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CHIRAL Documentation Final Diploma Project

CHIRAL Documentation Final Diploma Project Ramya Pothukuchi


06. Introduction 08. Research 22. Defining Goals 26. Exploration of spaces 34. Final space. 42. Form and content 54. Final form 60. Bibliography 62. Acknowledgements

“We must not cease from exploring, and the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where began and to know the place for the first time� - T.S. Eliot




his endeavour started with my explorations to look at the visual language of public spaces, in order to capture a visual personality and gain an understanding of it, which could then be manipulated/subverted in order to create a visual dialogue in spaces. As this visual dialogue, in the form of physical interventions in spaces, involved a very direct physical and conspicuous interaction with spaces and the people in the space simultaneously, my exploration and understanding of the space became highly experiential and very detailed. Through this attempt at interacting at such close quarters with public spaces, a very stark reality became clear. The platform for what I was attempting did not exist. As I began with looking purely at the visual, and how this pervasive visual environment interacted with and was perceived in the lived environment, there was a constant element of disconnect that I encountered. This element of disconnect, between the construction of a space and the lived space within it, and therefore the contrast between the constructed and the manifested visual languages, persisted as a constant phenomenon of contrast across various types of public / built spaces that I explored. In order to work with an environment it is critically important to understand the physical as well as the cultural dynamics of that space. On approaching the field with a generalized set of notions regarding public space, from experience and postulation, and it resulting in the much more intimate, direct and detailed interaction with the spaces that I went through, the experience brought to light many finer details and nuances of these dynamics that revealed a conundrum I found hard to solve. The possibilities for this visual and environmental dialogue lie in using and controlling- to manipulate or subvert- a language that is recognized, accepted, and present in the collective perceptive subconscious. As I looked closer at the visual and its context became increasingly aware of this very gap. As a general observation -The lived reality is very much present outside of, in spite of, associated with or aspiring toward the built reality and its implications. Thus the constructed reality is in general contrast to the lived reality. This observation slowly started to be substantiated by experiences, and I began to see it visually manifested in public environments as a very physical contrast. This contrast was almost metaphorical and representative of the split personality of these spaces. The represented reality and the lived reality I could see manifested in the visual elements in spaces which contrasted each other in the way the space was visually represented or built and the immediate physical personal experience of the space. The actions and inactions the presence of the visual in the space triggered, represented as the visual elements themselves. This led me to documenting, observing and dissecting space visually, and therefore literally, metaphorically and allegorically and at an abstract level. This observation and experience led me to create an experiential visual exploration dealing with the constructed idea of modernity expressed in our built environments and the contrast the visual environment in our public places presents in relation to our lived socio-cultural reality.


Research and References


All related concepts, articles, artists and works that I perused during this period were instrumental in shaping the decisions and outcomes in this project. Although it has been a nonlinear process of looking up, collating and connecting these findings, they do fall under core ideas that form the vertices of the final core concept and product. As outlined below, the introduction of these various ideas at various points in the course of this project are set under core concepts that were explored, tested and included or discarded based on practical, product oriented logistics. Each of them however has definitely been imprinted in the core of the final outcome of this study.


Concepts researched

Alternate Geographies

Space Place Identity

In essence I am looking at space and place that are the core concepts of geography. Upon cooking up and writing my proposal without any actual references to my theory, I went looking to see if these concepts existed in the world of geography as they did in my head (and everyone else’s). To my great surprise and excitement I found some very interesting perspectives looking at space, place and identity. It was reassuring at some level that I had direct theoretical references to lean on, and that I was not alone in this space.

Yi-Fu Tuan

1) Postmodernist Geography: Looking at the notion of space and place through the post modernistic lens.

Tuan can be seen as the most influential geographer for the branch of humanistic geography. He wrote about 15 books and published numerous papers generally of a reflective and thought-provoking kind. Very much defining ‘humanistic geography’ for a generation, Tuan redefined our understanding of human geography as the study of ‘human-environment relation-ships’, and in particular pursued the more fundamental questions arising from a search for the meaning of existence based on an understanding of ourselves as ‘being-in-theworld’, that is fundamentally defined by and in relation to the world and our relationship to it, both physical and emotional (an interpretation of phenomenology).

2) Humanistic Geography: Human geography is a branch of geography that focuses Tuan uses two terms to describe the human emotions on the study of patterns and processes that shape towards place: human interaction with various environments. - Topophilia 3) Psychogeography: Describes the human love for a place, the affective bond Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as between people and place. For example the place where “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the you grew up and have your roots. Tuan argues that geographical environment, consciously organized or not, this bond may vary greatly in intensity from individual on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.” Another to individual and that there is cultural variation in its definition is “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive expression. strategies for exploring cities...just about anything that And yet there is also a biological component of takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts attachment to place. Topophilia often takes the form of them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.” an aestheticizing of a place or landscape. This suggests that the aesthetic is a major way in which many people


relate to their environment. - Topophobia Is the opposite of ‘topophilia’, a repulsion of place? These can be ‘landscapes of fear’ (Tuan, 1980), places we might find threatening, such as barren heaths in horror stories of slums in which we feel we are intruders. -Placelessness The existence of relatively homogenous and standardized landscapes that diminish the local specificity and variety of places that characterized pre-industrial societies. In the 1970s this term was associated with Humanistic Geography, particularly to the work of Edward Relph who argues that in the modern world the loss of place diversity is symptomatic of a larger loss of meaning – the ‘authentic’ attitude which characterized pre-industrial and handicraft cultures and produces the ‘sense of place’ that some claim has now been largely lost and replaces with an ‘inauthentic’ attitude. Relph offers as examples of placelessness and ‘inauthentic’ attitude that produces them: tourist landscapes, commercial strips new towns and suburbs and the international style in architecture.


