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Stella
Shi

Formation of a New Order: Story of Pass-Permit

Project details

Year
2020
Programme
Graphic Design
Practices
Commercial
Minor
Data Design

This is the year 2020. At the time when a nation-wide quarantine lock-down took place in China, the not-yet-defined virus continued to gain its momentum in not only spreading through human bodies but also significantly through destroying every possible normality of domestic life. Just in days, citizens were restricted from taking unnecessary social events outside of their gated-community, under the performance of prevention and control. Life was overturned. All livings were, therefore, questioned: How do we continue our lives?

Nominee Bachelor Research Award and Drempelprijs Commercial Practices

Thousands of residential pass-permits were distributed across all regions of China during the start of this pandemic. As a Chinese citizen studying and living abroad, I was never too close nor too far from it. By following each move of the epidemic from the beginning of the thread, I noticed that pass-permits came in at a very early stage, it was so essential and urgent to every Chinese citizen at the time that we, who are staying overseas, could feel its importance. My families and friends took pictures of their pass-permits and sent to me. It was all over Internet for the time being, people posting permits of various types, discussing their lives around these permits, sharing the strictnesses their communities have put on the permits — this object almost became an embodiment of the early epidemic stage.

I was quickly intrigued by the fact that a simple piece of black-and-white print can represent such a powerful strength—that people will altogether respect and comply with the given rules and thus a new order started to unearth. The appearance of such enforcement isn’t a surprise to me as an authentic Chinese citizen, yet it must be a strange concept to many of my western friends, they have a difficult time understanding how things work but showed curiosity and enthusiasm.

Sitting in my chair in a far-away country, where virus has not yet set foot on, an invisible force is pushing me to play the role of an intermedium between two types of different social cultures — a Chinese student studying in the Netherlands, using my knowledge to introduce such a new way of living, a formation of a new order.

Re-made (in original visual designs) Chinese community pass-permits
Screenshot from television — subtitle: to go out every 2 to 3 days

A pass-permit is empowered to restrict a person’s daily travel activity. Different pass-permit is designed in different ways by its own community based on their strictnesses. Some allow one to travel once per day, some are up to once per week—depending on the pandemic situation in its region.

The design of front and back cover, and the spine

My growing eagerness to document these pass-permits drove me to the cultivation of this project. From a data design point of view, it is possible to deliver a design product that is based on factual numbers and items. The visualisation of the new order of lifestyle under close-management is presented through the analysis of the restrictions of each pass-permits, the residential areas they are responsible for and last but not least, stories from the ones who were experiencing it.

Table of content
Chapter 1 — an infographic overview of the general corona situation and confirmed cases over different regions in China
Preview of pages that introduces different stakeholders
Demonstration of pass-permit page — how to read the book

After each presentation of found pass-permit, follows a land-map showing the geographical details of that particularly related-community: the address, the surrounding landscapes, the area, the gates, and last but not least, the infrastructures within reach, giving a direct vision into the reachable spectrum of living activities.

An illustrated map showing one particular community area of its related pass-permit

Next to the illustration and photographs, I tried to gather real-life stories which can tell the changing lifestyles from the ones who are experiencing it.

“Together they make up a publication which archives and documents a global event starting from a simple object.”

When I consider the format of my projects, it always seems to connect with a method of listing, exhibiting. Here my role as a visual researcher, a graphic designer, a data designer is merging with the role of a curator and an author. These roles led to the production of a catalogue documenting and preserving the pass-permits as a witness of events.

Close-up of community index — orange areas showing the land range
Community index — orange areas showing the land range
Research Document
on Formation of A New Order: Story of Pass-permit
download as pdf

Artist’s portfolio website