Animation by Sekhar Mukherjee

We are here on third day of Chitrakatha, and it  started off with a Radiowada episode featuring Chitrakatha OGs – Rajesh, Troy and more, people who helped create and nurture Chitrakatha. There were more interesting talks today by even more interesting people, which included design legends like Prof. S. Balaram, and some popular names like Upamanyu and Shaheen from Ghost animation Studios. Along with that, we saw some amazing films from people today.

The Organizing and the Production team are walking a tightrope at all times, running on a few hours of sleep, our teams put their best efforts to manage overlaps in the schedule, with a couple of events getting cancelled, and some being rescheduled. It was a great day of getting to know, and learning from a lot of amazing people. Looking forward to the same energy tomorrow!

The Day Starts With A Heartfelt Interaction

Prof. S Balaram is one of the legends in the world of design. From finding the numerous books he has written in the college library, to many of our faculties and peers referencing him several times, it is a name we cannot avoid.

The first talk of today was by Prof. S Balaram, about a course he used to take – ‘Bad Design’. Having been inspired by ‘10 Principles of Good design’ by Dieter Rams, he came up with his own set of principles of bad design-’13 Principles of Bad Design’ by Balaram Singanapalli. Of course, no design can be purely good, or bad, but identifying the elements in a design which makes it bad, can help understand, and create better designs. He came up with 13 of such principles, 4 of which are obviously elements of a bad design, and 9 of which are examples of bad designs disguised as good ones. He took us through all of these 13 principles, explaining them thoroughly with the help of examples.

The host for this session was Tejas Pawar, from 4th year Industrial Design. Having idolised Prof. S Balaram since the beginning of his journey in NID, the smile from his face never faded away. I remember Tejas, fanboying over him, speaking about his work with such passion, during late night chats in our hostel. Tejas kept insisting that he wanted to meet him in person one day, and Chitrakatha made it happen.

Tejas shared a story of how he got to know about Prof. Balram and his works, eyes gleaming with excitement all the way. Prof. Balram took in all of this youthful energy in a very humble manner. He ended the session with a quote from George Bernard Shaw, and posed a question about how bad design might be necessary for us as humans to avoid stagnancy, and evolve.

Taxidermy Tale, Dr. Ghoshal

Dr Joy A. Ghoshal, Dean, Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy, AIIMS Mangalagiri. He has keen interest and years of knowledge about anatomy and is very interested in the practice of pisciculture. Natural history is his forte, and if not a doctor he says he’d have been a fisherman. He has been collecting many mementos from different water bodies for a very long time now. His talk was focused on the practice of Taxidermy, which is a combination of Greek words meaning “skin arrangement”. Apart from preservation, the point of this procedure is to have the animal maintain as much of its original shape so it can be studied later. He also shed light on how new taxidermists can start this endeavour at home using readily available natural preservatives or store bought ones. This session had a birds eye view of the whole process. Taxidermy also needs some hold over other skills such as anatomy, sculpting, painting, carpentry and cobblery. Dr. Joy also gave a live demo of a prawn being taxidermied and explained all the specific instructions on how to maintain the preserved specimen once it has dried and the procedure is complete.

Pandemic Dyes, Sudha Palepu

Sudha Palepu, designer by education, with work experience in the creative and cultural industries of India, USA and UK, found herself running out of her most-used inks but instead of replenishing art supplies from online stores, she began experimenting with kitchen and garden wastes in order to create her own dyes and pigments. As the session commenced, she started off by talking about her struggles when she ran out of her frequently used inks when the first lockdown was imposed. During the initial stages, she used to paint during the weekends but as the unpredictability of the pandemic started dawning upon, she stumbled upon the idea of making organic dyes as a result of a happy accident when she spilled red-colored water on her sheet.

 The idea of making pigments inspired her to  contact her friends working in textile design to get to know more about dyes. She experimented with raw materials such as Onion peels, Bougainvillea petals, Avocado peels, Black Beans to make wonderful dyes.