Artists and works referenced Ashok Sukumaran Art works, both indoor as well as outdoor, relating to spaces. Public artworks.

Interior Design 1 Kitab Mahal Indoor Installation

Glow Positioning System Outdoor Installation Mumbai


Arno Piroud From his Ephemeral Seats that recondition the trunks of chopped-down trees (some of which have lasted up to two years before being removed), to the heart-shaped filters he applies to traffic lights, Piroud is not afraid of creating amusing art. A famous piece shown in the film is the tennis court he painted onto a neighbouring roof (above). He is, he says, attempting to “put fiction in reality” in his pursuit of making “contemporary art about the city”.


Yellow Arrow A global public art project of local experiences. Combining stickers, mobile phones and an international community, Yellow Arrow transforms the urban landscape into a “deep map� that expresses the personal histories and hidden secrets that live within our everyday spaces.


New York artist, Aakash Nihalani is taking a simple, yet creative approach to installing street art. Primarily working with isometric rectangles and squares, then selectively installing neon tape designs around the city. Aakash works instinctively with little to no planning. Taking every day encounters of doorways, sidewalks, subways, buildings and bricks, then freshening them up with a visual anomaly.


Keith Haring in the Subway 1980-1985

Ed Ruscha, «Every Building on the Sunset Strip», 1965


Nikki S lee


Mapping Alternative mapping and related art work. Site specific art

Liz Kueneke, Locating Ourselves in Los Angeles, 2009. Embroidery on fabric, public intervention artifact.

In One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, art historian Miwon Kwon traces how site-specific art practices have, over time, revealed “site” to be an unfixed concept. Rather than a synonym for a particular geographic location, a site can be temporary, nomadic, virtual, and ultimately discursive, existing in and as dialogue. “the increasing instances of locational unspecificity,” Kwon writes, “are seen to exacerbate the sense of alienation and fragmentation in contemporary life.” With site in flux, the very idea of community itself is elusive. If we can’t define where we come from, then who are we? A response to contemporary life “as a network of unanchored flows” can be located in the explosion of cartographic practices in contemporary art over the last fifteen years. A partial list includes artists physically altering existing maps in order to point out their fragility as constructions (Nina Katchadourian, Shannon Rankin, Miguel Angel Rios), re-imagining “real” territories or creating new ones, to question cartographic authority (Lordy Rodriguez, Ross Racine, Bill Rankin), plotting experiences and memories both collaborative and individual (Liz Kueneke, Denis Wood, Simon Evans). Accordingly, there have also been scores of map-related art exhibitions, which are themselves attempts to map the maps, and so on into infinite regress.

Alternative Maps and related artwork 18

Artists Books Referencing archives of artists books.

MEMORY TRACES is a recent publication, in which Markerink relates to notions about landscape, culture, history and memory.

LUMINOUS PERCEPTIONS is a 16 page accordion fold visual book. From its 7” x 7” x 2” slipcase, this book magically unfolds into a 6’ 4” long sequence of photographs and threedimensional panoramas. 19

Illustrators Specialising in visualization of urban landscapes

Kerrie Jane Stritton:Hand-made art books. Illustration, Collage, Urban landscapes.

Peter Arkle : Everyday events and things become news -drawn in detail- reportage.

Lucinda Rogers: Her work has us looking at cities in new ways, capturing intimate scenes of people and architecture


Readings, articles, key authors. A list of programmes, articles, and authors referenced periodically. through the project.

Key authors and texts: Guy debord: Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International (SI). The Society of the Spectacle is a work of philosophy and critical theory by Situationist and Marxist theorist, Guy Debord. -Society of the Spectacle Baudrillard: Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism. -Simulacra and Simulation Georges Perec: Georges Perec was a French novelist, filmmaker and essayist. -Species of Spaces and Other Pieces Henry Lefevbre: Henri Lefebvre was a French sociologist, intellectual and philosopher who was generally considered a NeoMarxist. He first coined the phrase ‘The Right to the City’ as an idea and a slogan. -The Production of Space

Edward Soja: Edward William Soja is a postmodern political geographer and urban planner on the faculty at UCLA, where he is Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, and the London School of Economics. -Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. -Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Realand-Imagined Places For on-field research: IDEO -Human Centred Design Richard Andrews - Research Questions Jennifer Mason -Qualitative researching Organizations: Khoj Jaaga Saraai


Defining Goals


As every step in the process brought new directions and dimensions to the project, it was neccessary to keep in mind the picture ( however obscure ) of the aim. These goals and aims derived early on in the project helped in eiminating many potentially defecting factors, and were elemental in making most of the key decisions. Though treated only as rough guidelines, through all the changes in form and content, these goals have, somehow, been met.


After my first review and some more thought and clarity, the concise version of my goal and a set of basic ‘I think’ statements were generated, to be explored and possibly ‘proven’ through the final outcome. These were then distilled into a Hypothesis. The Goal: Upon trying to define my goals again, so as to make the directions in terms of form and content clearer, came up with the following statements: 1. To look at and address the existing phenomenon of the visual in our environments, and how they contribute to constructing the identity of the place, as well as influence our perceptions, relationships and our relative identities with the space/place. 2. To somehow create a dialogue between the space/place and people using the visual. 3. To collate these findings/ observations/ thoughts into final visual outputs. The Hypothesis 1. The visual is more visceral than text/language 2. People create fiction*, when in a strange or unbelonging environment, about themselves as well as the space. 3. This fiction is the most interesting characteristic of the space. It is the one element that gives the most poignant character to spaces. That the presence / function of visual elements in our environment is more than static. It creates dialogue, whether actively or passively. Because our environments themselves are images / stories in our minds. The spaces that I have chosen are purely on the basis of the kind of dialogue I feel I want to carry out, where it is more about the individual and their relationship (either passive or active) with the environment, rather than being overburdened by geographical/historical context and content. Spaces are slowly being constructed by images. A space and its functions/perceptions/interactions can change with superficial changes in the immediate visual environment. How these changes happen, and why and what they lead to. * Fiction : in the sense that every person’s perception, memory, associations and ideas of a space/place create a narrative of the person, about and in that space/place. Each person’s narrative is, of course, unique.


