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Multimedia animation of temple forms for 'India: the Art of the Temple' exhibition, Shanghai Museum, China

A multimedia display conceived by Adam Hardy was created for 'India: the Art of the Temple', an exhibition of Indian art from the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum , held in Shanghai (4 August and 15 November 2010): www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/international_tours/india_the_art_of_the_temple.aspx

It was identified that the element missing from the exhibition was the temple building itself, the context in which the sculpture displayed in the exhibition was originally placed. The requirement was for a presentation that would not be a typical, didactic Museum gallery AV display, but a creative piece to stand alongside the works in the gallery to represent the temple building. The display was funded by the World Collections Programme.

Emanating Temple Forms from The British Museum on Vimeo.

Right button click here: select 'Save target as...' to download swf animation

Explanatory text from the exhibition:

Emanating temple forms
Indian temple architecture expresses a process of emanation, reflecting ideas about hierarchies of gods proceeding one from another, and about the birth and evolution of the universe. The process begins with the geometric construction of circles traced on the ground at sunrise to orientate the temple and to lay out the ground plan.

Patterns of emanation in the architectural forms themselves come about through the way in which temples are designed: successions of increasingly complex forms are created, each extrapolated from earlier, simpler ones. Through this process temple forms become dynamic, appearing to emerge, expand and proliferate. The effect is one of forms growing out from formlessness, and ultimately dissolving back into formlessness.

This animation is based on the forms and principles of Indian temple architecture, and conceived as a series of images unfolding in cycles. Its rhythmic structure is underlined by the specially created musical accompaniment.

Concept and drawings: Professor Adam Hardy, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Animation: Simon Fleming and Craig Macleod, Campbell and Co., Edinburgh
Music: M Balachandar (mridangam), Balu Raguraman (violin) and B Sampathkumar (nadaswaram), Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London

Some of the drawings done for the development of the animation:

Explanation of Gavaksha sequence for multimedia animation

To be read in conjunction with drawing ‘Gavaksha Sequence’. Grid in drawing for guidance – will not be visible.

Colours to be decided for: surroundings (deep blue), linear outlines of gavakshas, gavaksha surfaces, jewel-like gavaksha decorations etc, inner world revealed when gavakshas split and come apart (note ‘floor’ bands connecting halves at base and middle).

Dot in centre of screen grows into gavaksha 1a.

Dot in middle of gavaksha 1a grows into gavaksha 2a, growing as it moves down to level 2; as it reaches level 2 it splits and the two halves (2a1 and 2a2) move apart.

As these two halves move apart a dot appears at the centre of the upper part of level 2, growing into gavaksha 2b; a dot in middle of gavaksha 2b grows into gavaksha 2c as it moves down to the botton of level 2, splitting into two halves (2c1 and 2c2) which move apart.

[By this time the top of the picture has begun to move up the screen, eventually disappearing off the top. The picture moves up (camera moves down) as the emergent forms flow down, and also grow to fill more of the screen. Nb. The gavakshas at the centre project a little forward from those on either side,and this may perhaps be reflected by the sense of depth.]

Meanwhile, as 2c1 and 2c2 are moving apart, a dot appears between them and grows into gavaksha 3a as it moves down to level 3; as it reaches level 3 it attains its full size and splits. The two halves (3a1 and 3a2) move apart.

As 3a1 and 3a2 are moving apart, a dot appears between them (at the point which was the centre of the inner circle of gavaksha 3a before it split) and grows into gavaksha 3b.

As 3b is approaching its full size a dot appears at the centre of its inner circle, growing into gavaksha 4a moving down to level 4; as it reaches level 4 it attains its full size and splits. The two halves (4a1 and 4a2) move apart. As before, a dot appears and grows into gavaksha 4b.

The same process is repeated all the way down to level 8, the only difference being the extent to which the two halves move apart.

Gavaksha 9a grows out and down from level 8 in the usual way, splitting into 9a1 and 9a2. Gavaksha 9b grows in the middle of level 9 in the usual way. When it reaches its full size it splits into 9b1 and 9b2, the two halves moving apart. As they move apart a dot appears in the usual way between them and grows into gavaksha 9c.

[The picture is at its greatest extent on the screen – i.e. the gavakshas are at their biggest. From this point the camera begins to draw back as it moves down, so that the gavakshas get smaller.]

As 9c is reaching its full size a dot appears at its centre and grows into gavaksha 10a moving down to level 10. As it reaches level 10 it attains its full size and splits. The two halves (10a1 and 10a2) move apart. The levels are now such that the top third of 10a1 and 10a2 stay higher than the base of gavaksha 9c, and so move in front of it as they come apart.

[These half-gavakshas now belong to a new type (Type r rather than Type B), the top of which is overlapped by the corners of the element above it. Thus, while 10a1 and 10a2 move in front of 9c, they end up with their tips apparently behind. Some though needs to be given to the sense of depth: perhaps they are all in the same plan, or perhaps the gavakshas are transparent (worth experimenting with in any case!), with the ‘r’ elements actually appearing to be front.]

As 10a1 and 10a2 move apart a dot appears between them in the usual way and grows into gavaksha 11a moving down to level 11. As 11a reaches level 11 it attains its full size and splits into 11a1 and 11a2 [overlap issue is present from now on.] As 11a1 and 11a2 are moving apart a dot appears between them and grows into gavaksha 11b, which is a Type W element.

As 11b approaches its full size a dot appears at its centre and grows into gavaksha 12a moving down to level 12. As it reaches level 12 it attains its full size and splits into 12a1 and 12a2 which move apart. As 12a1 and 12a2 move apart a dot appears between them and grows into gavaksha 12b, which is another Type W element, overlapping the lower part of 11b. Rather than staying as a Type W, however, just as it reaches its full size gavaksha 12b splits into two ‘Type v’ elements, 12b1 and 12b2, which move apart. As they move apart a dot appears between them, which becomes gavaksha 13a in the usual way, splitting into 13a1 and 13a2…

The process of proliferation is now established, and it continues for as long as necessary to bring a sense of dissolution into the infinite. As the camera follows the downward flow it draws back so that the gavakshas become smaller and smaller, meanwhile losing the stepped top of the pediment, so that the screen is a sea of dimpling specs. It is from the middle of this sea that a new gavaksha will emerge and grow and split, revealing the temple door.