Maquette & studies for a monument - Project 4 · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Nov 11, 2007
ISCO presentation for project 4
My intentions were to reinterpret the meanings associated to events via numbers, dates and days such as 9/11, black friday, Rebellion of 1857(Sepoy Mutiny) and how a mundane number is turned into a monumental figure that denotes events and memories of historical significance. These numbers come to represent an epic remembrance and play an important part in evoking collective memory. They become powerful signifiers. But they can be(have been) misused and re-appropriated to evoke very different responses. Such signifiers can instill fear, evoke extreme reactions and in a powerful manner paralyze our reasoning. Our capacity to accommodate and understand distant cultures, people and histories are given up all at once through a single occurrence/utterance of such numbers and signifiers.
Death by Numbers is a monument dedicated to such events and numbers. This monument attempts to remove and re-invent their canonical meanings.
I choose 9/11 because it is the most recent and overused signifier of an event. It has been used time and again to serve political agendas and to plague our minds with fear and hatred. One of the important critiques of this proposal were to do with using 9/11 as a base number system for counting afore mentioned activities around Astor Place. While the act of counting mundane events and activities provided a poetic framework, the framing of it within the two columns of 1-9 and 1-11 seemed to disorient the message and intention. To me this number system provided a set of constraints to work with and further amplified the redundancy and emptiness in the 9/11 semiotic. This number system evokes my intentions when compared to a matrix of numbers which act as a generic canvas for counting. Though I should agree that a far more rigorous framework/system for counting is a possibility, but at the moment I have not been able to resolve it.
Portrait of Strokes · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Oct 22, 2007
Portrait of Strokes
What is a character? Is a character always anthropomorphic or can it be something else? We set out to investigate the very basic forms, such as the sound made while writing, and the most reduced form that can be to be recognized as a character. Does it have to be expressive? How can generative forms help?
Portrait of strokes is a project where we attempt to make aural
multi-layered compositions using pen strokes as they are drawn on
paper. Two people sketch glyphs and in the process record the sound the marker/pen makes using a microphone. The sound made by drawing each glyph is recorded as an individual sound sample which is then layered with previously recorded glyph samples.
In our initial explorations we discovered that drawing the glyph with a certain gesture (of stroke) we could produce a variety of sounds and tones. For example drawing dots produced a staccato sound whereas drawing curves produced a much more continuous sound. By layering such characteristics sounds produced by different strokes, we were able to produce interesting progressions and rhythms (with almost jazz-like quality).
We were interested in constructing something larger through repetition of smaller discrete elements. To us, doing this illustrated the idea of building a character- a process that involves iterations in form of editing, removal and addition of elements that eventually give characteristics (make the character). The initial idea was to explore how hand drawn typographical characters/alphabets translate to unique sounds and compositions. We expanded this idea to further include abstract shapes and strokes because it gave us the freedom to explore and construct a larger gamut of sounds and glyphs.
Throughout the project we found it hard to locate the ‘character’ of/within a piece. The piece as a whole was somewhat non-deterministic compared to individual discrete sounds of strokes. We discovered that each recording/improvisation we experimented with had varying qualities. We have realized that it is now important to define a language that establishes the relationship between a stroke and a shape/glyph. Doing this will help us create a framework to help us improvise and perform.
What we consider as an interesting residue were the left over pen
drawings- glyphs/strokes. We weren’t sure what to do with sheets of paper. They did represent the process in discrete steps and served as manuscript of the composition/performance. We feel these could have been a much more important part of the performance had we used larger surface (like a whiteboard) to draw.
Feedback from Class Critique
- This was an interesting framework for further exploring gestures, drawings and sound.
- It’s interesting because our building blocks are naturaly produced sounds of a stroke vs a computationally synthesized sound.
- It will help to define more shapes, elements or drawings that reflect a certain sound quality. Instead of making the composition abstract, we could consider giving performance that actually portrays a particular sound: ie: rain, birds in a forest, autumn etc.
Project 1 - Myriad of Conversations · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Sep 23, 2007
Myriad of Conversations is derived from personal memory of a few events from approximately 20 years of my life. These events are represented briefly as conversations I’ve had with the people involved on a plain (the map) that has no specific chronological order of the events represented. It grew out of an interest in involving the archetypal roles we play of the brother/sister, friend, companion, child etc into a map as a way to organize and represent interactions with different characters in our lives.
These events and relationships are contained within a boundary- which in this case is drawn as a tree. The tree(perimeter) is porous to indicate things that you choose to learn and ignore. The tree is a container of things.
The table is a specific instance or a cumulation of events usually involving one other person (sometimes more). The opposite sides of the table usually represent the kind of relationship. And a conversation in the middle. Sometimes this is a shared understanding and at times it is an interpretation of one of the involved characters.
Prior to arriving at this map I tried other approaches in terms of how I wanted to organize these events. One of them was a much more structured, chronological and labeled map. I dropped this because I didn’t feel it was all that important to indicate time in such a clear manner using numbers. Also doing so would make it a string of events that had nothing to do with the meandering experience of relationships and conversations. It also looked too much like a taxonomy of interactions which I wanted to avoid.
I thought it would be interesting to further explore the table as symbol. What if its shape could change depending of what was being said at the table? But this would again turn into a much more detailed typographical work such as the one by Tibor Kalman (from the book You are Here).
This is the first sketch of what I initially intended to do. It was meant to be a comparison of the city grids of New York and the suburb I grew up in India.
I believe the symbols and metaphors such as the tree and the table are powerful in what they can contain and convey. Returning to such iconography is refreshing for me. I also made the map before I did the readings and in a way I was glad I did that. Primarily because I did not feel the need to think of elements of the map as discursive or event based- though there are some uses of tropes of storytelling and cartography. I still feel that I did more of an illustration than a map, primarily because the drawing fails to establish a well defined territory of interrelated events. The relationships and conversations to a large extent are loose, unique and dispersed. They don’t form a firm set of entities. Though this also due to the fact that I attempted to control exactly what I wanted to the map to tell/reveal.
If I were to iterate over I would start by building a detailed set of relationships between different characters I have played and come across in the years. And how each conversation has had a cause and effect on all my relationships with people. I would also further investigate the archetypal roles we play- its fascinating to see how we are different people in different circumstances.
And I would certainly use colour, texture and type!!
You are Here – Katharine Harmon