Student Self Evaluation Report!

Student Name: Surabhi Singhal

Year of Enrollment: 2012

Focus Area/ Program: Advanced Diploma Program (Open Pathway)

Program Advisor/ Mentor: Smriti

 

1. PROJECT TITLE: Why did you choose this project and what was involved in the decision making process?

  MEMORY LAB:

I chose this project because the aim of this project was to represent memories in any medium of one’s own choice. I could relate this representation to my own practice of Interior Design where we have to inculcate feelings in a space. I thought that if I will find the way and develop the process of representing memories in a physical form, I would definitely develop my creative and concept development skills to incorporate certain set of feelings in a particular space. Moreover, I was free to choose the medium for execution and I chose to use 3D medium.

 

 2. SUBJECT: Reflect on the subject matter of your chosen project and the breadth of research that you have conducted on this subject?

While working in the memory lab, we have been constantly working on presenting memories. Although these are personal memories every time, we relate our memories to specific subjects.

The most challenging part of the memory lab while working throughout was to decide which memory to choose and above that which memory should be exposed and executed. The other most challenging part was to represent the memory altogether.

For the first movement that we worked on, we had to present either a happy or traumatic memory from our lives. We had to link our memory to an archival object which reminded us of that memory.

For this movement, I worked on my memory of a trial/changing room in a garment shop. I remembered how in a changing room the mirrors were placed parallel to each other and reflected infinite images of myself when I used to try a cloth on. It became difficult for me to understand which part to look at. I linked this memory with a new T-shirt as an archival object because it was a garment which reminded me of the changing room. For execution of my memory, I created a trial room with mirrors placed on all its sides. To make the space more interesting, I used a prism-like structure. The viewers were allowed to enter inside and try on the clothes that were kept inside. This set-up in the gallery, made the viewers feel what I intended them to feel. I received feedbacks that mentioned that the space triggered their own memories. The suggestion that I received was to increase the wardrobe options inside the changing room.

For the second movement of the memory lab, we had to work with our memories in a way that we link any political history of the nation/world to our memory in a way that it shows our identity.

For this movement, I really had to think hard about the memory that I might or might not have. After thinking a lot and talking to my relatives, I recalled a memory. This was about the stories that my grandfather used to recite in front of us telling us about his experiences. I remembered how I used to paint while listening to him while sitting in the veranda and slowly leave the canvas and join the rest of the group to listen to him.

I remembered one of his stories which were directly related to the history of the nation. In 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, there were huge riots in the country among the Sikhs and the Hindus as a retaliatory violence. My grandfather had a few Sikh friends who were in danger of losing their lives. He thus, gave them refuge in our house for a week and looked after their food and shelter.

Listening to him, I had various images of him and his friends in our house. For representing this memory, I painted the image of my mind on canvas. I decided to portray the difference in the inside and the outside atmospheres at the time of the riots. I thus crated a room symbolising a house with a dining space in it. I placed my canvas in that room in the same position as I used to leave it while listening to grandpa. On the outside, I projected the video of the violence that was happening outside that house.

The viewers who visited my installation in the gallery, saw the video and experienced the violence outside, and as soon as they entered the inside they could feel the comfort and fear of the surroundings.

I was successful in achieving my desired output as received appreciation from the viewers. It was a wonderful experience to create the human-scale space myself with wooden frames and thermocol.

 

3. AIMS/OBJECTIVES/CONCEPTS: How and to what extent have you achieved the aim and objectives of the project? Describe the main concept driving the project.

The main objective of this project was to represent memories. I have always worked for all the projects in this lab in a way that the viewer is able to experience exactly what I had experienced in that memory and I can proudly say that I was very well able to achieve what I intended to achieve. The viewers laid their feedbacks and confessed that they recalled their experiences and could very well get the feel of the spaces that were created.

 

 4. AUDIENCE: Are you addressing a specific audience with your work within this project? For example, a specific community, your peers, members of your family, a corporation or business, educators, patients of a hospital department, government agencies? 

 Although we have always had audiences who are artists and designers, but I, personally have always made it a point that a person who is not an artist also easily understands and experiences the feel of my work.

I have always thought about the audiences in a way that whatever I am doing or will be doing won’t be limited to the people of only my own field. A common man who is not capable enough to grasp and understand the concept should still be able to connect with my work

 

 5. CONTEXT: What is the context of your project? Is it going to be viewed in a gallery space, on the Internet, within a community space, in the public domain?

