Project 2 Reflection

Below you'll find a picture of my completed project. This is drastically different from my proposal. I started with the unique "zenpo-ko-enfu" shapes of Japanese tombs in the Kofun era, making them more angular, then repeating and combining multiple pieces in sketch fab. I drew out the shapes that I would then need in Illustrator then printed out wooden pieces which were used as templates for cutting out pieces of steel. After (a lot) of cutting and welding, the piece was cleaned and polished (to the best of my abilities).

Through this piece I thought about the idea of symbolism. The Kofun era took place in between the 3rd and 6th centuries in Japan and marked many of the beginnings of the country. The tombs celebrate royalty who were often buried with simple sculptures, almost symbols in themselves (called Haniwas).

And then I started thinking about symbols in our culture--one of the first things I noticed when I moved to Japan was the abundance of geometric shapes. The road signs (maybe because I was actually walking instead of taking the car everywhere or because there were just so many of them since everything was so cramped together), the sharp roofs of the shrines and temples. I also remember frantically memorizing map symbols for a social studies test when I'd just moved and being utterly confused because they all seemed to represent things that were specific to Japan. As a kid growing up in LA, I'd never thought I'd need to know the map symbols for rice fields, or shrines, temples, or the on-sens (bathhouses).

This piece works through all of that--what can symbols mean? Why do we put so much emphasis on them? Can there be different interpretations of them or are we to take them as code?

Image of "zenpo-ko-en-fu."

Chart of map symbols I was forced to memorize. These include symbols for factories, light houses, airport, forests (with a distinction between broad leaved forests and coniferous forests), post office, library, historical sites, castle remnants, tax office, firehouse, and more. (I'm not bitter at all.)

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