Anhua Katniss Xu
Today and tomorrow look totally different. The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace and I want my visual art to present the everyday steps we take and face to get to that ever-changing future. To create my photography, I look at moments from daily life that I find most fun. For me the most fun activity is talking with new people. When I meet new people, I can experience through them the variety that the world has to offer.
I sought to broaden my horizons and expose myself to different ideas. I left my home in Guangzhou, China to study art in the United States where I built relationships from scratch, paying close attention to the nuances that make us individuals. I began to experience cultural diversity and explored the types of relationships people have with each other and technology. From many conversations I can see the problems people face in these relationships and how I can use my work to advocate awareness of these issues.
The “ME?” Collection, featured in the “Now You See ME” graduate show and represented by 13 prints and transparencies, was inspired by the social issues I have experienced in our fast-changing relationship with digital photography technology.
Digital photography has evolved tremendously in my lifetime. As digital photography changed so too did our perception of ourselves. We could look at ourselves and capture that moment instantaneously and just as easily we could manipulate those photos. Photo editing/alteration is a new and trending phenomenon that has found its way into all corners of our modern life. Digital photo editing is creating a social problem on the Internet right now. There are many people who are addicted to photo editing and who believe that online photos must be altered for a person to be beautiful.
Often there are many people who are addicted to photo editing who lose sight of what they really look like and instead attempt to only view themselves with their most ideal face or body. Yet this can also happen to those who don’t even edit their photos as there are some mobile applications that automatically filter images to make you seem more beautiful. Edited beauty has become so prevalent that criticism against those who choose not to use photo altering programs is commonplace.
The artwork featured in this show was chosen to demonstrate the difference between how I appear and how others would edit my photos to make me look more beautiful to them. When creating my collection, I asked dozens of friends to edit my photo how they saw fit. While some are more extreme than others it truly shows how beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as well as highlighting beauty standard that we as a society have adopted. The setup of these pieces allows the viewer to not only experience edited beauty but also interact with the topic in a physical space which I hope raises awareness for how prevalent edited beauty is.
Issues like these catch my attention and motivate the creation of my art. I yearn to learn more and make my art to highlight these social issues that are happening. The world is changing too quickly to not pay attention and take action. It is my hope that through my photography I can raise awareness of current issues and motivate changes that we as a people must overcome and work together towards a better future.