12x12 Innovating culture through the Chinese Zodiac

Material Information

12x12 Innovating culture through the Chinese Zodiac
Luo, Dan
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
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Project in lieu of thesis


Subjects / Keywords:
Audiences ( jstor )
Chinese culture ( jstor )
Cultural preservation ( jstor )
Folk culture ( jstor )
Graphic design ( jstor )
Industrial design ( jstor )
Product design ( jstor )
Rats ( jstor )
Websites ( jstor )
Western civilization ( jstor )


In this creative project I explored the research question, “How to innovate the culture of the traditional Chinese Zodiac in the context of present Chinese society?” This question was explored in two stages: 1) formal explorations and revisions of the signs of the Chinese Zodiac using a contemporary lens, and 2) creating a new visual language to integrate the Chinese and Western Zodiac signs. This project began as a way to explore the popularity of the Western Zodiac (signs and signification) with Chinese youth, who seemed to abandon the ancient Chinese forms in favor of a system imported from the west. Although my initial interests were in cultural preservation, researches and creative activities resulted in the creation of a hybrid contemporary visual language that integrates the Chinese and Western to appeal to a popular audience of young urban Chinese people. The resulting 144 hybrid symbol system, known as 12X12, are applied to artifacts of daily life to foster national confidence, self-identification, and the joy of the everyday in modern China.
General Note:
Graphic Design terminal project
General Note:
Additional files being processed; movie files.

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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914419314 ( OCLC )


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Innovating Culture throughTHE CHINESE ZODIA CBy D an Luo




Acknowledgements With all the support, encouragement, and advise, I am truly grateful to all my committee: Professor Maria Rogal, Professor Brian Slawson, and Professor Katerie Gladdys. To Maria, you sharp thoughts and eyes helped me get on the correct path and develop better solutions theoretically and practically. I really appreciate that you saved me from some unreasonable solutions of this project. Without you, I could not make the 12X12 store happen. Thank you so much for your honesty, the suggestions, advice and support. You are a great mentor to work with and learn from. I learned so many things from you, especially, To Brian, thank you so much for all the resources and your seminar. I love how you gave us space to work on the topic that we are interested in. For all these 3 years, I learned so many designers work and cutting-edge design thinking from you. You inspired me so much created smoothly. To Katerie, thank you so much for giving many critical comments and unique suggestions on my work and push the work to be more reasonable and more attractive to the audiences. The commercial idea is brilliance. It really lighted up the exhibition area. It made the store concept be stronger. I appreciate your time during a very busy semester. Moreover, a special thanks to Professor Lauren Garber Lake, Professor Bob Mueller, Professor Jack Stenner, Professor Meng Fu Zhang, and all the graduate students from Graphic Design. Thanks for all their critic and technical assistance along the way. I also want to thank all the support and love from my parents and my other family members. understanding. 03


Table of Contents A C KNOWLEDGEMEN T S ABS T R ACT IN T RODU CTI ON CRE ATI VE PROJE CT PH A SE Problems Process: The Chinese Zodiac E xploration through a Contemporary L ens 1.1 The Study of Traditional Pattern on the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animal figures 1.2 The Chinese Zodiac Animals Figures Exploration through the method of contemporary drawing1.3 The Chinese Zodiac Animals Figures Exploration through the method of interactive design1.4 A New Experience of the Chinese Zodiac through VR technologyCRE ATI VE PROJE CT PH A SE Problems Process: Creating a N ew V isual L anguage to Integrate the Chinese and W estern Zodiac signs 2.1 The Exploration of The New Symbols based on the finding from the interview 2.2 The Vehicles: Bring the New Symbols into the Daily Life of Chinese Youth 2.2.1 Vehicle 1: Website 144 symbols finder 2.2.2 Vehicle 2: A store C ON C LUS I ONS P OS T E X H I B ITI ON T HOUGH T S Q A 03 05 06 07 08 11 12 17 20 23 30 31 35 35 37 BI BL I OGR AP HY A PP END IX 56 53 BI OGR AP H ICA L S KE TC H 62


Abstract In this creative project I explored the research question, How to innovate the culture of the traditional Chinese Zodiac in the context of present Chinese society? This question was explored in two stages: 1) formal explorations and revisions of the signs of the Chinese Zodiac using a contemporary lens, and 2) creating a new visual language to integrate the Chinese and Western Zodiac signs. This project began as a way to explore the popularity of the Western Zodiac (signs and in favor of a system imported from the west. activities resulted in the creation of a hybrid contemporary visual language that integrates the Chinese and Western to appeal to a popular audience of young urban Chinese people. China. 05


