Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TAIN Evenings presents...

TAIN is hosting photographer Michelle Varghese on the 3rd and 4th of December, 2010 in Pune. Michelle is the first photographer to be showcased in TAIN Evenings, presenting a little diversified talent.

A graduate in English Literature, Michelle took to the camera fairly recently. Quickly honing her raw talent, she now takes immense pleasure in seeing the world differently than most people would. Teaching her to observe and perceive things that are usually hidden in mediocrity, photography for her is expression – expression of the world as she sees it, the world through her eyes.

Michelle’s philosophy stems from the words of famous photographer Erst Haans: “The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.”

Should you wish to attend this event of TAIN Evenings, please send us your Name, Company and contact number at artist@tain-con.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"The Design of Design" by Christopher Charles Benninger (2009)

We are all gathered here today by a common devotion to something called design. For each of us it may have a different meaning, but for all of us it means a “process through which something is achieved!” We may think of “a design” as an object like the Coca Cola bottle, or the Sony Walkman; or as a beautiful interior space. But the iconic designs which come to our minds are merely the outcomes of a DESIGN PROCESS. We are all involved in this process.

All of my friends sitting here are “designers”, be they lighting designers, industrial designers, architects, interior designers or artists! Each, in their own way is a master of their unique design process. Design to me is a METHOD TO ACHIEVE AN END RESULT, whether it is creating the Tata logo, conceiving of a reading lamp, or rolling out a new automobile. The process starts with a vague image of what is needed and desired; involves defining performance criteria and applying legal standards; creating optional solutions; evaluating options against performance criteria; producing prototypes and correcting prototypes, before rolling out the final product. Reasoning, criticism, logic, questioning, simplicity, dialogue and analysis are all fundamental to the design process. Limited resources temper the process whether in the form of finances, human efforts, or time.

The best designs often emerge where the defining resources are constrained; thus, our nostalgia for tribal art, handicrafts and the rustic architecture of villages.

Designs may range from the plan of a city; the design of a neighborhood; the layout of a public space; the design of a building; to designs for lighting buildings and open spaces; designs artistic motifs and of small artifacts. They may be company logos or a simple letterhead.

As designers, we work as the catalysts of complex interest groups, and stake holders, who will fund and invest in our ideas; construct and manufacture our designs; use and judge these designed artifacts, whether large or small. Designers of entire cities and beautiful furniture all work on time lines, following sequences of planned events, defined outputs and they employ modulated processes to achieve results that match specifications.

Design has emerged as a necessity! Thirty years ago designers were viewed as frivolous artists, churning out fanciful ideas. Indian products were poor copies of thirty year old foreign ones. Product design was new and “lighting design” sounded exotic, if not weird! People were skeptical of architects, as they “make things expensive!”

Today a product will not sell, and it will in fact flop, unless it is well designed. A city will be ugly and will not function unless it is carefully designed. The lives of its inhabitants will be miserable, frustrating and empty in the absence of design. This is the challenge placed before us in India. Our role has to expand from fanciful, lyrical stunts, onto the epic stage of social and economic transformation.

Industrialization has made it possible to bring thousands of daily use items within the reach of the average citizen. Things which were unaffordable when made by hand dropped in price when churned out in the thousands. Rustic oil lamps were difficult to maintain, awkward to operate and unsafe to handle while modern lighting is inexpensive, safe and accessible to all! We have moved from the design of crafted objects to the creation of entire technological systems that have inter-dependent design elements and components, right from the energy source, energy distribution, marketing and bill collection, to the electrical fitting, the luminaire, the type of bulb, to the space being enhanced, and all made functional by light.

Object design is simple; systems design is complex!

If one part of the system is missing, the entire interconnected framework will collapse. There was no sense inventing the radio without broadcasting stations, and one radio will not support a station. So, thousands of radios had to be mass produced to have a broadcasting system. Unless advertisements were designed to broadcast on these stations, there would be no resources to sustain mass media!
The culture of objects has given way to the culture of systems.

