful suits became stylish and not just a garment to express voice.
The 80s and 90s saw a great exaggeration of femininity and sexuality.
Shortly after, grunge and punk took over in the 90s that normalised flannels, ripped jeans and graphic tees that brings us to many of the casual wear you see around today. Girly signifiers were spotted by many as well where they donned lace, the colour pink and hearts.
Street style in 2000s was an indicator that showed a more relaxed fashion as compared to before. There is now a plethora of styles for women to choose from. The different feminist movements throughout the years have also brought about a bravery and enlightenment for many women to celebrate their bodies and exude feminine energy through their daily wear in whichever style they deemed suitable.
Although sartorial attachments and propriety in clothing are very much still present where the dictation of a women’s dressing and their bodies are still objectified and frowned upon, we have to acknowledge how far this has come from before.
“A hairstyle made from water, a dress that alters its shape according to sound: these are all possible” – Rachel Stott
As technology takes over and given the fact that it has long been incorporated in couture pieces and even dailywear with the obsessions with techwear, it is inevitable that technology slither its way into the fashion world more and more in years to come.
“Increasingly, we will see digital collections and garments free from physical and creative restrictions become part of the fashion landscape” Stott.
Wearable technology have been popularised by many fashion designers such as Iris Van Harpen and Ying Gao.
The gaming industry will also be having influence as they already are, in the fashion world where the two may influence one another. Projecting fashion through AR vision may also be normalised in the future that will eventually converge digital and physical realms.
However, it is more than likely that fashion will continue to retain its identity as a form of escapism and expression, particularly as planetary conditions get more difficult. (modelled from The Great Depression that saw a great deal of glitz and glamour). Fashion will remain a a reflection of the society, its struggles and its endeavours.
NAME OF GARMENT TBC
Culture chosen: Arab
Femininity– wearable to emulate & represent female energy (Pure, romantic, nurturing, soft, demure)
Anxiety – wearable to simulate the feeling of living with anxiety/panic attacks/ play of how it seems to the people around you vs you
Depression – wearable to depict and portray how it is living with depression/ jail of the mind & emotions
Incorporating culture: eg. How the idea of traditional arabic wear creates anxiety in the modern world/ radiating feminine energy through the idea of hijab or through the emulation of arabesque elements that are not usually celebrated
Anxiety & Femininity
What is the role, function or purpose of fashion or clothing in the past, now and in the future? Think about current or past cultures, traditions or craft in fashion, clothing or wearables and how can they be applied 30 years from now. Your design should reflect or represent elements of traditional clothings and used as a form of storytelling for potential applications in the near future, i.e. in 2050.
Context of use, purpose & future relation:
The Evil Eye/ Conservative Nature/ Negative Perceptions of Mental Illness
Context: The Arab culture, much like many Asian cultures, don’t advocate for mental health. They are still quite backdated in mindsets. A lot of psychological issues are linked to The Evil Eye. Evil Eye is a curse placed by people around you (close or not), when they are envious of you, your lifestyle or the things you’re achieving. Although this is mentioned in the holy scripture, which I do believe, I feel like we should still advocate and provide help for those in dealing with it so that they know they can reach out when they need to. Especially in the current times where mental illnesses are affecting the younger ones as well.
Purpose: I want to help create awareness within the Arab community regarding the risks of mental health and to acknowledge this as an illness, which should be treated and hold the same decree as a physical illness.
Stereotypes & Negative Connotation of Arab wear
Context: Due to the perpetuation of Media, the world in general have made negative formulations of ideas when it comes to the Arabic culture. They tend to associate the garments with those adorned by terrorists. They also view the women as being oppressed due to their “excessive” coverage.
However, Arab women, Muslim or not, adorn traditional garments to celebrate modesty. Unfortunately, the globalised stereotypes are dominating over the real meaning of arabic clothing. It creates a tension and anxiety for the wearer and observer. For the observer, they fear the intentions of the women in traditional clothing of their associations to the despicable terrorist. For the wearer, in this current times where women are attacked for donning their traditional and religious outfits. It definitely creates anxiety when they go out in public.
