Graduate Design Seminar Presentation on Visual Storytelling

I asked professor Cui to allow me to move my presentation up to today because my focus is on literary storytelling and I thought it would be beneficial to our second project, or at least would give you another perspective on it.

After seeing the examples that George and Melody had shown us, I knew I needed to step up my game. As I was thinking about my topic and scouring the web to find examples, I realize that I have done quite a bit of literary storytelling for personal and professional work; therefore, I am just going to show you some of them and talk a bit about the process behind them.

The first piece is typographic treatment of Adam Mansach’s Go the Fuck to Sleep. It’s a satire children book that I instantly connected with when I first read the story. I spent so many nights trying to get my son to sleep and understood exactly what the author went through. The concept for this piece is very simple. I used type as visual and combining it with Samuel L. Jackson’s narration to tell the story.

For the second piece, I was commissioned by a Vietnamese-American photographer who puts out a calendar each year showcasing Vietnamese traditional long dress. All the profits he made would go to the orphanage in Vietnam. When he approached me to create the slideshow, he gave me access to all of his photos and the complete creative freedom to work on the piece.

As I went though his photos, I noticed similar patterns in his work. The way that the traditional long dress wrapping around the body created beautiful forms, shapes, lines and curves. The models were very relaxed as if they were in a sleeping mode. Then immediately a song from an independent singer at the time came to mind. It’s a simple folksy song, more like a lullaby, but set in an electric guitar backdrop. The lyric is about a mother singing her kid to sleep. As we watch “Ao Dai Trang A Oi,” notice how the fingerpicking guitar matches with the forms and the curves.

Comparing this piece with the first piece, you can see the different in parenting approach between a mother and a father. A mother would sing you the whole lullaby until you fall asleep. The father would just like, “go the fuck to sleep.”

The third piece titled “A Few Gifts for My Homeland” is a very controversial song about the Vietnam War. Even though many singers have covered the tune, the one that struck me the most is from this one pop singer. You could tell that she meant every word she sang. In some ways, the song reminds of Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit.” The power that these singers connected to the lyrics is amazing. They were not just singing it. They lived and breathed it. I am just going to show a short part of it.

The final piece is Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby.” What’s interesting about this piece is they way Jay-Z connects art with hip-hop. As he explains in the beginning of the video how art and hip-hop was one. They were outcasts and they aren’t allowed inside the gallery. Then art got into the gallery and hip-hop disassociated with it. Now he’s just bringing it back together. Let’s watch the performance.

Bonjour Vietnam