An edit of the initial proposal followed, to establish a framework, and clearly define a plan of action.

The Brief : The concise version of the brief detailed in the proposal: Looking at anonymity and identity in public spaces, and the how the visual in these spaces can create an active dialogue, between the space and the people. the people themselves. Spaces are not just structured only by their architecture. They are structured by the people that inhabit and use these spaces, drawing the visible and invisible boundaries. To explore the visual elements that permeate these spaces and its relation to the identity of the people and the place. Where: spaces that are defined and populated by people who are not primarily ‘local’ but by inhabiting give the space its meaning, purpose and identity, while their own identities are only relative to the space.They are, owned, divided, specific, yet democratic spaces. Their function is often distanced or disparate from their location, surroundings, architecture, history. Who owns these spaces? Who do they belong to? How do people relate to them? How: Interactions. Conversations. Empty spaces-billboards to encourage graffiti. Mapping “Close your eyes and map the place” Drawing maps. Re-interpretation of the visual structure of spaces. Create new experiential spaces from the restructuring of inherent visual elements, icons and symbols.


Exploring Places


Through observations and conversations, some notions and characteristics of space to consider: 1. The Physicality ad 3Dimensionality of spaces. constantly look at spaces from different perspectives. looking at, looking through: camera, window, binoculars, maps, descriptions. various visualizations of space. 2. Visceral experiences already present in public/urban spaces : Noise/Sound. 3. The notion of ‘Belonging’ in public spaces. although there are associations, is there a sense of belonging/ownership/pride/care? 4. Layers and Multiplicity of meaning> To establish the central vein of what I am doing is essential> contrasting/obviating. 5. To look at spaces and be aware of their layers : pick a place without too many layers > may be too much to handle 6. The physics of a space and how that plays out and affects various collective behaviour patterns> light,texture,dimensions etc. 7. invisible collective behaviour patterns that evolve due to the arbitrary juxtapositions of built and natural elements.


Paul Auster on Identity and Urban Spaces - A piece of monologue “Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within... By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he was. On his best walks he was able to feel that he was nowhere. And this, finally was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere.�



My search for a place to carry out my research and execute the final pieces began with visiting places in Bangalore that, from my previous experiences, I thought fit the description of the spaces that I had outlined in my brief. The first one of these places that I visited was Raja Market. One of the oldest commercial centres of Bangalore, this area has a widely mixed population of residents as well as visitors. The central structure of the market is tightly packed into a square, which also houses residential quarters mostly inhabited by shop owners. The market itself bleeds out into a much larger surrounding area. The first such trip,this place brought out many pragmatic questions. The unpredictability of the logistics of space, material, and most of all people became real. Many insights and conclusions drawn from this first experience of onfield research made the need for this mode of research very clear. While many of the findings in this space helped the development of further clarity for narrowing down the space, this space itself was crossed off the list, for many reasons, ranging from the obvious difficulties in space management to travel and access issues.


Excerpt from the first visit After weeks and weeks of mind maps, free writing and general speculation inside my own head, I went out to the city . to meet the real canvas. And I was stumped. The amount of factors playing out simultaneously in any given urban public realm are entirely overwhelming. And I could do little but walk around the space several times, trying to get acquainted with the space and its activity. Trying to draw a mental map of the space in my head and take a few photographs. The place - Raja Market one of the oldest markets in town, is a place for specialized wholesale markets and shops. Selling everything under the sun. The place seemed to affect me with a sudden mild onset of momentary amnesia as it took me several walks of the same roads to overcome the distractions of the many constantly shifting elements to identify the constant ones, and to orient myself in the place well enough to draw a mental picture or map of the place in my head. Through this walking exercise I took a few pictures of things that caught my eye. I was pretty reluctant in the beginning to pull out my camera and start shooting people and places, since from what I was taught by my schooling I was sceptical as to what reactions I might receive from the people there, and whether I was ready to participate in such dialogue- I wasn’t entirely sure why I was there yet. To my surprise though, I got no reactions. Some people seemed mildly curious as to what I was photographing and why, but none were curious enough to approach me with a question. Also this might have been because I was constantly walking around the place, looking at and photographing various things at the same time, almost as a tourist might have. After several rounds of the place some people seemed to recognize me and acknowledged me as I walked by with a cursory glance or an occasional smile, but still no questions. Encouraged Anonymity. Went out looking for a ‘place’ and the first thing I noticed was the ‘placelessness’. The capacity for the mythical/fantastical in the everyday is abundant.


Key Characteristics - An old market, mainly populated by shop owners of the area itself. - Connected closely to various other central commercial areas- Avenue road, KR market etc. Therefore large masses of shoppers are always passing through this intersection - The built area of the market is contained within a fairly small square, the market however spills over an large and irregular area surrounding it. Space is a precious commodity in this place. - The area is not a casual shopping complex. Specialising in a few items such as paper and novelty items, most shops sell in bulk at wholesale rates. The customers coming in therefore are not casual shoppers, but smaller business owners, bulk buyers, etc. Observations and Insights - The possibilities for any installation that require any amount of substantial space are low. Using already existing structures might be possible. - Materials inherent in the space are few but characteristic in nature. Small elements and repetition could be interest. - The localities of people are mixed. - Since space is a major governing factor in this area, people are divided spatially. - Although the space is physically structured, most key elements work around and outside this structure, forming informal networks. - Various parts of this formal and informal network are connected. - The general pace of the place is very fast. It is hard to stop or slow down while walking in the place. The act of ‘viewing’ needs to be reconsidered. - Regionality is more obvious than religious divides in the place. - There is not much contrast in the area. Structures, people, methods of networking, all reference a certain time period. - Access is difficult. Time and Transport are key factors to consider.


