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A sample study of visual style among rural audiences of Gujarat As part of the field study, which is a course for graphic design students to be executed during the span between fourth and fifth semester, a sample study of the visual language and style among rural audiences in Gujarat was taken up by Anita Isola and Keta Patel, two undergraduate students of the institute. This course helps students to have direct contact with the outside world, understand the context and find new meanings and relevance of design. The objective is to look at the process of an activity, to study and appreciate the quality of the end process, to appreciate and document the effort and the methodology that goes into the process of an activity, to document in written, illustrated or photographic methods the process, to approach the field study as a travelogue. What follows is the details of the study undertaken by the students.

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contents Introduction

5

Aim and approach

6

Where we went

7

What we asked

8

What we observed

24

What they draw

34

What we analysed

42

In retrospect

46

Bibliography

47

Acknowledgements

48


Field Study This is a course for undergraduate graphic design students to be undertaken during the vacations after the completion of the fourth semester. This course helps students to have direct contact with the outside world, understand the context and find new meanings and relevance of design. The objective of the field study is to explore the following: • to look at the process of an activity, • to study and appreciate the quality of the end process, • to appreciate the effort and the methodology that goes into the process of an activity, • to document the information, analysis, experiences in written and illustrated methods, • to approach the field study as a travelogue. While exploring the different topics we could take up for our field study we came to know about the Strategic Behavior Change Communications Campaign for Disability Prevention and Care that was happening in NID’s outreach programmes. We approached the Strategic Behavior Change Campaign team and they accepted the proposal for the field study, as a part of their project.

Strategic Behavior Change Communications Campaign for Disability Prevention and Care The project is a joint collaboration between Handicap International and Government of Gujarat (Department of Health and Family Welfare), funded by Swiss Solidarity and Big Lottery Fund (UK). NID was approached to develop strategic communication material (mediamessage mix) based on an understanding of the situation in the field. This project will be implemented across nine diverse districts of Gujarat, and may serve as a model for emulation in other states of India. The SBC project team at NID is working on developing a sustainable communication and dissemination strategy while exploring the possibilities of the various media that could be used. The behavioral change campaign addresses a largely illiterate population that also lives in inaccessible areas, hoping to first create awareness for an issue where there is too little or none, creating enough motivation for the awareness to then translate to practice.

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Our aim and approach... Strategic Behavior Change aims at creating awareness for neglected issues, creating enough motivation for the awareness to then translate to practice. Our contribution was to go to the field and study the visual language of the selected places. The analysis of the field work would help us understand the kind of visual language that would work and appeal in the rural areas. Our objectives were: 1) Understand and record the community’s response to existing illustrations. 2) Interact with the community, to know their representation of ideas through visuals (drawings, sketches, illustrations). For this we carried appropriate stationary (crayons, sketch-pens, pencils, charcoal, paper etc) and asked the villagers to themselves draw. 3) Spend time in the field observing existing visuals like local advertisements on street walls, on local transportation, on printed material. Our approach was to carry various materials and go to one house to another and talk to the villagers, introduce ourselves and our purpose of visit, spent some time playing and chatting with their children, and then when they start feeling comfortable with us, we would begin our task. We planned to show them the illustrations we would be carrying and ask for their responses. For recording information we used sketches, photographs and illustrations.

. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Where we went...

Kachchh •Ugedi •Bhuj •Sukhpar Ahmedabad

•Tejgadh •Sindhrot Vadodara

The Strategic Behavior Change project is going to be implemented in the districts of, Anand, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar, Kachchh, Mahesana, Patan, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar, Vadodara. Of these, we chose Vadodara and Kachchh for our sample study. Our main aim while choosing the villages was to consider geographical variations. Kachchh being a very dry region of Gujarat, Tejgadh in Vadodara district because of its tribal population, whereas Sindhrot for its non-tribal population and proximity to a city were chosen. Village: Tejgadh Taluka: ChotaUdaipur District: Vadodara State: Gujarat Households: 1,103 Literacy rate: 53%

Village: Sindhrot Taluka: Vadodara District: Vadodara State: Gujarat Households: 1,262 Literacy rate: 58.4%

Village: Ugedi Taluka: Nakhatrana District: Kachchh State: Gujarat Households: 221 Literacy rate: 52%

Village: Sukhpar Taluka: Bhuj District: Kachchh State: Gujarat Households: 2,181 Literacy rate: 78%

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What we asked... To understand how rural people interpret and perceive illustrations, especially their style of representation and colour palette; we carried few selected illustrations with us. Most of those were related to development issues and have been published by NGO’s in the recent past. We categorised these illustrations in two ways - style of illustrations and the technique of making the illustrations. The details of these categories is given on the facing page. In the following pages the responses for each image are mentioned location wise.

. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


1. Different styles of representation

Iconic

Folk

Realistic

2. Different techniques of illustrations

Ink drawings

Flat application

Light and shade

Pencil colour

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Image 1

On showing this image to the people of Tejgadh we received many responses. Some said that the picture was like that of a family (parivar) standing inside the house. The woman (ben) is handing over the child (balak) to the husband (var). Some thought that the wife and child are going to her maternal house (piyar) and the husband is asking them not to go. They associated the left hand side corner elements with, women holding hands, playing and dancing (garba rame che). The villagers in Sindhrot said that the figures (loko) in the image did not look like them and so did not belong to them. They identified the people in the picture as the husband, the wife, the child in the house and the women playing garba. They mentioned that the woman is about to hold the hand of another woman. On noticing the disproportionate legs one said that all of them were affected by polio. In Ugedi, they said that the family is standing just outside the house (ghar). Also the family is watching the performance (raas garba). A woman from Sukhpar village staying in a hut (bhungo) inquisitively asked her mother-in-law if the child in the image looked like a baby monkey.

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The women of Tejgadh giggled and nodded their heads saying that they understood the image. Some pointed out that the women were talking. In the background the girl is beating (mare che) the other girl, they observed.

Image 2

In Sindhrot people used the words “delivery che�. They also mentioned that the figures did not look like them. In Ugedi some said that the women were either Rajasthani or Gujarati but not Kachchhi. Some said that they could identify the three pregnant women to be the same person. Since the woman was pregnant she is walking. This shows they were aware that exercise was essential during pregnancy. On seeing the illustrations towards the right side of the page they said that the girl is beating the other one with a bat (dhoko).

Image 3 In Tejgadh this picture was interpreted as the woman sitting down and fighting with men as she was trying to tell them something. This was indeed surprising, as people thought that the woman was fighting and not trying to advice the menfolk. Perhaps this is a result of a very strong perception of gender roles and limitations. In Ugedi, people also noticed that a cow had entered the field and the woman was trying to shoo it away. Some said the picture was that of a family involved in farming. In Sindhrot they said the figures in the picture did not look like them. They pointed out a bullock (balad) in the farm. They considered the two men (bhai) on the right hand side, top corner to be the owners of the bullock. Woman are not perceived as owning anything. Even here that people thought the woman was fighting and not talking or giving advice, there is a distinct gender bias here.

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Image 4

a) c)

d)

b) Please note, the comments are classified alphabetically with reference to the image labelled likewise.

In Tejgadh people said: a) that the woman was having her meals (naasto kare che). Some people said she was blind or was in pain. b) She was taking the container out/putting it back. They verified if the jars contained masala. They noticed the open mouth of the lady and hence said that she was falling. It seemed as if people were shy to mention that she was pregnant. c) People said that the woman was having medicine with a glass of water in her hand, some also said that she was eating something from the masala jar (from image 5c). It has been our observation that people tend to connect images. d) People connected the above images and said that the woman had delivered a baby, the nurse (ben) was giving vaccination (rasi aape che). In Sindhrot people said the following: a) The woman is eating (naasto kare che). b) In the store room, while putting the container back, the pregnant woman fell. c) She was eating something , working in the kitchen, having medicine (dava). d) The woman has delivered (delivery thai gai), vaccination for polio (rasi) is being administered in the hospital. In Ugedi people said the following: a) The woman was eating or preparing food in the kitchen (rasodu) b) The woman was falling off (pade che). One woman after looking at the image said that during pregnancy one has to be careful and should not lift loads. c) She is having medicine (dava/goli ley che) d) The nurse is giving medicine (naras che ane dose aape che). They also thought that the nurse is administering injection. They said that the nurse (naras) is giving vaccination (rasi aape che).