Early in the Twentieth Century the marriage between art and industry occurred through the German Werkbund movement, evolving into the Bauhaus and maturing into what is often referred to as industrial design. One of my gurus, Walter Gropius, brought this movement to America, when he took over the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The “Bauhaus Approach” formed the basis for teaching at the National Institute of Design in India and permeates through all basic design courses, be they in fashion design, in industrial design or in architecture.

However, industrialization has also up-rooted and moved millions of people from their traditional habitats bringing them into alien urban environments that are untended by design. Cities just happened and icreated over time, object by object. No system held them together!

The shift of employment from rural fabrication to industrial production has fired a mass migration for which there has been no design. It is chaos resulting in squalor! The results are unhealthy and inhuman. The very citizens for whom mass production is directed and becoming the victims of an ill-conceived system. Design has not failed; it has been ignored.

We must create the scenarios where design can play a crucial role in uplifting the human condition.

Design is the organizer that harmonizes thoughtless machines and raw materials into artifacts of functional use and beauty. Design enhances the quality of people’s lives wherever it is employed wisely.

Our collective interest as designers is how we can create scenarios where DESIGN can impact on the quality of life of average people in a profound manner.

At the turn of the nineteenth century business leaders in Chicago and San Francisco understood that there were no adequate plans that would create order in urban life. These cities were cesspools of sewerage and waste; unorganized settlements of shanties and squalor; and, unhygienic heavens of disease. In Chicago the railcar maker, Pullman, built a model town for his factory and his workers. The city’s industrialists and traders floated a competition for the city’s new plan. Within a decade the city came onto the world map as a good place to do business! Good design branded the city as a “must see” destination in the world. By the end of the nineteenth century “The Chicago School” of architecture was synonymous with modernity and progress.

Design was an engine that drove an epic narrative. Design began to tell a story about the good life, a better life and a new life. Design created the futuristic image that inspired people and catalyzed nations! Design created icons of “what can be,” and design then created the cultural artifacts that defined modern civilization. Design was integral to the process of urbanization and industrialization.

An experiment in one city became the prototype for a dozen more, and then it became standard practice! This is what I mean by EPIC design, as opposed to effete or even lyrical design! Small ideas and little designs tempered taste makers, and then became the BIG STORY of life.

Too often designers focus on the “pretty,” the “clever”, the “cute” and the luxurious. They start getting pulled into conspicuous consumption and consumerism. They get worried over what “will sell” and what is fashionable. By the time they do it, the fashion has turned stale and they are part of an outdated style. The glittery small ideas, the fashions of a season and the gift wrappings all hide what needs to be revealed underneath. Effete design plays to mercantile values and interests that do not sustain cities, cultures or civilizations. Entrepreneurs pay promising designers to tout their brands and products. Every designer needs wealth. Every designer craves fame. Each designer wants personal attention; they become obscene and obnoxious just to gain notoriety: an anal retentive baby is yelling and screaming, instead of an anonymous worker creating for the betterment of society. Effetism is the result and this little effete narrative, this tiny irrelevant story, begins to eat at the roots of the large narrative. Design must get out of tinsel town, leave romanticism to Bollywood and shun the virtual reality of Hollywood.

We need to recapture the Modernist mission, and focus on bringing “the good life” to the masses.

Design has become mundane and banal. It is becoming frivolous and effete! It is playing on cheap emotions, like being the “tallest”, or the largest, or the most stupid! Bright colors, reflective metals and a multitude of materials get crass attention. This is what I see in architecture, interior design, and in product design today. We must defy this!

I recently visited the Spanish town of Granada where centuries of a city making tradition and effective urban design have tempered the inhabitant’s life styles for the better. The key to their success lies in the design fabric of separate templates for buildings, pedestrians and vehicles. People rarely walk across polluted and dangerous streets! They move down covered arcades, through human scale plazas, within pleasant gardens, past proportioned statues and around harmonious fountains. One minute they are in clairvoyant natural daylight; the next they disappear into dark shadows. Historic buildings align on the visual axis of pathways! There are outdoor cafes and places for children to play and the elderly to sit and chat. Shadows play through the glittering rustle of leaves in protective trees! Youngsters flirt and laugh everywhere. As the sun sets, soft lights in foliage create a soft and romantic ambiance. At the turn of each corner a pleasant, unsuspected new experience awaits one!

