Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Exit Through The Gift Shop

So much hype around this movie. It's kind of like the Helvetica documentary movie in a few ways:

1. It came out about at the similar time - when public appreciation of a form of art is more noticeable.
2. It was made for the general public - a sort of an eye opening introduction to the artform.
3. It was movie that was inevitable. If the makers of Helvetica and Exit Through The Gift Shop hadn't made it, someone else would have made it sooner or later.

I watched it last night with so much anticipation. I realised quite quickly, from the first few shots that I wasn't going to like it. This movie is not about Banksy or the art that he is and does. It is not about graffitti form, nor any philosophy or principle that artists live by. It is not a tribute to anything like Helvetica is a tribute (love and hate) to the typeface.

This movie is about a Frenchman who has too much money for his own good, who should have spent more time with his family than muck around with his camera, who sneaks himself in, winning the trusts of real artists, getting into their lives and making a crass self-centred documentary film about him vandalizing on the works and lives of the vandalizers. And what's worse, as people do all the time, he begins to be convinced that he can produce works of art himself and goes on to produce an exhibition.

To be fair though, this is the game that Banksy and the grafitti cronies play. This is their way of making their statements, defacing walls, beautifying walls, with and without permission, with their ego and name plastered all over it, a bold declaration that the artist is 'the man'. Everything that Banksy does, though he insists that it is not about the money, is aimed to make his name famous. They get their kicks seeing their names (hideously and beautifully) painted on the sides of the passing trains. Theirry, the maker of this film, has done exactly that. Except this crackhead (or a genius, some will say) didn't use the public space or famous landmark to piss his name all over it. He does it on the very people that vandalize.

I heard that the whole thing is a hoax. Of course it is! And does it even matter? Thierry is a nutcase. Banksy (and the other artists in the film) is only a pawn in his little game.

There was a gang of robbers and thieves who looted the rich in the towns and returned to the villages with their riches. But then there was Thierry who hid in the woods, having planted booby traps on the path. The looters were caught unawares, and they all fell. Thierry plundered them, in the full view of the villagers, who watched with great amusement. Banksy, the leader of the gang watched, not saying anything, his arms tied behind his back unable to do anything. He said to himself, half jokingly, This sneaky little guy has won at our own game.

Thierry was a coward and not a worthy robber. But he hadn't lost. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

In A While

There's a street corner I haven't seen in a while
A corner where I find my drink
My intoxication
The quiet joy of life

I hear the shopkeeper calling me
And I listen
Maybe I will head there again
Maybe the warm air and the glorious
Evening sky will inspire me once again
Remind me of familiar faces
That I haven't met in a while

Thursday, September 6, 2012

John Piper

What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Song

I am normally a bit of a hater when it comes to music, art and films coming from India. Thats because I am protective towards it. Also because it is close to who I am and how/where I have been brought up, I don't like seeing anything wrong with it, since it reveals, in a way, what is or can be wrong with me too.

But here is a great song that I found that I won't mind flaunting. He was only 17 when he did this video. Great singing. Great guitar playing. A bit Bon Iver-y but nothing wrong with it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rest?

What does it mean to rest?

Is there rest for anyone? This is a mad mad rush of a world we live in. No space to be anything other than keeping on moving. What does it mean to rest? What does it mean when even Jesus said, come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest?

Rest is not a day in a week where you sit on your couch and chill. Your head is still raging with work and things to get done before the work rush takes over again tomorrow. That is not rest. Rest is not sitting down in your hot bath with relaxing music crooning and candles slowly burning. Too soon you have to get up from there and get back to un-rest.

Progress, I have come to believe, is a fairly western concept. Progress is birthed out of industry. Out of producing. The thirst for progress is the fuel that is keeping this ruthless machinery of busy-ness running. Once you're in, you're in for the long haul. You cannot just get up from your desk and decide to forsake the train and jump off for a day. That's the pity of progress.

That's the irony of rest. What we think is rest is just another phase in progress. You rest so you can reset to progress further.

