Interview with Arinjoy Sen | Productive Insurgence

Interview with Arinjoy Sen | Productive Insurgence


So, essentially it's the project that drives the inspiration/reference – and therefore, the precedents/references/inspiration changes with the project.

........Mughal paintings, drawings of Piranesi, local Kashmiri architecture, John Hejduk’s work…



Firstly, congratulations on your 1st prize in the RIBA Eye Line Drawing Competition. What aspect(s) of your project do you think made it stand out amongst others?

Thank you so much! And thank you for this lovely opportunity of an interview. I think it was primarily the drawings that stood out, but also, especially within the university, the conceptualization of a circular economy through construction and maintenance, was also another aspect that seemed to stand out. But in terms of the RIBAJ Eye Line, I think it was the complexity and rootedness of the drawings, which really tried to re-conceptualize the architectural drawing through the Mughal painting and the carpet.

Rituals and Walls
Towards Nomos and the Possibility of an Insurgent Architecture.

Carl Schmitt postulated the concept of Nomos as the relationship between the concreteness of the ground and the construction of a political order.

Nomos or the architecture of territory is symbolic, ritual, juridical, infrastructural and productive.

The project aims to question the ways in which the people of Kashmir produce and reproduce themselves in order to create an apparatus of emancipation within and against the State.

A new grammar of the multitude and thus the city through an architecture of rituals and of insurgency - towards the possibility of autonomy, emancipation and common(s) production.

We would like to talk about “Productive Insurgence” project. You already did interviews and explained the project on various platforms, but we would like to focus on the project’s visuals and your visualization style in general.

Yes, absolutely!

Whenever we see an amazing architectural visual it’s no surprise to see a Bartlett student or alumni behind it. Is this like a school culture or are you expected to produce such artistic visuals?

In my experience, I wasn’t pushed as much to produce artistic visuals. I can see why some might think it’s a school culture, but I wouldn’t say that I felt like there was a unifying school culture. Perhaps because I am in a particular unit that is quite diverse in their work, or because I’m almost like an outsider to the Bartlett – as I joined only for masters and am not accustomed to or experienced any particular stylistic or visual imposition, as in I haven’t been pushed to think or act in a particular way. I think, to an extent, I’d like to believe that it helped me being in such a position. But I do get this question a lot and as I said personally, I haven’t really experienced this pressure or expectation that much myself.

Is there a way to describe your visual style?

I’d like to believe that I have a developing style that is rooted in the project. For example, the drawings in Productive Insurgence were completely born out of the project itself. I hadn’t done anything like that before, nor did I have any intentions. But, in general, I would, and I try to keep developing the medium of the drawing and want to keep trying new things. What helps me inform this, is the project itself.

“The visualization is usually not a separate aspect of the project, rather develops simultaneously with all the other aspects of the project. Also, a lot of the theoretical aspect (and research) is directly linked to and manifest within the drawing. So it's difficult to separate them.”

What was your creative process like? Can you describe the creation steps of one of your visuals?

I don’t think that I have a fixed creative process that I replicate every time. It really depends on what I’m working on. A lot of the time is spent in conceptualizing the drawing – this usually comes from a combination of continuously looking at references (both visual and textual) that are linked to the project, the narrative that I’m trying to embody within the drawing, the design (and process) and some other aspects depending on the piece and the project. More often than not, this manifests in the form of indecipherable scribbles (Haha!). They are usually extremely sketchy, vague, and not very discernable.

 I slowly start drawing certain elements of the composition (sometimes along with modeling to help me understand the space in three-dimensions). My drawings are all drawn from scratch, I sometimes start with smaller contextual elements like trees, plants, people – which gives me some more time to think and conceptualize the composition. It's difficult for me to share raw images because of the evolving nature of the drawings. I need to make most of the decisions during the development of each drawing, so there isn’t usually a skeletal stage in a sense, rather the drawings evolve bit-by-bit.

Approximately how much time did you spend working on the visualization part of the project? Was it more time-consuming when compared to the theoretical part?

For me, both of the aspects go hand-in-hand. The visualization is usually not a separate aspect of the project, rather develops simultaneously with all the other aspects of the project. Also, a lot of the theoretical aspect (and research) is directly linked to and manifest within the drawing. So it's difficult to separate them. Like I said in the previous question, the drawings evolve – with the evolution/development of the project. A drawing can take anywhere between a week to a couple of weeks (from conceptualization to actualization). Again, it is difficult to put a definite time stamp on the production time of a drawing because it might have taken a couple of days for its mechanical reproduction, but that wouldn’t include its conceptualization, the research, the narrative that go into it, as well as the design aspect – which is crucial to the outcome of a drawing.

Spatial typologies // A Construction of Time // The Craftsman (left), The Fisherman (right)

What different design mediums and tools did you use in this project? Which software did you use?

