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America’s Water, China’s Milk: A Visual Presentation on Alfalfa Trade and Dairy Consumption in China


America’s Water, China’s Milk (TBC), uses photography to understand natural or manmade “resources” that have been consumed, utilized and transformed in local and global trade. Although centered on the trade of alfalfa, a water-intensive crop exported from Southern California to Taiyuan, a city in China, it is not just about alfalfa, but the incredible amount of water that is used in its production and being virtually “sold” to China, and the requirement of fresh milk for every family in China as well. In this trade, water and fresh milk are seen as valuable resources for U.S. and China respectively, their values are profoundly measured by its local impacts. What has been overlooked, however, is resources that are also “virtually” engaged (such as labor, transportation etc.) and how they can be transformed, and therefore, bring significance to the other side of the world. This visual aspect of this thesis work consists of two parts, the first of which is named Flowing Boundaries, and the second is 52 Milk Stores. Viewers are encouraged to speculate regarding the fluid boundaries between the US and China that are formed by water and milk, to think about the utilization of resources with or without national boundaries, and to understand how individuals consume resources (water, labor, energy) within the environment of global trade.

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