MA Project Proposal

*The text in red represents recent amendments to the proposal or points that have become increasingly relevant throughout the process of research, reflection and practice. These points reflect the project’s evolution and development.

*the text in blue represents sections that are no longer relevant but are useful to reference in order to evidence the project’s evolution


Tahanan (Home): Moving Images of the Philippine Diaspora in London

A location of displacement: Moving Images of the Philippine Diaspora in London

Aims & Objectives:

The first aim of this project is to better understand the ways in which migration, immigration and movement of transnational communities are visually represented on London’s urban landscape. In particular, I will focus on visual representations of the Philippine diaspora. London has one of the largest populations of Philippine migrants in Europe, but where is ‘Filipinotown’? How is this diaspora visually changing space in the city? What footprints are being left on the landscape by this migration/settlement of people? What aspects of Philippine culture have been diffused, morphed or have remained intact in the integration process to the UK?

To answer these questions and achieve this aim, my first objective is to locate and record evidence of the Philippine community and the spaces it occupies. I then intend to distill the collected data under my ‘subjective lens’ to find several underpinning themes.

With the collected data and realized themes I will then create a series of digital collages that represent an essence of Philippine-Londoners in 2010 and the physical spaces they are changing by their presence.

The second aim of this project is to locate points of connection between digital art and the phenomenon of global diaspora. Specifically I want to better connect my digital art practice and interest in new media to my own research interests in transnationalism. How can I best utilize the immersive nature of digital media to represent the organic fluidity of transnational communities? Is there a need to make such a connection? To what extent have other artists and academics bridged these two possibly disparate themes?

To achieve my secondary aim I will start by locating any relevant discourse in digital and transnational art.  I intend to pinpoint, infer and possibly create further bridges between these two fields of study and art. My next objective is to acquire further digital imaging skills that better express how the Philippine community is changing the landscape of London.

(The development of this proposal has allowed me to clearly divide my project and art practice into three key areas of research: community fieldwork, technological experiments and academic contextualization.)

The Context:

Historical representations of the Philippines and its global migration has been sparsely addressed in art history. Edward Said’s seminal text, ‘Orientalism’ (1978), talks to the binary thought of art practitioners from 19th century Europe that divided the East from the West. The Philippines would fit under this vague Euro-centric concept of the ‘Orient’ that Said critiques as being an over-exoticized land that encompassed Asia and Arabia. Said’s deconstruction of the Orient in history would initiate a post-modern discourse that challenged art history and contemporary culture bringing focus to alternate narratives and diaspora identities. Through the specific reference of the Philippine diaspora, a variety of disciplines from anthropology (Vergara) to cultural theory (San Juan) have continued what Said had started.

My current research interest lies in the context of this history and incorporates theory from digital art and transnationalism. The theoretical underpinnings of this project involve concepts of space from new media theorist, Lev Manovich and postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhaba. My creative process and visual aesthetic have been influenced by contemporary artists David Hockney, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Ken Lum and Manuel Ocampo who have addressed issues of space, time, migration and identity in their work.

Manovich’s concepts of the ‘spatial montage’ in the moving image [157] and ‘spacialization’ [78] has resulted in new digital art aesthetics. I intend to apply and reinterpret these theories of space in the creation of a digital collage of moving, fading and morphing spaces looped temporally but evolving spatially. Evaluation and guidance for this project will be measured against Manovich’s definitions of new visual spaces.

Specifically, my montage aesthetic has been influenced by Hockney’s ‘joiners’ and Rybczynski’s video montages. Hockney’s pre-digital photocollages flatten time to unite a series of moments and points of view (Polaroid exposures) giving essences of a landscape. Similarly, Rybczynski merges space and time by juxtaposing layers of looped video. It is in these spaces of flattened and looped time that I feel the transnational community can be viewed in its entirety. Moving from Hockney’s  and Rybczynski’s aesthetic explorations, I wish to represent the paradoxes of a transnational identity and to capture the contradictions of existing in two places and times at once– feeling both integrated and displaced.