Introduction opportunities and responsibilities as problem solvers, visual communicators, and authors. culture in creative ways. This project focuses on how visual communication can be used for cultural innovation through the Chinese Zodaic. I use the emerging digital technologies, contemporary concepts from art and design, and existing design methodologies to explore ways of innovation in order to bring the new meaning from unique traditional culture and transform it into a new culture. My intent is to change the attitude of Chinese youth (between 18 & 30) towards the Chinese Zodiac culture to bring joy to their modern life with new culture. The project started with the idea to preserve the Chinese Zodiac by developing its visual aspects to be contemporary. The project came from my personal experiences and by two policies that took place in the year of 1978. One is the One Child Policy. It limits families to having one child in order to control the large population in China. We do not have brothers or sisters and we all grew up with the friends of the same age. It means most of us have the same Chinese Zodiac symbol since symbols are assigned by sequential year. symbol. Open Door Policy .1 and before the policy took place, people were not allowed to discuss things from the capitalist world because of the Cultural Revolution Campaigns (19661976).2 Due to the Open Door Policy, our generation had a chance to discuss many things from capitalist brought into China during Ming dynasty3 long before 1978 when China opened the market, the Western Zodiac culture began to be popular since the early 90s. Personally, I know the Western Zodiac from the Japanese cartoon Saint Seiya: Knight of the Zodiac, which was introduced into China in 1990. The story was developed with the background of Greek astrology (the Western Zodiac). The Western Zodiac was always a conversation topic when I was in elementary, middle school, high school, and college. I was only fascinated by the Western Zodiac, most of time I did not pay too much attention to the Chinese Zodiac. However, the Chinese Zodiac captured my attention in the summer of 2010 when I re turned to China to visit my family. I came to a bookstore by chance. The book A Collection of Chinese Zodiac Patterns from All Ages4caught my attention. I was not sure why I picked up the book and why I was reading it. But when I read the book for a while, I realized that I had not paid attention to the Chinese Zodiac that from our own traditional culture for a 06NOTES: <1> Open Door Policy: Deng Xiaoping set in train the transformation of Chinas economy when he announced a new open door policy in December 1978. Before then, Chinas main trading partners had been the USSR and its satellites. Deng realised that China needed Western technology and investment, and opened the door to foreign businesses who wanted to set up in China. BBC, Open Door Policy, shared/spl/hi/in_depth/china_politics/key_peo ple_events/html/8.stm, accessed Aug. 2011 <2> The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was a mass general revolutionary high-tide that swept China, the period was marked by a large number of subcampaigns. Indeed, whenever the situation called for a shift in orientation within the larger framework of the Cultural Revolution, this was engineered by setting in motion a new campaign. Factional struggles within the leadership also functioned as catalysts for campaigns. Chineseposters, The Cultural Revolution (19661976), Last edited date: 5 April 2012, http://, accessed Jun. 2011 History of Hui cn Sep 19 2008, aboutchina/zhuanti/hzfq/content_16503119.htm, accecced December 2011 Zheng Jun Zhong Guo Li Dai Sheng Xiao Wen Shi Yi Shu 200






Problems them only have the Western Zodiac discussion boards (highlighted in the images with the red color). The Chinese Zodiac discussion boards are nowhere to be found. (FIG. 3) is the largest Chinese forum in China. It has a Chinese Zodiac discussion board total posts, the Western Zodiac board is more popular. 09 FIG. 1 Screen shot of the website: FIG. 2 Screen shot of the website: The Western Zodiac Board: Main Posts: 41003 Total Posts: 937915 The Chinese Zodiac Board: Main Posts: 6564 Total Posts: 175499 FIG. 3 Screen shot of the website: C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE


When I saw this, I reconsidered my own previous experience in that I did not pay a lot of western culture and extensive use of the Internet in China, younger generations is China are more accepting of and interested in the Western Zodiac, which has roots in Greek mythology. The signs of the Western Zodiac have been widely used in modern, everyday much from Ming Dynasty (FIG. 5). Naturally, more and more Chinese young people think the Chinese Zodiac is old fashioned. What they believe in and the way they communicate with their friends about ones personality, family life, career development, or even blood type are now more often linked to mysterious constellations and astrology, rather than the Chinese Zodiac. I became concerned that the Chinese Zodiac may eventually disappear from contemporary culture. Thus, I believed it would be necessary to preserve it. is not directly part of my project, I include it here because it provides context relates to and informed my work to innovate the Chinese Zodiac. 10 From Ming and Qing Dynasty(500 years ago) From Modern China FIG. 5 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE


P RO C ESSThe Chinese Zodiac E xploration through a Contemporary Lens C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE


Process 12 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE ConceptThe catalog is a collection of patterns. They were collected from the lithography of the Chinese Zodiac stone engraved by artist Yang, Zhiyi, and anonymous artists in of all dynasties in the history of China. The purpose of collecting the patterns from the Chinese Zodiac was to discuss the meanings of the patterns and the cultural history of the twelve Chinese Zodiac symbols. Analysis & FindingsThe process of creating this book about traditional patterns inspired me to develop a 1.1 The S tudy of Traditional Pattern on the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animal Figures


13 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Please click to see the video


Process C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE ConceptThe intention of the project is to develop a modern visual language of the 12 Chinese issue of designing the Chinese Zodiac imageries at present is that it lacks its unique and fresh visual language that should derive from the culture of Chinese Zodiac and represent Chinese Zodiac in China tended simply to follow classic works done in the past or use traditional elements without innovation. Consequently, the Chinese youth gradually lost their interest in the Chinese Zodiac culture because of the visual language, and the culture therefore may fade away from their modern life. In turn, I realize that it is important to develop new imageries of the Chinese Zodiac in order to communicate with young audiences to preserve and deliver the culture. In my opinion, not only should the visual uniqueness. shapes among the old shapes. In the process of drawing this, I developed a method in a very contemporary and nontraditional way. It involved contemporary drawing techniques Drawing (The work was exhibited in Focus Gallery, UF) (FIG. 8), which developed are used individually. 1.2 The E xploration of the Chinese Zodiac Animals Figures through the method of contemporary drawing FIG. 7 New Composition of the 12