Collectively it is our challenge is to bring the benefits of good design to more and more people. To do this we must take on ever more complex design challenges like the design of our cities, urban precincts, river fronts, open spaces, affordable shelter and parkland hills. One of the simplest interventions into the urban scenario is the creation of appropriate public lighting for roads, footpaths, public gardens, statues and iconic structures. Drinking water for all is doable within one decade; and the same with sewerage systems.

City governments do not have the intellectual resources to make such plans, nor the vision to see dramatic changes. Urban planning legislation stifles any qualitative improvement of cities, forcing us into a step by step, knee jerk method of identifying little, little projects which together are called a Development Plan. There is no design in all of this, just scheming and adjusting; buying and selling.

There needs to be an engagement of designers, industrialists, business people and professionals with the urban scenario of India’s cities. But this should not be a cabaret where the idle talking heads hold useless meetings and ‘do-good’ seminars, just to watch each other dance and sing the praises of what we neither have, nor can ever achieve. We need to study the statutory barriers as well as the plan options and work on a multi-level platform between policy, programmes, projects, design and people. Our cities and metropolitan regions remain amongst the few mega-habitats in the world without even the gesture of an urban design and designed environments. There is no scenario wherein designers can play a role.

We must employ appropriate technology to this end!

We must apply design logic, design processes, design techniques and design methods to the creation of artifacts that impinge on more and more people. We must employ design logic on correcting the environmental disaster facing us. We must employ design methods to create access to shelter by the poor.

What are we waiting for? Let us create that scenario!

In front of our eyes we have seen the Mumbai-Pune Expressway emerge. We have seen the Hussein Sagar Lake transform from a polluted cesspool into a beautiful urban precinct of public domains. We have seen Pradeep Sachadev turn a dirty nalla in New Delhi transform into the Delhi Haat. The landscape designer Ravi Bhan transformed a misused drainage catchment in Ayodhya into a beautiful river front park. A private developer, Harsh Neotia, in Kolkata turned a virtual garbage heap into a charming cultural centre for the arts called ‘Swabhumi’. In Pune’s Koregaon Park a dirty nalla was transformed into the wonderful Osho Park. The examples of what we have achieved and do through design in India, and through private-public-designer partnerships, is endless.

I remember the wonderful fountains which came up all over Pune before the 1994 National Games. TAIN Square in Pune has created a public space for its neighborhood, where everyone else is building right up to the road line leaving no space for people. We are trying to create a youth plaza spanning over the national highway at the College of Engineering, Pune to link the severed halves of a historic campus together, joining them over the national highway and connecting them to the riverfront.

Why do we feel amazed when we stroll down the boulevards of Paris, stretch out on the green lawns of its gardens, and sip coffee in its side walk cafes? We feel amazed because we are a deprived lot. We are starved of the most basic human joys of life in a civilized city. We are hungry just to sit with a friend a sip tea in a cozy out-of-doors café. Children in slums do not know the joys of running, playing and laughing in a place of their own!

We must re-think design; we must re-consider the role of design; we must re-design design! We must find purpose!

Good Design brings a better life to everyone. Good design is good business! If we passionate to do good things, we can do anything! Design is a process followed to reach our dreams. What are we waiting for: Let us design a better future!

* Christopher Charles Benninger is an architect-urban planner who works from his studios in Pune, India and in Thimphu, Bhutan. He has designed award winning projects like the Suzlon World Headquarters, the Mahindra United World College of India and the Capitol Complex in Bhutan. He studied Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Architecture at Harvard University, where he later taught. He founded the School of Planning at CEPT, Ahmedabad. Articles on his work are found in over fifty Indian and international journals. The article above is amalgamated from two Key Note Addresses given in February 2009, the India Design Festival on the 7th in Pune and the Indian Institute of Interior Design international conference on the 20th in Mumbai.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Back to Basics" by Christopher Charles Benninger (2008)

It is an honor for me to be allowed to address a committed group of my professional peers. We come here today out of both hope and concern for the future. We live in the new economy based on the “bottom line!” The bottom line means profit! No matter what unique selling point city builders advertise, be it green buildings or high tech environments, the bottom line is harvesting the maximum profit, even at the cost of the public good! Giving lip service to corporate responsibility is part of the new public relations strategy, while the reality is cutting costs and increasing Floor Space Index at the cost of society. This “new economy” has generated a new value system and a “new architecture”!

