ON THIS DAY
Personal Research — Spring 2021
Personal Research — Spring 2021
On This Day is a collaborative project. Our group of ten people translated text, data, images, events, and so on from historical events into form and sequence and adapt it within a newspaper we sequenced and assembled together.
In a world where information sources describe events by tracking and recording time, where time informs narratives and shapes our social discourse, we regard information as an authoritative fact. We used the course’s start date, February 23, as the starting point for our study to discover noteworthy past events on February 23. During this process, my attention was drawn to a Chinese man who significantly influenced China’s reformation: Liang Qichao.
Liang was born on February 23, 1873. He was a political figure and academic during the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China’s early years. As a child, he assisted his instructor, Kang Youwei, in carrying out the 1980 Reform. He escaped to Japan following his loss and sought the formation of a constitutional monarchy abroad. He served as chief justice of Yuan Shikai’s government following the 1911 Revolution. However, displeased with Yuan’s proclamation as emperor, he collaborated with Cai E to lead a campaign to defend the country and depose Yuan. He committed his life to improve China’s political system, pushing for the New Culture Movement, and rallying support for the May Fourth Movement. He is the first of four tutors at Tsinghua University’s Institute of Chinese Studies.
How, then, do I transfer this historical narrative of a well-known political figure into my own visual language? This was unquestionably a significant issue for me. However, fortunately, I discovered the answer outside of Liang’s political involvement.
Liang Qichao made significant contributions to the early Chinese newspapers as a reformer in modern Chinese history and an important person in the history of journalism. He worked in the newspaper industry for 27 years and founded 17 newspapers and magazines during his career. Newspapers and other propaganda media, he believed, were a power capable of altering the social structure and thinkingof the populace and should be “sincere, true, rich, and universal,” “should relieve social tensions,” “should supervise the government,” and “should guide thepopulace.” At the same time, he said: “The newspaper gathers virtually all the thoughts and expressions of the nation and systematically introduces them to the citizenry. It is irrelevant whether they are important or not, concise or not, radical or not. Therefore, the press can contain, reject, produce, and destroy everything.”
A free society will encourage more readers, and more readers will bring more diverse perspectives to society to achieve social progress. However, applied to modern society, this statement becomes ironic. In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak catapulted the world into chaos. The virus attacked people’s health and revealed pent-up sentiments like a sharp blade cutting open a hidden secret. Countries bashed one another in the media, spreading rumors and lies. Negative feelings toward nationality, race, and identity erupted, with no way to calm the discontent. The situation deteriorated beyond remedy. With everyone shifting blame and criticizing others, no one ever questioned the actual cause. Since then, I have begun to think about and ask questions: Is the media supposed to be objective? Are they supposed to be in the right?
I selected several stories from China and the West on the same topics, such as sentiments toward Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and COVID-19, and drew comparisons. Readers can observe two distinct political perspectives; the contrast is both direct and rational. As a student caught between two worlds of knowledge, my design objective is not to attack the media's lack of impartiality and accuracy. Still, like Mr. Liang, I intend to give readers a space where they may access information from several perspectives. There is no such thing as accurate reporting in this area but rather a blending of diverse ideas that encourages readers to view and reflect on contemporary topics from various angles.