web design, infographics, videography, photography, personal interviews, data research, illustration, presentation, personal project
What is culture? Who gets to claim it? What happens when it changes? These are just a few of the many questions that the Japanese American (JA) community has been asking themselves recently. Since the JA community has the highest intermarriage rate, the number multiracial JA individuals is growing at an exponential rate. Remixing JA is a website that looks at the historical events, current demographics, and even personal stories to investigate what it means to be Japanese American today.
This entire project began with my interest of Japanese American history. In a conversation I had with my professor, he said “to be yonsei is to be hapa” and I couldn’t help but ask “why is that?” Why are there so many mixed race Japanese Americans nowadays and what in our history helps explain that?
Some of my initial thought process beginning this project.
Some of the illustrations I created in Adobe Draw with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
I chose to keep a “hand drawn” illustration style to portray the “human touch”. Since I was making a website, I wanted to revel that it was just an automated computer or some unknown organization. It’s why human faces with handwritings and illustrations was so important to me.
Whenever I searched for Japanese American (JA) History timelines, it always seemed to end after WWII. I was curious to understand how JA History informed our current demographics today and how Japanese pop culture made its way into the American mainstream.
Throughout the timeline there are links that lead to informative videos and photos that you can enlarge.
A big component of this project was personal interviews I held with my peers that identified as “Japanese American”. During these interviews, I asked questions about their experiences growing up as a Japanese American, when they truly felt “Japanese American” and when they did not.
Throughout this project, I found myself finding a bunch of U.S. Census statistics. After a few prototypes, most felt like traditional pie charts, bar graphs, or straight numbers did not interest them. People felt that it seemed to abstract and wanted to see something easier to understand. I chose to make an illustrative infographic and break down the big U.S. Census statistics to make it simple and interesting.
SAN FRANCISCO STATE LECTURE
I sent my website for feedback from one of my favorite Japanese American scholars, Wesley Ueunten, who then invited me to give guest lectures for his Asian American History and Japanese American Identity classes.