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1. 50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok© International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Table of Contents Introduction Pg 3 The Process Pg 4 Research and Sources Pg 6 Area of Interaction Pg 8 Conclusion Pg 9 Bibliography Pg 11 2 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Introduction The goal of my personal project is to investigate the various environmental problems that Bangkok faces and to create awareness of these problems. Environmental problems have become a major issue in today’s world, especially where global warming is concerned. The importance of taking action in order to resolve this issue, as well as my personal interest in the environment that I am living in today, drove me to choose this personal project. Furthermore, as the final product will be a piece of visual art, I will get a chance to use and enhance my artistic skills. In order to achieve this goal, I will firstly have to conduct intensive research. I will require information of the different environmental problems in Bangkok, the causes of these problems, and where in Bangkok are they most prominent. I will also need to research whether there are any existing materials used to create the awareness of these problems as well as different techniques of raising awareness. I will find this information using the internet as well as by visiting organizations that deal with this issue. I will also visit the areas where pollution is most prominent to take photographs that will help me in the designing and creation stage. Once my research is complete I will move onto designing. I will make several feasible designs and then chose the best one. Next, I will gather the materials needed to create the painting such as paints and an easel and I will begin the creation. These steps are going to be recorded in my Process Journal in addition to the details concerning the challenges I will face during the process and how I overcame them. Clearly, the central AOI for my personal project is the Environment. This is because I will be conducting thorough research of how the environment in Bangkok is being impacted. In addition, I will be looking at the causes and the effects of these issues and the steps people have taken in trying to solve them. It is evident that my entire project lies within the Environment AOI. Creating a painting relates to Homofaber, however, as the basis of the work and research that leads to the product will be entirely based on the Environment, and would suit the environment AOI best. 3 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project The Process Throughout the process I followed the steps of the design cycle: investigate, design, plan, create, and evaluate. I began by brainstorming possible ideas for my personal project and I came up with a number of interesting, feasible ideas. The idea concerning investigating the environmental issues in Bangkok appealed to me the most, and I was sure that it would hold my interest as it concerned the community I live in. Since my final product was going to be an artistic presentation, I decided that following the design cycle chronologically was most sensible. Firstly, I came up with a range of guiding questions that I aimed to answer through this investigation. Using these guiding questions and considering the amount of time that would be needed to complete the different stages of the cycle, I created a timeline for myself to follow. Its purpose was to keep me focused and aware of what I am doing, and to assure that I would not leave the work till the last minute. The timeline was well detailed, describing exactly what had to be done at each stage of the design cycle and the amount of time I have to do so. Secondly, I began my investigation keeping in mind the guiding questions. I started by researching the environmental problems that are facing the world in general, and gradually narrowed my search down to Bangkok. This gave me an idea of how Bangkok stands with environmental problem when compared to the rest of world. My main sources at this point were internet websites and I needed additional sources. While exploring through web pages, I eventually came upon an organization located in Bangkok called the ‘Pollution Control Department’. I became interested in this organization as it would likely be a reliable source. I then found the contact information available on their homepage and contacted them. They permitted me to visit their department and without further ado I was able to meet with the experts in the field of pollution who explained to me the problems Bangkok is facing (see appendix A). It was a enjoyable yet a highly educational experience that also led me to find out about another organization known as the ONEP (Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning). ONEP measures the various pollution levels in Bangkok, and works towards reducing them. I decided that visiting this organization would benefit my investigation; however contacting it was a difficult process. Instead, I was provided with information about a lecture that was going to take place for university students, which I thought would benefit my project. I attended this lecture and extracted a lot of valuable information (see appendix B). I followed my timeline well and completed this part during the summer vacation. The next part of my investigation included internet research on the questions concerning awareness and existing products, as well as visiting places affected by pollution and taking photographs (see appendix E). This process was very interesting as I learn a lot about my community, and it led me to a complete and solid investigation. Now that my investigation was complete, I began designing possible products bearing in mind the photographs I had taken at the areas affected by pollution as well as the rest of my research. I drew and annotated a few designs, discussing their focal points, what they were going to portray, the colors that were going to be used and who they were aimed at. I also discussed advantages and disadvantages of each design, which led me to choose one that I particularly liked, an oil painting of the streets of 4 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Bangkok. I found this design more appealing and effective than the others. I developed the chosen design and added items such as a building under construction, litter along the streets, and pedestrians ignoring the environment. I found my final design to be pleasing; however, I was disappointed that a canal was not included in the image, as heavily polluted canals are one of the major environmental problems in Bangkok. Realizing that not everything could be placed into the picture, l left out the canal and stuck to the final design. (see appendix C) After some planning steps I was going to complete my product, I began the creation stage. This was my favorite stage, as I enjoy getting paint on my hands in the process of creating art. Due to my thorough planning and the time I spent on designing, the product was not too difficult to create; it was however extremely time consuming. To create my chosen scene I worked in layers, beginning with the background, gradually getting to the foreground, and adding the details to enhance the effect of the picture. I highlighted the pollution with dull colors to portray a realistic view of a polluted