In addition, Bhaba’s theories on transnationalism and postmodern space will further serve to define my representations of location. Specifically I will address Bhaba’s interpretations of a ‘Third Space’. In Bhaba’s article “How Newness Enters the World: Postmodern Space, postcolonial times and the trials of cultural translation”, he deconstructs Fredric Jameson’s theories of transnationalism and late capitalism and adds further critique to Marxist insights on space. Bhaba concludes, “What is at issue is the performative nature of differential identities… (that) find their agency in a form of the ‘future’ where the past is not originary, (and) where the present is not simply transitory.” [219]

Artists Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña have, for me, addressed these issues of ‘differential identities’ in their individual art practices and in their collaborations. In a collaborative performance piece, Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Buenos Aires (1994), Fusco and Gomez-Peña commented on the ‘otherization’ of people.  The work displayed fictional caged natives (the artists in costume) in a museum setting performing ludicrous but stereotypical acts of the ‘untouched’ and ‘pure’. In this work colonial history is uncomfortably brought to the present.  The artists, cage and unknowing audience become players in a space where time, history and accepted narrative are blurred.

Finally transnational artists Ken Lum and Manuel Ocampo have both explored themes of displaced identity. In Lum’s Shopkeeper Series (2000), he investigates these themes in relation to urban signs.  Lum juxtaposes the marginalized shop signs of fictional family-run businesses with ‘hi-art’ gallery culture. Ocampo’s less subtle use of transgression holds similar themes of displacement and identity.  Ocampo appropriates the aesthetics of Spanish colonial paintings to create works that mimic the antiquity of Roman Catholic iconography but display incendiary images of barbarity.

For me, these artists have created a confusion in the sequence of time, the appropriateness of narrative and the location of identity.  Their postmodern interpretations of spaces in-between accepted culture identify layers of marginalized identity. Through this project I wish to continue this line of investigation and reiterate the essence of Bhaba’s ‘Third Space’ where identity challenges time and borders.

(An extensive that shows new learning and contextualization of this project can be found at: )


In the creation of this work I intend to use images of Philippine storefronts, housing communities, newspaper circulations, online screen grabs of wikis and websites, as well as local advertisements available in the London area.  I will also interview individual community members gathering their views on identity and nationalism. Where do their affiliations lie? How long have they lived in London? Where do they consider home to be?

After this data collection, I intend to create a series of digital collages of moving images through digital cropping, layering and morphing techniques. I intend to learn specific aspects of open source programming languages that will facilitate the creation of the final piece(s). The entire creative process will be documented in a blog which will serve as a venue for recording my field research, displaying my experimentations and facilitating self-reflection throughout the project.

(As I have worked through this proposed methodology, I have forged spontaneous organic processes that actually have become more significant to my creative practice. I have found that in contrast to the rigid stages of data collection, recording, reflection and creation; I tended to cycle and flow between these stages sometimes within a matter of days and sometimes within a matter of months. Key to the realization of this process is the effort I have put into tenaciously blogging of everything that ‘feels’ relevant to the project.

I stress the verb ‘feel’ as many creative breakthroughs have come through recording and reflecting on seemingly tangential ideas that triggered an intuitive feeling of future relevance. Some examples include connecting a blinking LED to the concept of heart rate interactivity ( and finding a metaphorical link between the integration of Philippine-Londoners with a seemingly random anecdote about the South London Parakeet ( and ).

In addition to the typical structure of ‘research, record and produce’; I have found that a more flexible approach to the creative process has served me well. In fact, validating serendipity is a process I have used time and again in my creative practice but it is only since this project that I have documented it and have realized its importance to the methodology of my creative practice. )


The realization of this project will be in the form of one to three video installations. Given the time constraints of the MA course and the amount of unfamiliar media/programs I wish to explore, I fully expect that there may not be enough time to complete more than one video installation.  A time-efficient alternative to the project would be one video installation with a complimenting digital prints.

The outcome of this project will be an interactive installation that involves the use a suitcase and a projection of a moving image video. The video will pulse with the sound of a heartbeat that is coming from the suitcase as well as ambient sounds from the environment.

The intended video/s will be looped and contain a series of gradually morphing urban landscapes on a video screen. As expressed in Aims & Objectives, the work will represent a distilled theme or essence of the Philippine-London diaspora. I intend to create organically changing digital collages of images that gradually morph and blend into each other challenging conventions of environment, form and perspective.

The intended videos will be looped and contain images of the Philippine diaspora in London as well as text referencing Philippine migration. The image based video will represent points of transition and movement showing foot and car traffic as well as images of the Philippines in London. As the environment of the installation becomes more frenetic with sound the  image based video will be more prominent.

