Seeing Through Light

Summarising: Alice Barnaby, Light Touches: Cultural Practices of Illumination, 1800-1900

Barnaby departs from Jonathan Crary’s ‘landmark study’ Techniques of the Observer: On Visions and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century. She states that Crary’s description of the changes in techniques of viewing from the Renaissance to the nineteenth-century propounds that as optics developed, it constructed and rationalised vision as something that was ‘calculable and exchangeable’ and that ‘from these practices the modern, fragmented, alien subject is born’. While she finds his argument persuasive, she disagrees with it: she argues that the instruments of optics, with their focus on light did not construct a passive observer who was controlled by predetermined visual effects. On the contrary, she argues, that light, embodied vision. She faults Cracy’s singularly-focused Foucauldian method that views all objects and systems as an interconnected network of power relations that negates the role and agency of the subject and instead, she studies optical devices for the pleasure and the playfulness they elicited, to augment an understanding of the nature of subjection and the role and agency of the subject in it.

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In Bed

It rained non-stop last Saturday in London. This in itself is neither impressive nor surprising. It is not uncommon for it to rain in September, or for that matter in any month in this city. However, on that Saturday, Beatriz Colomina was hosting a bed-in at the Serpentine Pavilion, which, this year is designed by Frida Escobeda. Escobeda’s design is reminiscent of a wicker-basket and is made up of numerous charcoal-grey tiles. It is roofed by a swoop of a scaled-up profile of the tile where, the ceiling is clad by a reflective surface. The reflections on the ceiling, already distorted by its curvature,  ripples along one of its edges pulsating like a poked blob of mercury salvaged from a broken thermometer, where it mirrors the shallow open-air pool. The falling rain would have been a spectacular and pervasive in the ambience of the pavilion, not least due to the reflections on the ceiling as it impacts and disturbs the surface of the pool, but also because the building is porous – in the design of its skin and in the materiality of the tiles.  Continue reading “In Bed”

Shakespeare on Love

In Shakespeare: Love Across the Racial Divide, Mohini Patel supported by numerous Shakespeare scholars and theatre personalities, talks about interracial love in Shakespearean drama and their relevance to British society today which, allegedly, records the highest number of interracial marriages in the world. Patel strings across Othello, Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Anthony and Cleopatra bringing forth issues centring racial identity and ‘betrayal’. The questions that stood out and that were asked are: does the woman, in an interracial relationship, inevitably forsake a piece of herself – her identity, when she marries outside her race? Does the man, feel guilty of betraying his heritage when he marries outside his race? Continue reading “Shakespeare on Love”

The Pink Veil: Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

In April, earlier this year, Wes Anderson’s movie Isle of Dogs was released. I read an article in The Guardian that discussed Anderson’s aesthetics and how it was a look that was easy to copy poorly and without body. Embedded within the writing was a link to a website ‘Accidently WesAnderson’ where Instagram followers uploaded and shared, cropped squares of buildings around the world that could be attributed to  Andersonism. A number of these images included images from Jaipur, which in of itself is hardly surprising. The beautiful Mahals or palaces, symmetrical, rendered in pastel marble and sandstone with contrasting saturated coloured inlays of a variety of geometric and floral patterns, a beautiful composite of Rajput and Islamic architecture make quite the perfect set piece.

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