The Poetics of Space

“When the image is new, the world is new.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

 

Through The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard shares his study of the ‘magical’ cosmos of childhood, home and its imaginary spaces. When an established philosopher of science suddenly turns all his efforts to the realm of art, something new and a little different is bound to be the written result.

 

Bachelard was a phenomenologist, holding the view that there was a dynamic interplay between an active mind and its surroundings. He creates a distinct psychological threshold between open and closed, inside and outside, arrival and departure

 

In the tenth chapter, ‘Phenomenology of roundness”, he quotes people talking about rotundity.

 

“Life is probably round”

-Van Gogh

 

“He had been told that life was beautiful. No! Life is round.”

-Joe Bousquet

 

“A walnut makes me quite round”

-La Fontaine

 

“A bird is almost completely spherical”

-Michelet

 

Bachelard believed that being is round. Everything surrounding life was a metaphor to being round. It is not in the physical or visual shape. Not by geometry but by perception. In the last part of the chapter he talks about how it is in the image of being that one can relate to the quotes.

The round cry of round being makes the sky round like a cupola. And in this round landscape, everything seems to be in response.

 

“The round being propagates its roundness, together with the calm of all roundness.”

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Contested Spaces

For many people, the term ‘contested spaces’ immediately conjures up an image of hard concrete walls or high fences euphemistically known as the ‘peace walls’. Walls however are not what define spaces. It’s the people who build them that do.

 

The battle for ownership in our culture seems to be on going with no visible end. Whether it is our streets, shopping malls, play grounds, the virtual world, our houses or legal spaces, the conflict continues.

 

WHO OWNS WHAT?

 

The environment is shared. It is we who choose to divide it into public space and private space. This brings up questions of who is allowed to use a space, when and in what way. Do we essentially own these spaces or do we borrow and occupy them?

 

In our virtual world, we like and share other people’s work. As designers we take “inspiration” from others’ work. Sometimes I question whether that’s okay. Maybe, just may be we are intruding their mind space? Unknowingly, we seek their brilliance and twist it up a little to make it our own.

 

For example, A takes inspiration from B’s work to form something new. A initiated the idea so it must be his to own. At the same time, B changed it around and added to it. It must be his as well. Who really has the right to “OWN” it?

 

A State of Architecture

A state of architecture is a three month long exhibition held at the NGMA. It begins by questioning the importance of architecture in India and presents the state of contemporary architecture with a larger historic overview since independence. Architect and academic Rahul Mehrotra, poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote and the editor of Domus magazine, Kaiwan Mehta, curate it collaboratively.

The focus of this project is post independence architecture with a special emphasis on the last twenty years. As one walks into the exhibit, he/she is welcomed with a burst of bright colors such as red and yellow. On the ground floor is an array of info-graphs giving away the statistics of architects, growth of architecture schools, the place and changing value of architects in the industry, etc. the number of women architects has also been given emphasis with a separate chart which brings up a topic for discussion. There is a wall dedicated to the covers of magazines showing a change in subject of topics over the years.

As you move up to the first floor, you will see an array of buildings/ structures that are different from the usual. Pictures of such buildings from all over the country are framed and play hide and seek among the pillars that section the area. The floor above was the most fascinating with walls that respond to movement. They have sensors in them that track human motion and move inwards and outwards themselves. This was really impressive and learning that they were built with the help of student volunteers made the experience even more memorable.

Peter Brook’s Mahabharata

As Indians, each one of us has grown up immersed in stories of Shiva, Krishna and Hanuman. These legends were our superheroes and a part of our countries folklore. Mythology and superstition are embedded in our daily lives. To people from societies’ other than ours, Shiva might simply be “the blue god” and so on.

 

Watching Peter Brooks version of Mahabharata brings in another perspective on how people with different beliefs open their minds up to a particular subject. Watching this, gives the Indian viewer a taste of an outsiders standpoint. It may not be what we expect but the effort is applaudable. Brooks film manages to put across a very important point-A keen interest taken in an exterior culture and the willingness to recreate and represent.

 

The movie does not follow the typical norms of depiction of the Mahabharata but there is a visible effort put in. The movie is in the form of a narrative in which an elderly re-counts events from the epic to a young boy. The set-up changes as we lapse through time moving back and forth between the story and real time. The use of non-Indian actors brings to the table a difference in accents, depiction and understanding, which in my opinion was slightly hard to keep up with.

 

Overall, I find it hard to decide whether to be critical and look for flaws in nooks and corners of the film or to be slightly more optimistic and appreciative.