15 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE FIG. 8 The New Chinese Zodiac Drawing, Focus Gallery, UF 2011 Please click to see the video


16 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE D rawing Process1. familiarize myself with the major structure and features of the animals. 2. unexpected abstract graphics. 3. background, and then overlapped the lines to discover new shapes among the lines in cut machine. 5. the University of Florida for a 2 week exhibition.Analysis & FindingsThe value of the project was to promote the visual forms of the Chinese Zodiac from the antique visual language to a contemporary language. This was explored by the contemporary drawing methods. Meanwhile, the overall style still keeps the senses of Chinese paper cut1 style but it is modern appearance rather than traditional. The drawing methodology and the process can be a standard procedure to explore the be developed from this drawing experiment are the modern stickers (Window Flower)(See note 1) for Chinese to decorate their windows with the same function as the traditional brought me to the next experiment.NOTES: of paper cutting design, since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty in China. The art form later spread to other parts of the world with Because the cut outs are also used to decorate doors and windows, they are sometimes referred to chuang hua meaning Window Flower. fWikipedia contributors, Chinese Paper Cutting Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://, accessed Sep. 2011


Process 17 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE ConceptInteractive Design is the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. Like many other design fields interaction design also has an interest in form but its main focus is on behavior. What clearly marks interaction design as a design field as opposed to a science or engineering field is that it is synthesis and imagining things as they might be, more so than focusing on how things are. Interaction design is heavily focused on satisfying the needs and desires of the people who will use the product. 1 describes the moment where everyone came in contact with and became fully dependent on technology to get information and get it quickly. 2 The computer technology is getting smaller and smaller and takes place everyday. With the emergence of smart phones and tablet computers, the interaction is not only limited to desktop computer anymore. Thus, drawing interactive technology into the Chinese Zodiac innovation exploration could be a solution for the problem of communication. It could be a method to bring entertaining, education and engaging design into their daily is an open source programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) built for the electronic arts and visual design communities.3 medium that allows the audience to draw and play to obtain unexpected patterns and project as the shape and used programming language of Processing generate unexpected when audiences interact with the program. 1.3 The Chinese Zodiac Animals Figures E xploration through the method of interactive designNOTES: <1> Cooper, Alan; Reimann, Robert; Cronin, Dave, About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction De sign, Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley. pp. 610. 2011 <2> Jesselangley, The Digital Age Jul 22, 2011, accessed Sep. 2011 <3> Processing,, accessed Feb. 2011


18 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Please click to see the video


19 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE M ethodology Java language. The circles style, its size, its color, and the texts were determined by the mouse loca able to draw within the rat shape when he/she releases the mouse click button and move around the mouse inside the shape. Once the audience has a graphic he/she wants, he/she can press the space bar on the keyboard to save the graphic to the local disk. Analysis & Findings Each graphic is unique to the audience who create the piece. He/she can use the graphic modern window decoration. The graphic can also printed on other items such as a cup, a key chain, a T-shirt and other living goods etc. It is a good way to transfer the idea of the graphic to the actual products. The graphic makes the products become more personal and further. The next project involves another concept: virtual reality (VR).


Process 20 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Concept/ M ethodologyVirtual reality (VR) is a term to describe a computer-simulation environment, which is able to simulate the physical environment or imaginary world. VR technology allows the audi ences to immerse themselves in a certain context created by the project. In general, the term virtual reality refers to an immersive, interactive experience generated by a computer. 1 the project was developed by the game engineUnity 32 and the 3D modeling program Maya. The concept of the project Hi Cat!(FIG. 10) is to construct a super realistic environment that allows the audience to navigate the space and immerse themselves. The not only a visual experience but also an interactive experience. The project still uses the simulate an imaginary space that implies the Chinese Zodiac story How did rat take the cats position? In the story, one of the Chinese Zodiac animals was supposed to be the cat but a rat took the cat place by doing some tricks. So the cat trapped in her sweet dream did not catch up to the Chinese Zodiac coronation. The rat convinced the God to give the place to him. The project attempted to simulate the fantasy land the cat was trapped in. The intriguing space is designed to allure the player to navigate and eventually get frustrating and lost himself/herself in it. The intention is to provide a chance to the audience to experience the feeling of the cat in the Chinese Zodiac story rather than narrate the story to them. The navigable environment is a closed space without entry and exit. The player was set navigable space. The audiences will get frustrated and gradually get the idea. It means you will be trapped if you are attracted by the beautiful space and start to navigate. However, you wont feel frustrated and trapped in the space if you choose to stay where you are and no moving at all. It simulated what happened to the cat in the Chinese Zodiac story and his feeling. 1.4 A N ew E xperience of the Chinese Zodiac through VR technologyNOTES: <1> Pimentel, Ken, and Kevin Texeira, Virtual Reality: Through the New Looking-Glass Intel/ Windcrest McGraw Hill, 1993 <2> Unity3: Unity 3 is a game development tool that has been designed to let you focus on creating amazing games. Unity3,, accessed Sep. 2011


