Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Photography and Film

First Advisor

Paul Thulin

Second Advisor

Sasha Waters Freyer

Third Advisor

Mary Beth Reed

Fourth Advisor

Mark Boulos


There is a moment in Edward Yang’s acclaimed film Yi Yi (2000) in which a young boy in a conversation with his father observes that he cannot see what his father sees and that his father cannot see what he sees, prompting two questions: “How can I know what you see?” and “Can we only know half of the truth?” Unable to provide adequate answers, his father instead offers his son a camera. Later in the film, the same boy presents his uncle with a picture he took of the back of his head. When asked why, the boy responds by saying, “You cannot see it yourself, so I’m helping you.” These two scenes in Yang’s film illustrate the spirit of the questions that guide the aesthetic approach I have taken in my own documentary project. My thesis is composed of two parts: a video project and a research paper, the former of which is a documentary entitled Yi. Named after its primary subject, the film explores the intersections of transnational migrancy and cultural identity through a series of interviews that are intercut with scenes of everyday life that are shot in an observational style. The research paper that follows will situate the project within a specific historical, conceptual, and aesthetic context, before delineating how the cinematic composition of my documentary engages with this framework.


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