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Visual Activism in the Digital Space.

Meta Paper  Meta Lifestyle Magazine| Meta Citizens​

Creative Director of e-ternity official

Artist at OUTPUT, China

Guest Lecturer & Alumni Mentor at Royal College of Art
Guest Lecturer at Istituto Marangoni
Guest Lecturer & Visiting Tutor at London College of Fashion

Jiang is a visual artist based in London. With a background in Graphic and Digital Fashion design, his design philosophy has always been true to sculpting a narrative. He observes the collisions 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 he creates to share the concepts he is portraying.

Jiang considers himself an earthling and his practice to be visual activism. Focusing on issues such as mental health, animal rights and the environment Jiang endeavors to offer an alternative digital representation of the dilemmas within these areas, to open and continue the conversation of how we can improve the way we all live on this planet as earthlings.

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  • Instagram
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25min
Visual Activism/ Visual Artist
Dilemmas for Earthlings

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.

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.

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 

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.

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Animal Dilemma 

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.

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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Buzz looks at the mistreatment and use of animals in experiments, of which more than 9 million animals are experimented on in Europe every year. Two characters are attached to a metal structure as if they are hostage referencing how the animals are trapped and caged in the laboratories. One of the characters focuses on the cosmetic testing on animals, the rabbit- like figure is marked with various colours around its face, it’s eyes are removed and the body is misshapen pointing to the results of this testing on animals. The other character further references the entrapment aspect, the head piece the character wears is reminiscent of equipment used in medical experiments, including electric shocks. 

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. The central part of the character further shows the excessive size the animals are made to be, there are smaller characters pulling from underneath referring to the demand of these products. The character is positioned on a small surface pointing to the lack of movement the dairy cows are allowed to have throughout their lives. The base of water and soil references how the combination of these problems not only have an effect on the animals, but contributes to the destruction of the environment too.

Rip looks at the treatment of animals when removing their skin or fur to be made into clothes. The character is stretched referencing this idea of removing, the skin is red and blotchy pointing to how the animals are abused and slaughtered to meet the demands of the industry. The smaller characters are on the body removing these materials as the main character is in this stance of trying to escape. Material cascades to the floor from the body as if it’s being torn from the animal to be made into an item of clothing, referencing the mistreatment and torment the animals experience through this process.

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.

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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.

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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"Eternity of Wildlife" 

15min
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In the universe are billions of galaxies, in our galaxy are billions of planets, but there is only one earth. And human activity, the global environment and climate change have left more of the planet's wildlife in limbo.
The whole collection features four different animals and calls on consumers and brands to take action to improve the environment and protect animals by reducing water and energy consumption, waste, pollution and its disastrous effects on ecosystems and animals. To categorise fashion as sustainable, it is important to consider people, animals and nature, whose well-being is closely linked.

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"Eternity of Wildlife" 

Direction & CG: Myself            

3D Garment design: @xiaolingjinofficial

In the universe are billions of galaxies, in our galaxy are billions of planets, but there is only one earth. And human activity, the global environment and climate change have left more of the planet's wildlife in limbo.
The whole collection features four different animals and calls on consumers and brands to take action to improve the environment and protect animals by reducing water and energy consumption, waste, pollution and its disastrous effects on ecosystems and animals. To categorise fashion as sustainable, it is important to consider people, animals and nature, whose well-being is closely linked.

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Panda

"A road runs through forests that were once ours, homes are being divided, we have lost family and friends, and we have lost our populations. Although you love us and have travelled thousands of miles to see us, you also hope that our original lives will not be interrupted."

The pandas now live in the spotlight, well-clothed and well-cared for, but they deserve a large habitat of their own, not surrounded by humans. The costume references the panda's ears as well as the shape of their eyes, and the sparse material of their fur shows the negative impact they have been subjected to.

If pandas are so cute, let's make them a little happier.

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Elephant

"We have been abused as children in training shows, we have had our tusks cut off, we have been rounded up and killed. We want to be able to live in harmony with people, we are gentle, but that doesn't mean we don't get angry. So, please be kind to us."

Increasingly, elephants' habitats are becoming fragmented, with around 20,000 African elephants poached each year. This collection shows the dichotomy between elephant and human through the contrast between the African wilderness and man-made weapons, combined with the fragmented existence of elephant herds. The colours and forms of the costumes are inspired by the elephant's ears.