21 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE FIG. 10 Hi Cat Please click to see the video


22 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Analysis & Findings The project is an experimental work. It was inspired by contemporary game art and focuses on using a game engine1 to explore thinking, ideas and questions in the context of interactive art. The project developed the idea far away from the traditional game design even though it was developed with a game engine. It concentrated on providing a space that asks the audiences to experience the feeling abstracted from the Chinese Zodiac rat story rather than telling the story itself to designed. It could easily transformed into a commercial game design, which will approach broader audiences. It could be a very engaging solution. approach could be a engaging solution for distributing the knowledge of the Chinese Zodiac culture, it has not bring the culture into the daily life of the Chinese youth. In the meantime, I kept doing my research, which eventually led me to the path of the Chinese Zodiac innovation.NOTES: <1> Game engines: A game engine is a system designed for the creation and development of video games. Wikipedia contributors, Game engine Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://http://, accessed Sep. 2011






Problems my research I interviewed Chinese young people (18-30) who I wanted to be the target audiences for the project. The Chinese Zodiac roots in Chinese traditional culture and is years. Each is linked with a legend and description of a persons personality, future luck, and possible events in their life. However, according to my new study, the Chinese Zodiac is not only a part of traditional Chinese culture but also a lifestyle. the image: Dragon Dance 2000 (FIG. 11) people were doing the dragon dance with the note (FIG. 12) is a traditional dragon drawing. The note was issued in 2000by Peoples National Bank of China for the intention of celebrating the Chinese New Year. In the people still celebrate the Chinese Dragon New Year with the Chinese Zodiac animal 25 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE FIG. 11 Dragon Dance 2000: The image was taken in the Fire Dragon Festival of Si Chuan province in the 2000 Chinese New Year (The FIG. 12 100 yuan polymer dragon note from: 100 yuan polymer dragon note It was issued in 2000 year of the dragon by Peoples National Bank of China The reverse features the China Centenary Altar in Beijing, a key con struction marking the advent of the new millennium. The front features the dragon image to celebrate the 2000 dragon year


26 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE FIG. 13 images from: Please click to see the video


you knew of your Chinese Zodiac symbol?, it shows that basically all Chinese knew their Zodiac is not disappearing as I assumed. 27 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE When is the rst time that you know your Chinese Zodiac symbol? Five six years old. When I started to remember things. Since I was very little. As long as you are Chinese, you would know when you were very little. I always know. E veryone(Chinese) does.


Chinese Youth Daily led the 59.2% Chinese Youth, more or less worship and have blind faith in things foreign; 48.7% Chinese Youth are not confident when they are facing the people from developed country. According to the physiology professor Po Wang from Beijing University, the developing status of economy and the confidence level are two different things. The confidence of people is not only tied to a nations economic and cultural status, but also more importantly reflected by the self-identification of their own historical culture and traditions. The confidence of the nation will be gone at the same time when people lose that self-identification and acknowledgment. It is very important for people to regain the appreciation of their own tradition. All the new findings make me believe that at present it is necessary to innovate the traditional culture so that its able to communicate with Chinese youth again and fit their modern life to foster the self-identification.1Thus, I had a breakthrough in the next exploration Chinese Zodiac culture innovation the second stage of the study. How to innovate the culture of the traditional Chinese Zodiac in the context of the society of contemporary China ? It became a central question of my project. The approach came from the study of the interview I conducted among Chinese youth. The interview clearly shows the need of the Chinese youth regarding to the topic of the change of Chinese society since 1978. They want to express themselves and to discover a medium to convey the meaning of who they are in the context of the society of contemporary China. They admire the new life style and advanced technologies from western countries and also they want to be respected a result, in the perspective of the Chinese youth, the Chinese Zodiac culture implies the old China and the Western Zodiac culture represents the new life style from the western countries. They embraced the Western Zodiac culture and lost their interest in Chinese Western Zodiac is popular and interesting, they know it is not their own culture and it cannot completely represent that who they are. Thus, the project needs to discover a way to bridge the two cultures in order to bring the joy back to the modern life of Chinese young people, and to provide a media for Chinese 28 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE NOTES: <1> Currencyhaus, China Millienium Commemorative 100 Yuan Polymer Notes, http://currencyhaus.blogspot. com/2011/01/ %B4%E5%BF%AB%E4%B9%90-2(1).jpg, Jan. 15 2011, accessed Nov. 2011


abstracted from the answers. They represent the impression of the status of the Chinese Zodiac by Chinese youth. They are: old-fashioned rustic cheesy Correspondingly, some other keywords indicate the qualities that Chinese youth are looking for in the new design. They are: revolutionary new meaning practical modern abstract fashion Chinese The study inspired me in many aspects. Especially, one person said, I feel my personality matches my Chinese Zodiac and my Western Zodiac. I feel the same way as well. Meanwhile, based on my study of some Zodiac web sites1, they had studies of comparing and combining these two cultures theoretically. I then made the decision to create a hybrid Zodiac by combining the two. 29 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE NOTES: <1>


PRO C ESS Creating a New Visual Language to Integrate the Chinese and W estern Zodiac S igns C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE


