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About this book

This edited volume aims to unpack the digitisation of art and media within the dynamics of participatory culture, and how these changes affect the power relations between the production and consumption of these new forms in a globalised Asia. This follows the rise of new art forms and social media platforms in wake of rapid and ongoing digitisation, which has, in turn, produced far-reaching implications for changing media ownership and its role in social, cultural, economic, as well as political activities. New challenges arise every day in relation to digital art and design practices and social media communications, and their respective impact on identity politics. This book showcases a diverse range of interdisciplinary research on these concomitant changes and challenges associated with digital media and technologies within the context of a globalised Asia. The case studies included present perspectives on Asia’s evolving digital humanities landscape from Hong Kong, China, India, Korea and from across Southeast Asia, with topics that tackle organisational digital marketing, brand advertising and design, mobile gaming, interactive art, and the cultural activities of ethnic and sexual minority communities in the region. This book will of interest to scholars in digital humanities focused on new media and cultural studies.

Table of Contents


New Spectacles and Multimodal Creativity in Social Media


Chapter 1. Ethnic Minority Youth as Digital Cultural Participants: Toward a Critical Indicator Study

Theories of cultural planning and sustainability highlight cultural capacity building as the fourth pillar of sustainability, alongside social, economic, and environmental aims, and integration as a new framework for combining these four pillars. Seeing cultural participation as the core of the complex puzzle, we regard the digitization of art and media as an engine for changing the dynamics of participatory culture. Further, digitization rearticulates the power relations between cultural infrastructures (production) and cultural access and participation (consumption). This chapter examines the dynamics of online digital cultural participation by ethnic minority (EM) youth in Hong Kong. By analyzing a questionnaire survey data set of EM youth in Hong Kong (N = 561), we demonstrate the various capacities and aspirations of cultural activities online among ethnic minority youth. The data were collected via local community networks of social workers and social enterprises. The sample covers diverse ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong, such as Indonesians, Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, and others. A typology of digital cultural capacity will be attempted using a descriptive analysis to show the EM youth’s access and participation in cultural, arts, and leisure activities on the Internet, controlled by demographic background variables such as gender, age, and class. Our core argument is that baseline digital capacity established above is complicated by EM youth’s Community Capacity, i.e. education/information attainment; capacity of engaging social agencies that hold power; Social Capital, i.e. resources and networks embodied in life domains such as school, family, friendship, work, and ethnic community cohesion; and Cultural Identity, i.e. self-recognition/respect and intra- and inter-ethnic identity negotiation and development. Our discussion, with these tiers of indicators, provides critical insights into EM youth’s participation in online cultural activities and the barriers to their inter-cultural integration.
John Nguyet Erni, Nick Yin Zhang

Chapter 2. Decoding Internet Rumours in the Twenty-First Century: An Interdisciplinary Examination of Social Media

Since the development of Web 2.0 enabled interactive experience on the Internet, the media ecology of social networking in humanities is becoming more complex. During times of critical social change, the role of social media in provoking and organizing social movements is demonstrated around the world. In Hong Kong, during the Umbrella Revolution, social media provided a channel for individuals to disseminate their first-hand experiences more rapidly than they could via traditional media. Breaking news could be transmitted via digital media, and rumours would spread more quickly and broadly on social media than by word of mouth. For instance, a photo of a People’s Liberation Army tank posted on Facebook triggered mass panic, but other netizens disproved the rumour on finding that the photo had been taken at a different event. A number of studies have found that public concern over an ambiguous event can induce anxiety and inspire the formation of rumours to relieve the tension that comes from uncertainty. Based on the theoretical framework of rumour development and transmission, this study uses a mixed-method content analysis, with quantitative examination of prominent words and in-depth thematic discussion of webpage contents searched via Yahoo Hong Kong. Nine of 17 sites were examined, and 22 incidents of rumour formation were investigated in terms of models of formation, means of communication, and types of rumours. The results of this study were inconsistent as to whether social media were more prominent than traditional media. Moreover, the motivation to spread rumours may be conscious rather than unconscious, and individuals’ need for cognition played a role in dispelling rumours. Two additional types of rumours, based on empathy and condemnation, were also identified in the Hong Kong Chinese context. Effective information transfer and spread of rumours are two sides of the same coin in the era of contemporary digital media. The chapter also discusses ideas and implications for further research.
Stephanie S. S. Szeto, Carol M. W. Poon, Andrew C. W. Tang

Chapter 3. Untouchable, or Merely Untouched? Satirical News Websites and Freedom of Expression Limitations in Southeast Asia in the Age of Online “Fake News”