Well, so far we have had two main projects and we are working towards the development of the third project in collaboration with the students of University of Rhode Island.

My current projects are produced for a gallery space and we have had two exhibitions so far and working towards the third one.

 

6. FORM/MEDIUM/PRESENTATION: What are the forms and methods of presentation that you are working with? Have you chosen these yourself or were they a part of the project requirements? From the work you have done so far, have you gained any insights on your approach to making, doing and documenting?

 In our project, the liberty of choosing medium of presentation lied with us. I had been working with human-scale installations and creating spaces. In addition to this, I have learned to edit videos and have been working with sound and videos. Sound had been a mandatory medium for our projects.

From whatever I have done so far I have realised that I have to work on improvising the quality of my work. Although I have been very clearly able to achieve my objective but the presentation is not self-satisfactory. Documenting whatever I have been doing has helped to know myself in terms of my interests and desires better.

7. RESEARCH METHODS: What kind of research methods are you using to research the project work in depth, and how has your research informed your process?

 For taking the project further, I read the texts that are relevant to the topic. I try to understand the topic better and what is it that it exactly calls for.

This is worth mentioning, having the Qualitative Research Methods course for the semester has really helped to understand the need of research and its benefits.

 

 8. REFERENCES: How useful were the references you explored so far- the artists, anthropologists, designers, writers or other practitioners? 

Some of the references were really helpful and gave a new insight for looking at the problem. These references made the objective clearer. The others though seemed a bit irrelevant for the work which was to be done, but were interesting to read.


9. POSITION & RELATIONSHIP: How do you think your project would function in, or be positioned to contribute to, similar contemporary fields of production? 

 I feel that whatever work I have done so far had a new element in terms of the output and execution. Even though I had been using references to understand the topics better and browsed some of the works that have been done related to the memories, I felt that my intention of adding a feel to my work stands out. As my work is not only meant for interpretation but also inculcates some kind of feel in the viewer, it adds a new dimension to the field.

Happy Realization!

Words become extinct when you realize that what is it exactly that interests you to give you “the” happiness, when you finally know what is it that you can adopt for your lifetime as a profession, what it is like to feel content and worthy of what you have done.

For four years now, I have been looking up to one of the great architects/designers who has constantly been my idol. I look up to her and her works for being inspired and continue to work hard in the right direction. Her name is Zaha Hadid. She is an Irani-British based architect and her works clearly show her futuristic ideas and approach of working. The element that adds to my inspiration is the fact she is a female.

After constantly looking at her works and having the desire of being recognized for my own works, I thought and decided to intern with her, for learning from her. When I started to accumulate my works for sending them to her, I realized that I have nothing qualitatively productive to present before her.

I suddenly realized what my interest actually lies in – it is ‘productivity’. I realized that whatever I was doing now at Srishti, needed to improve upon its quality. I realized that I have done nothing so far to reach where I intended to reach and this may be due to lack of satisfaction in the final output of work. I realized, that I am meant to be an interior designer because my heart tells me to forge into that direction. It starts pumping faster whenever I look at beautiful spaces. The only thought that strikes my mind while looking around is ‘I have to create such places and things’. Earlier, before joining Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, I knew that my weakness lies in the lack of developing concepts and ideation and being here, I could myself feel the change and adaptation in my thinking. I realized that this is a great platform to explore my ideas because we have the freedom of working in our own mediums.

I know I have to work with her but I am now giving time to myself to prepare to show her my work. I have finally realized and decided to dedicate myself into productive output. I realized, that for me and my practice, concept is important but what matters the most is presentation and the finished output.

Although here I have been asked to explore different possibilities that could be available, but when I was trying to let go and explore, I was encountered by my own interest and it made me I realize that that was it. My interest lies in development of spaces and products and making people feel what I want them to feel in that space created.

I thereby have started connecting all the points of learning and taking from around me everything that is important for developing my practice.

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” – NAPOLEAN HILL

Outsourcing from a city!

Being new in a city, any city for that matter, leaves an all new opportunity of exploring it with different ideas and angles without having the ego of you knowing everything about the place.

I had this amazing opportunity of exploring my current city – Bangalore for outsourcing the ‘waste’ material for my workshop project.

During the span of two weeks of the workshop, we happened to visit the market place almost everyday which was nearly 25kms from our working place.

I happened to explore the plugged market area on foot. It was amazing to see the span and variety of commodities in the market. It was wondrous to gaze at the colorful and harmonious fascicles of objects.