2 “Frustration can be stimulating” Anon.



A multifarious comercial space, this city market is one of the oldest markets in the city. A flower market in the early hours of the day, the market transitions to an industrial market selling machine parts over the day. By evening the space transitions again with the closing don of teh industrial section of the market and the opening of commercial shopping area- clothes vegetables, and house hold goods. There is also the weekly appearance of a ‘chor bazaar’ which sells odd bric-a-brac and other novelty items. The space is characterized thus by the shifting identities assumed epetitively with time.A famous mosque and an old temple in this area gave the space a strong religious character, reflected in the people of the area as well. The people passing through this place change as the space changes.Looking at the visual culture and spatial dynamics in this place was a strong excercise in observation and gave me many key insights with possibilities of working with spaces and people. Whie the visual spatial characteristics of this area were highly interesting , the people proved difficult to work with. Being an industrial area the natureof work and general social dynamics of the place, while interesting, were unfavourable for any amount of collaborative work.


Excerpt from the first visit My first visit to the place was on a sunday morning, a holiday for the market. When all the shops are shut and the place is devoid of it usual volumes of people. I walked around the place several times, taking photographs. I was able to capture just the space, and with it a few ideas. After a while I was able to notice a certain pattern in things that I was looking at and looked for more clues along the same lines. On looking through and sorting the photographs, I noticed some conscious and some unconscious patterns and decided to group the photographs accordingly. As the whole market was shut , I suddenly saw possibility in the varied and continuous, blank shop shutters that flanked all the streets. They allowed for many things, apart from being blank slates in themselves, they could allow for seriality (vertically and horizontally), and also bring in the element of time and fiction ( they appear when the market is shut and devoid of people, transforming the place before and after hours). Although this exploration was useful in terms of giving me an idea of the scale, detail and general possibilities in terms of form and expressions, i found these finding to be still rather general. I decided to come back for more, on a day that would have people. The subsequent visits ( on days with people in the market ) though were far less productive and ended getting me a little confused and very lost.


Key Characteristics - Being a multi-faceted space, time is an important characteristic of this place. how larger changes are visible in short spans of time as the market functions over a day. - The function as well as teh pace of teh market changes significantly through the day. - Use of space is interesting. Looking at the change in functions of spaces with time, as well as how some of these ‘inbetween’ spaces make room for temporary expressions of some of the more permanent notions in life. - Rich in its indegineous visual culture : Style/Language of imagery - there are clear contrasts made visible through the role of architecture, structures and layers in images and meaning. - An old and famous mosque in the area gives this area a very promonant religious overtone. -Inherent possibilities of material use, since a wide range of industrial and commercial merchandise exists in the same space. Looking at (sculptural) form and looking at material and colour in spaces Observations and Insights - People are a key factor to consider. Seperating people from teh space might be ideal for working conditions, but otheriwse crucial. - The conversations that i tried having were proving to be difficult in terms of extracting what I needed. I needed time with people which they didnt have, and also the nature of the questions required some involvement on part of the interviewee which they did not seem to have the patience for. also I was not entirely sure , after a point what I was looking for anymore. - The camera that I took with me, and generally my sometimes watchful, observant, slow and explorative (seemingly purposeless) demeanour which contrasted with the usual flow of the place (even after i put the camera away as soon as i had people coming and asking me to take pictures of them for the ‘paper’ that i was working for - an assumption most people seemed to immediately make on seeing my camera) seemed to draw a lot of attention to me which made observing behaviour, patterns and other things a little difficult after a point. - Trying to make my obvious external interest and curiosity a starting point for conversation also did not help as people would become either very guarded, or on finding out that im just doing all this for a ‘school art project’ became disinterested in spending time and energy off of their busy work to answer all my questions.


3 “When you don’t know where you’re going, all roads lead there”. Roman Saying



Upon searching through the main areas on my list and drawing balnks, I found myself observing this area as I passed through it everyday enroute to KR market. Judging by how the place looked, I felt it was worth exploring. Not knowing what the area was called, I had to retrace it by backtracking my route to KR market. Upon arriving the place immeditaely seemed to resonate with my brief. After some brief conversations, being able to loacte the place on the map by its name, I found that its location, central to the city, about 15 minutes walking distance from Kempegowda Bus station, Off Kempegowda road, past Iyengar road, was central to its character. This place is an old residential area located near KG road- a central commercial area for over half a decade. This area which was primarily a residential colony populated by the Iyengar community has now morphed into a semicommercial area, with old building being sold and renovated to a host of sign- board making shops. The area is now a central location for the manufacturing of all kinds of signage systems, all of these enterprises owned individually by immigrant north indian communities. An interesting intersection of worlds, this area refelcted all the core characteristics I had been searching for visibly and with clarity. Practical logistics of acess, people and material also seemed possible, and so this place is where I bean to carry out my research.


