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Zongbo Jiang
Digital Fashion x Visual Activism

Zongbo Jiang is a 3D visual artist based in London. He is currently studying Fashion at the Royal College of Art focusing on digital fashion. Having a background in graphic and product design, his design philosophy has always been true to sculpting a narrative for visual communication. He observes the collisions and discussions between aspects of daily life, focusing on social and environmental issues. His work centers around creating digital characters, which often take strange and comedic forms. These characters are placed in virtually crafted spaces to solidify the narrative Jiang creates to share the concepts he is portraying.

Dilemmas for Earthlings 
Social/ Environmental/ Animal

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The illustration depicts the idea for my final work which has a working title ‘Earthlings’. The work will be 
a 'moving painting' in the form of a video, which is inspired by the paintings of Bosch, I plan to show a 
group of digital characters situated in a virtual space within the frame, to emphasise the grandeur of the 
issues I am referencing. There are 3 different layers to the 'painting': looking at social, animal 
and environmental issues, the structure is inspired by that of 'The Seven Deadly Sins'. I will use camera 
movements and techniques for the viewer to see details of each story, the camera will then pan down 
through each of the levels. After this each character will walk from the frame: social, human, animal and 
environment and they will cross a bridge representing the bringing to light of these topics. Offering a different 
digital representation and perspective of these issues to how they have been seen before and to share the 
problems that we face as earthlings.

After this each one will walk from the frame: social, human, animal and environment. The characters will cross a bridge which represents the bringing to light of these issues in a different way to how they have been seen before to share the issues that we face as earthlings.

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I also watched Paprika which inspired how I am thinking about connecting the different layers. I think that the way the film connects different spaces through camera techniques could be interesting to play with to make a more seamless connections and smoother piece to view.

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The color of pomegranates.

The Holy Mountain,

David Lynch‘s Rabbits. 

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The aim of this project is to use the digital as an alternative form to share the issues I have researched. To work, collaborate and build a relationship with different charities and organisations that work to highlight and combat issues within the environment, social media and animal rights.

The purpose of the work is to act as 'visual activism', reaching a wider audience through the medium and bring the issues further into light.

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Layer 3

Social Dilemma (Term 3)

https://www.zongbojiang.com/del-x6f-50-2000000000

DEL>x6F//50<2000000000> presents three digital characters in a virtual landscape exploring the human impact of social media. The work is heavily influenced by the documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, visualising specific data based around control, truth and digital cleaning; to provoke an awareness and conversation about the darker truths of social media companies. 

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Connected/Manipulated highlights the influence and control a small group of people from these companies have over billions of people, particularly a younger audience and how their attention is fed back into the companies through advertising, rapidly growing them without concern of the effects on these users.

True/Fake looks further into the concept of control with the information that is shared and presented to users on these platforms. Truth becomes lost with certain information only being shown to specific groups of people and the speed of fake news spreading faster than fact and how this has been used to manipulate people’s decisions, specifically with elections.

Ignore/Delete considers how when exploring the way that we are shown information it is important to consider the things that we don’t see. ‘The Cleaners’ are the underpaid and unseen workers for social media companies who monitor and delete offensive, pornographic and subversive posts on social media sites.

Layer 2

Animal Dilemma (Term 4)

https://www.zongbojiang.com/gulp-rip-buzz-woohoo-wha-psh

Gulp, Rip, Buzz, Woohoo, Wha-psh are a collection of five videos including digital characters which explore the concept of animal welfare. The work is inspired by PETA’s ethos; ‘animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for our entertainment or abuse in any other way’. As a form of 'visual activism’ the collection reflects data and research to share the issues in an alternative form, to open a conversation about how we can improve the way animals are treated by us and within these industries.

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Rip looks at how animals are treated when obtaining materials for fashion. Referencing not only how animals are slaughtered to meet the demands of the leather industry, but how they are also abused, tortured and sometimes killed for materials such as feathers and wool.

