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For this project, I need to photograph a group of Malay men who were born in Singapore for each of the characters in the story, particularly the seahorsemen.

Synopsis of the artwork

title: The Barsam
platform: RenPy developed visual novel for PC and Mac, shown on touch-screen LCD screen or tablet

The Barsam tells the story of a tribe of creature living on Temasek before Sang Tri Buana who is commonly known as Sang Nila Utama set his foot on the island. This project attempts to re/create a local myth and highlighting themes like gender, race and colonialism.

The story begins with our protagonist, Laki, a young seahorseman who is on the age of becoming an adult. Not long after his early trainings to become a warrior, the humans from Palembang arrived on the island. The creatures welcomed the humans and eventually they became allies. However, on the day when the humans were to leave the island to continue their voyage, they turned their backs against the creatures. The humans managed to eliminate the seahorsemen and claimed Temasek theirs, naming it Singapura.

The project will be in the form of visual novel, developed with RenPy game engine written in Python. 

the Barsams (seahorsemen)

Laki (the main protagonist; 15 years old)

Wira (Laki's trainer; 25-30 years old)

Adiputera (Laki's father; 30-35 years old)

Adirama (Laki's grandfather; 50-60 years old)

Sang Jaya Perkasa (Laki's father; 30-35 years old)

Sang Mukasinga (the tribe's watchman; 30-35 years old)

Raja Sangkuda (the tribe's elder; 50 years old)

the humans from Palembang

Sang Tri Buana (also known as Sang Nila Utama; 25-35 years old)

Demang Lebar Daun (the bendahara; 40-50 years old)

Si Kawan (a crew of the Palembang ship; 20 years old)

additional characters

Badang (a human with superpower; 25 years old)

Rusky Lejon (a Swedish-Asian character from In Search of the Water Dragon project; 25-30 years old)

*The age is comparative to human's age. The seahorsemen only lived up to 20 years and by the time of the story, Laki is 5 years old.

*Note that the ages are not comparative to the physical look as well. This means I do not need a 50-60 years old man to play Adirama.


The models that I will be photographing are to take note that:

1. There will be no clothes involved. Models will be photographed shirtless but with pants on. Please refer to the sample images below.

2. Photographs are and will not be taken in professional setting. The artist is open to venues for photography as long as the background is plain white. This is for the convenience during digital editing. Hence, photographs may not be able to be used as modelling portfolio as quality is not of the artist's primary concern.

3. The number of photographs taken will vary from 10-30 images. However, models should take note that different facial expressions are expected for story-development purpose. Please refer to the sample images below.

4. Raw images of the photography belong to the artists and models will be given a compiled copy.

5. Models will not be paid but will be given a copy of the artwork (either drawings, collage study or the game) and be credited in any post-production materials.

6. Models participating in this project do not represent any political, social, sexual, economical, religious and/or racial ideologies but simply for visual representation and/or as study images for the project and the artist.

Below are the sample of how the game will look like. However, these are only mood boardings and changes will apply.

The characters are taken from Konami's genso Suikoden franchises and strictly for study purpose only.
Backgrounds are taken from Google Image Search and likewise, strictly for study purpose only.










The seahorsemen characters will be half photograph and half drawings. Photographs will be digitally edited in terms of colors, hue, size, position, etc to fit the images of the characters if necessary.

There is reference to hands-on or collage techniques of creating visual dimension. The direction that I am going towards to is the tacky, disconnected and unrefined visual aesthetic. But at the same time, precision is also considerably important hence blurring the perception of reality and human-construction.

The project is for Bachelor of Fine Art(Hons)'s final year project at School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.