Category Archives: society

Tata vs Turtles

The Tatas, one of India’s oldest and largest multinationals are planning to build (already started preparations for building) a port at Dhamra, Orissa, India. This spot is one of the very few nesting places of the very rare Oliver Ridley turtles, and if the port is completed that will be the end of them. There are other things you can do to help save the turtles. You can read about them here on the Greenpeace site.

Please take some action, however small. The port can be built anywhere. We can’t make new turtles. If the huge corporates don’t start realising the consequences of their actions, and taking responsibility of them, many eco-systems will be ruined forever. There is still time to stop them.

You can put this same ad on your blog or site to help spread awareness. And here is more on the whole story so far.

Why does it always have to be this way? Why is the price of so-called ‘progress’ so heavy? Maybe we need to redefine progress.

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Reflectors

truck

I saw a truck last night which had a compact disc stuck on the back as a reflector, and it was working pretty well gleaming there in the dark. A whole line of them stuck there would work brilliantly in dazzling the driver behind you. The masses in India are really innovative in the way they use and re-use and re-re-use things. This is because of poverty most of the time, but also due to a deeply ingrained philosophy that it is wrong to waste anything. Waste not, want not. We should learn from them. The traditional Indian village was largely self-sufficient, with little need to import things from neighbouring towns, and little waste. Lets hope we don’t lose this way of life and hopelessly go down the ‘we want more’ road.

A fellow student who went on an exchange programme to Italy was presenting her work and told us of how in Italy, bad looking vegetables are often thrown out during the long and complex sifting that vegeables go through there. The vegetable is actually edible, but is just a not so red (or green), maybe bruised, or unshapely. If that isn’t the most shockingly wasteful thing I have heard of, then I don’t know what is. If they just sent all those vegetables to India, a lot of us would gladly eat them.

The Artist

The artist: disciple, abundant, multiple, restless.
The true artist: capable, practising, skilful;
Maintains dialogue with his/her heart, meets things with her/his mind.

The true artist: draws out all things from his heart,
works with delight, makes things with calm, with sagacity,
works like a true Toltec, composes his/her objects, works dexterously,
arranges materials, adorns them, makes them adjust, invents.

The carrion artist: works at random, sneers at people,
makes things opaque, brushes across the surface of things,
works without care, defrauds people, is a thief.

– Toltec poem translated from the Spainish by Denise Levertov

Violence today

Recently Sanjeev Bothra, an alumni of NID, had come to teach a typography course here, and we had many interesting and enriching conversations with him. Over lunch one day he mentioned how there is so much violence in most cultures today, across the world. Violence may not necessarily manifest as physical violence, but violence in the way we think. Even the thought of harming someone, or hating someone or something, is the beginning of violence. And so many times a day we perform violent acts on others, even in our minds. The only way to create a more non-violent world is to accept and acknowledge the violence in our minds, and try to come to terms with that. What we are doing to the environment and natural resources is a form of suicidal violence.

Living life at ultra high speed is also a form of violence. The art and beauty of slowness, doing things at a normal pace, is a lost art. Today’s rush-rush-rush world takes a toll on all of us, more than we realise. Doing everything at high speed, from taking a bath to eating meals, to conversations with others, its all losing its meaning, because the moment passes before it even arrives. People don’t relish their food slowly at a meal anymore, they don’t read books peacefully anymore. We are always rushing to get to the the top of the ladder when we have just about put a foot on the lowest rung. This high-speed lifestyle is another form of violence, we bring upon ourselves and people around us. We need to dedicate more time to ‘slowness’, the most underestimated of forces, along with silence and humour.

Sometimes if one thinks of Gandhi, what he did with our country was nothing less than a miracle. To unite so many incredibly diverse people, with different language, (the 1991 census recognizes 1,576 classified ‘mother tongues’) culture, food, dress, customs, to fight non-violently, for freedom, is no easy task. Maybe its time to relook at the Gandhian principles and basic way of living. This would help us live better with each other, and would reduce the environmental impact we are having, as he believed in ‘simple living, high thinking’. We don’t really need half the things we have, but are we ready to give them up?

Brain transfer

brains

A friend designed several interesting posters in quick succession today. Another friend exclaims, “How do you think so fast! Please give me your brains.” Then she mimicked putting a straw to the former classmate’s superior brains and drinking. This led me to wonder; what if we really could transfer our ‘brains’. There would be absolute chaos.

The human brain is in the head, but the mind is intangible, and can’t be quantified. It doesn’t occupy any physical space. This must be part of god’s unique design, because otherwise we might be capturing each other and doing ‘mind’ transplant surgeries to make ourselves more intelligent. It would be the ultimate case of resource exploitation. Any kind of genius would be in high demand. Probably her/his life would even be at risk. Medical science is advancing at the speed of light, but its definitely going to take time (thankfully) to figure out brain transplants.

Technology and the Future of History

We can’t even begin to imagine the effect the mass media has on us, and what we will be in a hundred years. As a species we are mutating, mentally and emotionally because of all the technology around us. With TV, radio, wireless internet, mobile and handheld devices, satellites, etc etc imagine the amount of waves in the air, and going through us all the time. We eat, sleep and breathe in a world of invisible waves. Post 1800 the inventions and advances have come thick and fast. Besides changing history, we are changing the whole way history has been recorded.

waves1

In five hundred years, blogs will be effective records of our time, and people will be reading them as today we read cave paintings. Maybe in the future history will be much clearer. Today historians spend much time and effort and in interpreting paintings, carvings, or texts, pondering over the mysteries of ancient civilizations, but in the future that won’t really be a problem because everything we do now is digitally recorded, on the web, or through video or photographs. So the history of the future won’t be much of a mystery. But data-storage sure is going to be an issue 😉

Copyright who?

Recently I read about this copyright controversy happening over an image of Barack Obama created by the artist Shepard Fairey. Apparently “The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.” (yahoo news). Now the AP (Associated Press) claims that the copyright lies with them, and they should get compensation. The artist does not quite agree.

Obama Poster

In this case, I agree with the artist, because it seems he has used the photograph as a reference to create a new piece of art. It has been worked upon a good deal. If he had just applied a sepia tint to the photograph and claimed it to be his, then that would be copyright infringement. But he has changed the visual. It has been transformed from a realistic photograph to an illustration.

On the other hand the work of photographers has to be protected as well. We tend to take photographs for granted once they are published in the press or online. We need to know when to draw the line, when does a visual change from ‘theirs’ to ‘mine’. As designers we need to be aware of the copyright issues, and what we can use, and what we can claim as our own. All artists, designers etc draw upon an existing bank of images and concepts in their head at some point in the creative process. It seems really hard to create something so new and original that no one has ever seen it before. Not to say that designer’s copy, but they do take reference and inspiration from different sources. Giving credit, and compensation, where its due is essential, and a part of design ethics.

Anyway, Shepard Fairey is not a crook. So claims the New York Times. But after reading this article, it looks like he has done a bit too much copy paste. It does seem like some of his previous work is a rip-off, even if his Obama poster isn’t. Getting inspired is one thing, just copying someone else’s art is very different. At the same time, he seems to do it intentionally. He wants to make a statement by using that art. So is it copying or not? I am still confused.