Next, she put these dyes to the test and began painting abstract forms using them. Slowly she progressed onto painting her neighbourhood and more recognisable forms. Around September, she returned to India where she found more natural dyes to experiment with using various acidic and alkaline mediums to change the pH and color of the dyes as well. She proceeded with a four-step process to convert the dye into pigmented paints which revealed their authentic colors after it was all dried up, which were crushed and made into paints using binding agents such as Egg Albumin, Honey, Oil etc. depending on the type of paint required. Sudha ended her session by taking us back in time, explaining the art practice of creating paints and artworks from natural dyes is a timeless practice, existing since the prehistoric times.

Cornettavirus

“What is it with the production people eating ice creams every time they leave the room!!!” said Vaidehi, as she was watching Dhanush from the production team asking for yet another ice cream. These symptoms have been observed in almost every person belonging to the Production team, including Ahona, who jitters in every bite. “You are eating the ice cream for the fifth time!” said Ahona to Abhay, while subconsciously knowing that her third cup of ice cream is calling her.

 Thousands of cups, thousands of small wooden spoons are going in the trash bin. A poor student left the canteen disheartened after finding that his favourite 10 Rs. Ice cream …. was no more available. Will we ever be saved from these ice cream lovers? Will we ever get our favourite ice cream whenever we go to the canteen? Will we be able to save our money, on stings and not on ice creams? Stay tuned, for further updates.

Adventures of Captain Shreya And Her Sailors!!

One fine morning captain Shreya decided that she wanted to venture into the ocean of design, capturing every island of opportunity on the way. In between she also picked up one of a kind, thinkers and problem solvers in her boat, Designflyover. And after more than 12 years, they are still sailing strong across the ocean, fool proofing all their products with the motto ‘User Comes First’ and leaving a positive impact wherever they sailed.

Such is the story of this multidisciplinary firm, Designflyover. An architect, communication designer and storyteller Shreya Sarda gave a beautifully constructed presentation on her journey starting as an IIT student to a design graduate from NID to starting her own design firm, and then shared with us a few of the projects they did so far ranging from smart lighting system to storytelling happiness programs. In the end, she also shared with us a platform initiated by her firm called Yestertales, co-powered by Jumbaya storytelling platform, that gives people an opportunity to share stories from your childhood that make you smile.

Abeer & Friends - Round Table Discussion

‘Back to square one’ was the first of a three part discussion hosted by Abeer Gupta along with Rituparno Basu, Sayandeb Choudhary, Bharath Murthy and Amitabh Kumar. 

The main subject of this discussion was Sequential Graphic storytelling in India. It started with presentations by Rituparno Basu and Sayandeb Choudhary on the history of caricatures, political cartoons, and sequential narratives in Bengal. They told us about the initiative of archiving all this information taken up by them and shared it with us.

Bharath Murthy, shared his experiences founding Comix India, and his journey self-publishing comics as well as publishing comic books by other artists.The intention was to look at how to think culturally, pedagogically, about graphic narratives. The medium covers vast territories in terms of subjects, and forms. This discussion tried to track the trajectory of it. It was a great two hour long conversation, and there is more to come!

Games For Social Change

From all the way from Kolkata, Santyan Sengupta and Himalini Verma talked about a game made for people’s social development and further explained why it was done through games. They explained games are a way to give people experiential, user-friendly and user- centered learning that helps them to open up to taboo and sensitive topics. They gave an interesting interactive session about a card game they created where all age groups of people can play together and have a moral conversation regarding the social injustice, rights and wrongs which are depicted in the card and can also discuss if the card is ethical and what is right about it. They aspire to work with more people and young minds to accomplish the goal they have visioned.

The Fine Line Between Infringement And Inspiration

Designing a product does not end with the end of the designing process, as a designer we also need to deal with patents, copyrights, trademarks etc. and as scary as these terms sound our next speaker Bhoomaiah Bandi, an apparel design and product development professional, explained them very succinctly using a few case studies and left us with this thought that for a designer being aware is as important as being innovative. 