Lakeer

Lakeer

Lakeer is a visually graphic film by Shruti Mahajan. The version, which we saw, was without words/ subtitles with minimal background music, leaving much open to personal interpretation. The film comprises of three short parts. The first titled ‘Border’ starts with the artist drawing out the map of India. A dotted line is drawn within the charcoal outline showing the border between India and China. The second part titled ‘Making’ shows the artist cutting and shaping strips of paper to form what is recognized on maps as the railway line. This according to me is suggestive of the divisions within India. The country was first made one to function unanimously and subsequently split into many parts for reasons opposing. Though we come across as a united country, we choose to put up invisible fences within our own edges, disrupting unity within the same. This brings us to the third phase titled ‘Dividing’. In this part, the artist first cuts out the map of India as is globally accepted and then goes on to shred it into pieces at random. In my opinion, this is the stage where he openly expresses his disappointment towards division for power. From a country we strip ourselves to states, cities and regions…. Are we still one or are we many smaller segments, a result of broken oneness?

Personal Interpretation of a Painting

Sri Sri Lanka

IMG_9508

This painting particularly intrigues me because it is the map of Sri Lanka projected through a robe and a body. This is probably the body and clothing of the ruler of Sri Lanka at the given time since it has a headgear with a significant jewellery piece in the centre and a gem stone hanging at its side which means that the wearer is of high ranking and owns riches. It is always said that the ruler carries the pride of his country within him. According to me this painting is a depiction of just that in a literal sense. In the given space, you can visually see him being and wearing the countries pride, taking responsibility for it and showing-off his power all at the same time. What appears to be the face of this figure is an extension of the map probably relevant to what is on his mind- the places surrounding his area that he plans to conquer in the future. On the left shoulder, we see bloodstains and below the neck, we see blood dripping down which may be an indication of the soldiers that will sacrifice their lives to make true the vision of their leader. In his hand, we see a sword that may signify his urge to vanquish the others.

 

Performance Artist

Performance Artist

-Vanessa Beecroft

 

Vanessa Beecroft is an Italian artist, much of whose work is performance based. Her art often consists of female models as living art objects. They are both static and dynamic. Much of her work reflects upon her personal life and struggles. She suffers from an eating disorder herself and explores issues of body image and femininity in contemporary culture.

Her highly choreographed performance works examine what constitutes the perfect body, as well as the role of context in determining the role between the viewers and viewed. Her models are usually motionless which, perhaps is an indicator of just how powerless a person feels under societal pressure when they fail to live up to the designated standards expected to be adhered to. An example of this is her 2011 performance in which nude female models were assembled among marble and plaster sculptures, subverting the traditional viewing experience while emphasizing the affinities and the stark differences between the living and sculptures.

According to the New York Times, her confrontational approach and use of nudity have made her a controversial figure, whose work has been criticized for being “fascist and incorrect”, and whose performance has been called “hooters for intellectuals”

Hip-hop as an art form has historically embraced controversy, as a musician, Kanye West certainly has not shied away from it and has in fact only embraced it by collaborating with Vanessa on several occasion. They worked together on Kanye’s music for his video “Only one”. Beecroft also exhibited her sculptural work at Kanye’s wedding to Kim Kardashian in 2015.

 

 

Performance Art

Performance art

Performance Artist

-Vanessa Beecroft

 

Vanessa Beecroft is an Italian artist, much of whose work is performance based. Her art often consists of female models as living art objects. They are both static and dynamic. Much of her work reflects upon her personal life and struggles. She suffers from an eating disorder herself and explores issues of body image and femininity in contemporary culture.

Her highly choreographed performance works examine what constitutes the perfect body, as well as the role of context in determining the role between the viewers and viewed. Her models are usually motionless which, perhaps is an indicator of just how powerless a person feels under societal pressure when they fail to live up to the designated standards expected to be adhered to. An example of this is her 2011 performance in which nude female models were assembled among marble and plaster sculptures, subverting the traditional viewing experience while emphasizing the affinities and the stark differences between the living and sculptures.

According to the New York Times, her confrontational approach and use of nudity have made her a controversial figure, whose work has been criticized for being “fascist and incorrect”, and whose performance has been called “hooters for intellectuals”

Hip-hop as an art form has historically embraced controversy, as a musician, Kanye West certainly has not shied away from it and has in fact only embraced it by collaborating with Vanessa on several occasion. They worked together on Kanye’s music for his video “Only one”. Beecroft also exhibited her sculptural work at Kanye’s wedding to Kim Kardashian in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hybrid Spaces

Hybrid Spaces

Imaginary Space + Possibility of a new one

 

The imaginary space I have chosen to work with is the “magic tree” from the enchanted valley. The real space that I would possible create from this could be a humungous man built tree with the textures of a realistic one. The tree itself would be a theme park or an amusement park for kids as well as adults. This tree will be divided into a number of avenues. Each avenue will cover a different area form the book, with its characters prancing around hosting activities. One can come to our tree park to spend the day or stay in a hotel near by which offers express entry into the tree. From within, the tree is sectioned into avenues, floor-wise with six general avenues and one enchanted valley that will be situated on the topmost floor. This avenue is one without a permanent theme. It changes to something different and exciting every month.

 

Hybrid Space

Sound: Essay on Sound & Cinema

We often think of film only as a visual experience, we tend to underestimate the value of the sound element in it. If our sight is not supported by sound, the experience remains incomplete. Ever watched a silent film? That too has prominent sounds in it. Lyrics or words are not the only sounds we hear. Sounds include all the noises that help create a mood, enhancing the visual experience.

