Road to riches ends for 20 million Chinese poor

February 20, 2009

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If you thought that the economy was bad here, look at what is happening in China…imagine 2/3 of the population of Canada suddenly unemployed?
– FlashAddict

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By Tomas Etzler and Jaime FlorCruz
CNN

JING SHI, China (CNN) — Tang Hui and his family prospered as migrant workers during China’s economic boom, earning $10,000 a year: enough to build a house, send a cousin to school and pay for his grandmother’s medical bills.

Tang Hui lost his manufacturing job in October just days after getting married.

Tang Hui lost his manufacturing job in October just days after getting married.

But those good days are over. The family’s cash earnings have evaporated, snatched away by a manufacturing crash cascading across China caused by falling global demand for its goods.

The nine people in the Tang family are facing an income of zero; their best hope to survive is to grow rice and raise pigs at home in the Sichuan Mountains.

“Farming is really hard. It needs a lot of hard labor,” says 22-year-old Tang Hui, who lost his manufacturing job four months ago. “None of the young people want to farm nowadays. The income is extremely low.” See photos of the hard-scrabble life of Tang Hui »

A Chinese proverb says: “Going on the road to Sichuan is as hard as going to heaven.” Isolated and mountainous, Sichuan is China’s third most populous province; 60 percent of its 87 million residents are poor and live in the countryside, authorities say.

It became the nation’s biggest source of the 130 million farmers who migrated into Chinese cities, especially in the south, to provide cheap labor for factories that churned out products, mainly for export to the United States. The province was also rocked last May by a massive earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.

Five years ago, Tang Hui left for southern Guangdong province to work in a factory producing handbags and backpacks. He had to drop out of high school because his family was so poor.

There, he earned enough to stash away savings for his wedding. But last October, just days after he got married, his factory abruptly closed down. It was receiving no more orders from its American clients. Watch Tang Hui walk muddy roads to get home »

“I hope the government can help us during this crisis,” he says. “I hope it won’t be like this for too long. Now, there is not even enough money to celebrate the holidays.”

At least he was able to spend the most important Chinese holiday of the year, the Spring Festival, at home in Qingbadong village.

The road uphill to the village was muddy and slippery. The winter rice fields were brown; the slopes were covered in winter fog. “In two, three months,” Tang Hui says, “everything will be green and blooming.”

And the festive mood — the first time in six years the whole family celebrated the holiday together — was short-lived.

Reality is never far away. Many of the villagers are unemployed. The Tang’s next-door neighbors, a married couple, lost their jobs in a Guangdong shoe factory after working there for 16 years.

“A few months without jobs would be disastrous for us,” Tang Hui frets.

Before they ventured out as migrants, the Tangs lived in a wooden shack. Now, they live in a two-story brick house, with 10 rooms, concrete floors, an open fire pit for cooking. Still, it has no running water and one outdoor latrine.  See where Sichuan province is located »

In the past months, about 70,000 factories nationwide have closed. Beijing official Chen Xiwen estimates about 20 million migrant workers have lost jobs. Tens of thousands of villages in the countryside depend on migrant workers’ income.

China analysts say the spike in unemployment has caught China off guard. “The central government is now telling local governments to provide help and job training, re-employment,” says Wenran Jiang, a political science professor and China expert at Canada’s University of Alberta.

Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei says China is offering “a one-off subsidy of 100-150 yuan ($15 to $22) to 74 million low-income people … for temporary relief.” Still, it will take some time before such measures make a difference.  Watch few job hopes for Beijing grads »

Some analysts have suggested that a “rural revolution” is imminent amid the economic turmoil. However, Wenran Jiang says such talk is premature. But he also says the central government must do more in the coming months.

“Many migrant workers have lived a very hard and simple life,” he says. “They have some savings for a rainy day like this, so in the short-term they may be able to cope — but if eight or 12 months later things continue to deteriorate, it could turn volatile.”

Most farmers like the Tangs do not get social security. So villagers who lost factory jobs have few choices except go back to farming. But it is not easy.

Farming feeds people but brings little cash. Millions of the jobless are second-generation migrant workers, young people who grew up in cities.

“It would be very hard,” says Tang Hui. “I have never farmed. I don’t know how to do it.”

To cope, China is creating training programs in the countryside. One of the pilot centers is in Chongqing municipality. Some 30,000 workers have so far taken classes in farming, farming machinery repairs, tailoring and other vocational skills. The trainees got a one-time incentive of about $45.

But the Tangs have never heard about such programs. When asked about the central government’s plan to invest billions of dollars in countryside infrastructure as a part of a huge stimulus package, they expressed anger.

“The central government has good ideas and intentions, but the local officials often ignore them. The road in our village was built by the local government but we had to pay for it. Every family had to pay $100 or more. We get nothing from the government,” says Hui’s father, Tang Zhong Min.

