Parsons MFA Design&Tech

Yixin Cen

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Made in China

behind the mass production

  • cultural-exploration-issues
  • time-based-multi-media
    Thesis Studio

    Scott G Pobiner

    John Sharp

    Writing and Research

    Louisa Campbell

    Barbara B. Morris

    In contemporary Chinese society, the unequal working conditions for workers are affected by capitalism and globalization. My thesis is a trans media narrative about increasing the awareness of the factory labor issue in China. Through my previous supply chain experience, I noticed that the situation of Chinese factory labor still hasn’t improved in today’s global economic environment. I believe it is necessary to reconsider the peripheral narratives in a global environment dominated by mainstream values. Therefore, my thesis, Made in China, includes a short film and an installation, which are an aesthetic expressions of the problem of Chinese factory.

    “History is still not Time; nor is evolution. They are both consequences. Time is a state: the flame in which there lives the salamander of the human soul.” – Andrei Tarkovsky

    I am always interested in the stories from the older generation. My grandmother, who was a factory worker, once asked me “Do people think of people like me (factory workers) when they are shopping?” Her words give me inspiration to explore the story behind the factory workers.

    In China, labor rights violations such as mandatory overtime, wages below the legal minimum, unpaid overtime wages, unpaid insurance, harsh and high-pressure working conditions, poor living conditions, and abusive management are huge issues that impact on workers’ lives.

    In our daily life, People have an emotional connection when they play with toys, just as they do with digital devices because they associate the object with a playful and useful experience; an experience that designed by company. I think when people playing with toys or digital devices could easily forget the realities behind the toys and devices; millions of workers manufacture for them. I think it is time for us to reconsider these inequalities in this globalised capitalist society. Therefore, I chose toys and digital devices as the beginning point.

    I think when people spend time on toys and devices, they only look at those objects with emotional attachment. Andrei Tarkovsky also indicate that the power of cinema is time: “I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: for time lost or spent or not yet had. He goes there for living experience; for cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema: ‘stars’, story-lines and entertainment have nothing to do with it.” Therefore, I made this short film. I think I should let the audience have the experience with time and think about the other side of these products.

    In the future, I would like to create a serious short film or even a feature film related to normal people under the global economic environment, because our world is not only about consumer and spectator. For me, the important value of my thesis is exploring my artist language in order to express my view of the world.

    Yixin Cen

    Yixin is a daughter, a student, an multimedia artist, a daydreamer, an anti-capitalismnist, a lifelong Arsenal F.C supporter and a global citizen.

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