Purpose: I want to bring awareness to this and celebrate the Arabic culture & heritage. I want to marry Western elements to Arabic elements to unite the two since this tension is more apparent between the Western world and the Arab world. I also want to highlight the feminine energy in the piece since Arab women are understood by outsiders to be oppressed when they are celebrating their own freedom in femininity with modesty. I want to depict them as demure, soft and pure beings, a stark contrast from their portrayal in the media and the perceptions that some people have formed on them.
Guide to Arab Clothing:
All arab women wear hijab
Muslim women wear hijab on their own accord
Hijab is a headscarf
TRUE & FALSE
Hijab is also a general terms for modest attire including head covering
Summary: Clothing in the Middle East are a fashion statement just like the West, but it has a stronger social and moral dimension. It reveals things about region, personality, social class, moral values.
Generally, women who don’t don hijabs are considered more open minded and considered to have fewer morals than women who don them. Women with hijab are classified as more religious and have higher moral ground.
In recent years, Western fashion have crept into Middle Eastern fashion and result in loss of cultural identity in time to come. Though many countries have adopted western fashion, there are some who still hold on to their traditional attires like Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Textiles – embroidery with silver and silk thread on wool, gold thread
Natural themes – birds
Stitching – eyelet stitching*, blanket stitch, buttonhole stitch, whitework (white thread on white ground), smocking
*BOLDED ONES are to be used in the final
Inspiration in materials & TEchnique
Silk Organza – I wanted a more flowy silhouette to play with the idea of femininity which to me means soft, demure and more romantic textiles. In addition, the silk organza plays with the idea of projecting a false front for someone dealing with anxiety which brings the context in as well. Anxiety looks calm and normal from the outside but for the person dealing with it, internally, it is hectic. Hence, by using silk organza, it projects out that concept of putting up a false front. The hectic feedback that happens internally, will be projected through the technology part of the dress instead of the silhouette.
Applique/Lace – This is to illustrate and draw inspiration from the Arabic elements of beaded motifs and embroidery
Here’s my presentation slides for the first research on Wearable Technology! Found some pretty interesting things during research and it was intriguing how people can be so creative and come up with ways to make their ideas come to life.
My last deliverable is meant to be handed out after the game play. It’s part of the 3-step process of the campaign where the One United Nation comes down to schools/offices to conduct the activities. This brochure is meant to officiate the players as official ambassadors of the #racialequality movement.
The Brochure is perforated at the dotted lined areas which means that the brochure is sealed to which then users may tear off the perforated areas and reveal the brochure inside that also encases a pin. Users may also play with the perforated parts on the page to create images like the ones shown below.
Deliverables 1, 2 and 3 are meant to be a series that aims to take a light-hearted approach in dealing with racial privilege in Singapore.
I am acting in the role of an activist that plan to disseminate my message through the play of the Board Game. After which, the brochure along with a collar pin is meant for players to be officiated as an ambassador and a supporter of the movement.
The quality and colour is compromised and hence, I’ve placed more accurate versions in the PDF links below. Thank you!
This assignment was exceptionally tough for me to tackle as it requires me to target the masses but also think about my target audience. Another main reason why I find it challenging was due to the fact that it has something to do with a sensitive topic: RACE
I had to experiment with a lot of different ways to conceptualise my idea into visuals.
After Task 1A of information gathering through secondary research, I went on to do primary research through designing of questionnaire in the form of an online survey.
I made sure to make some questions that were slightly more subjective to be open-ended so that users taking the test could make their own choices as to how to answer the question. It also allowed me to gain more insights to their thoughts instead of static yes/no answers.
There were also some opinion questions that I made optional to give users the ability to opt out of answering if they were not comfortable with it since it was a sensitive topic.
