Image and Life

The research here hopes to set up investigations on the role that images play in the making of our worlds and specifically their role in our imaginations of space and form. The nature of images has been extensively explored by various scholars, from Roland Barthes to WJT Mitchell, who have postulated a wide range of arguments that build for us an understanding of first, what an image is, and second, how it gets made and disseminated. Drawing upon this large body of work, we wish to further this study of the image, in order to draw strong conclusions regarding how the images we surround ourselves with shape us. By understanding / deconstructing their politics and their potential, we come to understand the forces that shape our aesthetics and nudge our experiences and go on to become our imaginations of habitations and built form. Interrogating these images and demystifying their power over us becomes a crucial and critical method to assess what we expect and desire from our spaces and our built environments.

This research is specifically concerned with the ways in which images shape the ideas of space for us. When putting together a space, in the practice of form making, our imaginations draw from a trove that is overwhelmingly visual, to the exclusion of other sensory phenomena. Even when making an argument regarding the sensory experience of space, it can be fairly assumed that the visual supersedes the other senses, sounds and textures and smells contribute to the image, they themselves have visual manifestations in our imagination. It is an accumulation of images to which we turn, which shape our minds and get shaped by our attention and enterprise. Our drawings hold these materialisations, become the site for the encounter between images and the question (that we ask of the site, of the space). It is irrefutable, but ought to be subject to deep scrutiny, that images exert a vast influence on space making practices.

What are the mechanics by which this happens? Beyond the dissection of the image for its cultural specificity and the societal politics from which it emerges, there is a specificity to the image which sways and guides the making of space and which directly affects the aesthetic decisions that shape how the space gets constructed. This aesthetic direction all too often lies beyond utilitarian and efficiency parameters that are cited as the dominant levers in the production of space. The study that we propose hopes to decipher the manner in which images shape our spatial aspirations.

This is to be conducted by a study of visual culture and the way in which it shapes our desires, but more specifically, the study will be routed through a survey of the ways in which the idea and ideal of home has been fashioned and changed over the course of the past hundred  years. The study will assess, via images (and here, the image includes the photograph, the drawing, the diagram, the advertorial image, all expanded forms of it) the links between the aspirational space, the imagined space and the lived spatial practices in order to consolidate how spaces are formed at the nodes of these.