People need to know that progress is not the only train for humanity. That getting 'there' isn't all there is to life.

I want a rest that encompasses every second of my being. Not a set apart day in a week. Not an hourly routine every day. I want a rest that questions progress and the forward movement that everyone in the technological driven society is so convinced is the only way to go.  


I don't have the answer, but I seek it and ask the question everyday. 


Life is not a stage by stage progression. Life is. Time is not an arrow that goes from past to future. Time is a circle. It doesn't have a beginning nor an end. We should not think of life as a movie with a plot line that is trying to get somewhere. I think life is as it is. Nothing less, nothing more. We are in a plane that is not going anywhere. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Design in India - Brand Identity

I know I live in New Zealand. Some might say that I have no right to comment on the design scene in India, while I live elsewhere. But thanks to Internet, and most progressive design in recent times comes via the net, I do keep myself informed. Also because I live in New Zealand, I have my feet in two places, in two very different design universes, different design philosophies between the two places. I make it my job to (try and) understand why culture moves in a specific direction. And graphic design is one powerful tool that shapes the direction and pace. Maybe the most powerful tool, simply because it is so not obvious.


Bangalore is an excellent example to press one of my points about design in India. 


Brand Identity


Yes, there are kids with Photoshop skills. Yes, there are kids who sincerely love rock and roll and blues and jazz and all that shit and Jim Morrison. There are good places to hang out and a good atmosphere to chill and live life in. If that was all, then life would be perfect. But from design point of view, Bangalore is an already bombed field. Everyone everywhere is trying to do the same thing. Half of their heads are telling them to be corporate while the other half is telling them not to give any bollocks and listen to Bob Marley and be freeee free free maan and do what you want; the philosophy of the rebellion called rock music.

Here is the irony of it all. Bangalore is a very corporate city. Corporate is the establishment.

The mindset of the corporate-ism is to sell a product by whatever means possible. In Bangalore, businesses sell by names that are popular: Bob Marley, Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Metallica, James Dean. All of them are anti-establishment, anti-corporate.

Let me ask, how can the Silicon valley of India, the hub of all corporate labels, the hub of all markets, the centre of all merchandized products, the mecca of rich seeking engineering kids be a rock and roll and cool capital? It doesn't work. Its like McDonald's pretending to be cool and hip. Rock and roll is anti-establishment. Whereas in Bangalore (as in few other cities in India) rock and roll is made to attract urban youth (yuppies) to spending their hard earned cash.

What is my point? My point is, design goes deeper than a photoshopped banner at your front door. A face of Bob Marley promoting your pub goes deeper than just the face value of that.

If you brand a business, you need to sell by what you are good at, not by the music that is played in your restaurant, not by musicians that you dig, not by the people you fantasize about. A business place that sells by what they or the customers are interested in that has nothing to do with the actual goods or services being offered is shallow. That is crap branding. That is crap design.

You can't get your group together, rip a photo of Jimi Hendrix (1000px or more from Google), pop it into Photoshop and use Monotype Corsiva to brand your new hangout place called Hendrix Cafe & Bar. That is counterfeit. That is not ethical business. That is not a business that will last long. Designing a brand has to burrow deep into yourself and your team, and should be birthed out of what products/services are offered and the business philosophy behind it. It needs to be clever. It needs to be intentional. Deliberate.

Cafes that offer best coffee and brand themselves around their good coffee, and nothing else, is legit. A good cafe need not resort to a photo of Janis Joplin to have people come in. When people know they have good products selling, they will come. Today, businesses that are unapologetic and are deeply thought out and branded will stand stronger. You don't need to hire a professional graphic designer to do every branding for you. You just need to know what you are selling and what you want to be seen as selling. 

Graphic design, as I always say, is about making impressions. Bangalore and many Indian cities need to stop giving the impression that they are wannabe cities, pretending they are back in the 70s, a haven for rock and roll veterans from America. They do know what they are, and what they are doing. They just need to design and brand it well so that these identities are perceived and understood to visitors and citizens alike.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Brooklyn

So you're going to walk around Brooklyn wearing that graphic print of the 'ॐ' on your top? Like you don't give any fucks in the world?