Given the above, I designed my questionnaire to make it very objective instead of subjective. Therefore, my questions were straight to the point and precise. I had a total of 16 questions and I provided context for certain terms or words that I used that may or may not be familiar to the people taking the test
After receiving a few feedback from my peers and some users who took the tests, there were a couple of people who felt that the questionnaire was borderline targeted to “demean” the majority race. Although that was never my intention, moving forward, I will take that into consideration to offer warm up questions first before touching deeper into the subjects for the upcoming deliverables. Having said that, I do want my deliverables to be highly objective and slightly controversial to provoke thought and spark conversations.
I discovered that not many were aware regarding the SAP school rulings of bonus points for Higher Chinese students. Quite a large number of people shared their sentiments regarding that and discrimination & ethnic privilege in general. There were some who do admit that racism is prevalent but not acknowledged by many and termed as racism, rather, a stereotype.
The responses of being underrepresented or being a victim of covert racism divided the respondents by almost half which was a little surprising as I thought those numbers would have a significant difference. I am assuming it’s because I did not oversample the minority races who took the test.
Therefore, in general, I’ve learnt that people are generally open to discussions in regards to this topic, especially so for the younger generation which is going to be the targeted group for this project campaign as they are the future of Singapore and will be able to make major differences in the coming years.
Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue with Time. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role playing an elderly person?
Dialogue with Time was an exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore to embrace ageing. It was a very insightful exhibition in that everything was kept minimal but the visuals such as coloured zones that are associated with conditions that are related to the consequences of ageing were nice details that added to the exhibition visually. For example, one of the zones was coloured yellow and we were told that it was to represent the vision that becomes slightly yellowish that an older person gets as they age.
I enjoyed the fact that the guides were seniors which made it that much more impactful and we got to hear firsthand experiences and thoughts from them which we would otherwise not be able to hear based on daily encounters.
Checking Blood Pressure
Testing reactivity timing
Testing reactivity timing
Tremor Simulation in daily tasks
Simulation of how elderlies capture and process information for memory
I am a very visual person in that I get attracted to visuals and simulations very easily. Therefore, personally, I feel like one of the most effective form of communications were the simulations that they had such as the tremor simulation where the simple everyday act of slotting in a key into the key hole to open the door to your house is already a huge challenge for elderlies experiencing tremors. There were times such as during the focus groups where everyone shared what “Happy Ageing” meant to them and the senior shared hers as well. I thought that was pretty engaging but it was not as eye opening as the last section where we had to do a quiz. During this time, I learnt a lot of facts regarding ageing, life expectancy, potential problems that may arise due to higher ageing population in Singapore, etc. Apart from that, the sharing session by the seniors really opened my eyes to be ready not just financially but skill wise as well for the future so that we can remain useful.
Sharing session of what “Happy Ageing” means to us
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
I think there are a lot of benefits of role playing as a technique of design research.
By role-playing, with proper and well-thought about simulations, users would be able to participate and have a glance at how, in this case, the elderlies go about their days having to deal with these challenges such as retaining information, opening doors, even eating, going to the bathroom, etc. Simple daily tasks that any able-bodied person may not even think about as a struggle or potential struggle as they go on about their lives on any normal day. In a way, this would allow for deeper understanding and generation of empathy. It would also create a diverse thinking sets and push individuals to act upon their thoughts to potentially help and attempt to be more aware of the situation. Another benefit to a user-centered approach is that the ability that would allow users to feel ownership of their feelings and thoughts rather than being bombarded with information without substance, which could potentially push people away sometimes when trying to convey a message. In other words, it feels less forced.
Problem-Solving & Ideas for Improvement
In these role-playing technique, designers would be able to analyse the users more effectively in that they would be able to gather a more insightful and accurate data. They would be able to see how different users would interact and handle the same simulated situations that were given to these users. Hence, potential problems, risks or ineffective implementation could be detected and improved earlier on. Inputs from users are also highly useful for designers to keep in mind when designing for intended purpose.
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and define design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
Due to my topic chosen for my assignment, I am going to focus on ethnic discrimination in this context.