Excerpt from the first visit This area is more than half a century old with buildings that date back to 1958. Primarily a residential area populated by south indians, the rise in the property rates due the commercialization of Hospital rd and Iyengar rd led to the owners renting out to commercial enterprises which are now owned mostly by north indians. The interesting juxtaposition that I found in this place is that amidst the wide variety of these shops, ranging form florists to hair cutting salons, most of them are places that make and sell sign-making services, from hand-painted signs to flex and vinyl printing and cutting, led-lit and laser signage, they are all produced here. The older residential buildings in this area are now being demolished to be replaced by newer buildings to house these sign-makers and other commercial businesses. This current scenario makes for many interesting sites to look at, which could be used as basis for my work.


Key Characteristics - A space currently in transition, the changes taking place at various levelseconoomic, social, politcal, environmental are all highly visible. - Overlapping identities progressing chronologically can be observed in the people as well as in the natural layering occuring in the visual treatment of the space - The older parts of the area are characterized by old architecture, prominent charcateristics of which are still present. The way the newer structures contrast heavily with these structures is very prominent. - The people of this area are highly aware of the chnage surrounding them. -The space offers a wide variety of places, frequented by a wide range of people within a short stretch Observations and Insights - The space has many latent possibilities in working with ideas of layering and juxtaposition - The medium of printing technques, using waste printed material, and materials already present in the area are possibilities. - Many unowned and semi-owned spaces make the logistics of scale and placing of installaions easier. - An organized space on the whole, the changes in the landscape are highighted by their non-uniformity. - People are aware and open to discussing the ideas of chnage, since it is a promonent part of their current scenario


“[It has been said] that cityness as historically understood and produced is simply no longer operative. But it is quite possible that cityness continues to be a dimension. It is a particular kind of space in a geographic terrain where there are also other spaces and they are overlapping and so we do indeed need to rethink our tools for analysis, for representation. I believe that cityness is still there, it is just how do we capture it.� Sasika Sassen



A 15 minute walk from Majestic bus station, this commercial area is at the very heart of Bangalore’s ‘people traffic’. It has a wide range of commercial complexes both built and unbuilt, which house brands, non-brands, street vendors, cart vendors etc, for every commodity from clothing to footwear, hardware, lighting, furniture, daily needs and other bric-a-brac. A good example of this would be the main square of KG road, which is flanked on three sides by three ‘generations’ of commercial complexes. on one side is the Janatha Bazaar, housing handicraft and Khadi emporiums. Opposite which is the row of present day market buildings, propped against the sidewalk, with high-end brands on the first floors and older unbranded shops selling the same merchandise. The illegal street hawkers on the sidewalks. And on the third corner of the square is a cordoned-off construction site for a new Multiplex Mall. Running above these is a walk way connecting both sides of the street. on both sides of which are citi-walk malls , constructed mall areas for various kinds of shops- similar to tibetan market.One of the key areas where I conducted my final research and interviews, this place ha proved invaluable in terms of resources and key insights.


Form and Content


The implementation of various forms, based on the content generated at every stage, and the experiences derived from dealing with them deeply affected the process and final outcome of this project. At every stage of the project the form and the content affected and altered the other, resulting in a final product that has been derived from key insights in both medium and content.


Initial form and intent: Through the course of this project, the changes in content made due to various changes in direction, filteration and clarity, are reflected in the changes in final form. As per the first draft of the proposal the possibilities I considered were as follows:

1) To categorise the various spaces based on my own preconceived notions. For example: a) Economic variations. b) Cultural variations. c) Based on the functions of the spaces: residential, commercial, transitory, industrial, common interests/ hobby platforms etc. d) Based on the perceived symbolisms of the spaces: spaces that symbolise the past, the present, and the future of the city. e) Based on preconceived archetypes of spaces and people: youth oriented, spaces for senior citizens, related to economic/social/ religious/cultural status. f) Virtual spaces.


2) To go out with these notions and through a) Observation. b) Interviews with a variety of people: experts, inhabitants, and outsiders c) Documentation. Question, explore, expand and redefine my own notions of identity in these spaces. To create an exercise of participative subjective mapping with this audience of people in order to chart/ map out the city in terms of the expression of its various identities and spaces.

3) Through this mapping document and study the visual 4) To create dialogue regarding identity in spaces using language of these individual spaces, in order to: various visual media such as: a) Find patterns, icons, and symbolic and typical visual elements, of each space and comparatively study the visual languages of various spaces in order to discern similarities and differences, common patterns and elements. b) Look at the discourse of the visual language in these spaces. c) Discern the various layers, horizontals and verticals of visual language in these spaces

a) Small scale installations b) Video c) Illustration d) Graffiti e) Photography f) Sculpture These Initial thoughts were all possibilities for consideration.


In the capacity of Public Art - As a spectacle, so as to create reactions and dialogue. - The pieces could also be participative or subject to change in the environment that they are inserted in so as to self-document reactions of the people as well as the space itself. - To treat the public space as a studio environment where a piece of work is built and evolves with inputs from the space itself. I.e. where I as an artist could make a piece of work and let it be subject to interaction and change in the public space and bring it back and make this an ongoing process. A few initial thoughts on form: The narrowing down of intent from proposal to the workspace could only be done through the actual physical exploration of spaces, since all the decisions were intrinsically linked to live circumstances, regardless of pre-planned intentions. As my experiences through spaces progressed, the intention and an idea of the final form became correspondingly clearer. Taken first from inspiration through references and previous works, the final form was inspired purely from personal experience and insights gained through field research.


- Faces: the inanimate also has faces that we can sometimes see. - Kaleidoscope. Collage: Deconstructing environments into visual patterns to expose characteristic elements through repetition and abstraction. - Using elements of space themselves: Doorways. Paths. Signage. Camouflage. A notion borrowed from Land Art: artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude They work with large-scale installations as well as smallscale art pieces. Use of fabric is extensive. An interesting idea was to wrap objects in fabric, to almost make them unidentifiable. This did many things to make the re-interpretation of the object/space possible. Also using simple objects in large spaces, repetition. Looking at the chaos at Raja Market made me think of the notion of ‘blankness’ as a contrast. - Tracing Patterns: Behavioural. Spatial. Movement. Similarities and Differences. Highlights.