city. The aim was to capture the attention of the viewers and to make them aware of the disintegrating environment. I had originally planned to use the technique of perspective in my painting. However, once I started to draw, I realized that some of the buildings and cars on the canvas were looking awkward and unnatural drawn in perfect perspective. I therefore decided to change the composition of the picture, and not to adhere to a formal perspective. After much consideration I decided to take liberty with the vanishing point of the picture and arrange the roads to make them look more natural. While adding windows to the buildings, I realized that such details were not important and that I should rather focus on the litter along the streets. Therefore, I decided to stop painting windows, and leave the buildings blank. To add to the dark and depressing mood of the painting I framed the canvas in black. This not only blended with the colors in the painting, but also helped to convey the message of a polluted city. The creation stage took longer than I had expected even though I followed my plan closely. (see appendix D) 5 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Research and Sources Some of my research was done on the internet, which allowed me to answer the majority of my guiding questions that I had prepared at the beginning stages of my personal project. These guiding questions included: a) What are the different ways we, as humans, affect the environment? b) What are the factors that are affecting Bangkok’s environment and are causing pollution? c) What parts of Bangkok are most heavily polluted? d) How can awareness of the current issue of pollution be raised? Due to the fact that the information on several websites is not reliable, I made sure to use reliable sources such as the websites of non‐governmental organizations, government agencies, universities and news services. Some of these include the BBC, the United Nations University, the Pollution Control Department (Thailand) and the Wall Street Journal. I made sure that these sources were recently created or updated existing websites to ensure that the information was based on recent facts. A problem that rose repeatedly in some of the websites was that the information given was too general and was often unrelated to the topic I was researching, especially when environmental problems in Thailand as a whole were addressed. Another problem was that some of the information was extremely difficult to understand due to its highly technical language; however, with the help of a dictionary I was able to extract and understand the important information from these websites. The main environmental problems in Bangkok that I had extracted from these websites were; large construction projects, pollution in the Chao Phraya River and the canals (khlongs), inappropriate sewage and waste disposal and air pollution due to the large number of cars on the streets Bangkok. Furthermore, I was disappointed that the few existing websites that focused on the environment and pollution within Bangkok did not give specific locations within the city, but only mentioned general areas, which made my onsite research and taking photographs very difficult Much my research was also based on interviews with experts from environmentally focused organizations. While browsing through websites, I found the contact addresses of two organizations which turned out to be quite helpful. These are The Pollution Control Department (PCD) and The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP). After contacting the PCD, I visited its headquarters in Bangkok, and discussed the issue of environmental problems in the city. The experts there provided me with valuable information that greatly helped me in the process ahead. The information was mainly based on the causes of the environmental problems in Bangkok which included; pollution in the rivers and canals due to wastes and the release of substances from households, factories and agriculture, air pollution due to small particles from construction projects and diesel engine cars, noise pollution from heavy construction and vehicles, as well as untreated solid waste being placed in landfills. Visiting these organizations was an interesting and education experience where I learnt a lot more about the various environmental problems in Bangkok than I did from the internet. My contact at ONEP sent me to a lecture on environmental issues in Bangkok, including pollution, given to university students at the PCD headquarters (see appendix B). After the lecture I was given the opportunity to 6 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project interview the lecturer from whom I obtained valuable information, even though some of it was information I had already received from my first visit to the PCD. I found both these sources to be reliable as they are considered primary sources. These experts have been studying the environmental problems of Bangkok for several years, and are more reliable than the sources from the internet, which made the information in my personal project accurate and trustworthy. While I was at the PCD, I was given two books with references to facts concerning environmental problems. Both of these books were published by the Pollution Control Department and therefore they serve as a reliable source from which I got most of my statistical information. These books consisted of data tables that described the kind of pollution most prevalent in the different parts of Bangkok. The fact that the exact locations were given, made enabled me to visit and photograph these places. The last source I used was an article from The Wall Street Journal. While browsing through the newspaper, I found a full page article referring to what it called “ghost” structures that haunt Bangkok’s skylines. It discussed the abandoned construction sites in the city, calling them eyesores and citing their exact locations, making them easy for me to visit and study them first hand. Seeing these sites confirmed what I already knew that these structures are a major environmental hazard. (see appendix F) 7 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Area of Interaction Environment The subject of my research and personal project was the Environment. Focusing on the Environment I was able to investigate the various environmental problems in Bangkok. I was always interested in the Environment, an interest that allowed me to stay with my original choice of topic and stay through with it to the end. Through my research I found out the importance of creating awareness concerning the environmental problems and dealing with them before they are irreversible. The increasing amount of pollution in Bangkok’s canals, the growing number of construction projects and licensed car registrations can only add to the already existing environmental problems. To be able to take any action, the public needs to be aware of these problems. I have tried with this project to create renewed awareness of deteriorating health of Bangkok’s environment. Having the environment as my central AOI helped me understand the impact that people and their actions have on the environment and their consequences. We must realize that each individual is responsible for the environment, and any action, such as throwing rubbish in the canals, can be damaging to the environment greatly, and that one action leads