Locating Vietnamese Contemporary Art: An ethnographic attempt from afar.

1 Initially, as a student majored in Design Cultures, I was intrigued in Vietnam precisely because I barely knew anything about the art history of my country. Having exposed to the studies of Design Cultures and Histories, I set out to find how Vietnamese art history is chronicled by putting it in a complex relationship with the sociocultural and political background. Identifying and locating art from a place like Vietnam that rarely figures in art history cannot be done overnight as I am thousand miles away from the happenings. This essay, thus, is my humble attempt to look at Vietnam’s contemporary art scene through an afar-ethnographic approach mainly by flexible design methods such as interview, survey, case study, discourse analysis and participant observation. Given how little experience in the real-world research and history learning that I possess, my findings are based on personal analysis, perception and hence, do not necessarily reflect other’s views on the same topic.

Read full article here

Side note:

So this is my last assignment for BA Design Cultures Year One. There is this mixed feeling. I have learnt so much more than words can describe. Not just the knowledge I learnt from lectures or books, but also the experiences I’ve gained during my study process. It is amazing how you can learn from literally everything around. Each object, regardless of how little, casual, ubiquitous it might be, has its own story. I enjoyed all the ventures set out to find out about the context, background, history of things during the course, just as much as when looking for the rawness in everyday talks with people. Learning to contextualize makes you realize how big the world is, and also how easily one can bypass, underestimate the wonder  of little things. As much as I want to move on to Sophomore (as this my second time being Freshman, well positively speaking though), I treasure all the things that I’ve learnt during my First year. I don’t want it to end, but I also understand that when a door closes, another one opens. Sincerest thanks to all my tutors and lecturers. Thank you for all the talks, emails, for always supporting, encouraging, and baring with my ambitiously, sometimes annoyingly demanding curiosity.


Design Cultures Live: Dress, Identity & the Designscape

“My Kitchen – My Self” is a portrait of Azusa Yasui – a modern Japanese woman, emphasized on her experience in attiring as a home-based medical secretary. However, having lived abroad for over fifteen years, for Azusa, it was never the question of “what to wear”, but rather the question of “who she is”. In the Japanese society, women often face the dilemma of desiring to become independent or complying with the gender expectation of good housewife and wise mother. Would she break this social norm, or would she conform to it by being an independent housewife in her kitchen?

Interviewed & Filmed: Trieu Ngoc
Music: “Mad Summer” by Joe Hisaishi

Project website: http://www.mapping-design.org/

Fashion and Freedom to Self-expression

So we’ve started a new unit this semester – Design Research Methods.

A small survey was set out on campus in order to practice one of the new design research methods we have just learnt in class. My group decided to focus on Fashion and look at the freedom of self expression as a design issue to further investigate.  Here are 3 of the questions that we used:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. How would you describe your style?
  3. Do you wear the same kind of clothes back home? If you don’t, why?

Since UAL students have different backgrounds and tastes of fashion, we easily identified our subjects. After interviewing a group of students from Brazil, Italy, Australia and England, we managed to collect the information we needed. Most of the international students shared that in London, they felt more comfortable to wear what they liked than back at home.

“I have a few items that I would never wear at home.”

“If I keep my hair dyed like this and come back home, people would think that I am some sort of weirdo.”

In addition, the local students who are Londoners or come from different parts of England, more or less shared the same feeling about how they were being ‘judged’ by the public.

What we learnt from these answers helps us look at our design issue in a much broader perspective. How our surroundings have a certain impact on the way we dress? If we have chosen fashion as a tool to publish our identity, would we change our taste regarding different environments? And does this mean that our sense of self-identity is not necessarily consistent? We are thrilled just thinking about all the possibilities and knowledge that we are about to embrace. So let’s get the reading started!


Design Practice (Catch-up entry)

So Design Cultures has finally gotten more practical.

In this unit: Design Practice, we’ve learnt how to use almost the whole family of Adobe. Well, I can’t really say I know to get the most out of these softwares after just a few workshops but at least we had the brief introduction and are now able to perform a few small (but amazing) tricks using them.

Anyways, these softwares that we’ve learnt are (will come with one sample/my exercise/demo/practice each).

1. InDesign

(May be not this one. I really can’t remember if I had done anything using ID during the course…)

2. Illustrator


Well, technically this WIP is made up of vectors though I used my wacom instead of pen tool.

However, I do have one exercise which was created using pen tool solely.


Believe me, I didn’t even know ‘what’ daft punk was…

3. Photoshop


I’d change the color of the texts from yellow to sorta pink though I don’t have the psd file in my lap so….nvm.

And then there is Shiba the pizza delivery dog. I think i might have set the color setting to CMYK instead of RGB so the outcome’s colors aren’t very real. But then again, I don’t have the original psd file so here it is…. (Still love you to the moon and back though!)


So the deal is I normally prefer using pts for drawing to editing photo. So here’s one of my sketch from last August…


4. Premiere

We were given some footages so I was just messing around with them. If you are willing to waste 24 precious seconds of your life, go ahead and click play:

I have some other Pr-based videos in this Vimeo account as well. Fell free to check them out and I’d love to hear some feedbacks from you guys XD

Along with these Adobe softwares workshop, we also have Photography sessions. I managed to bring my camera to class ONCE before I dropped the lens and completely destroyed the focus function of it (means both Manual and Auto Focus are not working lol).

I’d love to have more Photography sessions though it ended after just three workshops. I wonder if they have film photography and dark room workshop or sort of things because I really really really want to learn how to develop my own films. Kinda regret leaving my Nikkormat Ft at home though….

Anw, I started photography quite a while ago. I’m more than happy to receive your feedback and comment on my photos from some photography-based projects that I’m currently running:


Kirakirawes Photography

People I’ve Met

Cheers XD