Breaking down the process Realising the steps in between the content and the form- gathering, collating and archiving relevant material, substantiating decisions concerning form with meaningful insights and conclusions. Needing a more detailed process of approaching a space and people, depending on the clarity of the intention, deriving the nature of the interaction from the intention and the intention from the outcomes of the interactions. Qualitative Researching Creating informal questionnaires at various stages of interaction with people, in order to base conversations and interactions on specific lines of inquiry. Looking at information gathered from these conversations to generate more specific lines of inquiry. Looking at landscapes and studying the visual language. Studying materials in the space, dominant layers, typical characteristics. Recording samples with various media- photography, audio, video, notes. Archiving observations visually, as references for final form. Including these observations in the questionnaires as points of conversation. Generating further ideas of interactions from which the participant could generate material. Drawing conclusions from reactions. Using these observations and insights as starting points for ideating on the final form. The evaluations of the possibilities in a space were also made through this process, gauging from the material gathered as well as interactions with people.


The Final Process These processes were carried out in greater detail in the final place- KG road 1) Documenting and studying the broad area- KG road, Iyengar road, Hospital road, end of Avenue road. Key observations that characterize each of these spaces Preliminary conversations with people to get an idea of the place. Cross- checking with core criteria outlined in the brief. 2) Locating core areas of interest - Finding sign makers. Initial documentation of the space, preliminary conversations. - Chalking out area of Hospital road.


3) Initial ideas revolving around various printing techniquesBased on conversations with signboard makers, as well as inferences drawn from initial material collected. -One of the basic aims of my project is a very fundamental question in itself- how does image in a space affect people? In this one area one comes across every kind of image made by a cross-section of techniques. Lithography posters Computer printed bills Flex prints and banners Hand-painted walls and signage LED-lit signboards for branded stores to locally made LED signage and decorative items. Some initial ideas: - Cut Up technique using old discarded flex and billboard signage to make new (possibly subverted) imagery. - In order to create a dialogue make the people part of the image - live image creation: This will capture both dialogue, reactions, as well as bolster the element of fiction that I am looking to capture. - The idea of “The Treachery of Images� inspired from Rene Magritte: To take photographs of places and things (maybe ask people what they would photograph, to remember/iconize/signify this place by) and install them at the original site. - Try out different techniques.


4) Arriving at clarity in content: After looking through the key characteristics of the space and the core intention - exploring the relationship between people and their space - around notions of identity. How spaces reflect the identity of people, and vice-versa. How people identify with spaces and visual spatial elements. How changes in these visual spatial elements could change behaviour and perception patterns. Coming from a conversation with Aniruddha Abhyankar, who has been working with and in public spaces for a while now, he pointed me towards using basics to begin. Considering the wide cross-section of people that come through this area - it would be possible to explore the idea of ‘image’ in a very fundamental sense - sans context. Breaking it down to basics such as Colour, Line, Shape, The beginning is made possible by carrying out small experiments everyday on the sidewalks and crosses using simple elements: For e.g.: painting a blank white/red/black etc. square in the middle of the pattern tiled sidewalk and to record how people react to it, whether walking patterns would change and so on. A number of these experiments should give me an insight as to how people really do what they do and why. This clarification of intent led to a shift in content from dealing with Image to dealing with Basic visual elements of line, colour and shape.

Dealing with Image was bringing in complexities that are irrelevant to the core interests of my project. Working with line colour and shape is more apt - allows exploration of spatial as well as visual dimensions together. Simplification and clarity of content was brought in. Looking at these basic visual elements from various perspectives- visual, metaphorical, visible and invisible, possibilities in content were multiple. Taking from observations of people and the physical use of space, and the visual expression of this spatial organization I decided to work along three ideas of contrast- organic and inorganic, Planned and unplanned, Aesthetic and functional. In order to look at the idea of contrast in these visual elements, as a key idea behind exploring and creating interactivity n these spaces.

5) Attempts at carrying out basic experiments in public


space - Ideation Brainstormed using observations and insights collected so far, to come up with ideas for simple experiments involving basic visual elements that can be carried out over short periods of time. - Material testing Testing materials on surfaces, taking into account functionality, cost, installation time and expertise required, availability, quantities required, and durability. Final materials chosen Acrylic paints. Coloured insulation tape. - Reactions and experiences Over three repeated visits to the city, I made attempts to carry out these experiments. The first few attempts failed due to difficulties in installation, places chosen, weather conditions and so on. After tweaking the materials (better quality duct tape, surface sensitive material, better brushes for acrylic paint), timing the installation of the pieces so as to have the least interruptions (early morning) and ideal weather conditions, the installation of three pieces were successful. The reactions received during the installation of these pieces were key experiences for some of the insights that followed, which gave my project a whole new direction. Key issues faced: - Reluctance from people to allow the tampering of


From public art to art about public spaces The causes for change at every step clarified the content and intention behind my work. A gradual gap developed as the project progressed, while the content was self-referential of the form, the form itself was ambivalent . Trying to capture the form within itself, to create a spectacle larger than the spectacle itself, was a quixotic attempt. A form that would illuminate the content appropriately was needed to be devised.

premises. While private premises were clearly definable and not arguable, Public spaces proved to be grey areas of contention. Many reactions were received from random passers by, concerned about the activity. Ranging from curiosity, instances of assault and eve teasing, to threats of informing authorities, a range of reactions were received. - Preoccupation with the form of the installed piece, rather than its interactivity. Some of the final pieces were simply viewed, during the period of installation and then ignored or sidestepped. A general reluctance for participation, interaction or viewing was noticed. - The act of putting up an installation attracted more attention than the final piece itself. This kind of work, no matter how simple, needs to done in large groups, and needs to be of a certain scale. As a solo female artist working at an individual scale I faced cultural barriers that could only be overcome with a shift in scale - both with the team of people involved, which I could not afford. 6) Decision against Public art as a final form. Taking from these experiences I realised that while the


content for what I wanted to talk about was present, the platform for this medium was non-existent within my framework. Adding these experiences and insights to my content, added a new dimension to my work. My panel as a way forward suggested changing the mode of working to me. A more passive and observational method of working, along with a final product that I would have more control over. Forms considered were photography, writing, graphic design, and possibly video and audio material.