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Image 5

a)

d)

c)

b)

e)

f) Please note, the comments are classified alphabetically with reference to the image labelled likewise.

In Tejgadh, a) Some merely said the picture was of a building (makaan), some said it was a school (nishaal) and some said it was a hospital. b) Many people identified it as a school and to support their statement they said that children standing there were wearing uniforms, hence it was a school. c) Identified it as a school. d) Though many people identified it as a school some of them said, “I don’t get it” (mane khabar nathi padti). e) A store/shop (dukaan), a general store. f) A school (nishaal) and some said hospital. In Sindhrot, a) Some said hospital and one said it was a police station. b) They said it was a school and few more precisely said, an English medium school. c) Said it was a school but a Gujarati medium school as the students were made to sit on floor. d) Identified as a school as parents were escorting their children. e) A shop (dukaan) and customers buying. f) People identified it as a school, or a hospital, looking at the ambulance (davakhana ni gaadi). In Ugedi, a) People identified it as a hospital (dava-khanu), school (shala). b) One identified it as a primary school (prathmik shala) but most people identified it only as a school. c) People said it was a school. d) They noticed the ‘wheelchair’ and inferred that the structure was a hospital. Also noticed the red cross. e) This is a shop/store (aa toh dukaan che), some said. f) They saw the ambulance (abulace) and said hospital, it was also identified as a ‘guesthouse’. SBC project © National Institute of Design 2005-06

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Image 6

In Tejgadh, the people were shy to say that the woman was pregnant. They identified her as having snacks (naasto khay che) or eating food (jame che), having medicine (dava khay che), sleeping, taking injection from a nurse (ben injection aape che). The people in Sindhrot mentioned that the woman was pregnant (delivery che). They said that she was eating food (jame che), having medicine (dava khay che), sleeping, taking injection from a nurse (ben injection aape che). For the bottom left image they said that she is about to give birth (suvavad). Some said that the woman in green sari was giving massage. The part of the picture in the right bottom corner was percieved as a family having food together.

Image 7

In Tejgadh people responded that the family (parivar) was going to hospital (davakhane jaye che) because the child is ill (bimar balak), also that the father is carrying the child. The mother is feeding the child ( khavadave che). The family (parivar) is eating. The nurse (ben che) is noting the weight of the child. The mother is feeding the child (khavadave che). Some could recognise the red cross sign as hospital. In Sindhrot the villagers said that the people (loko) were going to the hospital (davakhane jaye che) and also noticed the child’s head on fathers shoulder.The mother is feeding the child ( jamade che) and the family (parivar) who is eating looked like a poor family. They mentioned that the nurse is weighing the child like it happens in their village. In Ugedi the villagers said that the family was going to hospital (davakhane jaye che), the mother is giving medicine to the child. The same family (parivar) is eating. Some said that it looks like a preschool (bal mandir). They mentioned that the nurse is weighing the child. They also said that it looks like a clock (ghadiyal).

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Image 8

e)

a) c)

c) b)

f) d)

Please note, the comments are classified alphabetically with reference to the image labelled likewise.

In Tejgadh, a) Handicapped (apang), lame (lulu), blind (aandhdo) were the words used to describe the image. b) Healthy kid (saru balak), playing with ball, banging the dish with stick. c) Handicapped (apang), difference in length of the limbs, thin hands is what people noticed and pointed out. d) They said the child is affected with polio and is lame (lulo) and handicapped (apang)