Like all living creatures architects are driven by survival and the urge to dominate. There are two paths the profession can take while recognizing these urges:
Architects can push their own value based professional agenda, creating the “best fit” between their own agenda and that of the new economy, or;
Architects can degrade themselves into a vocation, where their skills are offered to the captains of industry to reach the “bottom line.”

Willy-nilly architects are taking the second course, perhaps without even realizing what they are doing! Young professionals watch their peers in the IT and management vocations jump to high salaries soon after graduation. They see their own classmates joining MNCs and bringing in large salaries. What they do not realize is that they are comparing themselves, comparing professionals, with skilled workers practicing vocations! They are comparing professionals with people whose job is to placate their bosses and their clients. As professionals, there is a “little birdie in our heads” telling us that this is “good for society and that is unsustainable.”

We must get back to basics and ask ourselves fundamental questions. What is a professional? What distinguishes a professional from workers in vocations? What is vocational education and what is professional education? At the same time, let us not fool ourselves. Vocations are needed and we must respect them. But we have chosen a more difficult and a more arduous path in life. As professionals we “profess values” and we are bound to them. This means that we have a professional credo (or I BELIEVE) that there are fundamental values and principles that no professional can breach. We have an unwritten code of practice which we have to stick by! As professionals we have locked ourselves into this belief system, and we have to navigate our work within it.

The most important characteristic of a professional is his or her intellectual honesty. All professionals, be they architects, lawyers, doctors or accountants face a continuous and painful internal “dialogue with self,” challenging themselves to be truthful to their core principles.

The worlds’ most respected accounting firm went bankrupt and closed its doors within days after it was revealed that it put the bottom line of its clients before its professional duties to society. As corporate auditors they cooked up annual reports to wrongly project an energy company (that was in huge losses), as making huge profits. While doing this the corporate managers quietly sold off their worthless shares at inflated prices. Their vocational book keepers, software operators and managers all kept quiet! No one blew the whistle until millions of workers lost their future pensions when their retirement funds were brought down to bankruptcy along with Enron as the true share values were exposed! All of the vocational managers, software engineers and book keepers quietly shifted to new jobs. The professionals, the auditors, ruined their careers and professional reputations. Why? They lost their professional creditability when they sold out their credo, their professional values, and their intellectual honesty to an employer to help reach the “bottom line” at the cost of the society to whom they must ultimately answer! They put the bottom line above the SOCIAL CONTRACT that binds all professionals to serve society. They put those who pay their fees above the greater interest of people.

Clearly, the Satyam case belies the same lack of whistle blowers who would put their professional reputation above the crass desires of their bosses. At least one hundred colleagues of the owners would have known what was going on for the past ten years. They would have kept quiet and played ball with the cheats justifying themselves as mere cogs in the bigger wheels! Architects, lawyers, accountants and doctors cannot fool themselves in the manner that managers, IT workers and book keepers can. The bottom line for a professional is his own heart and mind. “Can I live with myself is the first and the last question?”

Like those in vocations, professionals also have technical responsibilities, procedural responsibilities and duties to increase their awareness and knowledge continuously. Like vocationals we have to answer to clients, employers and seniors. Like vocational employees we have to deliver cost effective solutions that meet performance standards. But we are not just producing deliverables and making something bad work better, or something that begins with the wrong assumptions reach optimality within a flawed problem solving environment. We always have to go back to question the underpinning assumptions and the beginning points. If these beginning points do not fit within our credo, or if our clients really do not want professional advice, but merely want vocational servants, then we have to opt out! Quit!