7) Artists Book

The Final form was decided to be a book. The content demanded for an experimental format, since the form still needed to reflect characteristics of the earlier form, dealing with the same core ideas. Since I was dealing with multiple forms the format needed to allow for juxtaposition of these various outputs into a cohesive experiential piece.

articulating and exploring the presence and state of the signifiers (the visual elements) as signifying multiple things. The secondary and tertiary meanings. To try and articulate my own perception of these visual elements, that are two-fold, and how they speak of many things. Of our current ‘Indian’ condition, of the different paradigms that we find ourselves in the middle of. As a graphic designer to look at ‘graphics’ in our environment, the Artists’ books are works of art realized in the form of a book. They are often published in small editions, though intended and unintended roles and effects of these basic sometimes they are produced as one-of-a-kind objects visual elements in our environment. How they contribute referred to as “uniques”. and do not to our perceptions of our spaces. Whether Artists’ books have employed a wide range of forms, they are part of it at all or whether the two spheres are including scrolls, foldouts, concertinas or loose items mutually exclusive. contained in a box as well as bound printed sheet. Artists A study between theory and practice, and how this gap have been active in printing and book production for shows the disconnect from the ‘original’ intent and the centuries, but the artist’s book is primarily a late 20th varied interpretations. century form. The term was originally coined to describe books that had their origin in the conceptual art movement of the 1970s. The typical artist’s book today is a limited edition handmade book. The material ranges from lyrical and poetical works, books that take on a sculptural aspect to beautiful examples that blend the creativity of the artist with the technology of today’s computer age. Artists books come in all forms, shapes and sizes, and are made out of a variety of materials including wood, handmade paper and stone

The content of the book now dealt with the idea of 53

The plan To look at basic visual elements of line colour and shape in our environments, to express ideas of space place identity, relation. Through using these elements to express my own ideas regarding space place identity, structure and dynamics. a) Photograph visible visual elements (lines, colours and shapes), and behaviours associated with them. b) Illustrate (through photomontage and illustration) the invisible visual elements and the intangible experience. c) Content: -Primary: Conversations that are based on an informal questionnaire. About the place/space. Specifically about lines colours and shapes. It is the absurd/mundane/ confused first level reactions that I want to capture. These juxtaposed with photographs will be the first layer. Upon this will be the photomontage/illustrations combined with found text and my own writing.

Approaching people and initiating conversation. Creating an informal introduction- to introduce myself and my intention in short to an interviewee Prepared informal questionnaires. a) Detailed version of questionnaire for interviews with sign board makers on Hospital road b) A casual version to be used in parts with people for street interviews. At this point I lost my video camera that contained all tapes holding my interviews, audio and video material. in an incident near majestic bus stop where I got robbed. After this incident, it took me a while to get back on my feet, restructure the content and form to fit what materials I had left.

Photography and illustration: abstract compositions juxtaposed with subjective/contextual text and vice versa. Aim- contrast - Specific visual elements- abstracted. - Work on the juxtapositions so as to bring out the gap in-between and illustrate meaning that goes beyond just the text or the image. Secondary - live interactive interventions to draw insights from. Explore notions in public space and the absurdities connected with viewing art. Like - why art does not find a place in our objective environments.

8) Preparing for Interviews and Interactions 9) Change in Storyboard and Progression 54

Storyboard 1One baseline - time One day. Events building up- past present and future. Physical progression overlapped with progression in time. Night-day-night. Beginning to end. A progression of 24 hours day and night. In one space. Night and day mirrored. Opposites sides correlate in terms of physical space but are contrasts of each other.

Storyboard 2The book will work with the two core concepts of layering and Contrast. Sculptural treatment and progression of images.

The two main characters in contrast and conflict here will be The Lived space: Human figures in action in environments as well as displaced. The Constructed space: Point line plane shape and colours - in the form of grids. Textures, structures, blocks of colour. Experimented with through printing and paper techniques - overlaps, textural treatments, ContrastSubjective- peoples stories thoughts agendas objectives cutouts, transparencies etc. aims and goals. Purpose reasons connections. Progression: Attachments or non-attachments to the space/place. Objective- static visual elements and direct description/ (Rough) Creating surface > representation. Space > Human action and interaction with space- Space is Form: constructed and moulded by human thought > Double accordion mirror-fold. -Like that of a map. Pathways. Grids. Segregation of space into an imaginable controllable geometry. > Zoom in-The lack of control and the overlay of the organic over the inorganic - the human footprint in concrete. > Time: 1) The daily cycle- Timings, Shadows, light, sound levels, people and mobility-Old and new- layers over each other. Layering over time-Styles of images overlapped > Our spaces outlast us- we are more ephemeral than our streets- our actions layer spaces and the collective consciousness as we pass through- the layers only add never fade.


The final book.