In the evening, the family huddles around an open wood stove. The stove and a small portable electric heater are the only sources of warmth during the cold winter nights. A flickering fluorescent lightbulb barely lights the room.

Tang Hui’s wife, Li Xiaochun, is 21 years old. She used to cut leather in a textile factory, and will soon head back to Guangdong with her husband to search for work.

“I think to be at home is better. I didn’t get used to living outside. I didn’t get used to Guangdong. It is better at home,” she says.

Tang Hui then interrupts. “Of course, I also like it at home, but it is better in other places. Coming home is only good during the Spring Festival,” he says.

Despite the uncertainty, they remain optimistic.

“We are young. There must be some factories still open out there. We should be OK to go out and do something,” Li Xiaochun says.

But Tang Hui’s mother is not so convinced. “Of course I am worried. How can they live without jobs, with no money so far away from home?” asks 46-year-old Hu Xiaoju. “But I will definitely go, too.”

For the Tangs and millions of others in China, the road to Guangdong and employment may prove even more difficult then the proverbial road to Sichuan.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/20/china.economy.family/index.html


VIDEO ART – GROUP PROJECT

January 16, 2009

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Project Theme:         Tension

Team Name:             Who Does Number 4 Work For? – (what do you guys think of that team name?)

Team Members:       John / Ashley / Zack

Availability:
John                    Monday and Wednesday
Ashley                Monday and Wednesday after 3:30 – Sundays if necessary – will be away last week in January 26 – February 2
Zack                    Monday and Wednesday after 3:30 – Sundays if necessary

Resources:
John                    high quality SLR camera – Flash/Illustrator graphics for title sequences or graphic effects
Ashley                not so great quality miniDV camera – audio mixing software, but not the know how to use it
Zack                    good video 8 camera – access to high-end school cameras – knows Premiere really well

Initial Thoughts:
– Tension = awkwardness or tension between people
– when you talk to someone you like, you don’t know what to say
– simple ideas can
– tension can orchestrate a simple event into a more complex event
– difficult thing look effortless
– Ashley wants to get a bare room and dance for 12 hours straight but with on song looped for 1 hour = ultimate compilation
– audience would say, “why is this chick still dancing to the same song?!?!?”
– transformation from poor video format to high end
– finger nails scratching a blackboard
– wading through water that is off-limits to the public / utilizing them for bathing
– SCUBA HOOD and Regarde la Lune by Tom Green
– play with the notion of what’s acceptable
– milk crate ladders that lead up to a roof – simple elements that lead to a solution / access / greater achievement
– James Luna – California based artist who put himself on display in a Museum of Anthropoly
– guy goes into galleries and offers his body up to the audience to do whatever they ask – Chris Burden?
– bodily investment FTW
– take our bodies to verge of their breaking points (metaphorically or literally)
– Earthlings – narrated by Joaquin Phoenix – don’t eat a hamburger while watching this movie
– against school policy to harm yourself in any school projec

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Inspiration video links that come to mind that revolve around TENSION

Man on Wire – World Trade Center High Wire Walking stunt in the 1970’s

– Andrew Campbell can do high wiretightrope walking
http://www.manonwire.com/

Tom Green is The Man:

Scubahood

Making fun of cripples

Soccer Hooligans

Sneaking into a movie

Is Tom Green funnier when he’s drunk?

Tiger Zebra

Show us your Teats

Slutmobile (the best video of the bunch!)


Video Art – Thursday @ Emily Carr

January 16, 2009

Labyrinth – Jim Henson

– behind the scenes making of video
– his son Brian is a master puppeteer
– needs a multitude of people to rehearse in order to match the actor, facial features and voice over to synch
– 75 pound costume giant ogre type monster
– large orc costume for Humongous – weighed several tons
– reminds me of Return of the Jedi behind the scenes footage with 3-4 guys in the Jabba the Hut costume/contraption
– there was one midget pulling back and forth on an oar lever for hours and hours on end to move Jabba’s tail

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Tell it to the Fishes – http://www.Futureshorts.com
– Dylan Moran fand the Indian daughter rom Run Fatboy Run
– great short film
http://www.Futureshorts.com

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Arcade Fire – Miroir, Noir, Neon bible Archives – by Vincent Moon

– long continuous shot as they emerge from their dressing room on their way up to the stage
– they pause in the elevator and breakout into the song even though they are squished together
– at the end of the concert, they walk into the crowd itself like a traveling band
– drummer ripping the magazine in place of hitting a snare and he just had enough pages to last till the end of the song = Serendipity
– Montreal based band and large number of members

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Requiem for a Dream – Darren Aronofsky

