Sunday, 27 November 2016

Understanding Essay Questions

Diagram 1.1: Death of Alan Kurdi, 2015, Photography.
Diagram 1.2: The Vulture and the Little Girl, 1993, Photography.
Diagram 1.3: The Death of Marat, 1793, Oil on canvas.

1. Investigate a major controversy that unfolded online. Discuss its relevance to creative professionals.

An image appeared in my mind right after I read the question. In September of year 2015, a journalism photo provoked the world's debates and awareness over the crisis of Syrian refugees. It was the Death of Alan Kurdi (Diagarm 1.1) taken by a Turkish journalist Nilüfer Demir. Little Kurdi and his families were trying to reach Europe but unfortunately the boat was drown and Kurdi became one of the countless victims in crossing the Mediterranean Sea (Rayner,2015). The photo spread quickly on internet and it successfully caught the world's attention on the tragedies happening in the unseen world.

It had also reminded me of The Vulture and the Little Girl (Diagarm 1.2) by Kevin Carter in 1993. He captured a Sudamese girl who is suffering of hunger, beside her was a vulture waiting to harvest her dead body. The photograph had won him Pulitzer Prize but he was criticized for not rescuing the girl. It eventually led to his suicide at the same year (Rare Historical Photos, 2013).

The above were the influential photos in recent years. In earlier of human history, art has played its role too. In 1793, a historical painting the Death of Marat (Diagarm 1.3) by Jacques-Louis David who tried to seek justice for his murdered friend by revealing the dark side of politicians (Boston College, 2013). It all proves that art has power in influencing human's action which is practical in solving world's problems. German almost immediately announced that they accept the refugees for entering their country, African famine became concerned by public, and the painting indirectly led to and became an icon for the French Revolution.

These three photos are from different period of history, therefore their media and platform to present the idea are different too. How they work and which is more effective? Does artwork more powerful when it relates to death? How long the impact can be in the fast paced internet world? How to bring it to real life?

Besides, as all the photos and paintings above are journalism art, are there another forms of art that can help to solve the world problems? Let us relate back to the essay question, creative is a way of looking at a new perspective that suggests solution, creative professionals include art, design, writing, strategy and marketing. They create ideology, thinking and aesthetic and influence people by using it. Therefore creative professionals probably solving the real world issues by emotional approach.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is known for attracting people to join them as jihadist fighters using online social media, that is what we learnt from news. For outsiders, it is totally incredible as they believe and accept the idea of killing is a gateway to heaven, but how does ISIS make their propaganda so persuasive that it attracts so much foreigners even highly-educated ones to join them? Their videos of beheading captives became viral on internet and feelings of fears arisen in from the virtual internet to the real world.

It must have related to creative professionals because it needs a strong strategy to control viewer's psychology. In the published book Terrorism and the Real Issues, Mahathir Mohamad stated that terrorists use terror as weapon. In the case of Malayan Communist, the way to defeat them is by carrying out campaign to win people's mind and heart (Mahathir, 2003). It is similar as integrated campaign that graphic design students had learnt in design class, a 360 degree strategy that every elements created must finally achieve one objective. Therefore it is interesting to learn the way terrorists effectively created propaganda and distributes it online. I would like to proceed it as my essay topic.

Diagram 2.1: Logo of Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan.
Diagram 2.2: Kita Semua Penghasut, 2016, doodle of Fahmi Reza.
Diagram 2.3: Bird's-eye view of Kuala Lumpur at the night of Bersih 4.0, 2015. The streets were flooded of demonstrators in yellow shirts.

2. Cyberspace is vital for protecting and spreading democracy. Explore this idea and question its effectiveness.

Malaysia is not a fully democratic country as it still binds to law for certain topics. In notion of many Malaysian, Sedition Act 1948 is an obstruction towards democracy of Malaysia, it led to Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) that demands to abolish Sedition Act. They created hashtag of #MansuhAktaHasutan, trying to flood it within social media to raise people's awareness about the threat of human rights that brought by Sedition Act.

Government representative replied the critics that it is to prevent the inappropriate contents from destructing the society's harmony (Palatino, 2015). Action, publication, speech or anything that tend to "instigate" can result in fine penalty or arrest without warrant (Jabatan Peguam Malaysia, 2006). According to this scenario, street artist Fahmi Reza posted a Malaysia Prime Minister face that manipulated to a clown, with text written "In a country full of corruption, we are all instigators" on Twitter. He challenged the law and PM's scandal on internet in one shot. He successfully catches the eyes from both government authority and Malaysia people. It is the first step of protecting democracy and I believe internet is useful and effective when it is used in the right way. Internet can be used to spread message and implant ideology on users' mind, but the actions afterwards must not only depends on the virtual cyberspace.

Technology of internet is useful to increase productivity. In year 2015, the official Bersih 4.0 group introduced the participants to use FireChat app for communicating in the rally, as the mobile network might destruct due to the concentrated user demands in an area. It only requires Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to function. Besides, live news and posts from participants were updated faster than the broadcast stations. These were the example of effective internet usage on democracy movement.

The questions that we might need to answer are how do we trust it? What are the difference of spreading democracy in different countries? Due to digital divide, how does activists in different geographic, cultural and political boundaries use the internet?

Further research keywords: WikiLeaks, We the People

Diagram 3.0: Marks and Spencer 2016 Christmas ads, "Christmas with love from Mrs Claus". Link at here. Semiotics, consumer and post-industrial society, culture consumption, thematic campaign, so much to talk about in a video.

4. Compare and contrast how two different communities or social groups use a specific social media platform. Which of the two groups has more to gain from it and why?

There is say that you are what you read, just like sometimes Malaysians' opinion on certain incidents are different as their newspaper subscribed. Although reporters have to be neutral in writing news articles, but difference in focus point of every newspaper publisher inevitably causes the readers to have different perspective in analysing the happening. Therefore, communities that use a same social media can be categorized from what they received everyday, they will slowly filtered out what they do not desired, and stay in their own comfort zone if they are not aware of it.

If statement above is linked to question No.2, can malicious or well-intentioned individuals use internet as their weapon to affect people's mindset by controlling what they are viewing? In this case, the two communities mentioned in essay question can be divided as: creator and user.

Creators are online articles writer who put in content to internet everyday, UI & UX designer who create the user experience and indirectly affect their action on the webpage, functional website creator such as cloud drive and email service, the list goes on.

Users are the ones who received the services information. The boundary between user and creator is blur, because user can create using the ready-made product that what other had created, such as Facebook users who contribute content on it. But what I emphasize here is the creator who intentionally use social media as the source of profits, which take it more serious than the usual users.

Further research keywords: Keynesian economics


Boston College (n.d.). Jacques-Louis David: The Death of Marat. [Online] Available at:  (Accessed on: 24 November 2016)

Jabatan Peguam Malaysia (2006). Undang-undang Malaysia: Akta 15: AKTA HASUTAN 1948. Media Literacy for Malaysia. [Online] Available at:  (Accessed on: 24 November 2016)

Mahathir Mohamad (2003). Terrorism and the Real Issues. Selangor: Pelanduk Publications. (Accessed on: 9 November 2016)

Palatino, M (2015). Malaysia Strengthens Sedition Act. The Diplomat.  [Online] Available at:  (Accessed on: 26 November 2016)

Rare Historical Photos (2013). The vulture and the little girl. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on: 21 November 2016)

Rayner, G (2015). Aylan and Galip Kurdi: Everything we know about drowned Syrian refugee boys. The Telegraph. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on: 24 November 2016)

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