e) The toy was not recognised at all, some said that the toy looked like a necklace. Noticing a white patch on the face they said the child has a skin disease, some also said that he is buried/cut from the torso. f) Handicapped (apang) therefore uses a stick for support, blind (aankhein dekhatu nathi). In Sindhrot, a) People used words like lakva, polio, apang. b) Most of them said that the child was playing with ball and was happy. Only one person noticed that the child was unaffected by the noise and hence was deaf (behero). Most of them said the child was healthy. c) Polio, handicapped (apang) is what most of them said. One said that the man was making the boy exercise. d) The child is affected with polio and is lame (lulu) and handicapped (apang). e) Toy unrecognisable, cannot understand (nathi khabar padti) was a common response from most of them. f) Handicapped (apang): stick for support, blind (aankhein dekhatu nathi). One said that the boy had just recovered from polio In Ugedi people said: a) ”Viklang” and “apang” which meant handicapped. b) Healthy kid playing with ball, people inferred. One said the child was deaf as it was looking somewhere else when there was sound on the other side. c) “Apang” was one word widely used by people. One person said that the boy was exercising and he had knee problem. d) They said the child is affected with polio and is lame (lulu) and handicapped e) Holding a tyre (tyre jhale che). Some said that the boy was playing with rings (ringo thi rame che). Blind (aankhien thi apang che), exercise for hand. f) Visually challenged (aankhien thi apang che) hence uses a stick for support.

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Image 9-10 a)

b)

c)

d)

e)

In Tejgadh the first reaction of the people was “I do not understand“, (mane khabar nathi padti) and then said that the images looked like people (manas jeva laage che). a) Could not identify b) For the figure on top right corner people said that it looked like a handicapped (apang) person since he does not have hands (haath nathi). c) Lame person (langdo) with crutches (ghodo) d) The person was handicap as he seemed to be limping and also had a tilted neck and one said it was mad. e) Lame (apang che, hath wali gadi chalave che). In Sindhrot the following was the response a) Deaf (behro manas), Some people said that they had seen the hearing aid (kaan ma pehervanu machine) in the city. b) Handicapped (apang), polio (lakva) c) Walking with the help of crutches (ghodi), polio d) The neck is displaced (mathu waku che) e) The person has backache, wheelchair (haath cycle). In Ugedi they said that the icons other than the blue one looked like humans (manas), the rest did not. Some said the icons in orange and white were healthy (saja/haja manas) and rest of them were ”apang”.

a) Many said that they could not understand the images. Interestingly one person identified the hearing aid and called it radio (kaan nu radio) for ears which he found very amusing. Some identified the icon to be that representing a doctor. b) Digging the ground with the stick (lakdi khode che). Some said blind (aankhein thi apang che). c) Lame and handicapped (apang che ne ghode thi chale che). d) The person was handicap as he seemed to be limping and also had a tilted neck. e) Many people could not identify the icon but some said that the icon looked like a doctor sitting on a chair. Most of them pointed out that the neck was missing and hence all of them were ‘apang’ Perhaps this is because they have seen these images in the Primary Health Care or hospital before and hence make the association with doctors. They could not relate the icons to themselves and also associated the hearing aid with stethoscope.

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Image 11 In Sindhrot, people said that the woman was cutting nails with nail cutter (nakh cutter), they identified the wheel chair and the handicapped woman on it (hathwali cycle apang mate). Spreading bed sheet was also mentioned. In Sukhpar, Jassu ben, had lost her leg and injured her spinal cord during the 2001 earthquake, hence could relate the picture to herself. a) She said the woman on the wheelchair was like her and that her daughter was helping her spread the bedsheet. Also said that the woman was cutting nails. Some people said the woman in the picture has some problem with the skin too especially on the legs. b) She said that the woman had problem with spinal cord (karodraju). Others said in both the images the woman was cutting her nails. In Ugedi someone also mentioned that the lady is applying medicine (dava) with her hands. In Tejgadh people said that the woman had hurt her leg and it was bleeding and some said she was cutting nails (nakh kaape che), they also pointed out that the woman was a handicap (apang) and used wheelchair (haath wali cycle). They also noticed the girl spreading bedsheet.

a)

b)

c)

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Image 12 The people of Tejgadh told us that the girl had made tea and was taking it away (cha banavine lai jay che). The cross sign in the second box was taken to be God (devta), multiplication and addition sign or hospital. The second box was identified as pouring warm water from the bucket. People in Ugedi mentioned that the lady is making tea or cooking food. They also said that the girl is taking tea for someone. For the ones in the box they said that in the first box the women’s legs were unclean and in the second box she was cleaning them. They also inferred that as she was handicapped she was sitting on that chair to prevent her feet from getting burnt. The cross sign in the second box was taken to be hot water vapour. People in Sindhrot felt that the woman is taking something out of the container and young girl was carrying tea (cha). Only one women said that the cross meant cancel. One girl said that one should always wash feet with hot water, which alarmingly the picture is in actually forbidding. Image 13 a)

b)

c)

18. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study

On showing the three images together, people said that the person was dancing, some said that the man was handicapped (langdo) because his one leg was folded. While pointing out the difference between the three they said that the person shown in image c) was wearing clean clothes and the others wore patched, faded and unclean clothes. Some said there was absolutely no difference in the three. One person noticed the expressions on the face of the men and said that the man in image a) looked unhappy.