Process 31 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE ConceptThe 12 Chinese Zodiac animals were assigned by sequential years.1 They cycle every 12 months, I multiplied the original Chinese Zodiac meaning with the Western Zodiac signs meaning. The intention is to diversify the meaning of the Chinese Zodiac and to bridge these two cultures, and to appeal to the Chinese youth and bring the joy to their modern There are several issues regarding the status quo of Chinese Zodiac in terms of its content and visual forms. First, the visual forms of Chinese Zodiac cannot represent the aesthetic of contemporary A Collection of Chinese Zodiac Patterns from All Ages 2, The Interview Notes ), the Chinese youth expect something revo lutionary that they have never seen anywhere before. Second, the Chinese Zodiac was assigned by years. It means if we were born in the same generations are more accepting of and interested in the Western Zodiac, which roots to Greek mythology. It gives the Chinese young people a chance to identify themselves and to know others through the 12 Western Zodiac which was assigned by date It means constellations. 2.1 The E xploration of The N ew S ymbols based on the findings from the interviewNOTES: derivation of Chinese Zodiac. The widely accepted document that recorded the derivation of Chinese Zodiac. In this document, each year was assigned to one of the twelve animals according to Di Zhi, a calendar scheme in ancient China. <2> Zheng Jun Zhong Guo Li Dai Sheng Xiao Wen Shi Yi Shu 2003


32 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Notes) clearly shows the need of Chinese youth regarding the topic of change since 1978. are in the context of contemporary Chinese society. They admired the new life style and Chinese youth. They want to get rid of the old and underdeveloped impression. Based on the new progress of the study, the solution naturally came to multiply the original Western Zodiac signs with Chinese characters of Chinese Zodiac. The new symbols work the perspectives both the Chinese and the Western Zodiac. Chinese characters are pictographic and have a very strong abstract structure. The hybrid symbols structure is the Chinese characters and one of the strokes is the Western Zodiac read Chinese. FIG. 15 Draft Design FIG. 16 The Process of Designing the Hybrid Symbol Please click to see the video


C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Analysis & FindingsThe aspect was a breakthrough among my explorations and studies. The visual form was During the critique of the project, a key question was addressed: How to present the new symbols into daily life. Designers are the people who are sitting on the edge of the circle of a society and looking at the place far away from the center of the society to bring the symbols into the daily life of Chinese youth becomes a new challenge that led me to the next exploration.


Process 35 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE vehicles to bring them to the daily life of Chinese youth. Based on the function of Zodiac system. 2.2.1 V ehicle 1: W ebsite 144 symbols finder Concept inputting his/her date of birth. The intention of the design is to communicate the meaning symbols. The brand name is 12X12, as the name suggests, that represents the idea of how M ethodologyThe website was programmed with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There are two calculation systems. One was designed for calculating the Chinese Zodiac corresponding to the year. The other one was designed for calculating the Western Zodiac corresponding to the birthAnalysis & Findings 2.2 The V ehicles: B ring the N ew S ymbols into the D aily L ife of Chinese Y outh


36 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE Please click to see the video


Process 37 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE 2.2.2 V ehicle 2: A store way. The vehicle needs to give life to the symbols. The symbols will not only be presented as a graphic items, such as paper cuts of window decorations (FIG. 19), the Chinese Zodiac pendant lock for baby (FIG. 20), the tiger pillow(FIG. 21). Moreover, according to the interviewees, many expressed their interest in having practical products for daily use. FIG. 19: paper cuts of window decorations FIG. 20: the Chinese Zodiac pendant lock for baby FIG. 21: the tiger pillow


38 C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE naturally. The function of the store was not only for showing the products but also to deliver the in depth concept of the project. Correspondingly, the store was divided into three parts. 1. Information Centers: symbol by inputting the date of birth. 2. Products Exhibition 12 hybrid symbols on the diagonal line) applied color on the symbols and I developed the pattern coming from the symbols. Besides these, I also developed the story patterns (FIG. 23) from the contemporary drawing because it represents the starting point for this project and it tells the history of the project. Based on all the patterns design, I designed table set (the dining table, the chairs, and the lamp) with the story patterns. FIG. 22: the 12 hybrid symbols on the diagonal line FIG. 23: the story pattern




C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE The advertising was designed to show many applications of the hybrid symbols and the future potential of the products. Please click to see the video


C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE the products) was set up in the University Gallery, UF Dining Table Set The table and the chairs are designed with the story pattern Click the arrow to see the video of the products The story pattern napkins The story pattern lamp


C R EA TIV E P RO J E CT PHASE FIG. 27: the video of the products Please click to see the video




Conclusions resulted in the creation of a hybrid contemporary visual language that integrates the Chinese and western to appeal to a popular audience of young urban Chinese youth. The of the Chinese Zodiac by combining them with the 12 Western Zodiac signs. The new symbols works as a language and each symbol individually conveys the meaning from both perspectives of the Chinese Zodiac and the Western Zodiac. The 12X12 symbols are applied everyday in modern China. and online store to deliver the in-depth concept of innovating the Chinese Zodiac culture. Since at the prototype stage, there were many production limitations. I will need to reconsider what is the better solution of the design and the production. Here are some new questions will be answered in the future. peoples lives and attract youth? How to develop 12X12 in a sustainable and durable context?




