[W5 Bauhaus] is Singapore in China

“Where is Singapore Located” Searches Spike Because Americans Are Bad At Geography (link).

Something fascinating about Singapore would probably be its status as an anomaly. We’re a developed island city-state surrounded by developing nations, we have a Chinese majority amidst a Malay-dominated region, we lack a distinctive ‘natural’ identity as opposed to one ‘crafted’ by the amalgamation of foreign cultures, the list goes on.

Additionally, I noticed that the colours of flags tend to utilise the primary colours and basic shapes (e.g. Romania), as they are attempting to create something easily understandable. Where Singapore has been forced to adopt various other flags before, I figured that mixing the flags together would accurately represent this strange blend that Singapore has become.

I took the angles and sizes of the shapes, as well as the exact colour tones, from the actual flags directly, then rearranged them slightly to look more like a proper flag (i.e. centralisation and increased size of the circle and stars than top left corner).

Incidentally, I avoided using white at all, where white is meant to represent purity, and I was focusing more on the impurity of mixed affiliations (thus, the white of the Union Jack was removed, as was the white of Singapore’s flag).

In this composition, I took elements from countries which Singapore is typically associated with (more details about the meanings come later).

  • Malaysia: This is a given. We were once them, and as much as we have a love-hate relationship, we have to associate with them. It’s not a choice.
    • Green star: Malaysia does not actually have green in their flag, where their yellow star represents royalty, but the green star is typically associated with Islam, which is quite prominent in Malaysia
  • China: An infuriating association, but present nonetheless. If having many ethnic Chinese meant we were part of China, the whole world would be China.
    • Yellow stars: China has 4 small yellow stars on their flag. The resemblance should be obvious.
  • Britain: I highly doubt that anyone associates Singapore with Britain nowadays. That doesn’t change the fact that we were stuck with a terrible, terrible flag for over a hundred years (the design disgusts me).
    • Blue cross: Based off the Union Jack.
  • Japan: Japanese Occupation, 1942 – 1945, full stop.
    • Red circle: On the Japanese flag.

I also broke down all complex shapes into the 3 fundamental shapes (circles, triangles, squares). The reason was, mostly, to be able to analyse each shape as its most basic self, but I like to think of it as a way in which, when broken down and observed carefully, Singapore is too fundamentally this way.

  • Singapore’s stars: Ultimately, made of triangles, and thus I broke it as so.
    • Traditionally represents democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
    • In relation to Kadinsky: While it’s probably more of “star = aspiration”, I think the dynamic shape of the triangle fits this well, where these values are all about energy and progression. As does the yellow.
    • (However, for China, they also represent social classes. Which also technically applies to Singapore, sadly) (Also, yellow refers to the colour of their skin)
  • Singapore’s crescent moon: A fragment of a circle, which is valid, since the moon is, in fact, spherical.
    • The crescent moon traditionally represents the “rising young nation”. It’s only been 53 years, but still. We’re fairly stable right now, so I would consider that a fairly mature nation(?).
    • While it could also refer to the “red dot” concept, the red circle is also associated with Japan, where it represents the sun.
    • (In relation to Kadinsky: I think it interesting that, while Kadinsky saw the circle as dull and associated blue with it, many Asians saw the circle as a harmonious form and associated red with it as a prosperous colour.)
  • Britain’s cross: Rectangles which can be broken down into squares.
    • As stated beforehand, I removed the white, where it is a “pure” colour
    • (The red was also just removed for compositional impact)
    • Blue is not a colour which typically features in Chinese-dominated societies, interestingly, even though it can be used to represent unity (e.g. Malaysia). Traditionally, it was meant to represent the sky.
    • The cross has religious origins though, which can probably cause it to be associated with the 18.8% of people who are Christians here
    • In relation to Kadinsky: Where he preached that the directional force of a shape changed the “feeling” it gave off, the symmetry of diagonal, horizontal and vertical forces makes the cross incredibly dull, and thus blue is, interestingly, not a bad choice.

In this format specifically [colour and shape meaning, Singaporean context, foreign affiliation], a summary:

  1. Red circle: Sun/strength (red) and harmony (circle), the maturing nation, Japan
  2. Green star: Islam/nature (green) and ideals (star), ideals, Malaysia
  3. Yellow stars: Royalty/Chinese ethnicity/dynamism (yellow) and aspirations (stars), ideals, China
  4. Blue cross: Sky/dullness (blue) and religion/harmony (cross), ???, Britain

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EC Chee

a local peanut (◡‿◡ )

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