Illustration by Sekhar Mukherjee

Chitrakatha is finally here! The community comes together as the first day of the festival commences. The events so far consisted of talks by the internal faculties of NID AP about their projects, some students of NID AP showcasing the projects they worked on. There were a few segments of Radiowada with some of our special guests scattered around the schedule. The main highlights were the Mastertalks by Chitrakatha regulars, Dr. Debkumar Mitra and Kuntal de.

With internet connections cutting off, and numerous technical glitches, the spirit of people never faded, as we all gathered together in this online space. Throughout the day, Security Uncles and Canteen Aunties backed us up by fueling our tired bodies with constant supply of masala Maggi and Chai-Coffee. 

The day ended with a wonderful screening of a documentary by Tara Douglas which was screened through a projector, keeping up a little bit of the essence of what it was the last time. With drooping eyelids and fulfilled hearts, we look forward to what day two of Chitrakatha’21 brings. 

We had a session giving a tribute to the unsung heroes of our college, the Anna’s of NID AP. They have always helped us bring out our imagination to life even after all the language barriers. In this session we got to see a few demonstrations by them, also they shared with us their work experience and journey ever since they joined the college.

Night of Opening Ceremony

Chitrakatha’21 kicks off with the opening ceremony held on the 22nd of november, 10 pm ist.

It was a small event within the community, with NID alumni, sekhar’s students and all the regular Chitrakatha attendees. As everyone started joining, there were a lot of familiar faces to see again – Isabel, Zilvinas, Gianmarco, Diego, Prateek and many more. Sekhar had a brief chat with everyone where they shared their thoughts on Chitrakatha – how it started, how it has evolved, and how we are all grateful that we are still getting to experience Chitrakatha this year even if it is online.

Priyankar, had collected memories in the form of photographs, from the very first Chitrakatha in 07 to the very recent one, and were compiled into one nostalgic presentation and was shown to everyone at the gathering in google meet.

Looking back at the all the 7 editions of Chitrakatha, everyone was taken back to memory lane, recalling from the very first appearance of Cucinema, speakers and guests, some of who are here, and some who have left us, from all the installations, banners, posters to NID alumni in their early NID days.

Priyankar joked about Isabel’s jet black hair turning grey, to which, ‘it is called salt and pepper nowadays’ – as she boasted, really painted a picture of the time passed as chitrakatha has travelled through years, getting stronger, bigger, expanding this family along the way. The ceremony ended with a virtual group picture.

Behind the scenes, the Promo Team was grinding away, to finish up the official promo of Chitrakatha’21 which was to be released at 12 am. The clock was ticking away and as it approached 12, the anticipation began increasing. Back at the college campus, the promo was screened at the SLA room, where the FilmClub used to screen films and documentaries before the pandemic. When the screening began, the room was filled with the cheers of excitement from backstage comrades.

Ram gives tips on sketching

In the first event of Faculty Speaks, Ram gave a talk on how he wanted to achieve perfection but later realised that expression is more important. It’s necessary to be able to show what is in your mind, in terms of making the garments and thinking of a pose and it can be imperfect. Round and flat brushes, 30 second sketches are where you should be able to express, with confident spontaneous strokes. He uses multiple mediums depending on whatever he wants to do in terms of texture, drape etc. Ram stresses on how important it is to draw with spontaneous strokes. He suggested rendering with monochrome colours can create the most amount of extreme contrast. Exaggeration in illustrations in fashion elevates the elegance and attitude, but better not to go too far from real life situations.

Behind the scenes at Sekhar's Cabin

 

In between sessions, our team assists Sekhar with tech and suggestions.

More in Faculty Speaks

Arnab gave a presentation on the work he has been doing during the pandemic. He started the presentation with explaining the dark side of the textile industry, and the impact it has on global pollution.Having worked on quilts in his craft documentation course, and the pandemic coming in, he started working on the same principles of quilting, making products from waste cloth from the last Chitrakatha lying around in the college. All the housekeeping staff, along with Masterji, Koti Anna, all were involved in this and helped create beautiful pieces of art.

We had talks from the internal faculty of NID AP in the first half of the day. Sukriti, who is the newest addition to the staff, shared his experiences in the industry before joining NID as a faculty. Archana showed her works and Rajiv Jassal presented the projects he did with the material Bamboo as a part of his craft documentation course back at NID.

Fighting Climate Change with Toys

Tushar Sonkar is a NID AP graduate, he sat frozen in temperature probably in the minuses, to connect with us all the way from ladakh. The very first day of him working with the conservancy, he was blessed to spot a snow leopard, for which he was dubbed ‘the lucky one’ by his colleagues for days to come. Because the snow leopard is an elusive species, this was a big feat. He shares with us documentation of birds and animals found locally, tells us which of them are common prey of the snow leopard, he explains how the introduction of homestays for tourists have facilitated a new source of income apart from livestock, for the local ladakhis, and how this in turn helps in the conservation of the endangered snow leopard.

Tushar learnt the craft of felting while in ladakh. He went in planning to make a stop motion animation out of the felt puppets he made, but along the way found the culture of folk tales, and oral storytelling and decided to turn his direction.

He showed us a couple of wonderful folk tales narrated by the people in the region and explained how these stories not only serve as entertainment but also are a great source of learning for the younger generation. Along the process of documenting these stories, he learnt about the word – ‘Enju’. Enju is a word which translates to – yes please, or oh yes, which kids keep saying to the elders as the story keeps progressing, indicating to them to keep going on. It was in turn a tool for the elders to keep checking if they’re awake.

