Contested Spaces

A contested spaces is an area in which two or more entities are in dispute over. I find that it comes with a sense of need or greed to encroach upon another space. My opinion on the issue of contested spaces fluctuates as per the situation.
I believe a space inhabited by slum dwellers in a city like Bombay cannot be seen as a contested space. These are people that come from villages from all over India, some that have even been there for generations. Most of the inhabitants that live in these slums are the backbone of the city. Therefore its not a fair statement to make that they don’t belong in the space just in spirit of development.
When there are SRA projects that give rise to new housing for the inhabitants of the slum, they are made to live in a space with poor ventilation, lack of natural light and a lifestyle they are not used to. I do believe the government land they inhabit cannot be taken away from them.
The way I look at an agricultural land as a contested space is very different. These lands are inhabited by farmers that live with a very low income, suddenly exposing them to heaps of money as a bribe to get away from their space for industrial use. It is a way in which an entire farming culture is abolished through this.
There is a very thin line in the issue of contested spaces. It is the blurry border that causes these issues at a small scale, and sometimes at the scale of Countries.

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Poetics of Space – Corners

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (1958) looks at the way a space is an experience. He doesn’t look at spaces as just being entities but what the meaning and the emotion is behind what he is looking into. Its the experience one feels with the space and how the space has come about to even begin with.
Chapter 6 in Poetics of spaces is about corners. This looks at the importance and impact a corner has on a space. It is a symbol of solitude for the imagination. A corner is a space of solitude. It is further derived as ones personal space where there is no room for further interaction. The corner is looked at in a very positive way. It is not something that is forgotten just because it does not lend a spacious central quality of the space. It is a symbol of solitude, a space to hide.
Corners are most often spaces of comfort. It could be the edge of a piece of furniture or a corner in a room. Is is away from the centre at a point at which one finds isolation and centre within themselves.
This could be looked at as a space not so pleasant. For example the edge of a map of one boundary into another boundary. This creates the edge of one space pushed into the corner. It creates a space of lost identity. Does this corner belong to this territory or that?

Lakeer without Poem

This short video work by Shruti Mahajan, poetically and very artistically makes the viewer feel the force borders and partitions have on us. The video uses uses graphic elements of maps and is in a monochrome colour scheme of only black and white without distractions making the viewer see the situation for what it is.
The film has been inspired by the poem Lakeer. This poem talks about the division of the Indian subcontinent. This is looking at the idea of the boundary, or the simply the line of division. This line is further taken forward in the mindsets of people and the boundaries of their beliefs. The film inspired by this poem is divided into three parts.
‘Drawing’
This part of the film, draws over an existing map. Taking the line in at some points, further out at some points and even intersecting with the existing line. Questioning who really is creating this line of division and how can it be so precise? The line is drawn in thick black charcoal drawn with great force across the page. There is no precision in the way the outline of the map is drawn and seems to be done in a way where the mind is following the simple motion of the hand. The background sound to this is applause and cheering, as though it is some kind of celebration. This sends out a very morbid signal as the visual quality depicts something very dark in comparison to this cheer.
‘Making’
This part of the video uses a technique of showing a process of working on something very skilfully. she’s cutting out what looks like train tracks or more so even the border that would be this line that has been drawn between the divided country. This making is a process shown in a very artistic craft kind of way as though is something beautiful being made that has been documented. Once again here, the peacefulness of just watching her make this is lost by the harsh colour of the black.
‘Dividing’
Through this sequence one sees the scissor angrily moving through an existing map with great force cutting through the borders all over. The motion of the siccor is not following the line of the map but moving across various directions inside and outside of the map. In a way this symbolises that the division is not so clear. The division of the map does not move in one direction but cuts all over. This brutal cutting cutis into one space and another. This emphasises the first part of the video as to who has created these borders and are they even right?