We must be clear about ourselves! We are not a service industry. We are not delivering goods and services at the doorsteps of our clients. Profit is a business bottom line, but we are no more “in business” than is a heart or a brain surgeon. Like surgeons we have to put the hard facts before our clients and tell them the correct path to follow to reach the best outcome. What we tell clients may not be sweet words. The procedures we recommend and the technical mechanisms we propose may not be what they want to hear. Our deliverables are the physical manifestations of our professional values and advice. Architecture must be our mirror of our Social Contract with society.

Many young architects, interior designers and other professionals in the construction industry are opting to work under non-professionals in MNCs, real estate firms, and investment companies where their personal bottom lines rule over their professional bottom lines! Often we see young professionals with two or three years of professional work opening small practices, wherein they lack both the experience and the confident maturity to convince clients to change their concepts of what the bottom line is. When dealing with life threatening medical challenges patients seek the most seasoned professional advice. For a common cold they go to an MBBS at the corner store. They tell the young doctor what their illness is and ask for the prescription they think is right. They are happy with the young doctor! He does what he is told to do! Young architects and designers must realize that they too are prey to business whims and preconceived needs. They lack the creditability to be taken seriously when balancing social costs and benefits before clients. They may lack the finesse to illustrate options where the public benefit assumes a factor in bottom line calculations.

Senior architects need to create career options within more established professional firms making it economically gratifying for young professionals to spend a decade preparing for private practice, or even a life long partnership within a branded design house.

Neither is our educational system, nor is the design profession, addressing this issue. It is high time we get back to basics and save our profession.

* Professor Benninger practices architecture in Pune, India and in Thimphu Bhutan, where he is designing the National Capitol Complex. He began his career teaching at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design prior to shifting to India where he began the School of Planning at CEPT in Ahmedabad. This lecture was given to an association of graduates in Bangalore in April 2008.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Five Lessons Life Has Taught Me" by Christopher Charles Benninger (2005)

In a recent discussion with the Maharashtra Herald’s Sunanda Mehta, Benninger reveals some of the important lessons life has taught him.
Lesson One
“To gain something beautiful, one may have to give up something beautiful.”

One day, sitting in my garden campus in near Pune, surrounded by fifteen acres of fruit trees, flowering plants and lawns, a young architecture student came unannounced to meet me, insisting to have our picture taken together. Like many students who visited my campus at CDSA he was studying my designs and my campus layout! At that moment I was completing the fiftieth policy paper I had written on “development” and it struck me that no student had ever come to have a photo session after reading one of my hefty policy papers!

At about the moment we said “cheese” I immediately decided to quit my post as Founder-Director of the institute, and to devote my remaining life’s efforts to architecture. Amongst other things, I had to give up the sprawling campus I had created and move into a tiny apartment studio with modest equipment. The decade since that fleeting decision has never allowed me time for regrets, or even to look back with nostalgia! But I had to give up my very own little dream world, created over twenty years of toil, to seek transcendence in through my art. By giving up something beautiful, I found something more beautiful!

Lesson Two
“It is better to BE what you are than to SEEM what you are not!”

In October 2001 I made a presentation of my new capital plan for Bhutan at the European Biennale along with some of the greatest painters, cinematographers and architects of our times. I noticed something very interesting. To seem a “creative artist” in Europe you must wear the black uniform of an artist! To be a creative youth in Europe you must attend concerts waving your arms high in the air just like several thousand other conforming youth, pretending to be “free!” To be different, unique, free and an individual, you must wear the “uniform of the different!” You must wear a uniform----dress totally in black; wear black shoes; black socks; black pants; black belt; black shirt; black tie and black jacket! Even the underwear must be black. I realized that for these people, in fact for most people in the world, being creative is not a form of liberation, but is living a lie! There are people who never design anything, never write, never draw, and never search, never question, but who dress in the black uniform of creators. They are not being, they are seeming. If I have any lesson to share with young students, it is to BE, not SEEM!

