This project is a collaboration between students in China and America under the instruction of Tom R. Chambers
at Zhaoqing University (Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China) and Carmin Karasic at the Art Institute of Boston (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.).
In China, red is everywhere and one of the two official colors on the Chinese flag (the other being yellow). It is deep-rooted in their culture. For the Chinese, red represents the sun, the phoenix, fire, summer, the south, joy, good fortune and happiness. It is the luckiest of all colors. Bright red envelopes are used to present gifts of money in China. On the Chinese stage, a character with a red face is a sacred person. It is used in wedding ceremonies, and it has been used during revolutions. It's identified with Communism [Socialist red], and it was associated with political vehicles such as the 'Red Guards' during the Cultural Revolution. And Mao Zedong is sometimes referred to as a 'red sun'.
In America, and for the Cherokee tribes, red was a symbol of success. Red beads were used when praying to ask for long life or recovery from illness. The Native Americans associate red with faith and communication. But generally, it's characterized by violence or bloodshed, and is reminiscent of the color of blood, cherries, tomatoes, rubies, hair and wine. And it's especially related to emotion or exertion. Red catches people's attention, and is often used to indicate danger or emergency, and it denotes, 'stop'. And it is the color of both romantic and carnal love [red-light district]. It's one of the three official colors on the American flag, and it leads the other two colors in the patriotic and proverbial phrase of 'the red, white and blue'. And within a political context, it helps differentiate the parties and process. It also has connotations of 'Red China' during the Cold War of the 20th century and 'the Redcoats [British] are coming' during the American Revolutionary War.
"The descriptions above about the color, red seem to be in line with the images. The images by the Chinese students follow traditional, cultural and
political mores whilst the images by the American students are in keeping with the generalities of the color: romance [sex], danger, emergency, passion,
bloodshed and Hell. So conformity is confirmed as a result of this project. This comparison reveals differences based on societal systems ... within open
and closed contexts ... and familial/communal upbringing or a lack of.
As Chinese society and culture go, the images reflect a sense of pride in their long history and civilized society [The reserved and harmonious nature of
the people and the prestige of the state and its popular identification with the highest values of Chinese civilization are the final result of a
centuries-long program of indoctrination and education directed by the Confucian scholar-officials.]. To mention that these Chinese students are Junior
design majors is significant due to seen skills in most of the works, but what seems to lie deeper is the formalized approach due to the long-standing
adherence to recognized forms and proper procedures.
And as American society and lifestyle go, the images reflect a much looser existence with a lack of well-defined and long-standing societal values. Many
of the images relate the color, red to romance with sexual and almost carnal connotations. There's no design standard or basis that seems to set a
foundation that's seen within most of the images by the Chinese students. This may be due to the collective spirit and approach that's prominent in
Chinese society versus the very individual style in American society. Within this comparative context, there's an immediate surface treatment to the
color. And in a general sense, this treatment seems to be the only attachment for these American students."
Tom R. Chambers
Visiting Lecturer, Digital/New Media Art
Fine Arts Department