Walking with my wife Sadie and dog Tony into the subway station.
via GIPHY <– click here.
Please click the link above to see how the perspective changes when you move the lid back and forth. (for whatever reason it wouldnt’ embed properly)
STORY BEHIND: I created a personal daily diorama. Every day, I ride a bike to get to school. Usually, I follow the Broadway since I live in the midtown of Manhattan. In the city, we have some tall buildings which have the antenna and they work as a landmark of this city. Also, many complex systems are going at the same time, not only constructed buildings but also stock markets and a sort of internet system. It tells me again that here is a global central city. In addition, in terms of the background of my diorama, personally, the layered cityscape is really interested to me. Perhaps, that’s why I enjoy taking a city photo.
Story behind – why did I want to create it?
Last week(October 2, 2018), an 18-year-old NYU student jumped in front of an oncoming train in Manhattan and committed suicide on the subway tracks, which reminded me of tons of similar stories about how desperate people living in New York City decided to end their lives this way. That NYU student was actually living right next to the apartment that my friend lives and was said to “never speak to people around”.
This sad story really made me think of what is really “under the surface”: 1. people might seem ok outside but are suffering from depression inside and never speak up. 2. The upper ground of New York City might seem glittering and stunning, but under that surface, there are dark subways with homeless people and literally there are people living under the ground (basement) in bad living conditions. 3. Or even, what is story behind the immigrant americans? How about their hard times and great effort just to stay in America? (Tenement Museum’s HARD TIME tour is a great example.)
Therefore, I decided to give the series of stories a name of “What’s under”: the hardships both physical and mental that people are suffering from to better understand NYC more comprehensively. And I believe these stories should be told. By facing /speaking up and admitting the difficulties in stead of avoiding talking about them, we can really release the stresses and have empathy for the people around us. (Ughhh I would very much appreciate it if any of you could comment or give some suggestions about this idea?)
As a quick start of the “what’s under” series, I made a tiny quick model of the West 4 subway station. Also instead of “danger” signal near the track, I really wanna replace that with “we love you” to remind everyone you are loved always and please don’t jump into the subway :(((
Diorama of everyday life – Subway
New York City’s subway is so different from Shanghai’s subway. Unlike Shanghai’s subway where all you can do in it is get on it and go to your destination, New York’s subway is much more interesting. It is like a little gathering place where there are all kinds of people doing different things other than taking the train: they perform, draw, read, dance, shout, or even live their lives here. And to me, it feels like a different world underground, which is fascinating and interesting enough to visit. I like its hot, smelly, dark, crowded as well as dynamic. I promise there are stories to tell under the ground.
Therefore I made a diorama of what I see when taking the subway everyday out of cardboard, foil and acrylic painting material. I tried to make it a space dark enough and feels like”under the surface”. And I tries to use foil to create a stunning feeling outside as well as giving a texture of the ground and tracks in the subway.
Please read the full version here:
I’m addicted to bubble tea, especially the matcha ones. I have to visit a bubble tea store at least every other day to get my dose. The process of walking into a store, standing in line, and ordering my Matcha Oolong Milk Tea with 25% sugar and less ice is an indispensable part of the daily ritual. When my friends suggest I buy a can of matcha and make the drink at home I refuse to do so. Considering it is cheaper and possibly healthier to make my own milk tea at home + it does not taste worse + I don’t even order bubbles in my “bubble tea”, there must be some mysterious force getting me obsessed with the ritual that has little to do with how the drink tastes. With this question in mind, I made a diorama that represents my mental image of what bubble tea stores in New York look like. I enjoyed the process of making the diorama, printing and cutting out tiny menus, choosing my favorite kind of bubble tea to be placed on the counter, and decorating the wall with tiny post-its left by customers. Does the diorama answer why I’m obsessed? No. But surprisingly, during the two days I worked on the diorama, I didn’t buy a single cup of bubble tea.
