At our first discussion of the project, I came out with a brilliant idea about the National Service and terracotta warriors, as both of the terms are about soldiers. However, we found it is hard to find an item that is related to the terracotta warriors locally. After consulting with Ms. Sujatha, we went to the NUS Museum to look for a contemporary art piece in the Shards Gallery. During that trip, we went around the NUS Museum and a lot of items have caught our attention besides the Shards Gallery. In the end, after several discussions, we changed our scope and picked a terracotta figure and a painting for our response. However, after doing research, we found both of the two items are not from China, India or Japan. But luckily, we found another interesting item, the Vajradhara and Prajnaparamita Nepal in the Art Science Museum. We find that how normal people understand this piece is always totally different from its original meaning. Hence, we thought it is interesting to give the audiences a ‘surprise’ by telling them the real meaning of this artwork. At the same time, it is important to let them give up their misunderstanding towards Tantra Buddhism. After several discussions, we came out with the idea of making a censored motion poster of the yab-yum position with the truth covered under the black bar, and also a reaction video that features the point of views of the general public.
I am in-charge of the motion poster. The original idea was to find two actresses to act for this poster. However, due to the nudity, we were unable to such a pair of actresses. So as an alternative, I was trying to convert the object to pop-art style, as it might be as attractive to the audience as our original idea. Before starting, I did some research on pop arts and find that most of the pop art works contains vectors and vibrant complementary colors. So I decide to ‘vectorise’ the photo artwork with shapes of flat colors. It is a hard time for me to copy the sculpture onto illustrator using vectors and consider the color scheme at the same time. In the end, after several adjustments, I conformed the shapes and their colors, then I animated it using After Effects.
Working process for the motion poster
It is an interesting journey for me. By doing this project, got to know two of my amazing teammates – VAL and POOT better. I also learnt that it is important to understand the requirements of task better unless it is very easy to get lost – at first we did not realize that the objects must be from China, India or Japan and reconfirming the objects had taken us a lot of time. Also, I understand that it is important to make use of what we are good at when doing the teamwork and the importance of cooperation. And last but not least, I start to enjoy visiting the museum and study on the history of these objects.
Tomb art refers to any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. It plays an important role in Chinese art history. Especially in Qin Dynasty, the special condition of the society made it possible for the emperor to build a tomb with plenty of grave goods. Terracotta Warriors in Qinshihuang’s tomb were discovered in 1974. It is indicated as an outstanding archeological discovery in the 20 century among the world (Man, 2010) in terms of its quantity and quality. The tomb is large in scale. It has four pits that contain more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. (Portal, 2007) At the same time, every figure is extremely detailed crafted but distinct in their characteristics. By comparing the two Terracotta Warrior figures, one can easily know that every figure is distinct in terms of appearance, gesture, even its emotion.
The terracotta warriors make tomb art to reach one of the peaks in the Chinese art history, and the political and cultural environment then makes it possible. Firstly, the terracotta warriors were made during the Qin Dynasty, which is the first dynasty when China is united from six separated small kingdoms. Hence, Qin Dynasty has a powerful and stable economy and political structure. That can provide the emperor, Qin Shihuang, with enough resources to build his tomb. Secondly, in order to deterrent the other countries and his own people from attracting or renegading, in another word, to propaganda, Qin Shihuang had to build a huge underground army to show his power. Last but not least, Qin Shihuang was deeply influenced by Taoism, which believes afterlife. (Man, 2010) So that it is believed that he wanted to use these terracotta warriors to continue to rule the heaven after his death. Hence, he crafted these realistic terracotta warriors.
By comparing the following two figures, one can see how high the Terracotta Warriors’ quality is.
Similarly, both of these two figures are real-sized. Their sizes are exactly the same as real humans. Also, their faces are carefully sculptured. That makes their facial features can be clearly recognized – even the muscles on their cheeks can be seen. Moreover, the textures of their clothes are expressed well although they are wearing different types of clothes made by different type of materials. One can feel the softness of the cotton cloth and the hardness of the armor by just looking at them. In one word, similarly, these two figures look realistic and they are crafted in a very detailed manner.
Claim: Qin tomb art is one of the peaks of the Chinese sculpture art, as it features every single people’s emotion and action well; every sculpture has its own characteristic.
- Introduction to tomb art
- Qin is the first dynasty when China is united. Hence, they have a powerful and stable economy and political structure.
- People then believed and took care of their afterlives.
- Propaganda: emperor was willing to use it to show his power of the country.
- It makes Qin dynasty’s tomb art to be a remarkable form of art in the Chinese art history.
Why it is remarkable?
- Large quantity
- High Quality
- Focus on details (hair, beard)
- Different characteristics for different soldiers
- Ration to the real person (1:1)
- Detailed hair and clothes
- Clothes & hairstyle
- Every figure has its own appearance and emotion.
- They are distinct in details like hair, clothes.
- Different clothes indicate different classes.
All these details make Qin terracotta figures remarkable in the Chinese art history.
袁仲一. 秦始皇陵兵马俑研究. 文物出版社, 1990. (Yuan Zhongyi, Researches on Terracotta Warriors in Qin dynasty. Cultural Relics Press. 1990.)
Zhang, Wenli. The Qin terracotta army: treasures of Lintong. Philip Wilson Publishers, Limited, 1996.