New to Star Wars or a long time fan? You’re in luck as Singapore’s ArtScience Museum is hosting Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition as the final stop of its world tour. Running from 30 January to 13 June this year, the exhibition features original props and storyboards from the Star Wars movies as well as an immersive look into how origins, influences and choices shape one’s identity. Here’s a peek into the exhibition from our visit, and why you should consider taking a trip down.
A Look Into Pop Culture That Fuses Art And Science
A cult classic since its debut, Star Wars is a science-fiction space opera that has amassed a loyal following of fans and collectors alike. To date, it boasts eleven movies and four television shows. While this might sound intimidating to some, the exhibition deconstructs Star Wars into an understandable prologue for the uninitiated.
Star Wars Identities has historically been hosted in spaces such as the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, making it a natural contender for the ArtScience Museum. While Star Wars Identities seems like a strange choice for a museum, we were surprised to find out that it does have artistic and scientific elements.
The exhibition walks you through the creative process of movie-making, from early concept drawings and storyboards to puppetry and costume design. It also explores the science of genetics and psychology in an interactive segment where guests can create their own Star Wars character.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve split the exhibition into its dual aspects: the Art of Star Wars, and the Science behind Identity. Do note however, that the exhibition weaves these concepts into one seamless journey, so don’t be surprised when your scientific journey is broken up by pockets of fantasy!
The Art of Star Wars
Star Wars is known for its artistic value, having won awards in costume design and cinematography. The exhibition takes you from script to screen, and is full of bonus photo ops along the way.
There are plenty of initial production sketches on display, which showcase the various directions Star Wars could have gone in before the final product.
The storyboard process acts as a sandbox for untested ideas, and there were many that did not make it into the final film, but reused as a concept in future movies and shows.
You’ll get to see the original costumes used in the films, from The Phantom Menace to The Force Awakens. They have been faithfully preserved, and each costume has its own intricate design process. For certain costumes, different looks were explored to create what eventually ends up in the films.
The highlight was seeing Yoda’s original costume, which was on display in an impressive life-size model against the signature Dagobah backdrop.
Also on display are production models used to get a feel of the alien characters that populate the Star Wars universe. Each alien is individually modelled, even if they get just a second of screen time to achieve the level of immersion viewers would have watching the films.
The same goes for the ships used in the films; each windowpane and gun turret is modelled to resemble the real thing. Using these models, the production team is able to choreograph a space battle to give it more accuracy.
Even if you don’t watch Star Wars, the exhibition gives you a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes to eventually become a full film. If you want more context to the exhibition, you’re in luck as the ArtScience Museum screens the prequel trilogy for free!
Film screenings of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith accompany the exhibition to illuminate the cinematic universe that inspired it. The film screenings showcase the timeless appeal of the iconic space opera series, as well as providing insight into the films, directors and aesthetics which shaped George Lucas' art and provided the blueprint for the canon’s universe.
The Science of our Identity
As mentioned before, the Science of the exhibit explores the concept of identity, and how it is developed by both internal and external factors. To this end, the general and interactive displays have been split into three zones, further segmented into ten interactive stations that break down the information into digestible bits. Every station is not only accompanied by the ‘choice terminals’, but also informative videos that help explain how each section that makes up our identity.
Of course, the fun aspect is creating your own character in the world of Star Wars. But it’s an interesting experience to see how the science of personality can be framed through the lens of Star Wars characters. Many of the informative exhibits explore scientific ideas using Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s character traits as examples, keeping the education engaging and appealing.
Here are the zones that you’ll experience alongside the interactive stations that you’ll explore. At the end, you should not only have created your own unique Star Wars character, but have a better understanding of individual identity, and what makes each of us unique.
Zone One: Origins
The first zone, Origins, has four interactive stations and covers the beginning of our identity construction. Here, you’ll not only get to decide what your new Star Wars character was born with, but what we, as individuals, package and accumulate in the construction of our identity.