to a chain of events. It is important that people change their habits and take action against polluting the environment. Knowledge and awareness of these issues in what takes to have people change their habits and start acting responsible to the environment. My personal project can be linked to various AOIs, one of them being Homofaber. This is expressed through the oil painting that I have composed, drawn and painted on my own. All of the research and content of the painting are based on the Environment AOI, but can also be linked to the Health and Social AOI or that of Community and Service as I am trying to make a difference in my community and the people surrounding me. Although my project can link to various Areas of Interaction, its focus is the Environment AOI. 8 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Conclusion and Evaluation For the past ten months, I have been working on a project that I have constantly been interested in. Completing this project has changed my views of the environment as well as myself. I have always wanted to make a difference in my community as an individual; however I did not have the opportunity to do so until now. Choosing the topic, “Investigating and creating awareness of the environmental problems facing Bangkok” has given me an opportunity to succeed in my aim. Through the message that has been portrayed in my painting, I hope that people realize and gain awareness of their actions that is harming the environment of Bangkok. I believe that my aim in creating a painting to portray the environmental problems has been achieved; however the aim of creating environmental awareness is still pending as the painting has not yet been placed for public viewing. This could possibly be achieved in the near future. I plan to display the painting in a public location, perhaps in school where many children and adults could view it and hopefully be affected by it. A valuable lesson that I learnt from this project is time management. Due to the fact that I did more research than I had planned to do, the investigation stage of my product took longer than I had expected, upsetting my project’s timeline. Initially, I had not planned to visit any organizations; however after finding out about them while researching online I changed this decision, and visited the organizations. It was time consuming to contact these organizations, setting dates and visiting them, causing the second stage of my project to be postponed as were all the following stages. Consequently I found myself rushing to complete the final product before its due date. Fortunately, I updated my plan continuously, which led me to finish my project on time. I learnt from this project the importance of time management, to be well organized, to plan ahead and to consider obstacles that may occur along the way. Reflecting on the central AOI, Environment, although my painting has yet to create environmental awareness and impact our community, it has been an inspiring learning experience. All the sectors of the Environment AOI have been focused on in this project, as I have thoroughly investigated the environmental problems that Bangkok is currently facing. Hopefully, when the painting is displayed, where the public will be affected, and be aware and take action to alleviate Bangkok’s environmental problems. Although I believe I succeeded in creating a product that will serve its purpose, there is always room for improvement. If I had used my time wisely, I could have added more details to the painting, and include additional scenarios. I miss not having a canal in my painting as it is an effective way to portray the water pollution of Bangkok, however, lack of space dictated this decision. I could have also displayed more traffic as the large number of vehicles is also a major problem in Bangkok. Furthermore, I could add more detail to the painting, such as windows in the buildings, more pedestrians ignoring the litter and other details that make the city look more like Bangkok, such as electricity posts and street signs. If I were to redo this project, I would have spent less time on the investigation stage, and extended the amount of time spent on the planning and creation stage. I would do this by reducing the amount of 9 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project time spent on internet websites for research, as they were not as reliable as visiting the organizations or the actual sites of pollution. By spending more time on my planning stage, I would have been able to calculate the next step for each session, which would have kept me organized and helped me produce a better product. By extending the time spent on creation, I would have been able to add all the details mentioned in my suggestions for improvements. Furthermore, I would have tried to complete my product earlier so that I would have had the chance to display it in school, and investigate its effect on viewers through their comments. As a subject that I value so much, I am glad to have an opportunity to produce an environmental artifact that would impact my community. It has been a great learning experience for me, not only about the various environmental problems in Bangkok, but also about the different methods of creating awareness and of different painting techniques. I have also learnt much about time management and planning, which are skills that will help me throughout life. I realized that it only take one person’s initiative to make a difference. I can’t change people’s views, however, I can make them look at the environmental issues from a new perspective. Word count – 2998 words 10 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok© International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Thailand State of Pollution Report 2004. 2004 ed. Pollution Control Department. Thailand State of Pollution Report 2003. 2003 ed. Pollution Control Department. “The urbanization of Bangkok: Its prominence, problems, and prospects.” United Nations University. June 2007 <http://www.unu.edu///ee/ee0z.htm>. Water Pollution in Bangkok. Vol. 3. 2001. United Nations Environment Programme. Sept. 2007 <http://www.rrcap.unep.org///_water.pdf>. 12 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok© International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal Projects A Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Appendix D: Creating Photographs of me, in the process of my painting. This photograph was taken after the background was completed, and as can be seen, the foreground is yet to be painted Appendix E: Photographs at the Sites A photograph of the heavily polluted Chao A photograph of thick smoke being released Phraya River from the exhaust pipe of a public bus. A photograph of the heavily polluted khlong A photograph of litter found along the streets (canal) besides the New International School 15 of Bangkok. of Thailand. © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
50 Excellent Personal ProjectsA Work of Art Portraying the Environmental Problems Facing Bangkok Aman Agarwal Personal Statement Personal Project Photographs of large amounts of litter along the walk ways surrounding the khlongs (canals) of Bangkok. Appendix E: Eyesores Photographs of eyesores (abandoned construction sites) found along the skyline of Bangkok. 16 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2009
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