An example of a silent film with sounds is Metropolis by Fritz Lang. Though the film is visually exhilarating, the characters convey a lot through expressions. Silence is not mute. It is given form through background music and landscapes. Music accompaniment is always present in a silent film. More so since it lacks direct conversation. In the film, silence can be extremely vivid and varied, for although it has no voice, it has very many expressions and gestures. A silent glance can speak volumes; its soundlessness makes it more expressive because the facial movements of a silent figure may explain the reason for the silence, make us feel its weight, its menace, its tension. In the film, silence does not halt action even for an instant and such silent action gives even silence a living face. The scene where Frederer goes down to the factory and takes the place of the worker, so as to experience a day of life in the real world, his expression is enough for the viewer to judge what he wants to say. Just as one can distinguish between the real Maria and the evil one through the slight tone in music and body language without her having to say anything. When the real Maria is on screen, the instrumental music goes on as it does but, when the evil one takes her place, the music tends to have a higher, more dramatic pitch (drum beats with pauses).

Bela Balaza’s in her essay states that we cannot hear dimension or direction. We find it hard to understand the direction of sound in a film unless it is generated in a certain space. We can only feel silence when we can hear the most distant sound in a quiet place or inversely when there is sudden silence amidst a chaotic scene. For instance, when a new character enters a noisy company, the tone tends to change to emphasize the entry of the newcomer and shift focus on him. She believes that we are used to hearing particular sounds that we are immune to most of them. Having heard them multiple times, we chose to stop paying attention to them. Though we subconsciously hear them, the brain does not register them at the moment and the sounds become more like background music. We know its there but do not pay attention to it because if several sounds are present at the same time, they merge into one composite sound.

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ is a very good example of sound in film. Few directors have had their relationship with music analysis as much as him. Over the years, his music has become synonymous with his filmmaking style. It is difficult to define the actual aural level of this movie. In an article Guillermo del Toro went to some lengths to describe Hitchcock’s relation with sound and dialogue to the ideas prevalent in the movie The Birds, “Even if Hitchcock resented the fact that sound brought with it theatrical affectations that set back the purity of cinema, he chose to embrace the change, and expanded the possibilities of sound, which became another “pure cinema” tool through which he could express his thematic concerns.”

In the birds there is a sense of purity and trust in his images unseen and unheard in any of his other films. Instead of relying on music to heighten the drama and horror, he uses dynamics to affect sound.

The addition of sound did not simply mean that actors could now talk, it meant bigger changes in the way that films were produced. Scenarists now had also to be dialogue writers. Actors now had to be models of articulateness and fluency as well as spectacular artists. Certain exotic roles became far less fashionable, in part because foreign accents were harder to understand with primitive microphone and amplification technologies, in part because the fantasy of the Asian vamp or the Italian villain seemed more kitschy with the added reality of sound, and in part because some foreign types began to seem rather stereotypical and xenophobic. Some verbal kinds of comedy were simply not possible until sound was merged with film. And, of course, at least one whole genre would not have been possible without sound: the musical.
In the 2001 film, ‘Shrek’ the protagonist is introduced and portrayed as both a conventional and non-stereotypical ogre through various film techniques, especially sound. In the opening scene, diegetic sounds are used to portray Shrek’s stereotypical personality of an ogre. For example, when Shrek burps and farts, these sounds are anticipated features of an ogre’s behavior, and by including these in the film, it introduces the fact that, although he challenges the stereotype, this character still possesses the traditional behaviors of an ogre. Another example of diegetic sound is mud slopping out of the tree trunk; this shows the audience the dirty environment in which the scene will be set. A conglomeration of these techniques creates Shrek’s stereotyped personality.

Shrek possesses some very unconventional qualities for his species. The filmmakers used a wide variety of techniques to create his non-stereotypical side. When many people think of ogres they think of uncivil, unclean, Neanderthal creatures. Creatures that aren’t supposed to talk and hence don’t talk. In the film, the character of Shrek clearly undermines these stereotypes by having the ‘human’ privilege of talking. On top of this he has quite a personality, a comical, pessimistic, sarcastic personality at that. The main feature used to create this personality is the film’s script. Shrek makes a wide range of pessimistic comments against fairytales, particularly Happily Ever After’s. This is clearly conveyed to the audience through the tone in the actor’s voice, and the sentence, “Aw, like that’s ever going to happen,” before he rips out the page to use as toilet paper. In the opening scene, Shrek, despite his stereotypical features, still appears to be quite civilized for an ogre. He goes through a daily routine, and although it isn’t a routine we’d expect, he still brushes his teeth, cleans his home, has a shower and bath (or spa), and sets up a candlelit dinner, just like a regular human being would do. Being a children’s animated film, the sound adds to the drama making it more interesting keeping the kids responsiveness at all times.