artist . illustrator . animator

Academic Writing

As a Dean’s Lister in NTU, part of my training is to write academic papers under the URECA programme, which is funded by the NTU President.

Excerpt from “Animation Characterization” (2010):

“Animation has always been used as a medium to evoke human emotions: its root stems from the Latin anima, or breath. This suggests the mystical gift of life, bestowed upon an inanimate object – be it made from clay, graphite marks, or, more so in today’s context – a series of coloured photons. Animation has evolved tremendously from pencil to pixel, adding sophistication and difficulty to the art of characterizing an animated character. This is the greatest challenge of the medium today.

Unlike older disciplines of studies such as Art History, which often has the institutional backing of renowned academics[1], Animation History has been too young a field to be institutionalized into mainstream academia, though now that is changing[2].


[1] Such as Professor E. H. Gombrich, renowned author of The Story of Art.

[2] Various universities today offer prominent Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate programmes, such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in USA; Royal College of Art and University of West England (UWE) in the UK, New York University (NYU) Tisch Asia and Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s School of Art, Design and Media in Singapore.”

Excerpt from “A Visual Feast” (2009):

“Limitations of our research project included the non-quantifying nature of artistic research[1], and the difficulty in producing a definite set of results within the foreseeable future. Because art in itself is, philosophically, a sensual experience that is based not in objectivity but subjectivity, the definition of “methodology” and “result” are very different from our commonly-established notion of what they are, in a scientific context. For instance, in figure 1, “Century Egg”, depicts, on a two-dimensional surface via a strategic arrangement of colours, the impression of an object known to the acquainted as, a century egg. The physicality of the century egg is of negligible value; in economical terms, it is worth no more than twenty cents; biologically, it is nothing more than a common duck’s egg left to processes of fermentation that has denatured it to the extent that its physical colours have become indistinguishable from the original state; if left in the open, it would begin to decompose and cease to exist within a short period of time. The process and subsequent product of painting it, however, has value-adding propensities; the century egg becomes the subject of a piece of artwork. With its physicality being pronounced on a deliberate platform, the has-been century egg now becomes a symbol, and, with the implications that come with such an elevated status, makes the century egg a reason for people to formulate discussions and share their experiences involving a historical line of century eggs that they may have experienced in their lifetimes, but definitely not directly involving the exact one that I have chosen to eternalize on canvas – the subjectification of a commonplace object allows the glorification of the everyday, and imbues the original object with more power than it initially existed with. As such, my project need not deal with the quantification of the everyday (for example, documenting how many century eggs are eaten within a day at a particular canteen) but rather, the qualification of the everyday (riding on the waves of the previous analogy; the psychological and emotional situations that were going inside the mind of a friend when he ate a century egg, and the abstract associations that come with such experiences).


[1] Kathrin Busch (2009). Artistic Research and the Poetics of Knowledge. Vol.2 No. 2, Art and research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts, and Methods, pp. 1-4.”

Excerpt from Asian Art History Written Report (2009):

“Adorned  Buddha  images  occur  in  Srivijaya,  Lodburi,  Lan  Na  and  Bangkok  schools.  Thai  Buddhism  is  a  hybridization  of  Brahmanism,  Hinduism,  Buddhism,  and  animism  (the  worship  of  animal  spirits,  such  as  the  duck  found  on  kendis).  While  the  physical  ornaments  depicted  in  adorned  Buddha  images  are  derived  from  earlier  images  of  pre-Buddhist  divinities,  the  phenomenon  of  the  adorned  Buddha  image  of  Thailand  has  its  closest  resemblance  in  the  crowned  Buddha  image  of  Cambodia,  such  as  statues  depicting  the  Buddha  protected  by  Naga.  Unlike  the  Khmers,  however,  the  Thais  do  not  consider  their  kings  divine.  The  adorned  Buddha  image,  therefore,  occurs  not  for  the  cult  of  god-king,  but  an  adherence  to  the  Pala  traditions  in  9th-12th  century  AD,  where  important  images  of  the  Buddha  such  as  the  Phra  Singh  type  Buddha  of  the  Sakyas,  were  adorned  for  festivals  with  removable  ornamentations.  This  is  analogous  to  The  Emerald  Buddha  image  in  Bangkok,  whose  attire  and  ornamentation  the  Thai  King  is  honoured  to  change,  twice  per  year.  This  strict  adherence  to  the  Pala  traditions  comes  from  the  Thai  interaction  with  Sri  Lanka,  and  its  attempt  to  purge  the  Mahayana  cults  and  assert  Theravada  Buddhism  as  state  religion.  Likewise,  the  legend  of  Jambupati,  where  the  Buddha  presents  himself  in  the  form  of  chakravartin  (universal  emperor),  rich  with  jewels,  to  convert  a  skeptic  king  Jampbupati,  is  believed  by  scholars  to  be  fiction  generated  for  similar  reasons.

Bibliography:

Boisselier,  Jean.  (1975).  “Permanent  Characteristics”,  “The  Srivijaya  School”,  “The  Sukhothai  School”,  “The  School  of  Lan  Na  or  Chieng  Sen”,  “The  School  of  Thonburi  and  Bangkok”,  “Appendices  –  the  Buddha  Image”,  The  Heritage  of  Thai  Sculpture,  John  Weatherhill,  Inc.,  28-30,  36-42,  96,  127-142,  158,  181-190,  195-198

Higham,  Charles.  (2002),  “The  Development  of  States”,  Early  Cultures  of  Mainland  Southeast  Asia,  River  Books,  254-267

Stratton,  Carol.  (2004).  “Apparel  of  the  Buddha”,  Buddhist  Sculpture  of  Northern  Thailand,  Silkworm  Books,  57-60″

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