Phygital World via AR, Mayuko Kudo

Mayuko Kudo converts both things that exist and things that don’t into Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experiences. She graduated from Tama Art University, Department of Visual Drama in 2013, and from Bremen Art University, Germany, from the Department of Fine Art in 2018. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in the fields of animation and site-specific art at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany. In Chitrakatha ‘21 she made animated illustrations on the human silhouettes painted on the courtyard cement of NID AP, giving them a strange magical life of their own. In the past, she has used GPS data to make location based animations that can be viewed in Augmented Reality. She spoke about how the launch of the Metaverse is going to change the paying field and the scope of AR. She says she has always loved AR and that she uses VR to facilitate her best expression.

Post Ghost, Ghost Animation

Post ghost was a three men presentation by Shaheen Sheriff, Gaurav Wakankar and Upamanyu Bhattacharya about what things have been happening with their field of work and their life after quite few successful screenings of the short films by Ghost Animation.

Starting with Shaheen, he shared his previous experience with the studio’s projects and what has his life been after post pandemic and his interest towards game developing and talked more about his future work he wants it to be. In the next presentation, Gaurav shared his experience of working on many new projects rather than just being a short film like animations for music songs and for other foreign firms.

 He talked about how he is always learning new things from every experience . He talked about how he always likes to work where his skill sets and work environment are in sync and talked more about the balance between work life and personal life.

Ending with Upamanyu, told his experience of travelling around the world with the screening of his short films and what’s the next big thing he wants to showcase. He shared more insights on the project Heirloom, and how he has been meeting new people from different disciplines and with different expertise which he admires a lot and takes their learning and tries to incorporate with his work.

Animated Reality, Cecilia Traslaviña

Cecilia Traslaviña, an animator and visual artist with a Masters in literature from Colombia along with her student Antonia Bello conducted their session on ‘Animated Reality’, where they presented the story of children who fought the war in Colombia depicted through three different films. It was, as Cecilia described, ‘a version of Colombia like you had never seen before’.



The first film, titled ‘juguetes nuevos’ was about a teenage girl who was forcibly recruited in the war and subjected to multiple inhumane acts, including rapes and forced abortion. An extremely sensitive story represented by using metaphors as a story motion animation, the film would’ve adversely affected the audience mentally in live-action, given the horrifying nature of the true stories. They further explained that animation proved to be the best medium since it kept the audience emotionally present but at the same time not too distant from the terrifying reality, as a means of catharsis and not like a news report.

 The second film was about a teenage boy who along with his sister were threatened to join the war and witnessed a series of multiple cold-blooded murders as they attempted to escape. Sand and powdered dry pastels were among the many materials used for this particular animation. The third film was about a man recalling his past about the destruction caused by the war, both in his personal life and the outside world, and how his dreams of becoming an international football player were shattered because his ‘childhood was an AK-47’.

Actors were used instead of the survivors’ actual voices to protect their identities, and it was a tough job to make them speak about a traumatic topic in their pasts. For the portrayal of the characters’ nature, materials such as cloth, paper, sand, powdered pastels and foliage were used as the medium, hence acting like a skin to keep as close contact as possible with the narrator’s emotions. Sound also played a key role in the films as it unfolded one more layer of the story, acting as a bridge between the listeners and the narrator. The films were made over a period of 5 months, and various processes such as reading testimonies, thinking and reflecting, translating text to images, relating with metaphors, storyboarding, voiceover and thinking of materials were involved and presented as the final output.

Ending The Day With Screenings!

The last segment of the day included movie screenings by Prof. Dipen Bhattacharya and Prof. Izabela Plucinska.

Prof. Dipen Bhattacharya is a physicist with a passion for storytelling and Sci-fi. We dived into the world of science fiction, what it is, and how we should go about writing it. He showed two of his films, which were stories narrated by him, with some illustrations on top of it.

Joining us from Poland, along with her students in their studio, Prof. Izabela Plucinska showed us a number of films by her students. These were mixed media, experimental animations done over music, poetry or voice overs. They collaborated with theatre artists and musicians for these films. We said hello to her students, and were amazed by the kind of work they are doing.

Contributors

Akash K, Anisha, Ashrita, Dwit, Gargi, Kritika, Meenakshee, Mehak, Namrata, Parth K, Rati, Sanika K, Sindhuja, Sreehari, Suhani, Vyom

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