I am satisfied with my final outcome, and the project as a whole, as I feel my intentions have been met. I have discovered in detail what it was like for my mother and grandfather – first and second generation Vietnamese immigrants, to arrive in England – and recorded their words aurally and on film. In the process of discussing their feelings towards their heritage, and their sense of belonging, I have addressed the emotions that I feel as a reaction to my mixed cultural identity. Though it may not be explicit in the final outcome as I have limited how much I reveal, this project has heightened my awareness of my own vulnerability and uncertainty about my sense of belonging. The incongruity of the audio playing separately to the video montage, and the juxtaposition between the layers of footage I have chosen emulate this emotional instability. As I came to realise towards the supposed ‘end’ of this project, the act of exploring one’s identity is perpetual. Identity, specifically cultural identity, is such a fluid, dynamic concept. It is for this reason that I chose to use a moving image loop to communicate what I have found out to the audience.
What I have created is hard to define; it is best described as a video montage – a visual collage of moving image that represents locations that have shaped my cultural identity, while figuratively reflecting my feelings towards my dual heritage through juxtaposition and camera movement. As with many of my static collages, the colours often tie two juxtaposed clips together, and the smooth transitions give the montage an overall harmonious appearance. This reflects how my mum has come to peace with the diasporic challenges she has faced in her life, and in fact my own coming to terms with my heritage. Having tried so many different techniques, manual and digital, I have confidence that reducing the piece to layered film and a single static overlay is most effective. Although I tried including GIFs and hand-painted illustration, I found the effect was distracting and appeared over-decorated; there was no need for traditional symbolism and I felt it was in danger of making the work appear too literal. Though some initial feedback I received earlier on commented that layering clips from two different locations was a little simplistic, I think that the additional layer of handwritten text makes it more complex. Also, when layered in varying transparencies, the content and origin of the clips becomes more ambiguous, so requires more engagement from the audience.
In the exhibition, the audio and film will be playing on separate loops, meaning each member of the audience’s experience of the piece will be unique. I have arranged and edited the audio and visual material so that whatever the audience see or hear will give them an insight into the thoughts and feelings that come as a result of having dual heritage and mixed cultural identity. From the various presentation ideas I came up with in my sketchbook, the one I have chosen is the most interactive, and suits the format of my work. A large projection would have been inappropriately cinematic; this is not a polished film, it is a video montage giving a snapshot into my personal investigation. Having headphones and a relatively small screen display instead of speakers will increase the intimacy of the experience, and convey the personal nature of the project. Although I have considered putting a prompt or explanatory text to accompany the film in the exhibition, I’ve decided that it may not be necessary. Even if members of the audience do not wear the headphones, they can make their own individual interpretations of the film.
Overall, I have fulfilled the aims outlined in my statement of intent, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone practically and emotionally.