PostE xhibition Thoughts was a prototype store with about 15 products, it made me think how much money needs to be invested into the store if I open a real store in China or in the US. What distribution channels need to be involved? The price range is another thing need to be considered audiences in China. Regarding the exhibition I was asking myself a question: What will I do dierently if I do it again and have more production time? lines: one is fashion accessories products which will be smart phone cases, jewelry, scarves, how to design small fashion items. I believe I can make more creative product design. The other one is dining products: dinnerware, placemats, and napkins. It will get closer to peoples daily lives. However I want to address my public role as a designerI think my personality and my people who will be the target audiences and also give me a sense of achievement. It is about balance. I believe a work cannot reach people if it cannot even move myself. In this case, I believe I can make better quality product design by narrowing down the product lines. More importantly the store will give a clear vision to the audiences. To do this, I would contact some manufacturers in China to make the products. I wouldnt have the limitation of the products structures and materials. I had with zazzle. I believe the visions of the store will be clearer. Furthermore, the role of development and preservation/reinvention of culture in the production and materials of my products could be expanded to preserve/reinvent some traditional Chinese crafts. For instance, the silk scarf production industry in China. In this industry, there are many small hand-craft silk scarf production studios in the city of Suzhou, Wuzhen. Since silk is a very delicate fabric, many studios and craftspeople still prefer sewing the edges of the scarf and patterns on them by hand in the traditional way. I was thinking that by collaborating with those craft studios, my project is not only to get Chinese youth interested in the Chinese Zodiac culture but also get them interested in other aspects of Chinese culture, such as traditional hand craft culture. This would also provide means to continue this tradition and enhance the livelihood of the workers.




Q & A Q: W hat were reactions from the audience at your exhibition opening and after? audience who attended my opening(March 23. 2012). Most of them are international students like me. They came from my generation and grew up in China. They were 12X12 symbols and immediately connect themselves with the meaning of the symbols. They took pictures with their own symbols as well. One girl came to me and she said: It is really good. I can see myself in it. I love my symbol. It is cute and represents my two sides. to me: It looks so modern and fashionable. I cannot wait to have something from here. I heard some others reading the symbols on the walls, like, Look, it is the tiger I am than the work spoke for itself. I dont need to explain too much about the concept. The Chinese audiences get the meaning naturally. ceramic design college. When she came to my opening, she came to me and asked many questions. We had a long conversation regarding 12X12 design. She said, It is wonderful. I can see you brought our traditional culture into an international stage. You interpreted the culture in a very innovative way. I am so proud. We Chinese should do more things like you. We need to communicate our culture with the Western world. I can see they love your design. I believe the Chinese youth will also love it once you brought this back to China. We need to keep in touch and maybe we can collaborate in future. Then the other group is from here the United States. Most of them at very beginning did not understand the meaning of the symbols because they could not read Chinese. They were fascinated by the visual language and interested in the story of the story pattern Many came to me with questions. One of the comment questions were that What is the meaning of the graphic? and Why did you combine them? I relayed they are the Chinese characters of the name of 12 Chinese Zodiac. But they are combined with the 12 sign of the Western Zodiac. The symbols structure is the Chinese characters and one of the strokes is the Western Zodiac sign. Many responded along the lines of: Wow, it is so interesting. I never heard about this before. So they are all Chinese Characters. Its so beautiful. I love the way it looks. I love to see the meaning behind the symbols. Can you explain a little bit more why do you combine them?


Q & A I began to explain the concept behind the projects. I told them the traditional meaning of the Chinese Zodiac and why it is not really popular among Chinese youth, why Chinese youth has negative attitude towards the present Chinese Zodiac design and why Chinese 12X12 is to really change the way the Chinese young people look at the Chinese Zodiac as traditional culture. I hope the Chinese youth can see the modern, fashion, interesting and good features of their own culture in the context of globalization. I hope they are proud of themselves as modern Chinese youth. Meanwhile, I hope the people from outside of China can also appreciate China as a modern, creative, and open-minded country. Interesting, I am very impressed all the concept behind the graphics. I can see these from you work. It is very oriental feeling but cool. It is something very unique and modern. I can see the pillow on my couch. I love the story. It is not some sort of random design. It is something meaningful and attractive for sure. Some of them gave me their business cards and asks me to let them know when I opened my store so they could buy the products. I am really happy about the responses especially from the Chinese audiences. I love how they reacted to the work. I love to see the smiles on their face. I love to see how they take pictures with the 12X12 symbols. I can tell they love the symbols and the story. I believe it was not only a show but also edutainmentedutainment is a form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse. Q: H ow will people know what this is about? There is very little accompanying material to explain in depth the concept or the history. H ow could you accomplish this even if not at this stage? project. In these section, there will be a video tour of my exhibition. I will explain in depth the concept and the history behind the design. It will have two versions. One is the Chinese version and the other one is English version. I do want the project to be international. Weibo(Chinese Twitter) is a major social network and very popular in China at present. the thoughts, and news I will also build a facebook page of 12X12 (http://www.facebook. about designing a information tour in Unite 3. It is more like a Virtual Reality tour of my exhibition. I want to rebuild the thesis show in Maya with my voice to explain everything behind the design. By navigating the tour space, the audience will interactive with the space, and my voice so that they will get the in depth concept and history of the project.