As we had to work in pairs for our projects, me and my partner had this wonderful experience of exploration. I was inspired and learned to chase the necessary required things for creating what we intended to create from my partner.

As we had to outsource waste material, we discovered the huge ‘kabadi‘ or waste and recycle market. By visiting that area on a daily basis we realized how huge that ‘industry’ was.

We dealt with the acts of negotiation of prices on waste and I did realize that even waste does not come for free. I realized how important it is for me as an interior designer to know the reality of prices of the materials.

I learned how to price products, my own creations for that matter.

One of the most eventful day was when we outsourced the waste/empty metal oil cans for creating our product. Both of us got three oil cans from the market to out institute’s workshop. The feeling of contentment was filled in me. I felt that I was actually doing something productive while I was buying, transporting and working with the material towards a specific goal – development of a concrete product.

This act of material outsourcing, especially waste material (because it required even more efforts), has rejuvenated enthusiasm in me for working towards a set idea and chasing my own thoughts for achieving the final output of any design that has been created my me and working towards it to make it exactly the way I thought of it.

 

 

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS…..an approach towards developing a new insight…!

When I started with this course, it was absolutely hazy for me to see the reasons for learning the methods of research.

I was not at all able to connect the reasons to our course. We soon got linked to a government school which was mainly for the students coming from the families below the poverty line. We visited the school a couple of times before we had to choose and finalize our research questions. I chose to research on “Relationships at School”. My research question was framed like this – “What kind of relationships are formed among the students and in between the students and the teachers at school?” I felt that researching relationships was important because it helps in knowing what helps a teacher or a student react in a particular way (negative or positive), how they work together, how they store or share things. All this leads to the formation of a better education system. Also, all this was important for me because I was carrying out this research with a thought of developing a space for carrying out various activities and studies at a school. an

Before going out to the school for observations, we ready the texts from Paulo Freire and Gandhi’s Nai Talim to have a better understanding of the scholl and its traditional way of working and the view points of the different writers.

Every week, we visited the school, met the children, spoke to them and made various observations with the help of our various senses. We observed with eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the brain.

We made the field notes for keeping the observations collectively. After we had a little understanding of the school and its curriculum, we further disaggregated our research questions into various fragments that would lead us to the answer of the main question. These were the sub questions.

We further simplified our research by building mind maps or affinity diagrams that exactly pointed towards those aspects of research that were important for getting the answers to the sub question.

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After coming to the main points of the main question, we built our research plan, which was a document that included the sub-questions, the number of interviews that were to be taken for carrying out our research, the focus groups that were to be performed for getting the answers indirectly from the people of the school.

When we had finally prepared our research plans, we went back to look at the works and studies that have already been performed on the chosen topics. I chose to read – Exploring the bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools by Elspeth Page and Jyothsna Jha, Attachment theory and the teacher-student relationship by Philip Riley and Social Life in School by Peter Blatchford for knowing what had already been said about the relationships at school at various levels.

We further made the interview guides for interviewing the teachers and the students on the key points. We recorded the interview and later prepared the transcripts of all the interviews that were taken for our better understanding of their idea and thoughts.

Finally, when we had all the data in hand – the field notes of various days, the interview transcripts, the readings and their specific points and the data of the focus groups, it was time to analyse the data. It was time to come up with the basic analysis and taking any one observation further so that it adds to the information on that topic.

I analyzed the data and concluded that “Although the students are very friendly among themselves at school, they tend to develop misunderstanding if confronted by their own friends against their wrong actions” and “The student-teacher bond, although formal is very strong but the generation gap between the students and the teachers at school adds to the ambiguity of understanding relations at school“.

I am still thinking about that small point that I can take further and make a statement which adds to the existing theories of relationships at school.

After completing the research, we put up an exhibition at the school where we displayed the key points of observations and conclusions of our research. The management and faculty appreciated our effort and were looking forward to the changes that could be made to improve the school that were shown in our research reports.

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By the end of the course,I was very much capable of answering my own question of ‘What is the importance of research methods and why this course’. I discovered that for carrying out any new discovery, or for building anything new, it is very important to know what has been done already and how do the people and the things around you behave.

The complete methodology of defining the topic and question of interest, then dis-aggregating it for better understanding, then observing the elements related to the sub-topics, reading and viewing existing material, talking and listening to the people’s point of view and finally analysing the data, leads to a new discovery. It struck to me that this is what I was looking forward to do further – to have my own new ideas and methods of design. The process has finally defined the approach to carry on my desire of innovation in design further.