The two videos above were ones I’ve found a few years back and felt like the impact it had really opened my eyes further and made me realise that I was not the only facing this problem and I was not the only one who was aware of it. These are perhaps not role-playing but it is kind of a social experiment that is simulated to help participants to be more socially aware of the existing of privilege and how far it can affect one’s opportunities, way of thinking, etc. Therefore, in a way, role playing for this particular topic that I’ve chosen would be extremely tough but beneficial in some ways.
— Able to put things into perspective by minority & majority groups
— Majority groups would be able to be more empathetic when faced with this role-playing
— Minority groups will feel that they have a voice and feel empowered
— Might be generalised and this could be a potential problem in understanding the situation in addition to the possibility of underrepresentation
— Extremely sensitive and therefore differing opinions might spark negativity
All these pros and cons are extremely useful for designers when they do decide to come up with campaigns, collaterals and sorts as in this context, they would be able to see the disparity between the different users and are able to more sensitive when designing. Elimination of biasness might also be a challenge but could be learnt through role-playing as you would be able to get a better understanding as to the reasons people react a certain way. Designers will be able to approach this with a fresher mindset. In addition to that, race topics are very much controversial in Singapore and are kept at bay in terms of having conversations due to the potential to upset one person or the other. Therefore, through role-playing users and designers will be able to experience and understand each other better and this would create a more critical design that would deem more effective. On top of that, having role-plays allow for more intuitive decisions for designers when designing and have a clearer picture and retain their observation better.
Ethnic Discrimination/Colourism/Racial Stereotypes have been a part of my life since the day I was born “coloured” in this multi-ethnic country in Singapore. It has become a norm and something that could sometimes be passed of as casual racism and other times, led to more serious issues like the ease of finding a job due to preconceived notions of my racial stereotypes. This happens with my other minority counterparts as well. Though admittedly, in Singapore, it is not as apparent as other countries, it is still an issue that exists but hidden. I would love to shed light on this matter and attempt to take a step to make a difference.
Singapore is one of the leading technologically advanced cities yet faces an alarming sustainability problem, in this case in particular, I’m more interested in food wastage. Undeniably, Singaporeans love food. However, food wastage here increases our carbon footprint tremendously, especially for a small island that is already in scarce of land.
A huge part of a sense of belonging is a sense of cultural identity that you associate with. Not entirely your own ethnic culture, but also a sense of national culture. Due to the influx of foreigners and consumption of western media, Singaporeans are on the brink of losing our cultural identity which is of importance as it can actually provide a sense of pride that unifies the country. The warmth of a culture should not be underestimated as a nation as it does affect the way policies are shaped and the way we communicate and treasure living here.
Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault
These things are getting out of hand in Singapore and cases are growing by the numbers. It is a problem that has to be brought up and actually talked about because as a woman in this digital society, a safe space is needed for one to feel empowered. Singapore prides itself in being safe but unfortunately, things like these still do take place and reason being that there needs to be stricter punishments put in place to deal with it. For example, the recent case of the NUS student getting away with the molestation case (last link) due to his “potential to excel in life” is downright upsetting for the victim and also the public. More often than not, when the public do hear about these cases, they would be quick to judge and form questions like, “What was she wearing?”, “What was she doing at out at night?”, “Why was she drinking at night?”. These are unsound judgements and shows the lack of empathy and ignorant mindsets that the public do have and needs to be tackled. Support needs to be provided for victims. In addition to that, people need to be aware that this also happens to men. Regardless of the gender, there are many cases that still go unreported.
It’s weird how in the Western countries, the beauty department stores are filled with tanning products whereas in Asia, it’s filled with whitening products. Living in Asia all my life, I have had more than several comments growing up about being tanned, either from my family, relatives, friends, colleagues or strangers. Many of my other tanner skin friends do experience this as well, regardless of race. The obsession with being fair in Asia generates a multibillion dollar industry of dangerous whitening products that contain high levels of unsafe bleaching ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury. A lot of these preferences resonates from colonialism, backward culture and lack of representations in advertisements which distort beauty standards.
After much thought and research of reading articles online, I was more drawn to the issues relating to Ethnic Discrimination (Inclusivity/Inequality/ Ignorance) as well as Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault due to the reasons below. I am torn between two at the moment but will make a decision after consultation.
