☆ in[DUST].

Artist statement:

Hook (2018) had once told me that photography is a tangible evidence of different eras, and that invoked my interest in photographing dead zones.

My mother also told me that “Port Kembla was once a very busy place,” and so Breakwater Battery museum became my starting point. I noticed a neglected building nearby and I snuck inside their fences, roamed every nook and cranny until I came across a gap in a rusty door. I was so fascinated by the place that of course, I took some quick snapshots. While I was photographing, the building was eerily silent and unwelcoming with the occasional gusts of wind. I could almost feel the ghost of the memories that existed and I wanted to capture just how vandalised and run down it had become.

Later on I went back, took my time photographing and getting acquainted with the place. I also allowed myself longer shutter speeds for more colour as I had a tripod and made sure to capture open spaces. I had used photoshop to make the colours pop whilst saturating down the sunlight.

‘In[DUST]’ is the birth child of my research on both Christian Richter and Brett Patman, photographers who saw beauty in the abandoned. In[DUST] invokes viewers to remember that everything is transient and impermanent.

(note: the name is a word play from ‘industrial’, and the fact that the places are very dusty)

Photography workbook (landscape photography):

☆ disassociated.

Artist statement:

The beauty of Yolanda Del Amo’s focus on relationships had influenced my desire to illustrate a bond. I had also took Jessica Todd Harper and Carrie Will’s concept of elegantly documenting their lives, by photographing someone familiar to me. Phillip-Lorca diCorcia and his art of experimenting with truth and fiction by placing something thet doesn’t belong in a place, in that exact place, had influenced my staging of real situations. But more than anything, Cindy Sherman’s passion of adapting roles of other people had been first and fore mostly what I wanted to recreate.

This, ‘dissociated’ showcases four different personalities ( a businessman, a junkie, a husband and an untamed teenager) and their relationship with a lover. I photographed Jonathon and I playing different ‘coming-of-age’ roles, where we are still not quite adults but responsibility and maturity is expected from us. I also made characters based on all the different personality traits of Jonathon – these are places he frequents, clothes he wears and expression he bears.

I photographed every photo with a tripod and on self-timer. I focused on different techniques in every photo, experimenting with different apertures on aperture-priority mode. I kept photographs mostly unedited to keep it’s honesty and rawness. I chose a wider boarder for the feel of a private and secretive series.

The photos before submission, on Adobe Bridge – to see how they looked in a certain order (one photo was later replaced due to difference in general colour).

And, this was the planned layout for submission of both this project and the landscape project.

Photography workbook (portraiture photography):

☆ ultima verba.

(watch videos correctly by waiting 5 seconds before playing the next clip, to time them up!)

ULTIMA VERBA is ‘last words’ in Latin tongue and this multi-screen installation, – unlike Manifesto’s writings and musings of various different artists, – is based off their suicide letters. With this film, I sought to manipulate something private to be public and heard as it presents on large scale screens and is spoken out loud. Multi-screening ULTIMA VERBA with different framing despite constant eye contact allowed for a smooth transition. The film also atmospheres the darkness of humanity,  exploring the inevitable and questions death within a range of very different people.

Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto was the sore influence of this creation; the deadness, darkness and eeriness of Manifesto painted the tense characters in ULTIMA VERBA. I built rapport with different people to adopt personas, create stories, evoke emotions and showcase unnaturality and materialism. Each individual acted in response to the way their minds read and how they felt when with presented the quote, and they speak as if they were saying the last words to someone they trust most. 

time to reflect

Research is a mess of the mind and it is continuous, ever-changing and constant. There will always be something to research. This project has painted the better process of researching into my knowledge and I have came across many valuable resources that make a better research project. I have now started to consider the ethics of my research, the honesty of my data and the timeliness of my presentation. I’ve learnt about the best way to keep participants anonymous and completely involved in their understanding of my study. 

Before starting my project, it was very hard to choose a topic until I sat back and just looked at my surroundings – an International student community, not one that was labelled nor widely known but a community nonetheless. Thus I began wondering about them, how they are in terms of individual experiences and I started creating basic conversation to hear them out. Then I wondered about their roles in the student body and the sharpening of my project lead to questioning the same role, but in University events. Prior to small conversation, I had the belief that they were socially outcast due to their cultures and my research finding backed that up as: 1) they could speak English fluently but do not recognise the Australian accent, 2) foreigners put themselves forward and make risks to learn more about the culture here and 3) they’re all in agreement with the creation of an event where the International and domestic students may join together to talk and share their experiences, to understand one another better. 

I came across a lot of errors of data and errors of judgement but I’m proud of the way I dared to plant so many seeds, ready to pluck the dead ones out and focus on the sprouting flower – the focus on cultural differences that do indeed exist in University events. I now know that despite beginning with a timetable plan and a Gantt chart, life will get in the way but that should not stop your research and your passion in answering the ‘Why?’s that you would have created. I feel that my research was sufficiently done in the time frame given and criteria of BCM students. 

My choice on surveying students and then picking out interviewees from there was very helpful as it allowed me to know how much broader and deeper I needed to delve in the interviews with the candidates. It also allowed me to build a very trusting and honest relationship with some people in the community, to help understand what lays in their wishes and their personal opinions that landed upon deaf ears. These interviews not only successfully informed my research and told a story, but it also opened my eyes to the different cultures’ part in the community – it made me a better person, ready to be more friendly to everyone in the society and consider their difficulties.