I use Vectorworks 2d for the majority (90%) of each drawing. This is where the drawing is really born and evolves. I do not use Vectorworks for a strategic reason. I only use it because at the time I started university, I was using Vectorworks extensively during my years out, and I didn’t get the time to make a strategic decision to switch to different software. I think illustrator is equally good, if not better (I use it for specific things like cartographic exercises and diagramming) but I’m more comfortable using Vectorworks for my drawings. Of course, there is 3-d modeling involved too, for which I either use SketchUp or rhino, but this doesn’t feed directly into the drawings. Due to the peculiarity of the projections and angles used in the drawings, I have to draw everything from scratch, therefore if there is a model it's only used for referential purposes. Finally, I do use photoshop but only for very subtle finishing touches.

How important do you think it is to have advanced knowledge on software to produce visuals like yours?

I don’t think I have advanced knowledge of any software to be honest. So I definitely don’t think that advanced knowledge is crucial. I think just being comfortable to play around is important. I don’t necessarily use softwares in the “proper” or intended manner. Sometimes, I would even encourage to go beyond softwares if necessary. I think having an open approach can be helpful when if you really need to learn something in order to be able to do something, you just learn it when that time comes.

Which hardware did you use? Do you use a graphics tablet or tablet computer? Do you think is it important to have better hardware? Would you suggest visual enthusiasts invest in better hardware?

A simple mouse and a laptop.

Are there any other specific artists, architects, or creatives in general that have inspired your work?

Yes of course! But they really depend on the project. I don’t think I have a fixed set of artists, architects, and creatives that I keep going back to. I do work with a lot of references, but these references are rooted in the context of the project. So, essentially it's the project that drives the inspiration/reference – and therefore, the precedents/references/inspiration changes with the project.

For example, for my last project (Productive Insurgence, Kashmir) I was looking at Mughal paintings, drawings of Piranesi, local Kashmiri architecture, John Hejduk’s work just to name a few. But for the project I’m currently working on I’m looking at pattachitra, i.e. traditional Bengali scroll paintings, paintings of the Company School and the Bengal school, paintings by Ganesh Pyne, works of the incredible Marina Tabassum and Anupama Kundoo, again, just to name a few. So, it really depends on what I’m working on.

On the margins of Utopia. An Evolving Artefact and the Construction of Time.

The medium of the painting serves as an embodiment of the project. The ultimate realization of the project occurs within the material reality of the painting. The image represents a temporal dysfunction - juxtaposing alternative realities towards a construction of time.

Thus, the production/realization of the image occurs at the intersection of 4 moments:
- the painting as a manual within the reality of the project;
- the image as an evolving artefact;
- the reality of the project;
- the reading of the image with the realization of the project embodied within it, in this reality - the reality of the reader

Did you draw every detail in the project such as backgrounds, patterns, textures, flower and tree illustrations, and human figures? Did you use any ready-made content?

Yes, I drew everything from scratch and did not use any ready-made content.

Is there any symbolic extent of your chosen colours, patterns, and figures that might be considered as a hidden meaning?

Symbolic extent, yes, sometimes. The hidden meaning, not so much. Of course, there is certain symbolism linked to the narrative capacity of the drawings, but they are not so much hidden meaning than something that the viewer might not be aware of (in terms of the narrative or cultural relevance). So, nothing that is consciously hidden.

How do you choose your color palettes? If we go by a specific example, how did you decide on the color palette of the “Carpet as a Manifesto” drawing?

The colour-palette is usually a combination of references and intuition. Again, since I don’t have a detailed plan of a drawing ready before I start, but rather make decisions along the way, a lot of the decisions in relation to the colour palette are made on the way and might be influenced by references I’m looking at. It might also be informed by certain elements that I’ve drawn at the beginning which slowly start dictating the palette for the rest of the drawing. For the carpet drawing, yes I was looking at a lot of carpets but the colour palette wasn’t the result of a certain carpet reference. It is mostly a combination of things, for example, the blue background to an extent was informed by the wetland context of the site, but was also in a way intuitive to a certain extent. Then, I had drawn some of the floral elements/patterns before starting the composition, the colours of which had a ripple effect on the subsequent choices of colour. Having said that, of course, there is a symbolic aspect to certain colours as well. Finally, sometimes you can make your own rules.

Punctuating Diversities
 The Political Form of the Carpet as a Manifesto.

 Considering the political form of the carpet as a heterotopia (Michel Foucault) and an ideological as well as spatial plane for the emancipatory representation of the idea of paradise, Punctuating Diversities is an attempt to move from riots and clashes to a productive insurgency - a set of punctuating, citizen-led, productive interventions aimed at commoning as a form of subsistence and autonomy.

Link for project details and other visuals;  ArinjoySen, Instagram.ArinjoySen  



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