Q & A 50 Q: W hy a store and why did you choose wearable or personal items for the home, for the iphone, etc? many traditional Chinese Zodiac products were very personal items in the history. Such as (the Chinese Zodiac pendant lock) for baby. Made from silver or gold in ancient the other side was written newborn baby. The parents will buy the special pendant necklace to bless and protect their baby. Moreover, during the interview, many interviewees expressed their willing of having practical daily use products. Q: M any of thesis artifacts were manufactured by Zazzle. W hat part of the work comes from your own creative ability? products. They are all coming from my own creative ability. The production part can be done by any manufacturer. Of course, with the limitations of production, I cannot really I have a chance to really design the shape and the structure of the produces. Q: O ften the Zodiac and horoscopes are seen as mysticism, why are you attracted to this system of astrology? who am I and also to know the people I am interested in. It is so amazing that you can see Q: : If symbols belong to a culture, is it right that an artist/designer can appropriate, alter, and commercialize them? Culture is made by people and here I am creating or innovating culture.


Q & A 51 Q: H ave other designers also worked with astrological symbols? terms of the Chinese Zodiac if you google the Chinese Zodiac. More often, you will see the modern elegant visual language in the Chinese Zodiac design. Q: : It seems that others also use the double Zodiac, 144 signs but your integrated sym bols are unique. Can you talk about how they are visually combined? Is the hybrid symbol more confusing than a singular one? Zodiac and the signs of the 12 Western Zodiac. The hybrid symbol design used the structure of the Chinese characters. In other words, anyone can read the hybrid symbol in Chinese as long as he/she knows how to read Chinese. The sign of the Western Zodiac was designed as one of the strokes of the Chinese characters. It may look confusing to someone who is not familiar with the Chinese Zodiac system and cannot read Chinese. But I dont think it confuses the target audiences of the design. They are familiar with both Zodiac systems and can read Chinese. It is clear and attractive to them because it is made of Chinese characters, so they can read them and know the meaning. Q: It this still not culture preservation through repurposing? result, the design informs them that our Chinese traditional culture can be innovated to become interesting and fashionable. Q: : H ow was the website technology coded? Is it a J ava S cript? was done with JavaScript. It has two calculations. One is for calculating the Chinese Zodiac. The other one is for the Western Zodiac.


Q & A 52 Q: Is there any logic to the color in the symbols? derstanding and taste in it. Some designers believe that design is all about marketing and business but nothing to do with personal taste. I cannot agree with it. I think design is not like the natural sciences. The design solution is not like math, such as 1+1=2. We as design ers are trained to have sharp eyes and have sensibility to tell what is beauty in its proper context and what is the right form according to the function. Thus, a designers personal taste and sense represent all his/her understanding and experience of designing the project. The solution and the design will lack uniqueness, fun, creativity if it doesnt have any sense




B ibliography Alibaba The Toy Ball of the Western Zodaic, accessed Sep. 2011 Astralfeeling, Talisman Calculator, accessed Oct. 2011 Artww 990 silver dragon lock, accessed Jan. 2012 BBC, Open Door Policy, html/8.stm, accessed Aug. 2011 Ccler Fire Dragon Festival http://www.ccler. com/longwenhua/longdeminsu/20086586451424135597.html, accessed Oct. 2011 Cheng Tuo Analyzing of The Dragon Pattern of Ming and Qing Dynesty The Collection of Da Jiang Nan Feb 24 2012,, accessed Feb 2012 Sep 19 2008,, accecced December 2011 Chineseposters, The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Last edited date: 5 April 2012, themes/cultural-revolution-campaigns.php, accessed Jun. 2011 Chinese Youth Daily Over 60% of Chinese youth think that most of Chinese have blind worship to the foreign contry Chinese Sep. 16, 2007, accessed Jan. 2012 Cooper, Alan; Reimann, Robert; Cronin, Dave, About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley. pp. 610. 2011 Chong Wang Lun Heng Han Dynasty, 206 b.c a.d. Currencyhaus, China Millienium Commemorative 100 Yuan Polymer Notes, http://currencyhaus.blogspot. com/2011/01/ %BF%AB%E4%B9%90-2(1).jpg, Jan. 15 2011, accessed Nov. 2011 Easy Tour China, Chinese Paper Cutting Tiger, accessed Sep. 2011 Fynews The Chinese Zodiac Dragon Stamp Jan. 4 2012,, accessed Feb. 2012 Guilinhd Dragon Theme Park for Celebrating the Dragon Year, Jan. 9, 2012, accessed Jan. 2012


