abstract and representational

Should I be grateful to the white women who draw my face?

Scrolling through Instagram and seeing a representation of my face drawn by someone who doesn’t know me is something that happens to me every day. I don’t know how it happened, but my face is trendy right now. Despite the artistic differences, this girl is always vaguely Asian. This girl also usually has some sort of “Fuck You” agenda attached to her. Like: “Fuck You, I’m eating pizza and I’m still very hot.” or “Fuck You, I’m a babe and you’re boring me, please go away.” She is hot and she is powerful, and for a while, I was ecstatic about this kind of representation. How lucky am I that these artists are representing the exact kind of Fuck You Femme that I want to be, at the exact same moment in my life that I’m trying to be it?

There has been a direct correlation between the time frame that these images gained popularity and the time in which people have found me increasingly attractive. As someone who has always had my own face, I’m intimately aware of the public response to it. In 2008, when the ~trendiest~ faces belonged to tan, eyebrow-less, paris hilton white girls, I was pretty ugly in popular opinion and, as a result, felt that way. Now, in 2016, mixed race girls are glorified for beauty. Our faces are trendy. We are becoming the mainstream idea of beauty. The things I was bullied for in middle school - huge eyebrows, big lips, big butt - are now the things that the white girls who bullied me want to have for themselves.

Should I be lucky that these white girls are drawing a very attractive stereotype of me? Or is this representation just a new form of exoticism, a shiny way for me to perform the sexually exoticized other? Is this who I actually am, is this what I actually want, or am I just successfully performing an exoticized stereotype that has been given to me? What if I am exhausted by my sex appeal? What if I find it a burden to have to perform a hypersexualized, fun, wild, Fuck You Femme image all the time? What if I feel trapped by this stereotype? What if I continue to do it anyway because I’m worried that soon these white girls won’t find me trendy, will stop drawing my face, and my time to shine will be over?

This is the worst feeling: that my attractiveness is in the literal hands of white people. I want to actually know - what’s your stake in the Half-Asian girl? Why her? And what about the people who feel like they have to write themselves into your narrative? Can I have some of the proceeds from your next exhibition? Beauty is normalized by the representations and preferences of the people who have the most power in artistic representation. I guess that means I’ll have fun with my face for however long they decide this should last. 


1964-1965 New York World’s Fair

“Many of the pavilions were built in a Mid-Century modern style that was heavily influenced by “Googie architecture”. This was a futurist architectural style influenced by car culture, jet aircraft, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age, which were all on display at the fair. Some pavilions were explicitly shaped like the product they were promoting, such as the US Royal tire-shaped Ferris wheel, or even the corporate logo, such as the Johnson Wax pavilion. Other pavilions were more abstract representations, such as the prolate spheroid shaped IBM pavilion, or the General Electric circular dome shaped “Carousel of Progress” (excerpt from Wikipedia)

In order of Appearance:

  1. United Nations Headquarters
  2. Model of Fair at Flushing-Corona Park, Queens NY
  3. General Motors Pavillon
  4. Kodak Pavillon
  5. Republic of China (Taiwan) Pavillon
  6. Travelers Insurance Pavillon
  7. US Steel’s Unisphere (still standing)
  8. Vatican Pavillon
  9. US Royal Tires Pavillon and Wheel
  10. General Electric’s Tower of Light

The blue had a lot to do with the Greek myth Narcissus to reflect Elle Fanning’s climactic narcissistic moment; we did an abstract representation of going to the pond and looking at her reflection in the triangle. That’s when she’s going to transform into red and go from the Alice in Wonderland girl to the empowered beauty queen. It’s very subtle; it’s done with just light and mirrors. - Nicolas Winding Refn

Lily Evans Wasn’t Perfect

Over the course of the books, the people to whom Harry looks up go from static adults to flawed human beings. Most of the time, there’s a distinct turning point. Dumbledore’s moment comes at the end of book 5, Lupin at the beginning of book 7, James in Snape’s Worst Memory. The James moment was particularly important because James ceased to become a perfect martyr father and became a real person with distinct flaws.

And  it bothered me that Lily was never given such a moment.

