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Both the Arch of Titus, and Maya Lins’ Vietnam Memorial serve as a public space to their respective cultures. Their use of artistic elements such as size, shape and placement serve to identify and promote emotional realities, such as sacrifice, sombernance, and pride/accomplishment.
The Vietnam war, as well as the Jewish-Roman wars were wars that took a heavy toll on both civilizations. The Arch of Titus and the Vietnam Memorial use their size to depict part of the deep emotions present in both pieces. The Arch of Titus is over forty feet tall while the Memorial, at its deepest point is over 30 feet deep. The Arch seems to maintain an aura of pride/accomplishment, and the desire to remember the exploits of Rome, whereas the Memorial is more of a cut, represented as something that seared America. The Arch of Titus was also centrally located in the heart of Rome, pointing to its’ importance, while the Memorial exists in a space that points to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, seemingly pointing to brighter points in American history. The materials used in the building of these pieces also points to the emotional meanings that they are meant to convey. The Arch of Titus is built using a form of white marble called Pentelic Marble, in contrast to this, the Vietnam Memorial is made out of polished black granite. The text dictates that the polished stone is used to evoke emotional feelings in the viewer, specifically ones that identify the audience with feelings of being there. However, artistic pieces , wish to honor the experience and remember the events.
Shape and content also play a large role in the emotional feelings that these spaces portray. Like I stated before, the Arch of Titus extends from the ground and seems to evoke feelings of pride and accomplishment, while the Vietnam Memorial depresses into the ground, and leaves the audience with more somber feelings. The content of these spaces also solidifies these feelings. On the Arch of Titus, Titus is shown successful in the Jewish-Roman Campaign, reaching a culmination point where Titus is displayed sacking the City of Jerusalem. The Arch was made to commemorate the accomplishment of the deceased (now god) Emperor Titus and maintain Roman pride in the Jewish-Roman wars. The Vietnam Memorial is in direct contrast to this. The Vietnam Memorial contains thousands of names of the people who died or became MIA during the course of the war. Thus the piece cannot evoke the same feelings that the Arch of Titus does because of the context of the Memorial itself. The Memorial was made to reflect somberingly upon the events and sacrifices that took place during the Vietnam war and the simplicity of the names/content that are on that wall make the emotional themes of somberance easy to understand. While the Vietnam War Memorial does display somber feelings, it also displays feelings of hope through the audience. When the audience views the artwork, they also see themselves reflected in the work. Not only does this help the audience to associate with the people who sacrificed during the Vietnam War, but it also points to the future and hope represented by the audience. Thus the the Vietnam Memorial also contains uplifting themes and deepens the viewing experience for the audience. Overall, both pieces use artistic elements to deepen the viewing experience for their respective audiences. Specifically they display emotions of pride/accomplishment (Arch of Titus) and emotions of somberance yet hope (Vietnam Memorial).
The message of both spaces are heightened by the emotional response they convey. The Arch of Titus wished to portray the grandness of their god Titus, a reality they furthered within the work by displaying emotional (Pride/Accomplishment) evoking images such as the sacking of Jerusalem. The Vietnam Memorial also completes this process, but has different emotions (Somberance and Hope) and also a different goal altogether, remembrance. To conclude, both public spaces promote their agendas by using emotional images, content, and context within their space.
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