The aim of the IFA-AAA Fellowship is to give a creative practitioner the opportunity to engage with and explore innovative ways of presenting the material of the Asia Art Archive (AAA). AAA is an independent, non-profit organisation, initiated in 2000, in response to the urgent need to document and make accessible the multiple recent histories of art in the region.
In 2011, in an attempt to broadly map art-pedagogy in post-independent India, AAA embarked on a project to digitise the personal archives of four eminent art practitioners from the Fine Arts Faculty at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda -Jyoti Bhatt, Ratan Parimoo, Gulammohammed Sheikh, and K G Subramanyan. Their ideas, teachings, and writings have been significant in shaping the discourse around the development of modern and contemporary arts practice in India. This particular project of Vinod Velayudhan will focus on Jyoti Bhatt’s archives and more particularly on the series called Living Traditions.
Jyoti Bhatt (b. 1934) is a painter, printmaker and photographer based in Baroda. He was among the first batch of students to have enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda when it was established in 1950, and subsequently taught there as a professor. The Jyoti Bhatt Archive contains a vast collection of visual materials that include his artwork images along with rare photographs, diaries, sketchbooks, designs, writings and audio interviews. For nearly four decades Prof Bhatt has been documenting various ‘living traditions’ in the depths of Gujarat, Rajasthan, undivided Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and South India. His photographs capture the daily lives of the inhabitants, their changing habits & rituals as well as their ‘arts’ and ‘crafts’.
Vinod Velayudhan is an artist and web designer based in Baroda. He is a painter who has been learning web technology over the past few years. He says “this is a search for a new medium for my otherwise conventional art practice”; he sees ‘data visualisation’ as a link that connects his art, design and web interests. Data visualisation is a general term that describes any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognised easier with this process. Vinod’s project will attempt to construct a data visualisation prototype that will expose and make readable information in layered text based data in Prof Jyoti Bhatt’s photographs from the Living Tradition series and materials around it that include the negatives, contact sheets, sketches, writings and audio interviews.
This project aims at constructing an interface that allows for aesthetic design and basic interactivity with an emphasis on ‘readability’ and ‘typography’. The production of this interface, which is the ultimate goal of the project, involves three phases- ‘sketch’, ‘wireframe’ and ‘prototype’. ‘Sketch’ involves data mining, focusing on basic statistics, discovering patterns and preparing drafts for possible visual interpretations of the data. Vinod will acquire the data from various materials, especially the contact sheets. “The contact sheet is the most intimate in the process of film photography – thoughts, ideas and editing is born here”, he says. He will filter the material for quality, and make an initial descriptive and visual analysis of the data. As Vinod has already been working with Prof Bhatt’s material, he has an idea about the ‘clusters’ and ‘patterns’ he would group the data in.
Once the clusters are ready, Vinod will ‘wireframe’ the data. Wireframing is an important step in any screen design process. It is building the architectural blueprint of the structure. Wireframing allows the designer to plan the layout and interaction of an interface without being distracted by colours, typeface choices or copy. The wireframe is a low-level representation of the design concept that shows the placement of page features such as header, footer, content, sidebars and navigation. A wireframe in short, visualises the roadmap for the user interface. This phase allows for easy revisions to be made early in the process.
The final phase of the project is constructing a ‘prototype’. The prototype is one step before the true representation of the user interface. It gives a preview of how the final design will look and what the interface is going to achieve. The prototype will present an imitation of the final interface –it will showcase the content, colours, typography and other design elements.
Vinod’s project will try to find a balance between the role of the ‘designer’ and ‘programmer’ between ‘form’ and ‘function’. However, since his project is invested in the ‘front end’ of web design, Vinod will need to work with a web- developer whose skills lie less with design and more on programming concepts and concerns like security and structure.