Image 14

In Tejgadh, they classified the image into male and female (ben che ne bhai che). In Ugedi, classified the individual circles into male and female or well and unwell. Since we kept showing them images related to hospital, illness and preventions, their responses got biased then. They started hunting for illnesses in every illustration. Some said the bald man was ill , the women in blue was also ill. Also stated that two of them were in turbans (pagadis) and one was wearing a cap (topi). Image 15

People of Ugedi saw this image as elders taking part in the literacy programme and studying. Perhaps this is because of such a programme running in the vilage. (mota lokone bhanave che). They also mentioned that the two persons with books are teaching the illiterates (abhan manas). One also mentioned that these people were beggars (bhikhari), who sit down anywhere to beg (bhikh maange che).

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Image 16

People in Ugedi said that the villagers have gathered for a meeting. Some one said that they are teaching the villagers while few others mentioned that they were discussing issues. Image 18

They also pointed out that the villager’s fingers are up (aangali uchi kare che). One said that there is a question answer (sawaal jawaab) session going on and the people with raised hands are answering the questions. One person also said that there is a saint (saadhu) giving lectures (pravachan) to the villagers.

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Image 18

In Ugedi, when image was shown to the Rabari women, they said that the rubbish was put into the dustbin and then individually pointed out the hand pump and the woman swinging her child Image 19

People in Ugedi saw the image and said that the people were carrying grass (ghass). They also said that the men were loading the grass onto the trucks and that the grass would be weighed on the machine shown in the right hand top of the picture

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Image 20

In Ugedi people said that the old lady was ill, hence the man was cooking (dosi maandi che etle manas rasoi kare che). In the right hand side image people pointed out the bucket (dol), fox (siyal) and called the animal on tree, a monkey. They also said that the girl was helping the boy in getting the pot down.

Image 21

The people in Ugedi said that the boy is riding the bullock-cart, whereas the girl was driving the tractor. In the other illustration the women is driving the local vehicle (chakdo). Some women mentioned that they should also start driving vehicles like men do. Some on the other hand were surprised.

22. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Image 22

The people staying in Ugedi mentioned that the boy is cleaning the house with a broom which meant that one should keep the house clean. They also noticed the girl studying (lesson kare che) and in the right hand side image the boy was stitching (bharat kaam kare che). They also said that the mother was entering through the door of the house from outside. Image 23

In the left image people pointed out objects individually, like the elephant toy (haathi nu ramakdu), slate, car (gaadi), girl skipping (kude che), the boy swinging swing (hichko naakhen che). In the right image people saw that it was a school and teacher was teaching the children (sister bhanave che) and the boys making toys out of mud (chokrao mati na ramakda banave che). Even here people pointed out things individually but failed to look at the image as a whole and were unable to glean the larger messages on gender equality that were attempted at being conveyed. When we asked, if such a thing as men doing household work is prevalent in their village? The answer was no,“ its only in the illustration�. May be to an extent they identified the issue, but did not find it relevant or matter worth thinking about or discussing. SBC project Š National Institute of Design 2005-06

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What we observed... Another objective of our study was also to observe and collect samples of prevelant visual language in the villages, this included their own traditional art forms as well as the visuals, street graphics. posters etc. with which they are regularly interacting.These could be typography based and/or pure visuals.The following pages show case some of the example with our observations.

