Task 1A: Exploratory Research

List of Current Issues

a) Taboo – Crying at work
Article 1: The Surprising Truth about Crying at Work


Article 2: Crying on the job? You’re not alone, with 8 in 10 workers shedding tears


Crying at work is deemed as a taboo because people seemed to associate crying with being unprofessional. They are afraid that projects will not be assigned to them because they appear to be unable to handle the stress. However, it is important to acknowledge our own emotions and let them flow naturally. This can in turn lead to better productivity as compared to when we withhold our feelings.

b) Taboo – Abortion
Article 1: The Law on Abortion in Singapore

Article 2: Taboos that kill: Stigma and Abortion in Thailand

Abortion has always been a social stigma. People are afraid to open up about the procedure after going through with it because of feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Therefore, I think it is important to open up and give more support to women who had been through this process. Additionally, planned parenthood could be further informed to them so that they can sought consider contraceptive methods before they are ready to have a child.

c) Illegal wildlife trade
Article 1: Not frozen beef: Nearly 13 tonnes of pangolin scales worth S$52 million seized in Singapore (April 4, 2019)

Article 2: Record 8.8 tonnes of ivory worth $17.6m seized (July 24, 2019)

In this year alone, I realised that there are many news covering the issue on illegal wildlife trade. I noticed that there were increasingly more animal parts that were seized in Singapore. Therefore, I feel that it is important to highlight the importance of wildlife conservation or else the already endangered animals could be in an even more dire state. Moreover, certain animal parts that were deemed to have medicinal usage could be false and easily debunked by science.

d) Say no to shark fin
Article 1: https://mothership.sg/2019/02/why-i-love-environment-and-eat-shark-fin-soup/

Article 2: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/mp-louis-ng-urges-government-ban-sharks-fin-public-service-events

This issue is more of a personal issue that I can relate better because I do not eat shark fin soup despite it being served in front of me. Additionally, it is a relatable issue in Singapore because we are recognized as the second largest trader of shark fin. Even though there is a consistent effort to curb the issue of consuming shark fin, more awareness can be raised on this issue because the sharks are in dire state of facing extinctions. The main issue is that the sharks have a slow reproduction rate which means that they take a long period of time to reach maturity. This in turn make farm raising of sharks difficult and unproductive.

Why is this issue important? Who does it affect and how?
Based on personal experience, I have always been told by the adults that you should never do an abortion. That is why it got me thinking further why would they say that, perhaps being parents they are afraid of the embarrassment or due to certain beliefs they think that the unborn child would not be able to rest in peace. This will further aggravate the feelings of guilt and embarrassment to women who had already gone through the abortion process which could in turn affect their overall personal wellbeing. It is important to voice out on abortion in another light reducing the stigmatization women faced due to abortion. There are women who went through with the abortion procedure because they are having a hard time themselves  and that is why they could not go through with the pregnancy. Even if they did go through with the pregnancy, it could possibly lead to infant abandonment which is another problem by itself. We should talk about abortion in another light by giving more support to women who had went through the procedure as well as approaching this topic in an educational sense.

Who do you need to communicate to, and why?
My target audience would largely lean towards females although I feel that the message should be communicated to the male audience as well because pregnancy is caused by both genders. By targeting the male audience, the male partner can better support their female partner after the abortion procedure. This is to ensure that women who went through this procedure can receive the aftercare they need both emotionally and physically.

How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
Article: Can we redesign the way we talk about abortion? Meet the women behind 5 very powerful design-led project

Women on web instructional abortion pill animation by Renata de Andrade, 2016

The above animation is created by artist Renata de Andrade who portray the use of abortion pill in a lighter manner for a telemedical abortion service Women on Web (WoW). WoW has been assisting women around the world to go through safe abortions by sending them medical abortion pill package by mail. In this explanatory video, the idea was to portray abortion as a normal procedure rather than a dramatic procedure. Opposing to other instructional videos which can be somber and intense, De Andrade wanted to make hers less heavy because she mentioned that women who had to go through with the abortion procedure were already going through a lot in their lives. One example that she adopted is by showing the relief and the smiling faces of the women who had just received their abortion pill package as shown in the image above. She wanted the audience to know that it is normal to feel relief rather than feeling guilty about receiving the abortion pill package. By referencing De Andrade’s animation, it provided me with a perspective that we can approach the topic of abortion in a more “normal” light through design. It probed me into thinking how I can go about designing this topic to make it look normal rather than it being overly serious.

Methods magazine by Erin Knutson and Ria Roberts

Method magazine by designers Erin Knutson and Ria Roberts tackle on the issue of abortion as well as birth control. They created Methods due to their mutual dissatisfaction towards the approach of birth control advertisements. They get artists to design the kind of birth control advertisements that they would like to see. The humorous and light hearted approach made it so that birth control belongs to the right of the people who chose to use it. This further enhanced the idea that there is no shame when choosing to use birth control. This probed me into thinking that how can I design in the sense that even by using humour, a message from a serious topic such as birth control can be brought across to the audience.

“Repeal the 8th” issue of Guts Magazine, 2017 by Roisin Agnew

This issue of Repeal the 8th on the Guts magazine was to voice out on the abortion ban in Ireland. In my opinion, the bright visuals and colours used are what caught the audience attention. This inspires me make use of a similar colour palette to create strong visuals to attract audience attention on a serious and sensitive topic.

In conclusion, the above designs do not force audience to talk about the topic of abortion instead, they ease the tension of talking about this sensitive topic. These designs set me thinking of how we can approach this sensitive topic differently but still bring the point across, giving the support required.

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