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Images of umbrella brought Hongkongers together

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto

 

Since the Western media nicknamed Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement as “Umbrella Revolution”, the humble umbrella turned out to be a great source of creation inspiration. The yellow umbrella is especially popular on social media because Hongkongers used yellow ribbon to represent their desires for democracy and universal suffrage, and yellow became the de facto official colour related pro-democracy activities as well as disapproval of the Hong Kong Police’s violence against pro-democracy protestors so far.

The 87 tear gas rounds deployed by the police actually brought Hongkongers together. While some Hongkongers participated in the sit-in at protest sites, the other concentrated on creating artworks to represent Umbrella Revolution. As images can easily attract attention and convey abundant messages in succinct manner (Sontag, 2003), the artworks created by artists, designers and home-based keyboard fighters spread rapidly across social media and received tons of Likes, Comments and Shares on Facebook. People who are pro-democracy changed their Facebook Profile Pic or Facebook Cover to those artworks with themes of yellow umbrella or yellow ribbon. The most impressive among all, is the one with five umbrellas grouped like Bauhinia blakeana flower symbolising the Flag of Hong Kong and those five umbrellas sprang back “five stars” and marked Chinese words meaning “rebound”. This implies that Hong Kong was defending against the intrusion of “five stars” which suggested the Five-star Red Flag of China. Over the past few years, Hongkongers felt that the Mainland government has been tightening progressively its grip over the

city by grasping the economy and manipulating the policy. For example, money from Mainland overwhelmed the real estate markets and created the housing crisis in Hong Kong. Moreover, recently, a Mainland media veteran was brought in to the monopolising free-to-air terrestrial television station, Television Broadcasts (TVB), as controlling stakeholder, to which created a concern about the underlying nested interests of Mainland.

During the sit-in, umbrellas were brought in bulk and distributed freely as shields to protect protesters from police’s next attack, shelters to sleep under and sketchpads to write slogans on. Bryan Druzin, Assistant Professor of law at Chinese University of Hong Kong, believed that umbrella was the emblem of Hongkongers’ passive resistance besides its practical function. Kacey Wong, Hong Kong artist and Assistant Professor of design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, held a mock Umbrella Revolution logo competition on social media. The top three prizes would be Justice, Democracy, and Freedom, and the competition has attracted an influx of entries. Research found that exposure to images of terrorism affect individuals’ emotion and their emotional responses (Iyer, Webster, Hornsey, & Vanman, 2014). Though Umbrella Revolution was not a terrorist attack, it intensely impacted Hongkongers without any doubt. However, the psychological process is yet to be addressed.

Please click the following link for Kacey Wong’s Umbrella Movement Logo Competition https://www.facebook.com/kacey.wong.319/media_set?set=a.10152749673435281.1073741853.681960280&type=3

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