2. Why is it important, who does it affect and how?
I’ve been living in Singapore for all of my life and have been a minority for all of it. Hence, I’ve a few sentiments through experiences growing up and day to day occurrences that I do deal with and a lot of my other minority friends deal with that I feel can be brought to light. This was heightened as I delved deeper into reading online articles and forums during my research.
As much as things are slowly changing now, it’s not changing fast enough and ignorance still largely exists, intentional or unintentional. Especially with recent racial tensions, I feel like this topic would be of relevance to dive into to shed light to the underrepresented and under-appreciated minority groups.
If this topic is not addressed, I feel like I’m being of disservice to my fellow minority groups. My intentions is definitely not to create more division but to unite all ethnic groups and reduce colour discrimination and racial stereotypes. Though it might be something that people see on social media from time to time, I feel like in Singapore context, it is not being celebrated as largely enough as it is in other countries where racial discriminations are more transparent. In Singapore, it’s very much hidden, hence why ignorance do exist and still largely practiced or believed my many. The purpose I’m focusing on is not to change immediately or to have everyone agree to disagree. It is, however though, for people to acknowledge that this is a problem and not just something that happens occasionally that makes the media. Just hearing people out can make that much of a difference. Having a voice = Empowerment. Addressing this issue may or may not lead to any changes but any step is better than taking no steps at all.
Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault
This topic has always been on the radar for me. However, recent headlines that made the official papers in Singapore have become a real concern or rather, they were based on more solid facts. It is upsetting that it had to come to it making the headlines before it having a real impact.
Anyway, dealing with the situation as of now, upon reading many comments from netizens and eavesdropping on conversations amongst the older generation along with sentences for these criminals, it is rather discouraging. More often than not, the headlines or angles taken in these articles do not shed light to the horrific situation the victims went through, rather, the focus is more on the accuser(s)/criminal(s). Arguably, that is what the public wants to know and that is what the public shall get right? However, this very much so leads to comments and judgements being passed that accuses the victims instead. Though everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I feel like we could be more sensitive and have more empathy to victims. Furthermore, sentences passed on to these criminals should be more strenuous and not have a qualified state judge to consider the qualification as part of the decision to sentence the criminal. That is an injustice. A crime has been committed and it should he or she should be treated as any other criminal, regardless or race, religion or qualifications. Those things SHOULD NOT matter. Furthermore, outreach programmes or readily available schemes should be offered to victims. I want to give them a voice because a lot of cases do go unreported and this could lead to potential problems such as mental health.
Target audience would be the younger population in Singapore because the the mindset of older generation is pretty much impaled and deep-rooted. However, the younger generation is the future and can make a bigger difference. Regardless of race, religion, social group, location, this caters to the masses, but will have an inclination to be received better by the minority groups. I think this is very much a needed movement for me as a millennial to take a stand in what I believe in and to provide a platform for communities that are discriminated against, intentionally or unintentionally. I do anticipate a backlash as I intend to experiment with controversial ways of communication but I do hope to do it in a tasteful manner.
Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault
Target audience would mainly be the victims to provide them with a voice but also aiming at the large population to respond to the issue to spark deeper conversations rather than having mindless comments passed on the internet by ‘keyboard warriors‘. I hope to offer empowerment to the voiceless victims who have had to suffer the consequences with or without support and this is largely needed to at least attempt to give these victims a helping hand if they were made to believe that their feelings were invalid.
4. How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
With racial campaigns, it can go south really quickly. For example, a Serie A anti-racism campaign where the artwork was produced by artist Simone Fugazzotto to speak against the racism in Italian football. This happened in 2019 which is just in December last year. Serie A chief executive Luigi de Siervo was leading the campaign with the artist mentioned above. The campaign was released during a news conference via a series of images on screen for the Serie A anti-racism campaign. This created a major backlash. The reason why I featured this was to remind me to more mindful when making decisions or artworks so as to not offend the majority.
