Deric Maozheng Shen

Deric graduated from MA Narrative Environments in 2014

Before CSM

Prior to embarking on this postgraduate course, I was working as an in-house stage and set designer in my home country for a few years. It has always been satisfying to see my designs being materialised, in various scales, of any kind of budgets or even working with big names. However, I also observed how arts and design have been widely exploited for profitable purposes. It suddenly painted an impression of how art and design works like an ugly dummy, embodied only by what the economies can offer and abused as a status-measuring form. The amount of wealth defines what an art or a design looks like, while the fancifulness of it defines the entity of a corporation. Hence, I am in search for a design approach that may help me to highlight the ethical issues of this society.

Secondly, like most people, the need for personal development and self-advancement in this ever-evolving world is almost indispensable, in order to help bring us through life at various stages. I am probably just about to enter a new chapter of my design practice and my life. I needed a new set of skills to face this overwhelming evolution. The big question lies on why should I follow this motion in which this world is on or should I explore a subversive pattern of approach? Finally, given the opportunity to meditate on the above issues, I will then be able to plan the direction that I shall take on next and reinforce the principles and values in my subsequent approaches, in my design practice and in my life.

My work

My field of work is primarily in spatial and set design. My interest currently lies in the discourse of social ethics; particularly, how people often learn and misread each other. I design, organise and conduct interactive workshops revolving around different themes, depending on confined issues, for children of various ages and backgrounds. The workshop is a critical study about the influences of the misreading culture had imbued on these young ages, thereby resulting to a modern yet highly stereotypical society.

With that, it has allowed me to cross into new boundaries like sociology and education, exploring into broad immigration affairs as well as localised community issues. All in all, my primary purpose is to find the point of intervening and make an attempt to counter the phenomenon with my specialisation in spatial and set design. Following Features, the latest workshop was conducted over four Saturdays in June-July 2013. It was specially designed for a group of approximately 30 displaced children aged between 8-12 years old in Kenya, Uthiru. The workshop aimed to reassume these children with confidence in their learning through creative practices and storytelling. Despite being collectively discriminated as parasite of the local community, this workshop also pushes them to explore collaborations and find opportunities to contribute to the local community.

The course

MA Narrative Environments is like an encountering process. It is more than a chance discovery and expects some form of confrontation on contending issues. The course itself is also a test-bed for any creative persons, of any discipline, who may wish to initiate critical dialogue on controversial topics with any mediums. The context of this living world is largely bounded by narrative. Hence, this course is highly relevant and can provide an acute discourse into various subject topics. There will not be complete answers to attain or final destinations to reach, but rather a wormhole to delve into.

In this course, collaboration is essential and project outcomes will probably be unachievable on individual effort. With that, it has put me into great learning of embracing differences amongst the diverse cohort, be it nationalities, ethnicities or disciplines. Various seminars and weekly talk series are regularly organised and have served as avenues of inspiration and motivation.

CSM

The college is a great test bed for creativity. It is a great space of possibilities. It is the lively atmosphere, bustling space saturated with activities and events almost all the time. CSM is also a great place of exchange, bountiful opportunities to exchange ideas and share resources.

The future 

My plan is to kick start a social enterprise that looks into design for social causes. It is not an attempt to ‘change the world’, but it is an attempt to bring changes.