– JUICE BY TAPPY – JUICE BY TAPPY – JUICE BY TAPPY
– WOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhh…
– WE GOT A WINNER – WE GOT A WINNER
– split screen shot showing conflict between mother and son
– keyhole mask shot looking into the other room showing her son’s drug crazed rant
– Requiem for a Dream title dissolves into dust like heroin (will be used for rest of intro credits shortly)
– son walks the gauntlet of the other retired widows in their lawn chairs in front of the apartment building
– used carrot on a stick type camera shot to look back at characters as they walk (reverse shot wobble cam)
– shows the brutality of drug addiction in the full light of day
– opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the film – sense of desperation – develops character conflicts
– physically painful to watch this film – which is a powerful and tangible reaction to feel
– adds to the theme about the depths that drug addicts will sink to in order to fuel their habits

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HANDMADE ART – Maya Hayuk

– otherwise known as Miss Tint because she would go to the hardware store and purposely pick out the missed tint paint colours that no one wanted
– Big Vagina Clapping Mouth = epic win!
– massive installation mural is shown at the 4:55 mark of the video
– had no pre-conceived plan for the mural, just let inspiration flow out of her
– likes to do a lot of outdoor environmental work – abandoned corrugated metal buildings
– Barnstormers in North Carolina

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Mister Lonely – Harmony Korine

– otherwise disjointed imagery, themes and plot lines that are linked together into a collective piece

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TRANSIT REMIX – MOMENTFACTORY.COM
– upload website for minute long short films
– impressionistic extrapolation of dream state imagery
– again, otherwise disjointed imagery, themes and plot lines that are linked together into a collective piece
– photography/video overlays
http://www.momentfactory.com

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Michel Gondry

– Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet scene on the couch
– row row row your boat, gently down the stream…merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream
– duality between the nursery rhyme and the dream/memory sequence
– Jim Carrey as a 4 year old boy and Kate Winslet as his babysitter (love the knee high go-go boots)
– false perspective used to show height/size differences
– they take on the aspect of their memory characters – Jim starts acting like a 4 year old

Scene 2
– drive-in sequence as they start erasing his memories
– car disappears – then the fence – then the faces of characters

– similar to Let Forever Be – Chemical Brothers video directed by Michel Gondry as well

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Gummo – Harmony Korine

Rabbit Junkyard scene

– IMBREEDERS – po white trash on display
– SMELLS LIKE WET PUSSY…LIKE A WET LIMP DICK!!!

Tap Scene

– kid looks like the imbred boy from Deliverance
– weightlifting with taped up cutlery as dumbbells
– oh god he’s working out to Madonna’s Like a Prayer
– got his balls popped?!?!?
– this kid has the longest skinniest face I’ve ever seen
– his mother is doing the funky kitchen

Gummo & Spaghetti

– OH MY FUCKING GOD – this is sick
– mmmmmm there’s some good eats there
– love the shot of the spiked up shampoo hair slowly dropping to end the scene!
– was this shot scripted? I highly doubt it, which gives it greater value and emotional attachment
– cinema verite structure = this is a snapshot of poor, uneducated america – this stuff probably really does happen

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GRADIUS III – SNES Video Game by Konami

– the 7-11 in Tsawwassen got a $hit load of money out of my pockets due to this arcade game
– clean + simple + effective = my design/artistic philosophy

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INSOMNIA – by Christopher Nolan

– quote from the original article Pacino: The Legend Speaks – “A scene like that shouldn’t be perfect. It should be spontaneous. That’s what it’s about.”
– this scene actually makes the audience hold its collective breath
– the imperfection of the scene adds to its value – the scene should not be staged – instead it should be allowed to unfold as it naturally would
– theme of chance and its role in film is important to consider and how it can affect the plot
– just the general premise of having the typical premise of a cops and robbers chase scene, yet having it situated on rolling logs completely takes it to a new dimension of complexity

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THE TAKE-AWAY SHOWS – WWW.BLOGOTHEQUE.COM
– cinema verite video documentation of major bands doing live musical performances in speak easy type locales

YEASAYER
– guerilla style type musical performance similar to Arcade Fire – Miroir, Noir, Neon bible Archives – by Vincent Moon – as seen above
– using found musical instruments on site and meshing them into the music
– haha the neighbours came up to complain about the noise level – hilarious $hit!
– erosion of the cult of celebrity
http://www.blogotheque.com

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Self Portrait – Jenny Saville

– definitely in your face painting – no stone left unturned as it were
– interesting and dynamic angles and shapes are created by the folds and curves of the muscles limbs
– makes her look intimidating as she looks down – the scale of the painting as well intimidates the audience (7′ x 9′)
– Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible album cover

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Saville

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The Science of Sleep – Michel Gondry
Dream Sequence

– my classmate isn’t interested in the plot or characters per say but in the costume and set design used for the film
– turns out it was only a dream – windows opening turn out to be his eyes

If you rescue me

– the main character’s brain says, “I’m exhausted…I’m gonna wake up now” – brilliant line!
– recycled material used to create backgrounds and props – just like Urban Source here in Vancouver