Shortly after President Trump signed off to close borders to refugees, Airbnb released an ad during Superbowl called, “We accept” in 2017 where it showed montages of difference nationalities with words, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
I strongly appreciate the representations of multiple ethnic backgrounds and the way Airbnb stepped forward to provide support for the refugees in a way that did not divide but rather, to unite. I personally believe that campaigns that are inclusive garner better engagements and are generally well accepted compared to those who are targeted at a specific group of people as it may potentially lead to division.
Appropriateness: The images were clean and subjects were strong which brought out their different features which then highlighted their differences which further emphasised their campaigns that at the end of the day, we are of the human race and should be seen and treated as such. Fonts were clean and matched Airbnb’s minimalistic aesthetics and general branding font.
Clarity: Format, coherence and legibility of the video was clear with minimal text which made it easy to understand. Although the logo at the end is always a branding PR tactic, I strongly feel that this also helped the public to recognise organisations that do support and embrace everyone.
Engagement: 30 second video was perfect, it was quick, easy to follow. However, in terms of innovative quality, I feel like it was a more general and common way of showing how these representations are normally done. So in that sense, I feel like it is not very innovative but I do have to acknowledge that human portraits usually do make bigger impacts, at least according to what I understand and how some of my fellow peers consume media.
The particular movement I wanted to highlight from Amplifier is the, ‘We the People’ nonpartisan campaign, launched in 2017. It aims to spark conversations regarding American identity and value via art and sharing of stories.
I really appreciate how they produce images that challenges the norm and what most may consider, controversial, to shed light to the topic and the rising hatred, bigotry and intolerance in America. Images speak volume and in this digital day and age, many people do consume art easily and controversial art garners the most attention, both by people who agree and people who don’t.
Appropriateness: Therefore, given the above, this campaign definitely reached their aim of igniting debates and starting conversations regarding this topic, both positive and negative. Granted, that in Singapore, such campaigns might never be approve as the freedom of speech is not appreciated here as it may create racial tensions, however, the idea could still be applied in my project. The artworks were very stylistic and style was accredited to Frank Shepard Fairey.
Clarity: The images used strong, clear and made use of semiotics such as visual metaphors, analogies etc.
Coherence: The images produced so far has been consistent in terms of stylistic approach which is essential to create coherence and create impact and longevity.
Issues in relation to ethnic discrimination that I may want to highlight:
— Work Opportunities & Discrimination
— Ignorance to minority cultures, celebration, stereotypes, archetypes (especially in advertising)
— Having to conform unknowingly sometimes due to things like “Chinese speaking candidates preferred” or having to fit in a majority race dominated environment
— Inclusivity and not Exclusivity
This is a concept that means that minority races want to feel included and it should not feel like a favour through exclusivity.
— Cultural insensitivity
Statistics Research in Singapore:
These were findings from Channel NewsAsia – Institute of Policy Studies on Race Relations by Matthew Matthews, a Senior Research Fellow at IPS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy National University of Singapore.
Sample obtained through stratified random sampling of dwelling types (Malay & Indians were oversampled to ensure sufficient minority representation)
“Drop-off pick up” method (predetermined prospective household having eligible respondents to complete questionnaire on their own, which was available in all 4 official languages)
To eliminate biasness, envelopes were sealed before passing it over to surveyor
Only Singaporean residents (citizens of PRs) above 21 years old
Is success meritocratic in Singapore?
Nearly 90% agreed that hard work equates to equal opportunity to be rich despite race
53% believed that being majority race was advantageous (perception more acute among minorities)
1/3 believed interests of majority race should be looked after
30% felt races were getting too demanding about their cultural rights
Race & Policy
70% found various policies to safeguard racial & religious harmony to be helpful in building trust between races & protecting minority right
85% acknowledged Racial Harmony Day fostered inter-racial trust
2/3 did not favour race-based public information when it came to crime, educational performance or social problems
90% endorsed respect, equality & value for people of other ethnic groups
“Most respondents report interacting with those of other races in a variety of settings such as attending an ethnic celebration, taking an interest in understanding the culture of those around them and making friends from other races. However it is impossible to judge the depth of these interactions.”