B ibliography 55Jesselangley, The Digital Age Jul 22, 2011, accessed Sep. 2011 Lznews, The Chinese New Year is Coming Jan. 8, 2012, http://news.lznews. cn/2012/0118/480757.html, accessed Feb., 2012 Mitbbs, accessed Sep. 2011, accessed Aug. 2011 Pimentel, Ken, and Kevin Texeira, Virtual Reality: Through the New Looking-Glass Intel/Windcrest McGraw Hill, 1993 Processing,, accessed Feb. 2011 Shijie The 2011 Prediction for Gemini, accessed Sep. 2011 Sohu,, accessed Sep. 2011 Taobao accessed Aug. 2011 Tianya, accessed Sep. 2011 Unity3,, accessed Sep. 2011 Water Rat, The Chinese Zodaic Versus The Western Zodiac, Online Chinese Astrology, http://www.onlinechine, Sep. 10, 2007, accessed Oct. 2011 Wikipedia contributors, Chinese Paper Cutting Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,, accessed Sep. 2011 Wowsai Virgo_the Western Zodiac funny button store_167860/goods_156/big_201203101842365772.jpg, accessed Aug. 2011 Xinhuanet New Menu of the Beijing Traditional Restaurent for celebrating the Chinese New Year, accessed Jan. 2012 Xzuan, Virgo_the Western Zodiac Necklace http://product.xzuan. com/31020101029012.htm, accessed Aug. 2011 Zheng Jun Zhong Guo Li Dai Sheng Xiao Wen Shi Yi Shu 2003


APP END I X A uthor notes: Interview Records


AppendixA 57 When is the rst time that you know your Chinese Zodiac? Five six years old. When I started to remember things. Since I was very little. As long as you are Chinese, you would know when you were very little. I always know. E veryone(Chinese) does. W e saw so many new things wed never seen before, such as soda in a can. I saw it around early 90s for the rst time. W e grew up with friends of same age. The W estern Zodiac began to be popular. I knew a lot of pop culture from H ongK ong Stars and foreign stars. I feel people began to have fantasy of the world outside of China. I wish I can be distinguished with others and be unique. I wish I could have a brother. It will feel so good. I grew up with friends of same age. So we dont talk about our Chinese Zodiac. There is not too much to talk about. W e are all some age and same Chinese Zodiac animal. W ed rather talk about the W estern Zodiac because we were born in dierent month. W e have a chance to go out and the foreign things have a chance come into China. W ith the development of the internet, there are more foreign things coming into China. W e are inuenced by the western culture since we were little. I dont think it is good that the western culture overshadow our traditional culture. The western material civilization is more advanced than China so far. So we wanted to learn from them but then we accept everything from outside and deny our own culture and spirit. H ow did the Open D oor policy and One Child One family policy aect your life? And what the change of Chinese society did you observe?


AppendixA 58 H ow do you feel and what do you think when someone mentioned Chinese Zodiac to you? V ery traditional. It cannot be used daily. O ld, ancient, it is a little disconnected from modern life. It will be mentioned during Chinese N ew year. W e know what is the year and our own Chinese Zodiac animal.. Mysterious. I feel like it is similar to W estern Zodiac. I pay more attention to my Chinese Zodiac animal and its legends but I dont think there is anything I could used it daily in any forms. It is just cheesy. There is no young people stu in it. The visual language of dierent animal gures do not have unied style. The Chinese Zodiac is too quiet right now. It just stays the same all the time. O ur society is developing so fast but we didnt take our Chinese Zodiac develop as same speed as our society. W e didnt apply anything new to them so the old culture is dusted right now.


AppendixA 59 There are so many things we can talk about with the W estern Zodiac because it is divided by months. Since the Chinese Zodiac are divided by years, it is not diversied enough. I can know others personality and my own from the W estern Zodiac. It works like the Chinese Zodiac. I will use the W estern Zodiac as a topic if I really want to know someone. (The W estern Zodiac) is foreign stu. It is not about us(Chinese) but it is interesting and everyone talks about it. The Chinese Zodiac is about us. They dont have too much connections. All girls were reading the W estern Zodiac magazine and talking about it when I was in elementary school. Y ou feel you are so old-fashioned and not cool if you dont know the W estern Zodiac. They are conversation topics. The W estern Zodiac is much more fashion and cool. The Chinese Zodiac is old-fashioned and rustic. Actually, they are all about the personality, future of a person. I feel my personality matches my Chinese Zodiac and my W estern Zodiac. H ow do you feel about the W estern Zodiac? H ow do you compare it to the Chinese Zodiac?


AppendixA 60 D o you have any suggestions for Chinese Zodiac design? I hope it is a revolutionary creation rather than something that similar with the past. And I like simple abstract shape. D ont use animal gures all the time. I dont know. I am not a designer. J ust dont design something rustic and old-fashioned but also dont make it not like Chinese things. M ake something practical and useful like daily products. M ake something fresh and new meaning. D ont make souvenir all the time. ( D esign something) that represent the taste of young people. Fashionable and tasty. It is so cheesy to still use the animal gures and traditional patterns. D ont do it anymore.


B iographical S ketch 60 D an L uo Dan Luo, as known as Dan Dan was born in Beijing China. She is a problem solver, a thinker and designer with the interdisciplinary design practice background. She has comprehensive knowledge in motion graphic design, industrial design, visual communication design(branding, packaging, infographic design), photography, interactive She attended Beijing Institute of Technology in Beijing, China where she received a Bachelor degree in Industrial Design. She also received Master degree in visual communication design from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. In 2012 she received colleague the organization I___Local whose mission is to promote the activities of local businesses, organizations and individuals of Gainesville community. She has worked for many clients, including Beijing 2008 Olympics, CCTV (China Central work was exhibited in both China and the US. Dan Dan continues to make contribution to design industry with strong concepts and great attitude.