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Eternal Belonging


Developed as part of requirements for the University of Connecticut's MFA in Digital Media & Design, 2020. 

Eternal Belonging is a part of the series of SHRINE installations. Viewers of the installation are guests in a miniaturized Buddhist temple complex made of animation projected on etched recycled cardboard. The work addresses themes of displacement, personal and cultural history, and invoking the unseen. Stylized hand-drawn animation and etched cardboard form a warm acknowledgement of my experience growing up in a constant state of otherness as a Lao-American trying to find placement in the world. Uncertainty about the future and untranslated stories of the past appear as common threads in the experiences of American-born Asians (including myself).

In Eternal Belonging, personal memories reimagined as fantastical animation represent spiritual concepts in Buddhism. Character designs, etched patterns, and sequential progressions follow the Wheel – in Buddhist terms, an auspicious sign representing the interconnectedness of everything, or karma. The physical installation has three main projection spaces that include the stupa (reliquary), the eternal return zone (floor), and the platform (stage). These three spaces are inhabited by the animated main characters of the reclaimed temple: Tama (the ghost dog), Tokkata (the mended doll), and Khailuod (a bird god). The wheel-decorated stupa structure at the entrance of the installation shows the formation of each of the three main characters as they navigate the cardboard world. Each of these characters reform in the eternal return zone as their shapes cycle between abstract and figurative within the spiral path connecting to the stage area. In the stage of the temple, Tama introduces spiritual changes to an office space and its inhabitants. This makes way for Tokkata as they distribute chants and prayer beads to a transforming world. Khailuod follows Tokkata’s sermons to prepare the space for another cycle through fire and ash. The world is reformed and each animation cycle begins again.

Installation Views and Animation Details


Written Thesis Document - PDF Version

Public Version of this Document Coming Soon! 

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