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Wha-psh is based on the abuse of animals focusing on the coconut industry in Thailand where there have been reports of monkey labour. The monkey’s are chained and forcibly trained to pick coconuts. They are removed from their habitat, beaten and tortured and made to work for hours to collect coconuts.

Buzz looks at the mistreatment and use of animals in experiments, of which there are more than 9 million animals are experimented on in Europe every year. From cosmetic testing to medical experiments the animals are confined to cages and suffer severe injuries as a result of the tests. The tests range from ‘poison’ tests for chemicals to electrocution.

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Woohoo is based on the mistreatment of animals as entertainment, focusing on the ‘tradition’ of bullfighting. The bulls are often isolated in darkness for 48 hours prior to the ‘fight’ to increase their confusion and anguish when they are released into the light of the arena. The bulls are typically physically and mentally drained before they are finally killed.

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Gulp references the often unseen or overlooked happenings within the meat and dairy industry. The character references how the animals are overfed to ‘fatten up’ and fast track growth before being killed for meat. Also how dairy cows are refined to tiny spaces, unable to move and turned into milk producing machines. Also referencing how the combination of these problems not only have an effect on the animals, but contributes to the destruction of the environment too.

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Environmental Dilemma presents two digital characters which explore the effects of global warming. The work is inspired by the documentary ‘Our Planet’ and events such as the Australian fires in 2020. The characters offer an alternative representation of this issue, looking to connect with a wider audience about how the actions in our daily lives can impact the planet on a larger scale.

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Plastic Sea 
This character explores environmental issues, focusing on the use of plastics and the pollution of the sea. This blend of the unnatural and natural offers an insight into how our lifestyle is changing the planet and having an effect on other earthlings who we share it with.

Heating Up 
The inspiration for this character is based around the effects of global warming, specifically referencing the Australian fires from 2020. Furthermore, highlighting how the human impact on our planet is literally causing it to heat up, resulting in events such as these. Referencing these topics, the work asks the viewer to consider the cause and how we can reverse these effects.

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Central Character

Mother of Earthlings is inspired by different issues that are faced on our planet, the digital character presents three layers that focus on social issues, animal rights and environmental issues. The character highlights the control, manipulation and the concept of truth within social media. Furthermore, acting as ‘visual activism’ to explore global warming and the rights of earthlings, specifically looking at animal treatment. 

Final

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Dilemmas for Earthlings presents a digital campaign within a virtual world exploring different issues that are faced on our planet. The piece includes three layers that focus on social issues, animal rights and environmental issues. Through the use of digital characters and spaces the work acts as visual activism to offer an alternative representation of these dilemmas, proffering the hope of change whilst looking to open a conversation about how we can improve the way we all live on this planet as earthlings.

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Dilemmas for Earthlings 
Social/ Environmental/ Animal

After bringing all the character together I played around with the composition and layout for each layer of the 3D painting. Also playing with different colours and lighting to see how each of the characters work together in one piece. Keeping in mind the narrative of the final video, how this is the dilemmas being highlighted, therefore should have darker lighting.

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Dilemmas for Earthlings

The Movement

After this each one will walk from the frame: social, human, animal and environment. The characters will cross a bridge which represents the bringing to light of these issues in a different way to how they have been seen before to share the issues that we face as earthlings.

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For the next stage of my plan I started to think about the second part of the video, a desaturated version of the painting is situated in the background, this is to represent the hope that these issues will be in the past. The characters will continue of the journey in full colour leaving this shell behind.

In the shot there is also a fountain which acts almost as a ritualistic symbol or new beginnings of hope as the characters move forward. There are characters by the fountain completing an action reminiscent of a torch lighting ceremony, to again reinforce this idea of the beginning of something new.

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Here characters from each of the 3 layers come together riding this vehicle, which is representing this idea of a parade or protest. 

Once the characters are on the vehicle they will pass through three sections based around each topic. The characters travel through these spaces to reiterate the connection between the issues and how each are connected by being dilemmas for earthlings. Also acting as a recap of the details as they pass, pushing the characters through into a more positive future.

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FINAL VIDEO

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