Nearly half agreed with statements that have associations to people of different races with negative characteristics (44% agreed to, ““People from some races are more violent than others” & 46% agreed to “People from some races are not friendly”)
53% viewed racism as problem of the past
74% viewed themselves as hardly/not racist
40% have close friends that were at least mildly racist
70% found outright discrimination to not be acceptable and saw it as racist
48% felt that not having friends of other races was racist
Across races, racial preferences exist in finding partners, business partners or to share problems with, political leaders
Respondents were more open to a Singaporean Chinese President compared to smaller number who accepted Singaporean Malay or Singaporean Indian President
AMONG MALAYS: 94% Malays would accept a Singaporean Malay President, 84% would accept a Singaporean Chinese President
AMONG CHINESE: 96% would accept a Singaporean Chinese President, 59% would accept a Singaporean Malay President
Differential Treatment & Experiences
2/3 of Malay & Indian respondents who experienced ill treatment claimed race was the basis of it.
AMONG MALAYS: 44% felt that they were negatively treated based on religion & income/education
AMONG INDIANS: 62% felt negative treatment due to colour of skin and race
“While many minority respondents attributed the negative experiences they had encountered to race, comparatively fewer felt that they had experienced racial discrimination. Possibly, the notion of “racial discrimination” connotes a much more negative experience which surpasses the types of differential treatment they perceived. “
2/3 noted that discussions of race were unsettling in that it could be offensive and lead to tension
Half (incl minorities) agreed that minorities are being over-sensitive about racial issues
In light of this, I went to read up on forums on different experiences of minorities from different ethnic background and tried to also find comparable experiences of the majority race in Singapore.
Obviously we are all protected by overt racism in Singapore. However, covert racism is what’s causing the harm and the “less-than” feeling as minorities in Singapore. Yes, I do agree that the government do take racism very seriously and that those who do shall be punished for it. However, what people in general lack to acknowledge is the impact that it brings to the victims of these covert racism. Identifying explicit racism is generally more agreeable by most but Modern Racism may not be detectable or outwardly recognised, especially by the majority race. This may come intentionally or unintentionally. According to the survey conducted above by Matthew Matthews, racial biasness such as the example of a much higher percentage of Malays being accepting of a Singaporeans Chinese President in comparison to the Chinese respondents having a lower percentage in acceptance of a Singaporean Malay President are proofs that covert racism do exist whether people realise it or not.
I am more concerned in regards to the impact it may have on job opportunities, the racial tension, ignorance, insensitivity and the prejudice that comes attached to a person’s ethnicity.
Because continuity of this would amplify racial disparity and create separation between races rather than unite them for a more harmonious living condition. Silence is still ignorance.
— SAP Schools & Conformity
Before research, I was not aware that an advantage was given to students taking Higher Chinese to enter into SAP schools that are deemed to be the more elite schools in Singapore. I was however, aware of SAP schools being predominantly Chinese and are based on Chinese values and traditions.
Hence, upon research, I discovered that:
These were screenshots from an article by Straits Times. It is understandable and respectable that the purpose of these schools are to preserve the traditions, values and language of the Chinese community since less and less youths in Singapore are in touch with their roots. However, the underlying problems of such schools are deeper than just the fact that it is only a small percentage of the schools available in Singapore.
Firstly, these SAP schools have high admission requirements and are very selective in nature. They are also given the advantage with government policies that celebrate their elite status. For example, when the government introduced educational streaming, only nine schools that were placed in the “Special” stream, the top educational caste, were SAP schools. Another example was that SAP schools were pilot schools for Integrated Programme (IP), such that of the 18 IP schools in Singapore, seven of those are SAP though they only make up 7% of secondary schools.
Other examples of advantages gained by SAP school students were the targeted government resources available where an example would be the Bicultural Studies Programme introduced. It included trips to China to profit from rise of China. These programmes were made available to SAP schools only.
