Observing, Analyzing and Understanding

The VSR exercise is where we have to make self-portraits, portraits and body sketches of the people around. Portraits always have been something that I really enjoy. Though for most of my past experience with portraits have been from photographs or random portraits to understand the texture of skin, play of light and shadow on the face. This mostly has contributed in improving my skill set. Live portraits are something that I recently ventured into. The nuances of catching hold of someone’s feature while they are not exactly static have been a tricky but exciting part. Self-portraits are more difficult than portraits as you transition from a third person’s point of view to a first person’s point of view. Once you get out of your sketchbook and mirror is really when you can assess the portrait for what it is. Most of the time when you assess it looks way far away from what you actually look like. The process of making it is way cooler than the actual results. The abstract version of the self-portraits really helps to understand the layers of personality that makes us who we are. For me the first thing that anyone notices about my face are my eyes, some are scared or even revolted sometimes. Mostly because most of them are not familiar with such strong and bold features so they discard on the first go. But with time as they became familiar with them, is when they really can see the beauty in them. I tried to represent this in one of my self-portraits in one of the VSR called “The First Glance” where I have tried to show the contrast in the feeling that my eyes give to different people through different colors.

FIgure 1: Portrait of Alakh Parsiya
Figure 2: The first glance (self-portrait)

The first peer review was an amazing learning experience as of how to assess our own work through the lens of others. So many insights about our own work could be tracked down through the reviews that we gave for other people. To get an outside perspective is always good for an accurate assessment of the work that anyone produces and if the perspective is given by someone who themselves have gone through similar work but with their own distinct and individual processes the insights become more “insightful”. For me many things became clear after the review and I got to see ideas and connections in my work that I did not see before. For example, one of the panelists said that I see congregation from a point of view of movement. When I really looked into it, I found that in my sketches of space of congregation both in observed places and distant places, it is space where two-three functional spaces flow in. The place becomes a node where different movements come together and that is what makes it a space for congregation for me. The whole system of giving and taking suggestions from the studio-mates is really going to help us find new perspective in the already done work. Also, the submission and deadline really picked up the pace of the work and the whole structuring of the time came back to its designated role in my life. All in all, it was an exciting and insightful session.

Figure 3: Section of space for intimacy
Figure 4: Plan of space of congregation

After analysing the given plan and making sketches, the next part was to analyse and understand why the space functions the way it does and why is it a solitary, intimate space or a space of congregation. The analysis was to be done keeping the parameters of massing, volume, location, context around the space, light and shadow in mind. Why is a space used by one person to sit by himself and the other one to congregate, what is the difference between those two? After the analysis I came to some conclusive (for now) points. The space where people generally congregate is a nodal point where movement is there. All the congregator parties are not pre-decided. Sometimes two people are sitting at a place and two passes from there, they greet each other and are joined in the party. This is a common observation that I have seen happening around me. One more obvious point for congregation is enough space to comfortably accommodate people. The difference between intimate and solitary space is very subtle for me. For both a cosy, rather small than a space of congregation is there. But for intimate I feel I need more privacy and it would be ok even if I don’t have an engaging view from there, as my focus is on the person with whom I’m sitting. The solitary space would be a nice contemplating space if am able to onlook nature or a peaceful place outside, there too I need privacy, nobody should disturb me or engage with me. These a few pointers that really made sense to me as I could track back using spaces in the same manner from the past.

Figure 5&6: Diagrams representing the analysis of the space of congregation

All in all, this week was also a full pack week. There was a festival, congregation with 30 people was there in the living hall and I was in a solitary space in my room, almost on the verge of crying. Now that it’s over I can look back at it with a smile and congratulate myself for managing everything the best that I could. Sometimes necessary to appreciate ourselves. There is bitter-sweet feeling while I’m wrapping this exercise up as I’m happy from the work I had the opportunity to do and sad the that it is already over when I finally got the hang of it. Also wrapping it up with the hope that the coming exercise would as tiring and amazingly fun as this one.

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