The Philippines had, among others, So, What's News? Thailand had, until recently, Not the Nation. Singapore has New Nation. Malaysia has The Tapir Times, previously known as Fake Malaysia News. Indonesia has Pos Ronda (Guard Post). All of these were created when virtually anyone with access to the Internet can publicly share content online. These satirical news websites—all, save for Pos Ronda, in English—may appear to be little more than derivative reproductions of American satirical news outfits such as The Onion. They seem to be worthy of about as much scholarly scrutiny as their American counterparts—hardly any, being mere “infotainment,” as some scholars say. However, their peculiar contexts make it difficult to trivialize them. Philippine satirists have long seemed vulnerable to prosecution under the country's defamation laws, including a recently-enacted cybercrime law. Thailand has a strict lèse majesté law and has been under martial rule twice in the past two decades. Singapore is one of the world's “authoritarian democracies.” Malaysia, sharing the colonial British legal heritage of Singapore, also has various legal restrictions on online expression. Indonesia’s Internet law makes online defamation and blasphemy a punishable offense. Yet the writers behind these websites seem to have been able to flout undemocratic laws and/or bypass the restrictions of repressive regimes without punishment. Is their largely unimpeded functionality under their respective regimes evidence that online satirical news is capable of pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression even in “illiberal” democratic states? Or are they tolerated annoyances by often anonymous authors? This chapter attempts to derive preliminary answers to these questions by determining how aware the writers are of the subversive potential of their work, first by focusing on whether the challenges to state policies in selected articles from these websites can be considered legally fair, then by examining the textual and non-textual responses of these websites to events affecting free speech within their particular contexts. The articles in these websites are considered a distinct genre, not simply a digitized form of preexisting printed satirical news—especially in an age of online “fake news”—distinguished by not being intentionally deceptive, but still similarly parodic of the news (following Pierre Macherey’s definition of parody)—a genre that, given its easily “shareable” nature and the ability of readers to participate in its world-building, is peculiar to the Web 2.0 era.
Miguel Paolo P. Reyes

Chapter 4. Intersections of Protest, Art and Networked Space: Analysis of the Artistic Protest Post Carnival

Since the development of mechanical reproduction (Benjamin in The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Prism Key Press, Lexington, KY, 1936), the ease of producing and circulating art has become a significant marker of what art is and does. It also indicates how art has been removed from its auratic space and time, with special emphasis on aesthetics and cult value, to become more of an artefact that is marked by political, social, cultural and economic overtones. While art inherently is always political, the appropriation of art, exclusively for registering counter-cultures and forms of protest through different art movements, changed its landscape and encounters with it. Subsequently, aesthetics is not the only attribute used to experience art. With the advent of modern technology, the functionality of art has received renewed interest and has been enhanced not only by what art semiotically represents but also by the materiality of digital space and the characteristics of the Internet. This chapter examines the transmutation of a physical protest called Post Carnival, organized by artists to challenge moral discipline by the police, into the digital and networked space, and how the protest is experienced by participants in the digital space. We found that protest in the social media platform produced new spaces using networked new materiality and interactivity. Furthermore, the protest’s digital reproductions became a spectacle, though the protesters’ initiative was to politicize art challenging and questioning the act of the police that territorialized public spaces.
J. C. Thejaswini, M. Shuaib Mohamed Haneef

Chapter 5. Creativity and Education: Facilitating Transfer of Learning Through Digital Creativity Multimodal Analysis (DCMA) of Social Media Posts

This chapter discusses the limited research in multimodal creativity, which subsequently hinders the effectiveness of existing pedagogies in digital literacy, multimodal literacy, and creativity literacy, particularly in the aspect of transfer. Using the Analytical Framework for Creativity in Multimodal Texts (AFCMT), this study demonstrates how the transfer of learning can be facilitated through a digital creativity multimodal analysis (DCMA) of several viral social media posts from Hong Kong, placing emphasis on instructional design, content relevance and transfer specificity. Key components of AFCMT, namely the IEEE matrix and the Cline of Creativity Complexity (CCC), are discussed in terms of their flexibility and potential incorporative power with theories, hypotheses, or frameworks of other research approaches from various disciplines.
Locky Law

Art, Design, and Media Communication in the Digital Age


Chapter 6. The Two Logics of the “Lion Rock Spirit” Re-Represented by FortunePharmHK’s Branding Television Commercial