It’s natural that other characters would romanticize her, and it’s natural that Harry would romanticize her. But she can’t possibly be perfect.

While I can accept that JKR didn’t have a chance to humanize Lily within the books, it frustrates me that so many people in the fandom portray her as this abstract representation of goodness and motherhood and martyrdom.

I’ve seen fics that delve into each of the Marauder’s motivations and experiences in any number of ways, but Lily often remains as blameless and saint-like as she was in canon. 

If we can give the Giant Squid a love interest, then we can give Lily Evans a complex personality.

But too often in fanon, Lily seems to exist to balance out characters like Snape, James, and Petunia. There’s an almost mathematical logic to it. If James is big-headed, then Lily must be gracious, if Petunia is finicky, Lily must be laid-back. Everything negative in James and Petunia is absorbed and inverted.

This is unfair to characters with whom Lily interacts. Petunia is not a very good person, but is it fair to say that the demise of her relationship with Lily is entirely Petunia’s fault? Things are rarely so one-sided. And painting her as the moral savior of James Potter does both James and Lily a disservice.

Lily was not a saint. She was a teenage girl.

Far too often, I hear people arguing Lily/James vs. Lily/Snape in a way that places supreme importance on the importance of James and Snape, while minimizing Lily’s agency. She becomes this inanimate object to be awarded to the person with the most moral fiber.

But no one–not Snape or James or anyone else–”deserves” Lily as a friend or a romantic partner. She’s a human being, not a Quidditch Cup trophy.

It’s damaging and dangerous to reduce Lily to Harry’s perfect mother or Snape’s object of infatuation. Lily is a flawed individual who chose her own path.  She had insecurities, fears, hang ups, and bad habits.  She had hopes and dreams that didn’t involve the men in her life.

And it’s incredibly unfair to pigeonhole and Mary Sue-ize a flawed nineteen-year-old girl.

“Only meant to visit for a short time?”  You mean, for example…

…while your Diamond was visiting Earth to check on the state of the civil war?

There’s a lot to be said for ignoring “conservation of detail”, but you still, generally, try not to make a meaningless background detail an exact replica of a major plot character.  This was Lapis.

So…Lapis was caught on the surface during the war, and a lot of this seems to be an abstract representation of events rather than a one-to-one depiction, but we get to see the gem that poofed her, I think.

You’d tend to remember that, I’d think.

Interesting.  She seems to be a type we haven’t seen before, which doesn’t happen often.  I wonder if this is foreshadowing for running into more of this type of gem, or if this is just worldbuilding?  The last time we saw a brand-new type of gem was The Answer (not counting Yellow Diamond who we’d seen in the extended intro already), and none of those had even as much detail as this gem here.

Semiotics: Balem Abrasax

It seems to me that Balem’s “sigil” is functional in the operations of the stockworks, which are powered by ambient energy from the storms. It is thus fitting that his sigil resembles two bolts of lightening. It’s all very Van-de-Graaff.

If Balem has based his sigil on an abstract representation electricity, it would foliow for the folded wires in Balem’s jewelry to be representative of just that: wires. This is a man who has fetishized POWER, and the conduction of it. He sees himself as a conduit.

There is also something to be said about the symbolism of the LINE. A line is a natural choice to represent continuity. That is why we think of time as linear.  Balem’s aesthetic depends heavily on lines (see: his stripy cape) because that is how he views his place in the world–continuous, a sequence of points which naturally and methodically follow one another. There is a vector which runs through the universe, trending upward, and it’s name is profit

Just for a fun, I had a go at designing a new Doctor Who logo. I wanted to base it vaguely on my favourites – the 1970 Bernard Lodge design for Jon Pertwee and Sid Sutton’s 1980 design – and to come up with something that was simple and not immediately sci-fi or comic book in style.

I ended up doing something a bit Rennie-Mackintosh influenced, which might be quite appropriate given Peter Capaldi’s links to the Glasgow School of Art. And, to give it some context, the background is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while for a new title sequence. I’d love the show’s opening to return to something more abstract and organic – a visual representation of time travel and the unknown, rather than a literal journey through a literal space.