Content Generation The content for the final book came primarily from observations and experiences on field. Combining the two main forms of material archived through on field research -photographs and writing, the basic content structure of the book was formed. Sorting and distilling this collected material, a series of core themes and ideas consistent through both these archives were drawn out. These basic ideas were then articulated as concept briefs per spread in the book.

Taking this idea forward, pages of the book were photocopied, cut up, and words and phrases were rearranged, to form new phrases, to go with the concept lines for each spread. This language, removed from its original context and placed alongside parallel narratives gave rise to multiple possible meanings and contexts for the text to be read in, while still referencing basic concepts of time, space, and perception.

After these initial layers of the narrative were generated, the visualizations of these concepts began. However, Looking for an overall theme that would work at various the tone and language of the text was cause for some levels of the book, pulling it together, two core concepts discomfort on my part, as I felt that the text was of contrast and layers naturally filtered through all the academically oriented and tending towards being content. gendered and pedantic, and had no real reference to the space itself. Also the multiple perspectives that I Using this nonlinear structure made it possible, and also was looking for were missing, since all the text was necessary, to articulate these concepts from various completely objective, and the origin of the content had perspectives. This led me to exploring various processes become obscure. of generating and articulating content. This led to a return to the content. Looking through 1) Concepts articulated per spread: previous writings and extracting abstracts from my own These abstracts were in the form of objective and writings. general statements made from observations. Small paragraphs that stated in an academic and/or I had originally refrained from using any of the interview philosophical mode the core ideas that were key insights material, since I was unsure whether I could actually in the area of human-spatial relationships and dynamics ‘quote’ people out of memory. I was encouraged by my panel to do so, even if it meant fictionalizing content to 2) Cut Up some extent. This led to the inclusion of quotes from Through my research I began to look at various ways in relevant conversation had through the course of the which abstract information could be expressed spatially. project. One of the areas that I looked in was that of Information Design. As I found and studied Edward Tufte’s Visual Explanations, I found that most of the language and the terms, sentences, though in actuality completely unrelated from my content, did express certain key ideas very effectively. The words and terms used in their abstract sense, removed from the context of the book and re-arranged presented me with an interesting language to use as a Meta layer narrative. 57


The Process of visualization began with taking inspiration from some of the photographs taken in the space. Relating to the ideas of contrast and layering, the aim of the visuals was to communicate an experience physically, visually, as well as through the ‘reading’ of content of in the compositions.

The Initial processes began with treating the book as a sculptural/structural exercise involving treating the paper (or other material ) surfaces as tactile structural surfaces, that can be touched and experienced going beyond experience in the visual or graphic sense.


As these explorations continued I began to derive a standard visual language. The techniques of achieving this effect, however began to prove to be impractical, since they required meticulous processes, and usually a combination of many of them, for all of which the resources- such as screen printing equipment, light tables, good quality scanners etc. were not easily available. So taking inspiration from a visual language thus derived, I began to try and reproduce these surfaces, textures and compositions digitally. Working with photographic material and mimicking analog methods for manipulating and creating the compositions such as, layering, cutting, shredding, overlaying etc. I derived the final compositions.

Book Format The book works as a series of ideas communicated through parallel narratives depicting a core idea from various perspectives. The spreads in the book incorporate photographs paired with two levels of text- the personal notes and a quote. No two narratives are descriptive of the others, but work in conjunction to create a picture. Working with the idea of layering, each text and photo spread in the book is also a foldout, revealing a composition and text taken from the cut up exercise. A series of such foldouts, the book attempts at creating spaces on paper. Through the physical interactions the reader has to engage in with the book, in order to read the contents.


Titled - Chiral (Chiral-adjective chemistry -asymmetric in such a way that the structure and its mirror image are not super imposable. Chiral compounds are typically optically active) Test printing and binding of the book was done to test paper stock; get an idea of the size of the book, binding techniques, type size, grid size thickness and structure, photo quality, colours, and layout options. Since the college printers are generally not very accurate with any of these aspects and since I did not have a clear idea as to how I was going to manage binding this book I decided to take it to the city and print a rough copy, in the process of which I made a lot of decisions.


Every Spread works as a foldout. The closed spreads work as photo-text spreads. The left Text pages also have a light isometric grid pattern texture to them. The open foldouts reveal compositions made using vector graphics and photographic material manipulated from photographs taken on field.





Online resources

Society of the Spectacle- Guy Debord

Otis Collection Online life_otis/library/collections_online/artists_ books.html

Simulacra and Simulation- Baudrillard Postmodern approach to space Michiel Arentsen, Ruben Stam, Rick Thuijs Research Questions- Richard Andrews

publicCITY activistarchitecture

Books Visual Explanations - Edward Tufte


Point Line and Plane- Kandinsky

Google Books

Experimental Formats- Roger Fawcett-Tang The Picture Book- Angus Hyland

In Context: Public. Art. Ecology Khoj International Artists Association publicartecology

Think with the senses feel with the mindArt in the Present Tense: La Biennale di Venezia Ashok Sukumaran (International Exhibition of Visual Arts) Fingerprint: the art of using handmade elements in graphic design Chen Design Associates Landscape(s) Qualitative ResearchingJennifer Mason




Here’s thanking My Review panel : Ampath Koshy, Alison Byrnes, Jyothsna Beliappa for constant understanding, encouragement and valuable feedback. The Informal Support Group: Saema Husain, Swati Prasad, Lara Jaydha, Tanuja Ramani, Bharath Haridas, Nishant Wazir, Arya Rothe For constant support and timely help with all things needed. My family Pops, Ma, Mads. For hanging in there. Komala The saving grace of my printing experiences.

And Finally, Srishti School of Art Design and Technology For providing the space and opportunity for such an endeavour.


Chiral : Documentation