When the sound around the installation is relatively silent, the text-based video will pulse through revealing a Philippine saying referencing the rootedness and movement. ‘Ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinaggalingan ay di makakarating sa paroroonan’ (He who does not know to look where he came from will never get to his destination.)

Work Plan:

I have divided the work plan of this project into three components: community research (time spent in ‘the field’ identifying the location and nature of the Philippine-London diaspora and collecting data), contextual research (time spent locating schools of thought, texts and artists that are relevant to the aesthetic making of this project) and technical research (time spent learning and experimenting with new technology). I have planned “pause” moments throughout the project, illustrated in green, to account for times of reflection and safeguards incase of any unforeseen delays.

Below is a list of the many work plans and micro work plans that have been created throughout the project:

June 11, 2010 (micro-plan: last 3 weeks)

April 17, 2010 (work plan: last 3 months)

March 23, 2010 (work plan evaluation: recording of what I actually did)

September 25, 2009 (initial work plan)


Media, Digital & Visual Art Theory

Benjamin, Walter. (1978).  Illuminations.  New York: Schocken Books.

(2008). The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media. Jennings, Michael W. et al. eds. Jephcott, Edmund et al. trans. Cambridge, London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Blais, Joline & Jon Ippolito. (2006). At the Edge of Art. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Holden, Todd Joseph Miles and Timothy J Scrase (eds.). (2006). Medi@sia: Global media/tion in and out of context. London, New York: Routledge.

Kittler, Friedrich.  (1990). Discourse Networks. (Original German edition 1985).  Stanford:

Lovejoy, Margot. (1992). Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age.  New York, London: Routledge.

Manovich, Lev. (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge MA, London UK: The MIT Press.

McLuhan, Marshall. (1994). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge, London: MIT Press.

Murphie, Andrew & John Potts. (2003). Culture and Technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Paul, Christiane. (2005) Digital Art. 2nd ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

Transnationalism, Diaspora & Asian Art Theory

Beaulieu, Jill and Mary Roberts. (eds.). (2002). Orientalism’s Interlocutors: Painting, Architecture, Photography. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Bhaba, Homi K. (1994). Location of Culture. New York: Routlege.

Bradley, Fiona. (1999). Cities on the Move: Urban Chaos and Global Change East Asian Art, Architecture and Film Now. London: Hayward Gallery.

Fusco, Coco. (1999). Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas.  New York, London:Routledge.

(2003). Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of The American Self.  Harry Abram Inc.

(1995). English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas.  New York: The New Press.

Kramer, Paul A. (2006). The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Lewis, Reina. (1996). ‘Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation’, in Kum-Kum Bhavnani et al. (eds.) Gender, Racism, Ethnicity Series. Phoenix London and New York: Routledge.

MacKenzie, John M. (1995). Orientalism: History, theory and the arts. Manchester, New York City: Manchester University Press.

Oguibe, Olu. (2004). The Culture Game. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.

Papastergiadis, Nikos. (2007). The Turbulence of Migration. Cambridge, Malden: Polity Press.

Said, Edward. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books (A Division of Random House).

San Juan Jr., Epifanio. (2004). Working Through the Contradictions: From Cultural Theory to Critical Practice.  Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.

(1992). Racial Formations/Critical Transformations: Articulations of Power in Ethnic and Racial Studies in the United States. New Jersey, London: Humanities Press.

Vergara Jr., Benito M. (1995).  Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early Twentieth Century Philippines.  Manila: University of the Phillipines Press.

(2008). Pinoy Capital. Temple University Press.

Philosophy about Society, Space and Movement

Harvey, David. (2001). Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press Ltd.

(2000). Spaces of Hope. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

(1990). The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge MA, Oxford UK: Basil Blackwell Ltd.

Heidegger, Martin. (1990). Being and Time. John Macuarrie and Edward Robinson (trans.). Trowbridge, Wiltshire: Dotesios Printers Ltd.

5 responses

10 10 2009
Proposal Complete! First draft anyways. « Rod Dioso

[…] Project Proposal […]

22 10 2009
Rod Dioso

I just uplaoded the 3rd and possibly final draft…

30 10 2009
Rod Dioso

4th draft uploaded… tweaking the context section and trying to keep it all under 2000 words.

21 11 2009

Good luck with it all, Rod. Kd

17 11 2010
Unit 2 Assessment « Rod Dioso

[…] MA Project Proposal […]

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