Yeah, because I really don't.

And do you even know what it means?

Yeah a little bit. I have done yoga lessons. But that's what I mean. I don't give a damn. It is some Indian way of life.

Poor humanity.

I felt saddened that humans in this day and age, watered down by their own personal dilemmas would find no opposition to wearing a holy religious symbol on their front without any thought or knowledge about it. In Brooklyn, in Soho, in Amsterdam and in Kullu. 


I tell her that. She frizzles her hair confidently and takes a sip of latte. The logo of a green goddess on the cup, vehemently hip and foolhardily modern. 


I am going all the way to Gangotri. She adds. You can tell she has done her homework. Her pronunciation of Gangotri sounds forcedly Hindi, with the rolling 'r' and crisp 't' and the open 'o'. 


Poor humanity, thinking they can have a multiple personality out of a whim, out of the working of a few weeks' worth homework. A religious-selfconscious self to add to their multifaceted existence. 


When are you going?

I am saving up. A few thousand dollars. That will easily get me around in rupees.

Suddenly I felt like throwing up. But I didn't. I was in Brooklyn. The kulturhaus of the modern times. Factory of the modern thought. Or post-modern. Or whatever the shit they call themselves to justify themselves. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Passing A Local Bus En Route To Dharamsala



Fame gives you no breathing space
For once in my life I am glad
I have no followers
I have no obligations
No board meetings with world changers
To attend this liberating Monday morning
No one to spot me
No teenager to see me from the bus
And start calling out my name

The white pearly mountains
Call out my anonymous name
Call me human, a soul, a wanderer
I have escaped
I am the tree now
The hill
The local bus farting out insidiousness
The mirror showing only what it sees
The blue sky unreserved
The concrete road
Burning in
The noonday sun

I am free


Saturday, June 16, 2012

16 June 2012 update

So its been a really lazy month here on Blogger for me. Work has always got to get the blame for keeping me busy. But here's an update. Dear diary sort of thing.

Manali
One thing I'm looking forward to with the greatest greatest anticipation is the proposed wintry trip to Manali with my brothers and parents. Manali is what you call a hillstation in India. A small town in the hills that those who live in the plains love to head to during the hot summer. I always love the idea of a hill station. It is something that you know is up there somewhere where you can go to, if life is starting to give you the pickles and heat and prickles. That is a luxury that many countries don't have. Most countries are stuck with one temperature and one heat within their borders.

Tourists
But as you should expect, you will see tourists in all their flurry and gusto. In their most colourful festive array. With woolen hats and windproof jackets, procured from the street shops. Sometimes I don't mind them. They have become part of the landscape, especially in the popular destinations like Gangtok and Darjeeling, that I've been to. Sometimes they are funny lots to observe and be entertained by. Sometimes they can be good objects to complain and rant about as you sit at some balcony waiting for 'Chowmein' or 'Maharaja meal deals' to be served. After all, most of the times, you yourself are a tourist in the place, no better than them.

But anyway, if you know me at all, you will know I am a complete sucker for mountains and places like these:


If I do get to go to Manali, this will mean ticking off one of the many lists in my to-visit places. In India.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kanchendjonga

Its this song I was hearing
Under the yellow sign that read
PCO

 Five minutes I saw you
The clouds parted just then.

 30 April 2011

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Parallel Worlds

I have observed fashion, styling, art directing, film, literature, graphic design and popular art, so to say, the components that define popular culture, for about five to six years with close attention. Its the one thing that I always do, consciously and subconsciously. Reading online, browsing websites, looking at trends in magazines, in graphic design, fashion design, going out of the way to get independent as well as mainstream films, from the past and present, running through the list of the most influential works of cinema in history, to music from rock to a bit of rap to mainstream pop, this has been my activity every waking second of my life. Most times, I cannot help but be immersed in it. But also many times I lead myself into it, because I love observing the culture and the ways of people in imagining and creating and influencing.

