Intellectual Observer: 224 Pages of Culture and Design.
he book starts with a case study where the author is suppose to design a logo/symbol for the IIT Guwahati primary school. While finalizing the logo, the principal of the school put forths his idea of adding the letterform 'G' (Guwahati) to represent some element of the city Guwahati, which was to be found missing in the symbol. Author disagrees, but confronts himself with the same question from his mentor Prof. Kirti Trivedi. Where is Guwahati in the logo? Shocked at, how to add a cityness of a city into a design of a symbol through single picture? He questions himself; which artifact would depict maximum cityness when incorporated in the symbol?
When we depict the idea of India, it is either the tricolour flag, Taj Mahal or the peacock. However obvious they may appear but they cleary pronounce the identity for INDIA. Then how about an identity for a city like Guwahati, in Assam, INDIA? This question haunts the author' finally for him to conclude upon a statement that it is the ‘Culture that inspires the creation of form, concept and identity’. Rest of the book is his journey through out the state of Assam and its neighboring country Bhutan to find out whether his statement holds true. Author travels across the country for seven years to photograph his visual queries as the idea unfolds into multicolored answers of the 224 page photoessay book.
What's more to the book?
To See, Show and Share - Rapid consumerism and globalization are affecting the living environments of “peripheral countries” like India. Open economy has changed the face of the
cities and is resulting in a display of brands (advertising) creating clones of temporary visual displays throughout the country. Brands with various shades of need-fulfilling sales promises appear jostling for space and visibility; at times, they appear like an organized display (shopping malls) in metros or an unattended disorganized chaos of billboards and banners in cities. Unfortunately,
of any kind which results in economic growth is justified as sustainable within the growing economies. When this development deeply affects the visual domain (forms and spaces) of an inherited culture, it seems to go un-noticed. May be, simply because it’s intangible, (i.e. visual) and gets ignored when confronted against the daily priorities of one life's. Therefore, to make it a matter of visual concern, this book attempts to put forth a a case study of visual essay of pictures shot across various states of India, to confront us with the reality of an identity crisis and alert us with the changes diluting the visual landscapes of India’s social environs- witnessed in buildings, streets, cities and different states; a country well known for its rich cultural diversity. Author's personal experience articulates that his teaching prior to this enquiry created a visual designer who invaded visual spaces of local culture under the pretext of acquired design knowledge from premier institutions to create geographically disoriented visual messages - He has been a part of it and intellectual observer is the proof of that story. The book also documents picture slides where the author photographs the work of local people (non-designers) in Assam, India, who build structures (temple entrances) under a strong value/ belief system. Documented here is how this belief system percolates and manifests into a visual grammar of that local culture/ state affecting different domains of its visual language.
The author states that he has been observing the changing pace of visual landscape and therefore he chooses to name the book as Intellectual observer. He humbly states that he does not know whether his observations are intellectual but he is claims to be an observer for sure. It is left for the audience to decide whether these observations are worthwhile to be intellectual.
His observation documents the rapid change in the visual landscape which goes unoticed. He believes that every graphic/ communication designer is contributing to the part of that change and is equally responsible. There is an attempt to what should be the role and responsibility of the designer in the times to come, in context of INDIA.
Author comments that as ‘designers’ we seem to be grossly involved in designing identities with our eyes blindfolded to contribute to the parts of an elephant called ‘branding’. In doing so we lose to the holistic identity of a state or a country. Let us be aware, as designers to consciously include our visual culture, (whenever possible) as a theme within our designs, because “Culture inspires creation of form, concept and identity”. In this digital age its an opportunity for visual designers to be contemporary in the context of being traditional as well as viceversa.
Intellectual Observer (First Edition) Paperback – 2015
by Prof. Mandar Rane (Author)
Content: Culture and Design
Binding: Paperback, 224 pages, full color
Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 16 x 2 cm
Product weight: 673 g