Dialogical Illustration, Tongue in Cheek: Shared experience through surface and scale

Lu, Li
Smith, Amanda
Smitheram, Miranda
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Master of Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This practice-led thesis takes the form of a narrative through dialogical illustration and has a strong image-led, storytelling focus that describes my perspective and everyday experiences as an Asian self-taught illustrator. These moments can be seen as a temporary journey of identity formation and transformation in Western society. Creatively, the illustrations revolve around Asian thinking and subjects that are accessible, imperfect and playful, depicting details witnessed in daily life. Both Asian characters and Western characters emerge during the practice, reflecting friends and situations in a ‘tongue in cheek’ way. Composition and brush texture are used to represent the researcher’s different emotions and aesthetics. The potential function of the illustrations has been explored by transferring the images to different textiles and surfaces, shifting from a two-dimensional, illustrative aspect to a multi-dimensional perspective. During this exegesis, particular artists who contextually influence my research are discussed and reflected on. These artists highlight naïve art approaches, psychological elements that influence character design, and relationships between colour and space.

These shifts through media and scale create a unique expression, enabling and enhancing each person’s individual resonance and experience. The little, ugly figures and colourful language construct a different visual world, which is similar to but oddly differs from the real world. This work forms an active discussion; when people view the work, the illustrations produce a connection with people who have seen, heard, or engaged in the same activity. Additionally, when the illustrations are applied to various objects and surfaces, the visual effects become stronger than those of the paper-only versions, thereby kindling memory. “Visual recourses in communication are acknowledged to be powerful in cognition and memory, they are the products of the cultural histories and cognitive resources we use to create meaning. They can be seen as a ‘set of overlapping concerns’, focusing on the collaboration of 2-D and 3-D,” according to cognitive science researcher Jana Holsanova, and “the viewer’s perception and interpretation play an active, dynamic and situational context of the visuals, co-creating its meaning, and consequently, providing a better understanding of interaction.” This can be seen as a ‘dialogical illustration’.

This practical research started with fabric, as I use illustration to look for my identity and voice within a different society, expressed through narrative in illustration and materials. And in this process, the three-dimensional nature of fabric resulted in the development of a visual dialogue, explored through personal perspectives and reflections.

Digitally printed textile , Dialogical illustration , Multi-dimension , Shared experience
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