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Voice

Voice is a video projection installation whose story aims to tell a story about the inequalities women encounter throughout their careers.

The Story Behind Voice

I was born in China, but grew up in North America where the differences between genders, though existing, were not as obvious. When I turned 14, my family decided to move back to southern China. There, the gap between genders where so much larger.

Adjusting was difficult for me. For things that had once never occurred to me as a female, they became obvious once I moved. Though China on the whole is very traditional in their views of women, I lived in a part of China that was greatly populated by people from an even more traditional area of the province. The girls from these parts were brought up to be demure, proper, sweet and obedient. They were brought up to be the perfect housewives. They were not brought up to be ambitious, to have goals beyond marriage. Living in such an environment, I was constantly reminded, as a female myself, to not do this, to not do that, this was not proper for a female, girls should not do this. I stood out from some of my best friends, because I didn’t care about getting a tan, I didn’t mind doing sports, and I didn't care about was being “delicate”.

Later on in undergrad, these differences became even more obvious when I saw my very talented female peers, limit themselves in the things they could achieve because they saw themselves as female, and therefore couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that — it was a guy thing — or they didn’t care enough because it didn't occur to them to care. Ambition was in a career was something best left to males. This bothered me, because these young women had so much wasted talent. Even more infuriating were the parents, who believed that grad school was a waste of time for their daughters. They believed that their daughters should get married once they graduated from undergrad.

It was this frustration that I spurned the start of Voice. I wanted to express how wrong this felt, yet I have never been truly good at voicing my thoughts out loud. Art became a medium to which I could use to express my opinions.

Concept & Process

The original concept to this had been to use a mannequin being hung like a broken puppet with words of “qualities” a “proper” woman should have being projected onto her, however I felt as if the message I wanted to project wasn’t clear enough, that there was plenty of room for misinterpretation. Later the concept evolved, so that it involved from using a full mannequin, to simply the torso of a female mannequin, so that the message was not just of one woman to one woman, but a message from one and all women to one and all women. With this thought in mind, I decided to create my video without using my own voice and own words, but rather using the voices of other women, and speaking through them.

I chose to interview women of different ages and races, asking them the following questions:

  • Could you please share with me your age and profession?
  • Are you happy with/about yourself? Why?
  • What do you think being female means?
  • What’s the best thing about being female? What’s the worst?
  • What is the thing you struggle most about your gender?
  • Have you ever been turned down/away because of your gender?
  • How did you overcome your issues with your gender? If you haven’t, do you think you ever will?
  • What do you think makes the perfect woman?
  • What do you think society considers the perfect woman?
  • What do you think about the contradictions that society perceive about women, i.e. women must be independent but not too independent?
  • What do you wish to change about how people perceive your gender?
  • What would you tell girls growing up about being female and society views towards females?
  • Is there a message about being female you want to tell the world or anyone, but kept silent about for any reason at all?
  • Why do you think inequal views towards women exist?
  • Does having support, knowing you’re not alone help with struggles of being female?
  • If you could be reborn into a second life, would you still chose to be a woman? Why?
  • If you could wish anything for your gender, what would you be?

I then cut their responses into something that felt right to me, adding footage and images to create something that not only would hold a message, but was also visually appealing.

Things I Learned

I learned a lot while working on Voice, from working on my courage to reach out to strangers, to learning how to conduct interviews. I also learned about working with sound, and experimenting with footage.

In a way, the experience has been very therapeutic, helping me deal with my issues of growing up in my teenagers of being told what females could and could not do.

Music Credits: Nanou 2 by Aphex Twin & Leanna Is a Quiet Meow by A Lily


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