This study was overall quite challenging and if I was to do research on a similar topic, there are many aspects I see myself improving on. Such as being more determined to contact more participants according to the criteria and finding more ways of analysing qualitative data. I would also focus on keeping true to the timeline that I had planned. For the best results, I believe that I’d need to be sorely focused on that research and not have other subjects or complications interrupting the process. This journey started very broad until I found something deep to delve in – but I believe my research on International students will continue, as I look upon other areas of difficulties for International students. I also am utterly stern in my belief that research regarding the International community is not complete.

op: university events and cultural awareness

Understanding the experiences of students would not be complete if we had not considered the roles that our foreign friends play as a part of the University community. On the surface, International students are the quietest people in the classroom and even more, in social events. They would be the students sticking to the familiar and were unlikely to socialise with locals. This small aspect breeds the stereotype that International students are insufficient, incapable and socially outcast. Research into their emotions, views and personal lives as they live away from their comfort zones are ‘preliminary, inconclusive and not plentiful.’ [Kostogriz and Ata, 2015, p. 4] Neri and Ville (2006, p. 13) stated that culture shock was overcome by a ‘developing a circle of friends social networks.. clubs.. (and) paid or voluntary employment. Such networks may have aided students… to their general wellbeing.’ So this research evolves on their beliefs and follows the foreign role of the student body, specifically at their experiences in relation to University events as they stand with their own different cultures.

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     (fig.1) International Students Arrival: 2005-09 [Larson, Payne and Tomison, p 55]  

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 (fig. 2) Willingness of Intl. Students

Based on respondent’s answers, this research had found that the student’s belief of how culturally open the University events were averaged at 56% out of 100%. 91.67% of those respondents had also experienced culture shock and believed that the University should have created events that “respect (ed) every student’s culture and show more concern for the people who are non-local.” A study had found that students also ‘report(ed) Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 11.02.15 pm.pngfeeling they do not belong, to a considerable or great degree.’ [Thompson, Rosental and Russell 2006, p. 7] Some of the students that had not experienced culture shock found that they hadn’t because they “haven’t had much opportunities to actually experience culture shock and to interact with Australian friends.”

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From the data received, I’ve noticed that a lot of the International students have actually left their culture behind and readily put themselves forward to adjust to a new culture. Participant two had said that when attending a University event, she was “willing to show people about my culture but I prefer to focus on hearing about their culture,” which relates to Marginson’s (2012, p. 1) belief that ‘International students want closer interaction to local students and are prepared to take risks… Most local students are not interested.’ Amongst a cultural group of participants, it was found that they knew of a community, club and association relevant to them, but they had no interest in joining due to lack of interest in their own culture. Participant three felt that “(the association) doesn’t include everyone; it does not represent all of us”.  Some participants were proud of their cultures and others weren’t, but all of them were more interested in learning about the Australian and other cultures’ way of life.

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 (fig. 3) International Enrolment (2015) [Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training  2015, cited by StudiesInAustralia]

My most influential finding was that all candidates were interested in the creation of cultural events, either based on every culture or specified in any one culture. They were interested in learning about other countries and some candidates were excited about teaching each-other about their customs/traditions. When they were asked about their experiences with University events, I found that most had never seen the University celebrate their customs and participant four had said that she would create an event and “invite people to… contribute something from their own cultures. An opportunity for people to speak and show stuff from their cultures.”

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 Participant three had suggested “invit(ing) some Australian students to join and share experiences with International Students,” on LHA Information Day so they’d be more familiar with each other. Another participant further argued Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 10.14.20 pm.png
that the presence of locals would create a better understanding in the student community and a sense of familiarity for the International students – a sense of belonging as opposed to feeling outcasted and different. 

 

Park (2016, p. 78-79) also reported that “Accentedness of students was an indicator of their status as non-native English speakers, it provoked bias and adverse attitudes towards them.” Data from this research had re-introduced the concept that many International students are actually quite fluent in English, but they find difficulty in University events because they do not recognise the Australian accent and have their own strong accents. An individual had stated, “Some cultures in Australia speak English well but some International students, they have heavy accents… Speaking English is something that shows up in how well you fit with the community.” This could also be due to the fact that all of the interviewed had experienced watching Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 6.26.51 pm.pngAmerican or British rather than Australian movies before coming to Australia, as one participant had stated that “the film industry here in Australia doesn’t get much funding from the government… not funded enough for an International scale.” The same individual had stated that “Sometimes, I feel like I’m very lonely… People thought they shouldn’t talk to me because I’m not fluent in English but… I’m just not used to that type of English and accent.”

 

The study (while on a small scale and short time frame) came to the conclusion that while there are many available resources for both domestic and Internationals students, the verdict was that there are ways to make this regional University of NSW a better place of belonging for all the students. The marriage of both domestic and International alike, will bring upon the familiarity that is needed for the best outcome of such University events. With the close of this research, I purpose a wider and more dedicated research upon the experience and relationship of both International and domestic students in University events, to further understand the potential that this unity may bring.