While humans appear to be the only species on planet Earth to be able to form complex personal identities, this isn’t the case in the Star Wars universe! This interactive station will allow you to choose what Star Wars alien race you’re from, from Twi’lek, to Gungan, to even the teddy bear-like Ewoks.
This is basically a character creation menu, where you get to choose your gender, the colour of your skin and the colour of your eyes. This section explores the important part genetics can play in providing a blueprint for our identity.
As expected, our parents will have a huge impact on our identities. Different parenting styles can affect an individual’s outlook on life. This section will help you consider the simple yet important question: how were you raised?
Culture is the environment around us, the norms that guide our behaviour from day to day. In the Star Wars universe, culture largely depends on what planet an individual grew up on, letting you decide whether you came from the hostile desert of Tatooine or the lush forests of Yavin IV.
Zone Two: Influences
The second zone covers how other identities and experiences might affect how our own identities change as time goes on. As individuals, we can be shaped by the people around us, and may look to future challenges based on those we have already overcome.
Anyone in our life can be a mentor, as long as they are someone we respect and have something to learn from. Here, you’ll get to choose from a list of significant Star Wars characters as mentors, learning how those we look up to in life can shape the perspectives and skills we have.
If you’re here with a friend, you’ll get to link your Star Wars Character at this station, which affects the outcome of your final character display! It’s obvious that friendships with others are important and can shape our decisions, but the sense of belonging to a group can also influence how we see ourselves and behave.
Significant events in our life can shake our worldview and change how we interact with our challenges. A random challenge will be selected for your new Star Wars Character, and you will decide how they overcome it. At the same time, they exhibit may help you consider what significant events have shaped your own life, and how.
Zone Three: Choices
While our origins provide the package and our influences can alter the way in which we view the world, our identities are ultimately decided by the choices we make. Zone three details the three core aspects that guide our decision making, which in turn affect our identities.
Believe it or not, our occupation can be a defining part of our identity. Our work and passions define how we spend our time, which affects how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. How would you choose to spend your time in the Star Wars universe? Would you be a Jedi who maintains the peace, or a Senator that fights for the freedom of the Republic? A variety of options are available for your character to choose from...
Quite obviously, your personality will determine most of the choices you make in your life. At this station, you’ll be able to take a brief personality test that will give you a loose definition of both you and your character’s personality traits. This personality test follows the well-known Five Personalities model: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.
Finally, what values do you hold most important? This final exhibit details how all the other factors coalesce into certain abstract concepts and principles that will guide how we make choices. At this station, you’ll get to choose which qualities you value most, rounding out the identity of your Star Wars character.
The Final Choice…
Except, you have one final decision to make before the end. True to the nature of the Star Wars Universe, every character has a Light and a Dark side lurking within. When the time comes and you are confronted with this choice, which side will you commit to? Consider carefully...
Your Star Wars Identity
After you make your choice, you’ll enter a room where you can see your character on a huge screen, and get a more detailed version of the character you’ve made sent to your email. The choices you make in the interactive zones using your RFID bracelet shape the final product that you see on the screen, giving you a memorable personal exhibition experience.
At the end of the exhibition, there’s a pop-up store as well where you can get exclusive exhibition merchandise! From t-shirts to mugs and figurines, there’s no better place to pick up a souvenir or two. Only ticket holders get access to the exhibition’s pop-up gift store, but some souvenirs are also featured in ArtScience Museum’s general retail area at B2.
Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition is a worthwhile visit for any Star Wars fan. You’ll get to enjoy seeing some of the original props and designs that went into making the universe that many now cherish. While witnessing the art and effort that revolutionised the Science Fantasy genre, you’ll also learn more about individuality, and the aspects of identity that create not just fictional characters, but real people.
It’s an interesting demonstration of how art and science can exist in tandem, framing the idea of identity through the lens of a fantastical Galaxy Far, Far Away. If you have a free afternoon of one to two hours, no Star Wars fan should miss this exhibit.
Address: ArtScience Museum, Level 3, 6 Bayfront Ave
Opening Hours: Sunday–Thursday 10am–7pm
Written by Trinity Sun and Ray Chong