In 2015, FortunePharmHK produced a branding television commercial (TVC) using the core concepts and values of Hong Kong locality and the “Lion Rock spirit” to align its brand identity with the local culture and civic identity. This chapter examines FortunePharmHK’s use of locality and local identity discourses to create a mythology for the brand and for Hong Kong with the Lion Rock spirit and the Hongkonger identity. The local pharmacy rearticulates identity politics and discourses through symbolic interactions with both older and younger generations of Hongkongers, whose two different logics and discourses of Lion Rock and Hong Kong reveal the differences and similarities in a reflexive process of Hong Kong people’s multifaceted, flexible identifications. On the one hand, the narrations and narratives of different generations in the commercial understate the differences and antagonism between these two logics, and between older and younger generations; on the other, they symbolically help to bridge the generational gaps that have been exaggerated by digital media-enabled social movements such as the Umbrella Movement in 2014. In the TVC, the brand aligns the pharmacy’s experience of hardships with the older generation and extends its brand mission and vision with the motto of “always going one step further” to synchronize with the hope and passion of the younger generation. The resemiotizations of these logics through multimodal semiotics of visual design, characterization, copywriting, and storytelling create a new myth of the Lion Rock spirit in which the older generation shows its understanding and support toward the younger generation’s uncompromising struggle for the right to decide their future through autonomy and self-determination. FortunePharmHK attempted to encourage Hongkongers to think positively, according to what is known as the Lion Rock spirit, in line with the brand’s persistent support of the health and life of Hong Kong people since its foundation in 1954. The selected cast and storyline of different generations of Hongkongers in this emotional and appealing identity-based branding TVC present a complex story for the brand and for Hong Kong, thus strengthening its brand identity through the notion of locality, or bentu, amidst the rise of localism and local identity discourses.
Sunny Sui-kwong Lam

Chapter 7. Exploring Cultural Recognition: Enhancing Creativity in Interactive Communications

The interactions of actors, including designers and customers, shape the communication process. Designers are expected to create innovative messages to attract more customers. In order to equip designers with the ability to generate innovative ideas, studies have provided evidence of the influence of emotion and cultural values on roles in communication. Emotional concerns and cultural recognition, and how these factors can enhance creativity and interactions in communication, have not yet been studied in depth. This study aims to investigate the relationships among emotion and cultural recognition in order to motivate interactions in the communication process. Following a literature review, the study continues with an analysis of an interactive project conducted by a team of local design students, specifically the introduction of emotional concerns with cultural recognition into the process of interactive design. The project develops a new strategy to optimize the communication process by including the emotional and cultural concerns of designers and customers.
Amic G. Ho

Chapter 8. Brand Design Directionality in Korea in the Digital Age

With the advent of online and mobile-based digital media, the concept of brand design is changing, so that new approaches and development methods of brand design in the digital era are required. Various approaches and development methods for the digital age are already present in practical projects to meet these needs. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the new direction of brand design and new direction in the digital age by examining related practical project cases. In Korea, digitization is already proceeding rapidly due to many different political, social, cultural, and economic factors. Sociocultural factors based on digital lifestyle and trends are particular influences on brand solutions. Global trends are rapidly being adopted in the field of branding; and within Korea, specific branding approaches and development methods are emerging. The purpose of this study is to analyze the characteristics and directions of Korean brand design in the digital era. This chapter involves a review of literature and preliminary studies, including case studies of Hankook Ilbo, Oksusu, and Kakao Friends. These three examples demonstrate the phenomenon of digital branding, the reflection of local customers and of the digital lifestyle, and the case of interactive on–off branding. This study provides insights into the characteristics of Korean brand design in the digital era and also suggests some future directions.
Kyurag Lee

Chapter 9. Creative Base Design: A New Form of Self-Expression in Competitive Games

As part of everyday life, mobile phones allow gamers to play online games wherever and whenever they wish. Since the first generation of smartphones, many of the most popular applications have been mobile games, with base defence games among the favourites, particularly with the implementation of real-time Player vs. Player (PvP) features. To protect their bases, gamers must not only strategically place their defence weapons in the base to guard against unpredictable attack and looting, but also launch attacks to loot others’ bases for upgrades. Each base houses necessities collected from lootings and upgrades, and also provides a personal space for the individual gamer’s creative expression and visual statement. Although strategic base creation is part of the core gameplay, the creative design of the base is not. Between 2013 and 2018, the game Clash of Clans (COC) has inspired many creative designs shared on social media by creators and fans, on both official and unofficial game forums. This mobile game has not only stood the test of time commercially as one of the most popular mobile games in the global market, but has also created an unprecedented participatory phenomenon of personal digital art, including designs specifically meant to celebrate Chinese culture, in mobile gaming and social media. This chapter examines this participatory phenomenon, focusing on the visual styles and content of these creative, and sometimes even offensive or obscene, visual expressions in social media. It also discusses the role of social media in facilitating this unique gamer-created phenomenon.
David Kei-man Yip