More and more I have come to recognize that the components that form popular culture are like parallel worlds. They exist in themselves but they are all interdependent and bounce ideas between each other.

When Black Swan came out, the style was quite interesting and new. Serif typography (some promo posters used Gotham-style type), dark ballet fashion, desaturated colours, and bold shadows, play with mirrors and reflection, classical music, these were some things that I spotted in use in the movie. Then I realized that the fashion world had taken the concept up by storm too. I can't say who did it first, but McQueen was also doing the feathers, and dreamy colours, photoshoots were happening in ballet training halls using the mirror for drama, Natalie Portman was promoting styling brands that could help you acheive the look that she had in the film, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky was all the rage in the classical theatre again.

To me it is amazing how a concept well realized in one art form can take on the world by storm like that.

Another small example is when Inception came out, the whole idea was pretty new too. Few months later, Marion Cotillard was doing photoshoots for Christian Dior with similar dreamlike colour and concept. Not a rip off, but a nod of appreciation and borrowing of ideas to play with audience's familiarity.

In the 60s French New Wave cinema (that is influencing the hipster movement in New York and Europe till now) were influenced by the then contemporary school of thought that took pride in the independence of the young and the boundless. The Swinging Sixties in London took on the same ideology. In turn, people like Jean Luc Godard (a French New Wave director) influenced actresses like Jane Birkin, Chantal Goya (with her French ye-ye pop career that still influences the bohemian kids in urban cities), Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg and so on, and in turn they have influenced the contemporary style icons like Alexa Chung and Lou Dillon who now stand for the free spirited young. This also influenced directors like Wong Kar Wai in Hong Kong who in turn inspired a whole new generation of liberated many Asian young to create more works of art and films. And this is in no way a comprehensive list. They are just examples on top of my head. You can probably write a book-long thesis on lists of influences from the past to the present.

They are just a few examples to establish my point that all forms of art are very much interlinked and borrow from each other. And unabashedly. There is no need to apologize or to go out of the way to acknowledge the source of influence. All art and culture is shared. No one owns it. Its an open mine that is open for all to take from and add to.

Parallel worlds, they are. All forms and components stand side by side, looking at each other, admiring each other, jealous of each other, stealing from each other, complimenting each other, and in doing so, building each other up. Some things come, some things go, and because of that today does not look and feel like yesterday, and tomorrow will never be like today.

Fascinating!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Secrets of the Little Black Jacket - video, Chanel

I just watched this and said to myself: Why am I not making clothes?


The Secrets Of The Little Black Jacket - by Chanel

It must give the designer a lot of joy to see the clothing fit perfectly on a person. And to do the little corners of stitches somewhere in corners of the jacket, where no one will probably see, with utmost importance. It's like designing the little serif of a type letter. No one would even notice it, but the world would be a better place because of that little serif done well.

Quick Review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

his book is amazingly written. Like my friend Dan says, written like an accountant would have written it. 

The middle section where the photos are being studied and progress is being made was so gripping that it started stressing me out and I couldn't stop reading. The story right then took on a very horror-movie/story tone (which was of course undone as soon as the mystery started being cracked). It almost felt like the character was communicatig with spirits through medium regarding what happened forty years before through grainy black and white photographs. 

My only qualm with this book is the title. The Girl With The Golden Tatoo is nothing about the girl with the dragon tatoo. In fact the title could have been named the girl who never came home or the guy who got fired from his magazine, and it would have even made sense more. 

But im looking forward to reading the second and third book. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Designing For Internet

Here are a few observations. They are mostly (completely, in fact) based on my experiences with surfing the net, blogging and reading online.

1. Design (both fashion and graphic) that are seen online need to have strong/good silhouette/shape to grab attention.

That's probably why certain types of photos of people get noticed while some don't. This doesn't mean every styling needs to have silhouette-ed shapes. It can be the way the model is posing. Something that has a shape that stands out. When I'm browsing photos on, say, Tumblr, or even Instagram, I am not poring over each one of them in detail. I am scrolling the page constantly, and if something doesn't jump out, I have forgotten about the photos in seconds. And I find that things that jump out are shapes or form, or sometimes colour, though rarely. I find shapes/silhouettes more engaging.