State of Architecture

In a city like Bombay, being an architecture exhibition is quite a rare sight for me. I had heard a lot of praise about the exhibition before visiting the show, but still not sure what I expected out of it. On visiting the exhibition at the NGMA Bombay the show blew my mind. The exhibition had a lot of content, where in a usual case might be too overwhelming. The show managed to maintain most viewers attention very closely through the show. I found, the exhibition was like walking through an extremely interesting book.
The first three levels of the exhibition had a historic timeline, which was very well curated in a manner that is very natural for one to walk through. The content was exciting as there were many building I recognised as well as some that came to my notice for the first time and really admired. The content of the exhibition really brought out the good in the city and some of the amazing architecture in India.
There were several structures as part of the exhibition that I had seen before, through my leanings in History of Architecture but seeing the works having in a gallery space exaggerated the importance in a sense. One of the key aspects that went along the timeline was the political events happening at the time the structures were designed/ built. This really helped to see the various movements in a chronological manner.
The history of the exhibition only started post independence so essentially only looking at Indian architecture. The curators made it a point not to go into looking at private buildings and only brought out public spaces through the exhibition. The use of a timeline through the way in which the exhibition was viewed brought out a sense of materials and how it has significantly changed over the years of development, as well as distinguishing various architectural styles.
I found the arrangement and quality of presentation was what enhanced the exhibition. The very simple graphic use of clean lines was eye catching as well as an easy flow through the space. What I specifically liked was the references on the ground floor to all the research that had gone into the exhibition. This is something people usually tend to put at the end. Having it right in the beginning as the first thing the viewer sees when s/he walks in is the depth at which the exhibition has been extensively researched which became a key component of the show.
With new development taking place now, I hardly see things I appreciate. What was surprising was how I really enjoyed the top floor seeing the new architectural masterpieces by some great architects around India, working on public and not private spaces. The way in which this was organised was curated to feel like one is moving through an architectural space of small clusters with little windows. I did find that a few models would enhance the recent architectural works. This might have been an intended choice by the curators to just have a two dimensional visual quality to the show. My general feel about the exhibition was great and I have a lot to take back from the show.

Indian Art

VS Gaitonde – paintings and process
The Guggenheim retrospective
1.
The long work with the hues of blues has lightness emerging from the bottom. The sides of the bottom of the work forms a very two dimensional space, which comes together in the centre almost forming a three dimensional form. There seems to be a greater depth in the centre of the work. It depicts a very serine surrounding. I find that it could look like a body of water, if placed flat on the ground within a space. This idea that it could be a body of water gives the work a very calming feeling.
2.
The second work could be placed in an empty space, completing it with a sense of serenity. If it were to be placed within a tight space, I find it would add a lot of depth to it with a gradual layering.
3.
This painting looks at space from a complete distance. The band of the black is the life to the painting. The small scale figures at a distance look busy, they seem to be caught up in the blurriness of the black. The light shadows at the top and bottom are the calming elements that move into a lightness of the space.

The Five Senses: Final Project

Super Mario Installation

Idea #1:
Initially, we thought of making a 3D Mario game. We would try to represent how it felt when you put yourself in Mario’s shoes and you yourself would have had to play the game – jump and collect coins etc. So, we thought of making a life size maze and the player would have to physically play the game like he would on console.

Feedback:
It was going to be very difficult to execute, given the amount of time we had. We wouldn’t have been able to make an exact representation of the Mario game in real life, it sounded like something that would be in an amusement park.
We were also told to abstract the idea – probably use a projector or a treadmill instead of the maze.

Idea #2:
Our second idea was a slightly abstracted version of our previous idea. We would make a small cube (8 bit cube) in which a person would go into and sit. It would be dark inside, a video would be projected onto one side of the cube and the person would also hear various video game sounds. On the top of the box, there would be a hole from which we would throw things like coins, mushrooms and other elements from Super Mario into the box. The aim of this installation would be to suffocate the person (player) sitting inside.

