Yushi Cheng

Serious Softies

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Chubby Bunny.

My work explores the parameters of making art in the multicultural, globalised, consumer-driven world of today. At the same time, it is a resolution of my own cultural identity, or loss of identity. Using commodity objects as a medium, the project examines the mass culture ideologies in society today. Living in the generation that celebrates the global mass market, and as an Asian artist working in a western setting, I am influenced by my exposure to the international media culture, as well as to the deep-rooted visceral traditional heritage, and my confusion with a sense of cultural belonging. Therefore, this project sets out to explore personal identity in a state of globalisation, through the medium of soft, stuffed objects, with a humorous, light-hearted undertone.

Symbolism and Character Merchandising

My work is a re-adaptation of traditional symbolism (including Buddhism) into a new framework of mass media and consumption, investigating these moments of hybridity. In making my work, I was drawn to the crossover of media culture and consumer products. I use the same methods of content creation used by mass-media sensations, and the fan-based, obsessive repetition and accumulation of images that is often linked to popular media reproduction. Utilising Marc Steinberg’s concepts of mediamix and character merchandising, I try to unload these historical icons of their complexity and reinterpret them as idol-like figures, as brands of mass-media culture, and just another commercial product. I used his principles of the multi-existence of the iconic character across different platforms to create objects that take a position between art and design, adaptive to diverse platforms.

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Lucky Bear.
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Praying Bead Victory Blanket, Screenprinted on Fabric.
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Rocking Lotus Blanket, Screenprinted on Fabric.
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Chubby Bunny Blanket, Screenprinted on Fabric.
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Design and Art

Responding to the concept of “Critical Design” created by Anthony Dunne, the objects occupy an in-between state of art and product, investigating the critical possibilities of design and non-critical possibilities of art.  I aim for the objects to be familiar enough to look as if they could be commoditised, and exist in a toy store, but with a twist of iconography that does not belong to the same world, thus defamiliarising them in an uncanny way.

This juxtaposition of seriousness and light-heartedness, the new media culture under globalisation, and the dialogue between the traditional and the mass-produced visual language, are the concepts at the core of this body of work.

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Bow ties and eye masks. From left to right: Peach, Lotus and Hands.
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Peach Bow Tie.
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Left: Lotus Dress. Right: Lovely Peaches Tank Top.
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Rocking Zen Hand Accessories.
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The Carp.
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Floor Cushions. From left to right: Poached Lotus I, Year Year Have Fish, Poached Lotus II.
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Publication to accompany display.
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Website to accompany display. URL: http://serioussofties.tumblr.com/

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