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Visual Communication (MA)

Tianyu Ren

Tianyu Ren is an observer who was born in China in 1997. She always focused on daily life when she was a child. Then in high school, she choose study painting at the Fine Arts School Affiliated to China Central Academy of Fine Arts to learn how to record her own feelings by drawings. During this period of time, she really enjoy expressing her thought through different material, especially in the aspect that how to make a conversation with an audience through creation. So, as an undergraduate, she choose study Visual Communication at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology to focus on how to communicate. But follow the deep study with this major, she found that she spend more time on the visual outcome rather than the thought she really want to talk about. Then she decided to come to Royal College of Art.

Then through studying at RCA, the creation of visual communications is the medium through which she record and express herself on the journey of exploration. She work across animation, illustration, sound and graphics. 

Feelings drive her forward, push her to think and help her create a connection with the audience. At that time her experiments are the visualisation of her thoughts, and the work is also the visualisation of the connection between her and the audience.

Line Drawing

My practice is driven by the following concerns:

Making work driven by my own feelings, but relevant to many others.

Observing small moments, everyday occurrences that can reveal profound truths about our lives.

Finding the boundaries of private space in the current social environment and pressures.

Trying to explore the interface between nature and urban existence in the process of experimentation.

I am often drawn to the minutiae of everyday life, thinking about what interesting and truth may exist behind what happens every day. I believe everything that happens in everyday life has its own reasons. Repeatedly paying attention to and thinking about these small moments and everyday occurrences gives me a special feeling for them. The feelings will be very small at first, like a small flame, but they will push me to move on and think deeper about the truth of life.

ABSTRACT ANIMATIONThis animation describes the abstract impressions we get from each other when communicating with text.
ABSTRACT DRAWINGIt is a description of the space we have to protect ourselves at a very close social distance.
ABSTRACT DRAWINGThis part describes the gradual breaking down of the boundaries of our private space, as we are all too concerned with the lives of others.
This part describes the tension we feel when we don't get a quick text reply from the other person. And we always feel anxious and guess why the other person does not answer us.
This section describes the fact that because we communicate frequently with words, we slowly lose our empathy and become unconcerned with the emotions of others.


Animation, Hand drawing
Narrative Comic
Narrative Comic & Flip BookIt tells several narrative stories: how I resisted answering the phone in my daily life, repeatedly guessing why the person didn’t reply to me, etc.
Narrative Comic & Flip Book
Narrative Comic & Flip Book
‘Flip Book’Show the animation when you read the flip book.


My project focuses on how people protect and maintain their private space in the current very close social relationship. The phenomenon I want to talk about is that I have found that the younger groups prefer to communicate by text rather than by telephone or face-to-face. Although they know that the other two ways would be more direct and efficient we think that text communication would better protect our personal space, and telephone or face-to-face communication will break the boundaries of this area.

After that, I started reading these two books: Reclaiming Conversation and On Dialogue, I began to rethink these questions:

Why do we think that written communication protects our private space? What is the purpose of our choice? 

Why do we reject face-to-face communication? What are we actually rejecting when we do this?

Through reading, I have found that as we communicate more and more with words, we slowly lose our ‘empathy’, that is, we feel less for the person whom we chat with the words. 

The image of the person will become difficult to understand. Because we frequently misunderstand due to text communication. There are many times that words are cold and emotionless: when we communicate with words, we often try to guess what the other person really means. And we always feel anxious if the other person does not reply quickly as we will guess what the other person is doing now.

So at this point, the person we are communicating with in text is incomplete, unspecific and broken. The impression we receive is the abstract image. It is the image that we find difficult to understand. So, even if we think communicating with words will help us protect our own lives and keep our distance from each other we still feel anxious, and alone. We still spend time on other people’s lives and pay close attention to them. Then it doesn’t really put a social distance between us.

So after reading, I realised that there was no way to truly and forever maintain our personal space with text communication, only breaking this down and meeting face to face would help me learn to be more empathetic, to discover myself and to learn how to be ‘alone’. Being alone doesn’t mean stay alone, it means we start to spend more time getting to know ourselves.

Therefore, my work is divided into two parts, the abstract animation and the flip book. The abstract animation is describing the incomplete and non-specific impressions we get from each other when we communicate with text. The flip book is describing the phenomena I observed narratively.


Hand Drawing, Paper, Glue


7cm*14cm, 7cm*10cm