Elephants have been friends of humans for a long time and we hope that this friendship will last.

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Penguin

"Human activity is warming the climate, icebergs are melting and we are homeless. They are overfishing and we are having trouble finding food and eating. We want our homes back to the old joy of food and shelter."

e-ternity has incorporated elements of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and blaming humans to show the mechanics of the penguin's fur through the material of the costume, portraying the penguin's tail form on the hem of the costume and using reflective materials to simulate an oceanic effect.

The penguins themselves are not the only ones who are losing their habitat and food source. If we don't stop ourselves in time, we will join them.

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Rhinoceros

"Every day, two of our companions are poached to death. They cut down our trees and rob us of our homes. They crave unwarranted wealth and status, and so we are hunted headlong by poachers."

e-ternity hopes to use the contrast between the ghastly white skeleton and the flourishing flowers as a warning to the world and to express our protest against poaching through the bent horn form of the costume and the ruffled texture of the fur.

We may not be able to participate directly in the conservation of rhinos, but education and spreading awareness will also give them a more complete home.

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15min-20min
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Shared Planet 

2022

Shared Planet captures a glimpse of the moment in time when the world came to a standstill for humans during lockdown and the environment and wildlife began to thrive. Influenced by the documentary ‘The Year Earth Changed’ the work explores nature’s response to the low human activity during the global lockdown. Looking at wildlife, noise pollution, air and water quality the work acts as ‘visual activism’ to explore global warming, reflecting data and research to share the issues in an alternative form. Furthermore, seeking to open a conversation about how we can identify more harmonious ways for humans and wildlife to co-exist and how this can have a profound impact on nature and give us hope for the future of our planet.

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Noise references the effects of the lockdown on noise pollution, particularly in cities. During this time the amount of urban road traffic and city noise was significantly reduced, meaning that the negative impact of noise pollution was lower. Not only referencing the benefits humans experienced due to this activity, the character looks at the impact on animals, particularly communications between birds.

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Wildlife focuses on how different species thrived during the global lockdown. Due to the lack of human activity especially in terms of the reduction in travel, the amount of animals killed on the roads was significantly reduced. The lack of tourists and locals visiting coastal locations saw an increase in sea turtles laying eggs on the beaches. The character explores where animals followed their natural instincts and resumed these practices that are often interrupted by human activity.

Water is based on the effects of the global lockdown on water quality and sea life. This short period of restriction in industrial sectors and economic activities offered an opportunity for water quality in seas and rivers to increase. In turn the activity of sea life began to thrive, populations of fish became greater and the lack of water travel decreased the risk of marine animals getting injured.

Air looks at the effects of the global lockdown on air quality during this time. As human activity was at a minimum, the air pollution levels were significantly lower. This resulted in changes in weather, fewer children were developing conditions such as asthma and skylines were clear enough to see sights that hadn’t been seen in decades. The characters comically move and dance as air particles not constricted by pollution in the air, furthermore referencing the freeness to breathe and healthier children in this time.

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2022 Solo Exhibition 'Shared Planet' at the Bomb Factory, London.
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Collaborate with @nicole_vernon
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Victor Wong official SS22, London Fashion Week
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Zongbo Jiang

@zongbo.jiang

z00n9b00@gmail.com

zongbojiang.com​

 Full 3D Image and video

           DAZ and ZBrush can send items/files between each software

  • Mixamo - After you build your figure, its a website where you can make certain movements for your figure  https://www.mixamo.com/

  • CLO - Making a digital garment, if needed.  https://www.clo3d.com/

  • C4D - Put all the 3D object files or creating new digital elements to rendering final images and videos.  (same as other softwares like blender)   https://www.maxon.net/zh/cinema-4d

  • Editing video with Premiere/ Aftereffects & editing images with Photoshop or other image editing softwares.

Mix Medium 2D/3D (1)

  • DAZ - Basic Figure building  (it's easiest one compared with others) or ZBrush - Can create certain special shapes.

  • CLO -  making a digital garment, if needed.

  • Photoshop can import 3D obj file and edit with different layer 

Mix Medium 2D/3D (2)

  • Photoshop editing the real model you want with transparent png pictures.

  • C4D import the png file, and mix with 3D elements and render final work ( ZBrush/C4D/free download website)

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