Feedback:
Our idea was too literal – we were asked to abstract the idea even further. The execution again had several issues. We would’ve had to construct a huge box that a person could fit into, placement of the projector would’ve been an issue as the person sitting inside would cast a shadow etc. The sense of smell and taste weren’t coming out too well in this idea as well.

Final idea:
Our final idea was a very abstracted version of the previous two ideas, we had finally decided that we were going to focus on addiction and the side effects of gaming. So to bring that experience and engage all the different senses we decided merge our senses, because gaming is an audiovisual experience with touch felt by a console or a touch pad and of course the slouch created because of the seating position. Taste and smell come in secondary, but are equally as important. We wanted to show how harmful the effects of excessive gaming could actually be once their visuals are simplified and kept without an interesting plot or interface. We also wanted to make the viewer feel absolutely claustrophobic. To execute our idea, we constructed four different boxes. Each box had a computer screen in it and a very small and narrow opening on it for the audience to look into. These boxes were painted black on the outside as well as the inside to ensure no light passes through except for the light from the screen when the viewer is looking inside. All these boxes were kept at a considerably low height so that the viewer would have to stare at the screen while slouching that would get very uncomfortable later.

Box

This is how we classified each of the senses to make the execution of our idea an easier process:

Sight – Video games use extremely fast moving visuals that keep on changing when it comes to motion and color. Usually these colors are extremely bright and vivid. Most of the time the game is a highly visual experience, so therefore we kept a video as a form of a visual in every box which was merged with another sense or feeling.

Sound – Music that would be extremely difficult and painful to listen to if it would be continuously played. So to recreate the same effect we used 8-bit sounds for each of our boxes.

Touch – The slouch that the gamers sit in for hours at a stretch every day and the numb fingers as a result of the constant grip and movement on a keyboard/ touchpad or controller.

Smell – Gamers are so deeply involved in the game; they aren’t affected by or notice the smell that surrounds them. A lot of them don’t even shower for days and just use a deodorant as a substitute. Other smells that gamers are used to are junk food, the stench of body odor and other awful scents such as stale food. Our aim was to recreate the same repulsive sense of smell that would get monotonous. We kept the extremely repellent smell of spray paint mixed with deodorant constant on each of our boxes to make the audience experience the same feeling.

Taste – Gamers usually tend to munch on junk food – chips, aerated drinks (any junk). So to recreate that feeling, we mixed our sounds with the crunching of chips and we kept some cake for the viewers to eat at intervals of each box.

Super Mario Cake
So we constructed four boxes and placed screens inside them, which were showing different things. Each one would lead to the next box.

The following visuals were paired up with annoying video game music:

Box 1: This is not straining to the eye.
White text runs across a red screen really fast and one is supposed to figure out what is says. We kept an 8-bit music in the background for this mixed with the sound of chips being munched on. This was the first box, so, we wanted our audience to warm up with the speed of the visuals and provoke them with the senses of eyestrain, the repulsive odors and the taste of junk food through memory.

Box 2: A dancing red dot on a neon screen.
A red dot kept moving really quickly from one part of the screen to another. It was placed on a neon green background and the longer you stare at the dot the more blinding it gets for the eye. This was accompanied with another 8-bit soundtrack that was playing at full volume and again merged with the constant smell of spray paint and deodorant. The aim of this box was to further irritate the viewer by an increase in the intensity of the audiovisual.

Box 3: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and You Win!
This box was supposed to cause the eyestrain at its peak. It had the words flashing on the screen really quickly with the color of the type changing to black and white back and forth, and simultaneously the background changing to all colors extremely quickly. It was supposed to mimic the visuals that cause epilepsy also and the 8-bit sound in the background was supposed to make the user feel even more traumatized.

Box 4: Typing test.
This box was supposed to recreate how the effect of excessive gaming strains and numbs your fingers. This box was intentionally placed right in the end after the intense audiovisual experience. The viewer was made to type on the screen using a touchpad (that he ideally wasn’t supposed to see). The construction of this box was a little tricky, as we did not have the ideal software and hardware. We mirrored our phone display on the computer screen and made our viewers type on the phone while we supervised them and made sure they did not look at the mobile display, but only stared at the screen.