24 Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


By looking at the street typography we inferred that people in villages get too attached to whatever they get acquainted with, here we noticed how they expressed their closeness to their vehicles and shops that they own. They try to do all possible things on them to make them look colourful and attractive. Their vehicles gave an idea of what they liked, which God or Goddesses they believe in and worship, who their favorite actor is etc. We noticed that the boards and banners were highly decorated and flooded with information. Boards on the shop was used as a medium to build trust in the customers. They tried to put all possible details on the name board. It mentioned the name of the shop, the owner, address, and sufficient detail of what they sold. To make things attractive and eye catchy they made their boards and vehicles very colourful, especially the “chakdas� and yes we saw that it did work. People preferred travelling on chakdas which had loads of ornamentation on them and extra fittings attached to the rear view mirrors. It seems that the painter or the owner who gets it done never misses the opportunity to express his creativity.


We clicked pictures of different approaches to typography used at different places

Almost all the typography we saw had some or other texture-fills, effects and illustration to enhance the typography. Drop shadow, gradation (two-colour, multi-colour), perspective, isometric view, use of grids and geometry was very prevalent. We also came across some examples that wonderfully dealt with serifs. The use of bright colours in typographic elements was very evident to attract attention. Most of the boards were hand painted. We saw many boards with 3-D effect which gave the embossed look to the typeface. In Tejgadh we found that the recently painted boards had typography with two coloured horizontal division..

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The traditional art form of Tejgadh is known as pithora. Pithora paintings are more of a ritual than an art form. These rituals are performed either to thank God or for a wish or a boon to be granted. We find pithora paintings in the three inner walls of the house. Anybody who has pithora painting at their home is highly respected in their society. “It is a divine painting and it must not be misused, a wall hanging or painting is accepted�.

28 Visual style among rural audience: a sample study

The colour is prepared by using colour powder mixed with milk and mahuda. The main colours used are yellow, indigo, orange, green, vermilion, red, ultramarine, black and silver. The Pithora painters paint for commercial purposes nowadays too but are not happy doing so. They clearly stated that they will be annoyed to see pithora painting on a duppatta or a sari. We clicked the pithora paintings just to look at their way of expressing ideas. The next three pages have images of the pithora paintings and some interesting inferences.


This is a picture of a Ravan, who is worshipped by the Rathavas, he is shown with eleven heads and wearing clothes that the Rathava themselves wear.

In Pithora paintings the ghost figures in the painting are made in white.

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Banners used by the Kachchh Mahila Vikas Sangathan, NGO was made using applique work, used at their training centers for the villagers. The banners were made by the crafts persons.

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We clicked some of health related communication materials that were hung on the walls of a hospital.

32 Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


These are the pictures found on the walls of the hospital in Tejgadh.

A bus-stop used to display posters.

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What they draw... Making the villagers draw was the most toughest part of our study. The villagers were always ready with the answer that they did not know how to draw. Our main aim was to understand the style of the illustrations and how they perceived images and recorded them on paper. We somehow managed to convince them and got a few illustrations made by the people of Tejgadh and Ugedi. These illustrations led us to various interesting insights.

34. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Image 24-25

Rathava Shardaben made a peacock (mor) and tried to make a hand pump. For this she specially went out to see how a hand-pump looked like.

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Image 26

Image 27

The horse that is considered to be a God in Pithora paintings.

36. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Image 28

This is the sketch of a tractor made by Rathava Devasingbhai, while sketching this we observed his method of putting the things on paper. He thought of the tractor and made it as he remembered it. The steering is made in top view as it is seen by the driver.

Image 29

Image 30

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Image 31

Image 33 Drawing of an oil-lamp and a lantern

Image 32

Drawing of an earthen pot to store water.

Drawing of a sick man.

Image 34 - 35

Rathava Devasing’s depictions of a mad person in the village who picks rag.

38. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Image 36

A doctor checking the patient with various details like the stethoscope, the scissors the medicine bottle, tablets, the blood bottle etc.

Image 37

Drawing of handicapped people in the village.

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Image 38

These are the illustrations made by Rathava Devasing of Tejgadh, used for a publication for children called “Bol�. The perspective is interestingly used in some places. Image 39

Image 40

Image 42

Image 41

40. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Image 43

In Kachchh they reproduced the motifs from their “bharat kaam”, embroidery and mirror work on paper.

Image 44-45

These images were drawn by a man who showed us the whole village and accompanied us. The interesting part was that he made a sketch of his fiance who according to him is a bit fat.