Chapter 10. Digital Materiality of Chinese Characters in Text-Based Interactive Art

This paper concerns the digital materiality of Chinese characters (漢字, Kanji in Japanese, Hanja in Korean or Hanzi in Chinese; literally ‘Han characters’) in text-based interactive artworks. As a logosyllabic language, Chinese is fundamentally different from alphabetic languages in terms of the nature of possible genres of literature. Simanowski (Digital art and meaning: Reading kinetic poetry, text machines, mapping art, and interactive installations. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2011) has suggested that a work can no longer be considered literature when the letters it contains can no longer be read as words with linguistic meaning. He refers to these kinds of works as “postalphabetic,” which means they can be defined only as digital art, rather than literature. Although works that use European languages can play with this question by challenging the audience to make sense of their postalphabetic nature as a purely sensual experience, as visual symbols, or as traces of the fleeting semantics of the letters, the issue is further complicated with Chinese characters. The ideogrammatic nature of Chinese questions the possibility of stripping off all the meanings on the “letter level,” even if a character has been transformed or disintegrated. This issue has been addressed in the pre-digital era by the concrete poetry artist Niikuni, whose work disassembled and juxtaposed kanji characters. Likewise, in the late 1980s, Xu Bing addressed similar themes by creating hundreds of fake characters. In both cases, although the characters have been reduced to strokes and lines, their aesthetic values are obviously semantic in relation to the language. Using Kedzior’s (How digital worlds become material: An ethnographic and netnographic investigation in second life. Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, 2014) idea of digital objects as “material” but simultaneously “unstable and transfigurable” (p. 16), this chapter examines contemporary Chinese artworks in terms of the post/alphabetic distinction in order to identify a direction for the study of Chinese text-based interactive arts. The chapter investigates the possibility of a condition of “post-characters,” which differs from the condition of postalphabet in letter-based interactive art.
Yue-Jin Ho

Chapter 11. WeChat Marketing Case Study: How to Use Social Media to Communicate with Virtual Audiences in China

Facing significant changes in online communication and consumption trends, marketers and practitioners in the communication and public relations industries are eager to learn how to use social media tools to engage the virtual audience and promote their messages and products to potential target audiences in the digital world. In China, WeChat is one of the most widely-used social media vehicles with an instant messaging function, making it attractive to international marketing practitioners who seek to grow brand awareness and improve brand loyalty in China. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a statutory body established in 1966, has been relying on WeChat to interact online with Mainland China since 2013. This chapter discusses the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s official WeChat subscription account, and proposes a WeChat communication model based on a participant observation method between 1 November 2013 and 1 November 2015. It also uses an analysis of content gathered between 3 November 2015 and 3 November 2016 to offer message solutions for WeChat marketing in China.
Fei Fan

Chapter 12. What Are You Looking for? Understanding the Uses and Gratifications of Blued in Mainland China

Location-based real-time dating (LBRTD) gay platforms have proliferated in recent years, and now have massive user bases worldwide. Both the popular press and academic literature have speculated how and why sexual minority men (SMM) use these platforms. However, studies examining how these platforms are used among Chinese SMM are still limited. This chapter describes specific gratifications for Blued users, contextualizing them within Chinese social, cultural, and political environments. The project adopts a two-study approach to answer two research questions. Adopting a uses and gratifications approach, Study 1 consisted of a pilot study and an online survey. Motivations for Blued use were reported in the pilot study through open-ended descriptions, and then coded into 31 items in the online questionnaire. A total of 406 Blued users completed the online survey. An exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation revealed six uses and gratifications: killing time, sexual and romantic goals, social networking and community engagement, social inclusion/approval, searching for health information, and visual/interactive fantasies. Study 2 is ethnographic, associating the satisfaction factors obtained in Study 1 with users’ relevant social, cultural, and political backgrounds. Participants’ Blued use is seen as cynical and instrumental. Although many users felt hopeless about finding a boyfriend on Blued, they continued using the app to maximize the potential of a relationship. General negative perceptions towards Blued users have also been observed. Participants expressed ambivalence regarding their “membership in the gay community” on Blued. The project concludes that Blued has created a sense of “imagined community” (Weeks, 2000) among Chinese gay men. The strength and stability of this “imagined community” warrants further exploration.
Yunbo Chen, Runze Ding
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