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?
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.