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Our analysis... fig.1

fig.2

fig.3

“ I am illiterate !� ( hoon abhan chu !) This feeling was deeply sown into the women’s heads. This was very disappointing for us as they refused to speak with us even before seeing the visuals, (that we had carried along with us). The women gave up and said that they would not be able to identify the visuals as they deeply believed that they were illiterate. All that they needed was a little encouragement and support. It was important for us to make them believe that they would definitely be able to identify the images if they only tried. Also that it did not involve any text. We felt pretty good when a woman answered back to her husband, who said she was illiterate, by saying that it was just about identifying the visuals and that she would do it. It was very interesting to note that, to compensate their illiteracy they read the images so meticulously. They have a great eye for details and observe minute and little things. Once when in an fig.1, the eyeballs were not pigmented, people interpreted it as a blind person while that was not the issue the image dealt with. The drawings which had human figures drawn, occupied in some or other work, the people observed the feet of the drawn figures and said that they were suffering from polio. Proportions of human figures greatly mattered and subtle change in expressions made them perceive things in a very different way. When we showed fig.2, to a person he said, the middle one looked genuinely handicapped as his face showed sadness and the rest were pretending to be so. In the process of reading and pinpointing individual elements from the visuals, the intended message did not reach them. The visual hence got a new meaning and a different viewpoint. In fig.3, people identified the roof, the window, the tree, a dog, a teacher teaching, children making mud toys, but they could not decode the message of the image which was education for girls. The details in the picture distracted from the core message.

42 Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


fig.4

fig.5

fig.6-7

f)

In fig.4, few thought that the figure was suffering from some skin disease pointing at the little white patch on the boy’s face. This made us think that application of colour was very important. Different application techniques led to different conclusions. People prefered figures with flat application of colour. Flat application for garments was considered neat and clean while on skin was considered clean and healthy. Patches or light and shade on clothes looked like faded and unclean to them and patches or gradation on skin seemed like disease. One more thing we noticed about how they perceive things. These people tend to connect or link and develop a story, noticing some common elements in the two objects. Some said that the women in fig.5, picked up the jar and was eating from it. This fig.6-7, was linked by mentioning that the boy suffered from polio but now had recovered.

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Major findings reiterated One of our important findings is that these people express what they experience. Their interaction with nature, surroundings and the environment is thoroughly reflected in their speech, drawings and also in perceiving visuals. Their drawings were influenced by the local craft too, like in Kachchh they reproduced the motifs from their “bharat kaam”, embroidery and mirror work on paper and in Tejgadh it had a gist of Pithora painting. After looking at their drawings we also inferred that they draw what they know and not what they see. It was very amazing to see their innocent and honest approach to represent their ideas. Which is why they found difficulty in identifying iconic or graphical images and preferred realistic approach. When one person drew a tree, he drew it with roots. Even if he did not see the roots he knew that roots were essential for a tree to grow, he also showed the anatomy of the hand pump. The earthen pot that they use to store water showed the level of water inspite of being opaque. According to the ‘Western school of perspective’, things that are near look larger and ones far look smaller, but the villagers’ sense of perspective is very different from what we follow. The size of an element determines its importance. Big did not mean closer and small did not mean far. Infact it meant more and less important respectively. Interestingly, things that they usually see from top, they show it in a plan view. A house being large was drawn in elevation whereas the stairs were drawn in plan, similarly the vent of the well was shown in plan and elevation for the bricked wall, the steering of chakda and the chulah was shown in plan view. Not many were aware of the red cross and that it stood for medical aid, especially in tejgadh. Those who did know what it meant, took the sign to represent a hospital, even if it were in any other orientation. They also mistook the cancel or wrong sign if in red to mean a hospital. Maybe people would have responded in a different manner if it were in some other colour (other than red) or some other size and thickness.

44 Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Perceptions of gender plays an important role in how people read pictures. For instance a picture that shows a woman doing something atypical or unlikely may not be understood at all or misinterpreted. Flat application of colours is understood, use of textures and light and shade is interpreted as dirty or diseased. Objects that have not been seen commonly before are not understood at all. To compensate their illiteracy they read the images so meticulously. They have a great eye for details and observe minute and little things. If there are several images in one layout, people tend to connect them and look at them indivually alone. Proportions of human figures greatly matter and subtle change in expressions makes people perceive things in a very different way.

