Found in Translation: Yue Qiu

This year’s MA in Design: Expanded Practice degree show, “Found in Translation” is taking place online starting December 7th until the end of the month. The Design blog is taking a closer look at some of the work created by the class of 2020; today, Yue Qiu (Rachel).

A simulation of cutting the cucumber

What’s your project about in a nutshell? 

In brief, this project is about using the cucumber as the primary tool to explore the complexity of the world, especially engaging this element in different dimensions as well as the time and space, and building simulacra in various kinds of ways. Meanwhile, it is about doing unconscious training and exploring the correlated action logic, as well as looking for my methodology of creation, combining the framework of “Orders of Simulacra” by Jean Baudrillard, and designing a website as my outcome to organize the whole process.

Why did you choose the cucumber as a central object? Did you consider any others?

The Greenwich tunnel near the riverside was a starting point for the project, and the original idea was to find an ‘abnormal’ connection between the actions of cutting and taking photos. I found that the shape of the cucumber was quite similar to the shape of the tunnel, and it gave me some kind of sense of humour. I chose an object that people will react to immediately, because it’s a ‘normal’, daily thing that people eat, they don’t realise that we can use it in another way, or develop into other things.

The cucumber controls the whole project, it is the object linked to my thinking process. If there was another object in its place, our daily action related to it may be quite different from cutting it, or eating it. So it would be interesting to try this with another object.

Project notes

Is the title “Qucumber’s Adventures in Flatland” a reference to the “Flatland” novel by Edwin A.Abbott?

There is a link to it, as I am using the cucumber as an object to understand different dimensions. For example, when I used the scan machine to scan the cucumber, the original cucumber becomes different shapes when I scan it in a different way. I am imagining that the scanner machine is the eyes of a lower dimension creature, and what they see of the cucumber is a dynamic shape that can change. It can be like a Superman in their dimension, but in our three-dimensional world, it’s just a simple cucumber for eating.

What kind of research did you do and what are some of the most interesting things you found?  

The whole process contains many experiments, as well as different forms of expression, including movies, web design, collage, painting, etc. The cucumber here becomes “my object” instead of its original attribute for eating (from the human point of view). And that is the reason why I combined Q, which represents my name QIU, with cucumber became “Qucumber” in the project title.

Specifically, this project is divided into two modules, unconscious training and behavioural logic. The former one is to express and create as much as possible around the theme. When I ride on the roller coaster of imagination, there will always be some surprises, for instance, the connection between cutting cucumber and taking photos. I prefer to understand it as a treasure of unconscious wandering, which is difficult for me to achieve by conventional operations.

A simulation of peeling the cucumber

The second part is for organising those experiments I did, and I found the correlation between my creations and the theory of simulacra by Jean Baudrillard. The four levels of simulacra correspond to my logic of design, which presents that subconscious wandering does not mean thinking randomly. Afterwards, I combined the framework with my categorised projects to create a new website with a more logical layout as my outcome.

What other avenues do you see for expanding the project?  

The website is flat on the screen, so I would like to do something three-dimensional, like an installation, or a live performance. I think it would have been interesting to do something with the project in the Greenwich tunnel and see how people react to it, it’s a pity that we couldn’t do it because of the pandemic. I would like to be able to watch people’s reaction to the project. I’m the creator, and what the audience understands is quite different sometimes.

Cucumber sections

How did the pandemic and Covid restrictions affect the development of your project?  

It did bring some inconvenience to me. For instance, face-to-face tutorials do have more flesh and blood, more direct emotional communication. But I am not going to complain about the online course, on the contrary, I think online learning is an education model for the future. Online study has existed for a long time, and Covid is a breakthrough to popularise distance learning and shake the dominant position of traditional offline education. For me, I will pay more attention to thinking of how to communicate effectively during the online tutorial, which means that screen-basic preparation before tutoring needs to be more thorough. In addition, online teaching can be stored. I can record the whole course and listen to it again and again, until I figure out the knowledge. All in all, the new order of education is reshaping, and whether online or offline, it is essential to solving the problem of effectiveness in information transmission.

What’s your background and how did you choose this MA at Goldsmiths? How was your experience on the course? 

My background is graphic design. With a high enthusiasm for this subject, I found that my expression of design is limited, as well as the thinking. Although computer is the main tool for a designer to create, I don’t think we should be restricted. Design is not only for the visual outcome, but also the thinking, the concept and the skills of solving a problem- same as the communication studio, which focuses on investigation and communication, and encourages the exploration of new formats and different medias. I prefer to understand my MA study as an experience to jump out of my body and overview myself, as well as finding the methodology of creation, rather than just following somebody who had a great success in the design area, instead of searching for beautiful posters on the Internet before my graphic design process, or focusing on the trend of some visual styles. A more important thing for me is to find my way in creation, the methodological logic of exploration, so that I will no longer be afraid of facing more challenging tasks. Courage will be deeply embedded in my heart.

Visit Yue Qiu’s website and the project website to find out more.