Upon exiting the subway station and seeing the statue of Theodore Roosevelt, I immediately became flooded with memories of seeing the outside of the Natural History Museum as a child. I was always enamored by the size of the building and excited about revisiting the space center.
Right inside, not a lot had changed.
After buying a ticket I headed toward the first exhibit.
The hall of African Mammals.
I’ve seen these diorama’s many times.
And remember thinking, as a kid, how hyper realistic the scenes were.
After the elephants, I wandered through the Hall of African Peoples.
The colorful displays were very informative with easy to read descriptions.
The diorama’s in this hall reminded me of the ones in the hall with the elephants.
Although I still didn’t read through the entire paragraph, I found it easy to read with a nice font choice on a simple white background, lit up.
To the point.
Nice description, perhaps a little too much text though.
A beautiful blue diorama.
With a nicely lit description.
Once I got to the Hall of Asian Peoples, strangely titled “The Lure of Asia”, I started noticing that the diorama’s started getting busy and cluttered with hard to read text.
Above is a picture of “The Georgians” display.
In my opinion, there is way too much text here, and the descriptions of each artifact seen at the bottom is so small and illegible against the strange green color chosen as a background.
The description didn’t even include text about what is in these little slim pockets on this shirt, which I found to be a drag.
Down the hall, things got sketchier. This window display had only half of the show lights working.
And this display features the text on the side walls, making it really hard to read.
When looking closer, it seemed like part of the ceiling fell down!
Hard to read text on the side wall.
More examples of text heavy and cluttered window design.
Oddly placed text with strange color choices.
Dense and text heavy descriptions.
Can you find the text in the window above?
Way too much text and very hard to read.
This display looks more organized but the text is hard to find in this case and they used a very hard to read color and font size.
I snapped a photo of this because I loved the way they played with perspective within the space. It’s clear and to the point with no need for much explanation.
To the left of the window above the hall looked uninviting and I wasn’t sure if I should even go down there. Exhibits were on display but the lights were off.
I don’t even know what’s happening here.
I couldn’t take a good picture without including my legs in the shot, but as you can sort of see, the blue lit up text is not lit up consistently and the text everywhere is cluttered and hard to read.
Moving on to the Eastern Woodlands Indians, which I mistook for the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians which is being renovated (perhaps that why I couldn’t find it), I noticed a few changes to the exhibit design.
An intense smell of a 1970’s basement hit my nose, and everything looked vintage.
One of the worst thing I found were these paintings of Native American’s by colonialists that seemed inappropriate because there was nothing in the exhibit that talked about all the horrible things the colonialists to them.
I stared at this one for a while. It really took me into the space.
Right around the corner, the Hall of Pacific Peoples, had a very different feel. As I began thinking about the museum as a history of exhibit design I certainly felt like this was a newer and included more information about each object.
A glimpse down the hall where everything was well lit and inviting.
With all of this in mind, and with respect to the Hall of Asian Peoples, I would certainly make some changes. There were so many wonderful things on display but too many missed opportunities to explain their relevance and describe the history behind it in a clear way. A general renovation of the space surrounding the windows allowing visitors to walk through inviting, well lit spaces would be beneficial. Including some aspects of interactivity might make it more fun for kids. I would also change the font, colors, and font sizes on almost all of the windows making it easier to obtain information about what’s in front of you. To break it down:
- Renovate the halls to allow better light for the flow of movement for visitors and to highlight each window.
- Change the color of background walls and font style, color and size.
- Add an interactivity element to engage younger visitors
- Simplify the body of texts for each window and put windows into a series together that make sense in a narrative.
Before I left, I couldn’t skip a visit to the big bang theater. The feeling of this wing was drastically different than the other exhibits I had just walked through. Everything was very “high tech” although navigating up to the theater seemed confusing to some people. There was a “no exit” sign at the bottom of the ramp down from the theater that people just flat out ignored, walking up the ramp only to be turned away from a security guard at the top.