Lesson Three
“Don’t be euphoric when people praise you, or depressed when people criticize you!”

In Buddhist thinking there are axioms called the Sixteen Emptinesses and there are two of them where I have learned to keep my emotions “empty.” I became euphoric when my design won the American Institute of Architect’s Award: 2000, but having reached the final list for the Aga Kahn Award, I lost! I realized that my happiness should come from the process of design and from my own understanding of my efforts’ inherent beauty. About the time I settled with myself in this philosophy of emptiness, I learned that the project which won over us was disqualified as a fraud; the authors had misrepresented it as a design created by the village people! But that did not make me happy either! I have learned that creation is a patient search, and is not some kind of competition. To be true to one’s art one must be empty to both praise and criticism and know oneself!

Lesson Four
Truth is the ultimate search of all artists. Even then I feel, “It is better to Search the Good, than to Know the Truth!”

I suppose it took me too long in life to distinguish between Ethics and Aesthetics; Morals and Artistic Balance! Ethics is a rather exact science of rules; of right and of wrong; and there must be some generic truth within them! However this world is not black and white, but rather grey and fuzzy!
On the other hand, aesthetics is the search for pleasure, which I call “The Good!” Aesthetics is a question of balance, or what the Buddhists call the “Middle Path.” Beauty is a search for that Golden Mean; that harmony which brings all forms of visual, sensual and intellectual pleasure into balance! Harmony is the search.

If you are a lover of food, don’t eat too much; don’t over do this or that spice; don’t cook too long or too less! If you love wine, don’t drink too much or never at all! In your love life don’t be too passionate, or too neglectful! The Good Life, or the Sweet Life, is all about pleasure and the pleasure principle! I realize that most of us are trapped in our Victorian fear of pleasure and have no aesthetics!

We are on an endless trip seeking the truth! We are judging others, meting out what is right and what is wrong; dying as empty drums that never made themselves happy, or spread that happiness to those nearby them. Art and Architecture are but spiritual paths to “the good!” They stimulate enjoyment, delight and balance...la dolce vita…the sweet life! It is better to search this life than to think one can know the truth!

Yes, “it is better to search the good, than to know the truth!”

Lesson Five
“There is only one form of good luck, which is having good teachers!”

Years ago Adi Bathena, the founder of Wansan Industries that morphed over the years into giant Thermax, introduced me to his ninety year old teacher. Adi himself was nearing eighty! We were sitting on the lawn of the Turf Club and Adi went into a long story how he quit his comfortable job at age forty to risk all in a new venture here in Pune. He explained to me his middle class roots and that it was not within him to adventure out so far financially. Smiling at his teacher, he noted that without his encouragement, guidance and assurance he would have continued in marketing Godrej products as a salesman. Then he turned to me and said, “Christopher, in this world there is only one kind of good luck, and that is to have good teachers!” I have never been able to forget that truth over the following years, and I realize that all my teachers in India and America have been my “good luck.”

*Christopher Benninger’s early career was as a teacher at Harvard University and in India, where he founded the School of Planning at Ahmedabad and the Center for Development Studies and Activities under the University of Pune. Thirteen years ago, well past the age of fifty, he gave up a thriving academic and United Nations consulting career, starting an architectural studio nearly from scratch. Along with his partner, Akkisetti Ramprasad and colleagues Rahul Sathe and Daraius Choksi an architectural studio was quickly turned into an internationally acclaimed “design house,” winning the prestigious American Institute of Architect’s Award, India’s Designer of the Year Award amongst others. Their studio’s patrons have ranged from the King of Bhutan, Queen Noor of Jordan, Nelson Mandela, to corporates like the Kirloskar’s, Suzlon, the Bajaj’s, Cochin Refineries, the Taj Hotels, the Mahindras, Tata Technologies, Executive ship Management and many more. They have served voluntary agencies like the YMCA, Arthabod, the Good Shepard Homes and the TGBMS. Their present focus is on the new campus of the Indian Institute of Management at Kolkata, and on the new National Capitol Complex in Bhutan. Benninger’s career has brought him in contact with a spectrum of world leaders, intellectuals and artists.