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In retropect... We were used to dealing with class assignments, but this assignment was different in terms of approach and structure, appearing more practical. We applied the theories and the learning of our previous courses like printing technology, typography, colour and we also learnt software in the course of this study. This experience was all about good synchronization, team work, little adjustments, sincere efforts , decision making and working with time constraints. We got to interact with different and inspiring people excelling in their respective fields. Initially it was very difficult to get response from the villagers. Here we learnt that to get information or to get close to them and make them feel comfortable, we have to be a part of them, eat what they eat, respect their culture, systems and their existence. We did not hesitate to sit on top of the jeep but later when women looked surprised, we realized that this act of ours was unusual to them. Our approach and method of working improved in Kachchh because of the feedback from the faculty members and we produced better work in comparison to that done in the starting of the study. As we were already acquainted to the local language (Gujarati) it helped us in communicating with the villagers .We learned how to talk to the villagers and get the information from them. Now we started looking at things with a different perspective. This entire experience added to our confidence and helped us carry out our work more independently. Things like managing the budget, arranging trips, traveling without elders, dealing with people etc was also a part of our learning. The awareness that our sample study was to be referred later in the project, made us feel responsible and challenged.

Anita Isola and Keta Patel Third year, Graphic Design National Institute of Design 2006

46. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study


Bibliography Developing a Pictorial language: an experience of field testing in rural Orissa A guide for communicators by Indi Rana Published by: DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) in 1990 Pretesting communication materials - a manual for trainers and supervisors by Ane Haaland. Published by: UNICEF in 1984 Visual Aids on Self Governance NID Diploma project of Tarun Deep Girdher 1997 A Coffee Table Book on Mumbai NID Diploma project of Kapil Sharma 2004 www.indianfolklore.org/pdf/visualart/pithora.pdf

The images in the first section of the document which were shown to the villagers were taken from the following sources: How can the rights of persons with disabilities be protected? Published by: Blind People’s Association, UNNATI and Handicap International. in 2005 Illustrated by: Tarun Deep Girdher Community fodder banks : a guideline Published by: Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan in 2005 Illustrated by: Radhaben Garva Staying healthy after Spinal cord injury Published by: Paraplegia Centre, UNNATI and Handicap International in 2001 Illustrated by: Pradipta Ray and Tarun Deep Girdher. Gram Panchayat - Capacity building training aids on self governance Published by: UNNATI Illustrated by: Tarun Deep Girdher Sumati - Life useful educational material for adolescents sex determination Sushila - Life useful educational material for adolescents abortions Published by: CHETNA (Centre For Health Education Training And Nutrition) Illustrated by: Sanjay Sarkar Booklet on Child Health Care (Bal Swasthya salaah pustika) Published by: CHETNA (Centre For Health Education Training And Nutrition) in 1998 Illustrated by: Nagji Prajapati and Anil Gajjar.

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Acknowledgements A word of gratitude to all those who have given their valuable inputs and suggestions to make this study possible. We would like to convey our sincere gratitude to the Outreach Department, NID for providing us an opportunity to work for them, Khamir - Craft Resource Centre, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, Ujjhas Mahila Sangathan, Bhasha Research and Publication. Our Special thanks in NID to Tarun Deep Girdher, Suresh Immanuel, Anil Sinha, Snehal Rana, Kavita Arvind, Shilpa Das, Divya Kohli, Megha Lakhani, Swati Desai, Neha Shrimali, Neha Lad and Mamu. We thank all the villagers for their support and co-operation: in Kachchh Pankaj Shah, Pooja Soni, Bhavanaben, Rabari Soniben, Rabari Harkhuben, Radhaben, Jassuben and family,: in Tejgadh Rathava Shardaben, Rathava Dehsinghbhai, Rathava Vasantbhai. We thank our parents and friends for supporting us.

48. Visual style among rural audience: a sample study

A sample study of visual style among rural audiences of Gujarat, India  

Research and documentation for ‘Strategic Behaviour change Communication’ campaign on prevention of disability project forOutreach Programme...

A sample study of visual style among rural audiences of Gujarat, India  

Research and documentation for ‘Strategic Behaviour change Communication’ campaign on prevention of disability project forOutreach Programme...

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