This principle can be applied to texts. A person online will simply not read a paragraph set in fifty lined paragraph. But a nice shaped, thin paragraph will be read.

In a related topic, this might not apply to all, but I never ever read anything set in Arial, Comic Sans, Papyrus, or anything thats dancing before my eyes; not Edwardian script, or Blaktur. Georgia, on the other hand, is a font begging to be read, so is Verdana (though it can be quite ugly sometimes). Google web fonts have very beautiful options, and things are looking good for the future of web typography.

2. Websites that auto-play music when you visit should be sent to hell.

I know you're a teenager (or someone with a similar insecurity level) wanting to prove your point that you love music like this, and that this particular track defines who you are and what you do, but it is never nice to shove unwanted music down the throats of the kind visitors who have taken the time to visit your website.

Just two things I thought I'd get out of my head.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Times Square Signage Fail

Spotted this at Typo at Palms. Made for some wanderlusted fool who will not know the difference between the real Helvetica set signs of NY and the counterfeit Arial.

This is obviously a little minor detail that most people will not bother about.

But I will say it again: counterfeit.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A One Sided Conclusion of The Avengers

Ok granted that Avengers is a great movie. But I don't get why attacking the American city is always always on the to-do list of the visiting aliens.

It's been a few years since Independence Day. It's still almost the same story running since then. With a slight change, improvement if you want, in technology and special effects, the story is still the same. America (and thus, the world) is under attack from aliens.

I can't see through that. No matter how amazing Avengers was. Or even Independence Day. Or whatever films there have been.

Why can't the aliens have landed somewhere in Norway? In Pakistan? In Nigeria? In Timbuktu? Why couldnt the aliens choose to attack Tokyo with all the million occupants? Or Mumbai, with their skyscrapers and human population to spend (as they do)?

The world is round. Anywhere is possible.

--

This blog post is titled a one sided conclusion. Well, if you ask me, the movie was one-sided too. You had to become blind to some glaring facts to enjoy it thoroughly.

But hey, wasn't Calcutta and Austria (and a reference to Budapest) in the story too? That was a tip of the hat to other countries than America.

Why thank you Uncle Sam.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Type photos

Here are very cool type work from Christchurch, Queenstown and Arrowtown New Zealand.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hand Done Type

Walked to Han's house and spotted the interesting signs at the dairy across the street from my house.
I'm a sucker for hand done typography.

Out & About

There's nothing quite like going out and about and looking at good type, in the city. There's only so much inspiration you can gain by sitting at a computer and looking at beautiful letters. When you go out, you can look at the material they are printed (or hainpainted, it seems, as on the Home Revolution and Yogiji signs below) on, and that makes a lot of difference.
The very interesting thing about many typographic jobs in Christchurch is that they are still hand done, hand painted to look like Helvetica and so on. I think it brings out the human touch to a harsh corporate font like it.

And below is one of my favourite shot from The Sartorialist by Paul Schumann. A girl in Sweden:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Untitled

There's always the issue of illusion and unreal
And the realm of imagination
And the 'are you real'
And the 'do you even exist?'

But at times I do think you are real
Some sunsets I hear your voice.
You're not human
Because human is human
Nothing more nothing less.
Some music, some angle in the sun,
Some ripple on the lake,
Some reflection off the shop window,
And I see you starkly real.

Are you reachable?
If I look within me deep enough,
Or if I loose it all and take the train
To an unknown destination
Where perhaps you live,
Will I find you?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Industriousness

industrious |inˈdəstrēəs|
adjective
diligent and hard-working. 

There is, in my opinion, no alternative to industriousness to be good at one thing. Or just to be a good person in life. Industriousness is positive. Industriousness is life giving. Industriousness is hopeful.  Industriousness is beneficial. Industriousness is productive. Industriousness is hot.  Industriousness is determination.

