We Put Things Here

1) Hae Jin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1981. After discovering her great interest in Art, she changed her dream from being a therapist to a graphic designer and moved to New York in 2005 to study graphic design at SVA. Although she changed her career path, she hopes that her graphic design will still be used to support and improve people’s lives.

2) Hae Jin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1981. She is currently studying graphic design at SVA. She is in the process of transition, so she doesn’t want to define herself in a few lines. Because those lines will limit your(her) perception of her(herself).

Topic

Celebrity Worship

Celebrity worship has always existed as long as there have been famous people. However, in recent years, the interest has increased exponentially to the extent that people care about the tiniest details of celebrities’ lives. According to psychologists Lynn McCutcheon of DeVry University in Florida and James Houran of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, a third of Americans suffer from Celebrity Worship Syndrome, a fascination with the lives of the rich and famous, that can become a dangerous addiction(2002).

People may consider this harmless adulation. However, the preoccupation with celebrities makes the critical events happening in the real world, and common issues of ordinary people living around us fade into our peripheral vision. Furthermore, the increased avenues of virtual contact with celebrities and hyper-real visual images of celebrities shown through various media, both enabled by technological advancement, encourage people to create parasocial interpersonal relationships in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but this knowledge is not mutual as the celebrity does not know anything about the audience (Donald Horn, Richard Wohl, 1956). This illusion of intimacy with celebrities can lead people into pathological dimensions of celebrity worship.

I would like to investigate the realities of celebrity worship culture, the hidden cost of our preoccupation with celebrities, and the psychological/ social motivations behind this obsession in an effort to unveil our illusions and to reinvigorate people’s interest in the urgent messages from the “real” world and in the many ordinary people who are as fascinating and inspiring as celebrities. Considering that celebrities reflect our current cultural values, the study of our obsession with celebrities will uncover another aspects of us, our identities.


01: MACRO

The design challenge was to create a series of posters using black and white only to cause my audience to obtain a new perspective my topic. I made three posters, which show the addictive aspect of celebrity worship, our severe obsession with celebrities (obsessive pursuit of celebrities), and our tendency to imitate their appearance and lifestyle.


02: PUBLICATION

The design challenge was to make a book consisting of a minimum 32 pages related to my topic. The goal of my publication is to motivate people to pay more attention to critical events happening around the world. We tend to lose interest in these issues while we are focusing on celebrities. To achieve this goal, I made a book consisting of two layers: Images of celebrities are printed on the outer layer and images of people living in third world countries and articles about the problems these people are experiencing are presented in the inner layer.


03: VERY DIRECT MAIL

Students were asked to design a package to send in the mail to a living person whose knowledge, advice, or input would be valuable to the understanding of our topic. I chose a celebrity worshipper I found at a bookstore as a recipient. The main goal of my package was to give her a chance to reflect on and question her behavior. To assist, I have included several types of images in the small box and asked her to select images and stick them on top of the blank rectangle on the flaps of the bigger box. I also included blank paper and colored pencils in case she wanted to create her own image.


04: UNIVERSAL SYMBOL

The design was to design a symbol that “universally” relays the essence of my topic. I created a crown figure composed with people bowing down to a celebrity.


05: RE-INTERPRETED BOOK

The assignment was to choose a book of text (fiction) to be reinterpreted in the form of a 75 page visual book. I chose Haruki Murakami’s short story “Tony Takitani” as a text to be reinterpreted. The goal of this visual book is to suggest that the absence of true relationships in the fragmented society is one of the reasons causing the rise of the celebrity-worshiping culture, and celebrities serve as fleeting substitutes people use to fill the inner void.


06: PRODUCT

The design challenge was to package an product in a way which explores, relates to, and engages my topic. The packaged product didn’t necessarily need to be marketable, but it had to be more than just a product. I picked gum as the product to investigate the social function of gossip which is the most common practice of the celebrity worshipping culture. My gum comes in four different flavors : Athlete, Movie Star, Musician, and Politician. Corresponding gossip stories are printed on the gum wrappers which are as disposable as gossip.


SI 1: SELF-INITIATED
SI 2: SELF-INITIATED

My self-initiated project is to find people whose first name (or nickname) is either Brad, Jen, or Angelina and get photos from them. I built a website (www.bradjenangelina.com) to present the photos to the public. The goal of this project is to help people realize how much attention we have paid to only a small number of celebrities and question our celebrity obsession. I also made posters and pasted them on the street walls in New York City to increase awareness of this project.