The project he is currently working on is to document and  keep these stories alive through the medium of felt puppets of different animals found in the area. These stories are rich with moral lessons, and information of biodiversity, and the land which they live on. With climate change affecting the region in such a heavy manner, these stories serve as a great tool in educating the kids about their environment and ground them in their culture. It is a way to keep going forward, to keep them awake, and to truly keep saying – ‘Enju’.

Ya Jullay!

Divided By Groups, United By Tables

Tuesday 23rd, the day people gathered together for the first day of Chitrakatha festival. The league has now begun, the feet are finally in water, getting ready to swim. The rooms are mixed bags of emotions.
We can see the production team constantly monitoring the working of Chitrakatha live sessions. Groups have been formed, the work has been divided, people are now taking shifts working towards the greater goal, making a successful run. While some people are constantly shifting eyes from one screen to the other, while there are some people, trying to catch up with yesterday’s sleep.
As we see people moving around in the SLA room, we suddenly stumble upon the fact that there is one table in the corner of the room, occupied by the Documentation team, the Outreach team, the Content team and the Events team working together. While these people work at their respective (0,0) co ordinates, we find ourselves in middle of the production people running around the laptop screens to avoid or solve any kind of mishaps occurring in our livestreams.
Flies being a real problem to laptop users have been a great frustrating element in the SLA room. But we now have a fly killer, and well the sounds of the flies getting charred, but guess what…. Those aren’t really bothering

Transforming Fibres

Ilamon introduced the Ramie fibre to us, as she explained the project she worked on. She came in with the same contagious energy, and her smile which lights up the room. Ilamon started her presentation by explaining what the Ramie fibre is. It is one of the oldest fibres, having been used for around 6,000 years. Being native to Eastern Asia, in India it is found in Meghalaya and some parts of Assam.

She went to the Ramie plantations and found out that it is being cultivated without a specific goal in mind. This results in the degradation of quality and no attention to detail. Since then, she has been trying to get farmers to change their methods of harvesting, in order to preserve the quality.

After finding the required materials, with the help of her brother, she built a loom to weave the yarn, which took a lot of days and nights. The final weave was a little loose, as she wanted it to be. This was exhibited in a gallery along with other projects of various artists, which aimed to throw light on northeast-Indian communities. Before ending, she showed us a glimpse of her graduation project for which she is working with Heirloom Naga, a design firm which works in celebrating and redefining the rich history of the textiles of Nagaland, and left us with her radiant smile plastered in our brains.

One becomes 1, Mastertalk

Having majored in Mathematics, and also having worked in creating graphic narratives, and narrative structures, Dr. Debkumar Mitra brings a unique perspective to the table, with a blend of the two topics.

In his talk – ‘How one became 1’, he talks about how numbers lost their physical self and have turned into mere symbols. He talked about how numbers had a physical beginning – right from the palm of our hands, which gave birth to the base 10 system to using joints, knuckles to count bigger amounts, using notches carved into animal bones, to knotted ropes. These carvings onto bones turned into roman numerals which then turned into the numbers we know today, getting a more symbolic rebranding to them.

Humans have evolved into creating extremely complex mathematical systems today. But, these concepts are not just intangible constructs created by the ever-evolving human mind, but rather they have a very tangible beginning to them.

This according to Dr. Debkumar Mitra is the biggest communication issue which happens in our educational systems, while approaching teaching mathematics. And as communication designers, he urges us to look at mathematics from a different perspective in order to resolve this. Before leaving, he suggests a couple of books to get started in our journey of learning mathematics in a different way, and assures us that it’s going to be a very fun ride.

Animating a Dream Sequence, KHM Master Project

“A part of you is always there in something you work on even if it’s for the first time.”  These were the words spoken by Julia Jesionek as she started her session. Her session was about “Animating a dream sequence for a live-action short film” as a part of a student project assigned to her at the University (KHM).

As we delved into the discussion further, she revealed that one of the hardest parts about the animation process was to switch from the live-action part to the animation part. She stated that the transition was challenging to do so as the live-action scene had not been shot by then, and possible transitions suggested were fade in/fade out and hard cuts, but they finally went ahead with match cuts, since the live-action scene was shot from a top angle with the protagonist lying on the bed.

She mentions in the session that it was difficult to animate the section where the subject of the dream is sinking into the water holding the anchor and to understand the gravity underwater. To make the job easier, references from shutterstock were used, as well as a 3D Photoshop model of the anchor was referred to. She even used herself to model for the posture study. To avoid getting messy with the layers, she planned every single layer accordingly. Softwares used to create the water surface and background were Blender and Krita. It took her two months to complete the whole animation process.

I Am Not a Designer, Kuntal De

Towards the end of the day, there was a talk by Kuntal De, whom we all know and love. His talk was titled – ‘I am not a designer. He started out by claiming that he is not a designer as the title suggests and said that his grandmother was a better designer than him.

He talked about one of his passions which he cares more about than Design – Food. Being a foodie, Kuntal enjoys trying out as well as cooking different cuisines. He took us through the continents, through countries, and different cuisines as he showed pictures of dishes plated and  presented in the best way possible. He explained how it’s not just the taste but every element around those dishes which define them – the straw basket in which Bao buns are steamed and served and the steel plate used to serve Litti Chokha, how the colours, fragrance, texture of these dishes are representative of the cultures, the people they come from, and preserving these very elements ensures authenticity and respect to the dish.

He ended the presentation and left everyone salivating, hungry for more. Priyankar showed his appreciation towards the talk and Sekhar spoke about how it is really important to approach design from outside of its mainstream definition.

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Contributors

Anupam, Attrayee, Ashrita, Kritika, Namrata, Parth K, Rati, Ratindra, Shruti Sudha, Suhani, Tanmay, Vyom

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