Typing Test

On the top of the box, we made a Mario stencil print artwork.

Mario stencil
Mario stencil process

Sense of Sound: The Grind (music video)

Iteration #1:
Initially, we were thinking of things and processes that our mundane in our life which would help that bring about the mechanical monotony of our soundtrack. According to us, our mash up seemed to resemble tons of machines being used and constantly working at the same time. So, machines used in factories inspired our first idea, our video would comment on mass production vs nature. It would show the journey of a shoe being manufactured in a factory, followed by being walked around in and then finally end with it disintegrating into nature.

Feedback:
The feedback we got on our first idea was that in our first look of the video, the making of the shoe was not coming across too strongly. We were also facing difficulties in execution (we were lacking footage due to locating factories, permissions and other things) so, we were asked to think of another concept that would be more practical in terms of execution and would also connect with our soundtrack.

Iteration #2:
So, we started to think of other mechanical processes and well what are humans if not machines? We thought of reflecting on our college lives with a comic twist – “The life of a design student” (sigh). We thought that our life mimics the monotony of the soundtrack and so we chose this concept for our music video.

When we sit down to work, we are easily distracted and after hours of procrastination we either end up with work or … well sometimes things don’t really turn out the way we plan them – well that’s our life!

Storyboard:

The Grind - Storyboard

Final:

Sense of Sound: The Grind (final soundtrack)

The sounds used in this soundtrack are from various mundane objects that are a part of our everyday routine that we over look. In the beginning, there are random sounds played in isolation and then the sounds slowly build up and create a rhythm, as all the sounds play in a symphony. This mash-up aims to a sense of a lifeless, perfunctory, and a mechanical way of life.

Sense of Sound: Sounds of India Bulls

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Atyaan Jungalwala

Walking in through the cartridge movements, I was being slamed from one end of the room to the other with a gigantic machine. The room’s smell was getting stronger with each push where I felt suffocated by the chemicals. While I was pushed back and forth, I had no idea where I was headed, in this pitch-black space. As the momentum started to speed up even more, I was being tugged from one end to another. The last tug was a sudden push out of this dark space, where I found myself covered in black, just like what I could see from within the space. On coming out I was splashed by I clear flow of water from above me. I don’t know if this made me laugh or cry.

Aditi Mundra

The sounds used in this soundtrack are mundane, sounds part of everyday routine that we over look.

In the beginning, this mashup creates a sense of confusion, as there are only random sounds played.
The solo sounds build up and create a rhythm and somehow it makes me imagine that I’m stuck in a traffic jam and all the cars start honking in a symphony.

Purvisha Nadkarni

As the man was cutting down the tree with his axe, he heard a strange noise that he could not understand. He continued to cut, and the noise just kept getting longer and louder. He tried hard to recognize these strange noises but was miserably failing to do so. He suddenly stopped as a strong gush of wind came his way and he could not hold his ground, the strange noise however did not fade, only to be startled more and more by them. He recognized a sound that was familiar to coughing and giggling; he started getting curiouser and curiouser before it all came to a random and sudden halt. Everything became pindrop silence.

Ishita Dedhia

She walked around looking for something that would take her mind off the loss she had just faced. Having lost her grandmother who was her only source of inspiration had taken a toll on her health too. She dragged herself through the roads with towers being constructed on either sides. Men working in scorching heat continuously to earn the few pennies that they get from their entire day work. Memories of her grandmother took her thoughts away again from her surroundings. Just when she heard something and looked behind her. An old lady with a wrinkled face had tripped and fallen and was struggling to get back to her feel again. She ran towards her to give her a hand. They struck a conversation as she helped her get back home safely. Since that day , she would go to meet her frequently and pass their time with stories and laughs. She lost someone but also she gained someone just amongst those sad days. A grandmother whom she cherished through her entire life.