Disparity in ethnic representation in Public Service Commission (PSC) is evident in that 90% of them are Chinese. All President’s Scholars and Uniformed Scholars were Chinese. SAP school students managed to get the scholarship almost every year without fail since 1978.
Perhaps what is more concerning is the fact that SAP schools get access to activities like, “Political Leaders Attachment Programme” for students to build rapport with politicians. Special resources and “Scholarship Day” are available for SAP school students to also prepare to be leaders of the nation.
These advantages are great for these students. Hence, these opportunities should be extended to minority groups as well. However, since they barely are, it is clear that students from SAP schools do get a higher advantage and lead when it comes to being part of the elite system and educational and networking opportunities. In turn, this leads to underrepresentation in the system in terms of ethnicity also due to the lack of access to equal opportunities.
In addition to this, SAP school students are more than likely to be less aware and exposed to students from other cultural backgrounds which can lead to insensitivity and this is highly concerning, especially when some of these students are more than likely to be future generation leaders of Singapore that are not able to grasp the point of view of minority races.
— Inclusivity issues in representation, celebration of festivals by different ethnic groups are not as grand as CNY
— Casual Racism
The act of passing slightly racist remarks, more often than not, not directed to hurt the other party of the receiving end. Fitting people into archetypes is also a form of casual racism and having prejudicial mindset towards a race or being unintentionally or intentionally exclusive based on race, covertly.
Growing up a person of colour in Singapore context, I feel like I was opened to these types of casual racism. There were times where I had to prove my worth to educators just because I fit into a certain box other than the majority. I felt bounded and felt that I had to work twice as hard sometimes. Apart from that, I have been tailgated by shop employees and it felt physically uncomfortable. I was also made aware of the unequal opportunities that exist due to the colour of my skin in certain fields. There are a lot of experiences that I do wish I could share with my Chinese friends which I sometimes do, but most times, there is a lack of understanding and acknowledgement in that sense. There are times too when I have encountered firsthand racism but I just have to keep mum about it to not aggravate the situation and this is extremely common in most of my minority friends which brings me to the point below, desensitisation.
— Desensitisation of casual racism & its impacts
Due to the years of experiencing these situations, I learnt to be outspoken in situations where I felt like the race card was played amongst my friends and I also have tried my best in giving voice to my friends who were victims of casual racisms during conversations etc. However, when it comes to formal settings, a lot of Singaporeans find it tough to voice out due to the backlash that may come with it. But more importantly, I feel like the minority race have just accepted the severity of the situation and are often victims of, “Eh don’t be overly sensitive.” Although these “harmless” comments may be in the name of jokes, these more frequent remarks thrown are more harmful in the long run as compared to overt racism as this could create a plethora of problems:
> Lower self-esteem & confidence
> Racial Segregation
> Loss of trust in government and leaders
> Prejudice and hatred
The list can go on and on. What is alarming is that when I was younger, I remember the lack of representation in the media, in times where social media was not present, led me to feel lower than what was being represented in the media. I strived to fit into the stereotype of beauty standards. Up until now, in advertisements, there are lack of racial representation. The ones that do exist, are more often than not, to fit a racial archetype and that is not okay. Beauty advertisements in Singapore and around East Asia for that matter, largely represent, fair-skin, east-asian centric features and silky straight hair. Another example would be the beauty industry in Singapore in drugstores, specifically. If you take a trip down to any Guardian, Watsons or Sasa in Singapore, you’ll realise just how lacking it is in terms of diversity of options. The foundation shades are very much so catered to lighter skin individuals and the darker skin individuals have to result to purchasing more expensive options such as Bobby Brown, Estee Lauder and Fenty Beauty.
All in all, I feel like there is potential to strive for a more inclusive nation and we are generating a current generation who are more mindful but there are largely still flawed systems in place and mindsets that have room for improvement and I plan to attempt to make efforts to do so in this project. As I said in my previous post, my plan is not to create division but to spark conversations and create awareness in a tasteful manner but controversial enough to actually be attention-grabbing.