He believes that every person has a right to experience the “sweet life,” for which architecture acts as a path!

Friday, November 12, 2010

TAIN Evenings presents...

TAIN is hosting artist Vishwajeet Naik on the 26th and 27th of November, 2010 in Pune. Vishwajeet started his career at the tender age of 10, and his artwork showcases his love for birds and Nature. It is filled with depictions of vibrant colourful images of birds, still-life and flora and fauna complimented with his unusual and creative framework.

From landscapes to birds, Vishwajeet captures picturesque sights on his canvas and blends them with textures to bring them to life. Being experimental in his style, Vishwajeet’s explorations on different bases ranging from handmade paper to canvas with an assortment of water colours, oil pastels, crayons and acrylic have now defined his own distinct flair.

Should you wish to attend this event of TAIN Evenings, please send us your Name, Company and contact number at artist@tain-con.com.

"From Neglect to Abuse" by Christopher Charles Benninger, Architect.

Pune Mirror
Sunday, 7th November 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TAIN Evenings presents...

TAIN is hosting Vishal Phasle on the 19th and 20th of November, 2010 in Pune. He expresses himself through his paintings, which in turn speak to the viewer. Nature, Tradition, Society and Daily Human Life Sciences and Mythological Characters inspire him greatly. Painting is not just a form of expression for him, but also an inward spiritual journey.

Currently concentrating on a series of paintings called “NRUTYA-CHANDRIKA”, which represent the Indian Classical (Kathakali, Bharatnatyam, etc.) and folk dance forms, Vishal says “I am just an instrument, the spirit inside gushes out forming the lines, colours and forms on the canvas”

Should you wish to attend this event of TAIN Evenings, please send us your Name, Company and contact number at artist@tain-con.com.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Music and Lyrics

"A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. But then, as you get to know the person, that's the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It's the combination of the two that makes it magical." - Sophie (Drew Barrymore) in 'Music and Lyrics'

I recently had a friendly argument with somebody over a much talked about topic – the appreciation of music. We were driving, and all that was playing was instrumental pieces. Now don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate melody. I really do. It takes an immense amount of talent to play like that, and an even more immense talent to convey and portray a particular sentiment purely via music. But it’s not something I can appreciate for very long. After a while, I need lyrics that I can sing along to. Lyrics, which will directly say to me, in so many words, that THIS is what the singer is talking about. THIS is the pain and suffering or joy and contentment. But then my friend presented an excellent point, that the lyrics of today’s songs don’t MEAN anything. They don’t talk about ANYTHING, leave alone pain and suffering or joy and contentment. Sometimes, the lyrics are just mere sounds, like “diddy bom bom diddy”.

But even then, I stand by my opinion of needing lyrics to sing along to. Because Sophie was right, there is only SO much you can do with JUST the melody. As exciting as it is, after a while it starts getting boring and monotonous. And you cannot have lyrics without the excitement of a melody, because otherwise they are just words. It has to be a combination of the two that makes it MUSIC, and as we know, music is ALWAYS magical!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Comfort of Costumes.

Halloween just passed us by. And along with it came a host of pictures on Facebook, of people dressed up in all sorts of costumes. The variety was unbelievable and there was a host of characters one could see. There were witches and cowboys, there were famous personalities like Amy Winehouse and Slipknot. I wonder what it is about costume parties that really a GETS person. I, for one, really don’t like costume parties. I think it just boils down to the fact that I am purely lazy. I don’t like taking the effort to think of innovative costumes, and then actually getting hold of those costumes.

But there are so many people who get unimaginably excited at the prospect of a costume party, people who take innovation to the next level. And it always makes me wonder, WHY someone would have such enthusiasm. I think it’s because people love the idea of not being themselves for a little while. Even if JUST for a few hours, they can be whoever they want to be. Forgetting about the mundane issues of life, and just living out another being and another character. How many times have you thought to yourself, however briefly, about wanting to escape this life and live another? Well, Halloween (or any other costume party for that matter) is an opportunity to do just that!