If only there were less bum times and more productive industry (by industry I mean constructive, and not factory-esque). 

I don't think anyone has any excuse to not be industrious. You can be reading and be industrious. You can have fun and be. You can be as spontaneous and still be as industrious as ever.

I know I waste too much time deciding on things instead of doing them. I know I waste too much time doing nothing when I could have been doing something even most in the remote sense. 

But oh well. Who doesn't already know this? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trends in Design

Though I mainly speak of design (specifically Graphic Design) in this post, I feel the same attitude in style, film and fashion.

How important are trends in design.

Trends are at most the least substantial element in any sort of design - be it in graphic design or film or fashion design. Trends are back-rubbers. They make people warm up to the idea/message simply by clothing them in fashions that the viewers/audiences are used to and consider cool.

You might say that the end to design is to communicate, and there isn't a right or wrong way as long as that communication is acheieved. And if trends are helping communicate the message, then it should be embraced wholeheartedly.

Probably. But again, I find trends as the lazy shortcut way. There was a time when everything was grunge. And now everything is hipster. I breathe a relief when I see something done in a non-trendy way but still look sharp and well designed - and even borrowed from past trends (atleast the designer hasn't taken the short cut way but gone a bit of an extra mile to find out what was trendy in the past to make use of it). Its not short cut. It has been thought through. The message has been respected and treated with respect. The message you have is your daughter and if you want her looking like just the other girl off the street, who wears peach when Sarah Jessica Parker does, who wears the corduroys when Alexa Chung is spotted in Soho sporting one, then you have no respect for your daughter. You should want your daughter to speak for herself, to let her choose what she wants to wear, and what she thinks best expresses who she thinks she is.

That is a highly dramatized picture of the message the designer as daughter and father, but the idea is pretty much the same to me.

Trends annoy me. And I admit sometimes I find myself buying into them, often unknowingly and some times even knowingly. Nothing wrong with being trendy in design. But what annoys me is how everyone is trying to please everyone and that is what is resulting in everything being designed in Gotham or Helvetica or in hipster triangles and so on.

Graphic design is so sold out to people buying it.

But again, isn't graphic design just that? Being sold out? Communicating. Being warm and friendly so that one and all may listen. Putting on a smiley face even in a rainy day so that your customers will feel welcomed?

Trends are to be watched. But not followed like religion. I think our religion of design should be on some things more substantial than the shifting shaky trend.

I have no respect for you if two years ago you couldn't design anything but grunge and heavy metal, and now you're all hipster and 'cool' and organic and two years down the line you become so urban disco that everything becomes metallic platinum. It shows what kind of person you are. Shifting like the sea, bent by every wind.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

VACANCY

When the sun comes up
I see its glare on the wall
Climb slowly as lizards in tropical hotel
Its like time hasn't passed but 
In fact it has

I lie on my back
The blanket has lost all warmth
And residue of last night
Last night the wall was red and then blue
Exactly in sync with the neon light
Just outside the window
That read 'VACANCY'

The wall looks grey this morning
Oh, and golden, because the sun creeps on it

My phone is still playing
Rounds and rounds of music
Maybe it will play itself out of battery
It's been playing since last night
That I thought after dinner 
The Doors might be something good to chill to

When will I see you again?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Graphic Design

Let me tell you a secret.

Good graphic design makes your grass look greener to those who live on the other side.

Guard it.

Being Critical

Being Critical.

Being critical is probably my bane. And strength.

The world needs more critical people. So I think, atleast.

But what it needs more is the right attitude towards criticism.

When a person creates something, the person criticizing has no right over it. He can't change anything about it. He can only stand on the side and comment. And the person who is doing the creating should know that. He should not be threatened by it (no matter what the attitude of the critic is in criticizing) because there is nothing he can do about it. The way the creator can use this to his advantage is: listen to the criticism. And do something about it, if you agree with it. Teach yourself to be better so that maybe next time when you create something, that critic will have lesser things to say.

In that way, thanks to people criticizing, you improve yourself.

Sometimes trying to please people improves you. If you have the right attitude.