Anando Dutta
[artist & designer]

[song-phrase by Shankar Barua]

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Visual design is, as always an uncharted realm. It begins with the same old edict and path of perception and belief unto a creation and realization. The human process has changed, but only marginally. Artists in the past needed to twirl a brush between their fingers, make several squiggles with a quill or ramble across keys on a piano before it all began to crystallize, before the creative process took root as an indelible urge in the psyche of the creator.

The electronic jig, today, does not allow the intimacy of a tactile experience between the man and the process. Such as for example ­ the smell of a film editing room, the cans of stock, the basketfuls of film that curled across the moviola; sprockets crackled through this long wound route and one dusty image appeared on a 12 inch screen that felt more like 8. The splicer and spirit that were used to paste one length of footage to another, and the red marking pencil of the editor, which bore his markings of effects, simple transitions as they were.

Move the scenario to an editing console today. Three large monitors gape at you, a big black box that reveals nothing, stays virtually unobtrusively ensconced in a corner shelf. Bose speakers that have little physical trace, and yet announce every sound syllable as if each decibel is a significant twin of the other. The ambience is austere, but the possibilities are immense. Simple cuts and dissolves have transited into complex transitions of visual to subsequent visual, audio to audio. Layered one upon the next. Between keyboard and mouse, and the black box with software a wide range of editing options are open to the filmmaker. And this range is so unbelievably diverse, that on occasion I have been confused rather than assisted. But the creative environment is distinctly different.

To my mind the creative process in visual design is a reflection of our social milieu. As children, I recall, relationships were clear, crisp, no holds barred. Within a family, events such as the Kaikeyi tryst with deception were eminently obvious. Then, one could imagine a man-woman relationship as 'I love you, or I don't' ~ simple, and done with.

Look at the scenario now. Boy meets girl. Proposition happens. There would be a thousand maybes, an evaluation of pros and cons, an assessment of the skeletons from the past, the cosmetic appearances of the present, and most essentially the prospects in the future. There are clearly so many complicated decisions that deride the relationship. A fabric of the self is one that has the obvious and the subtle, the overt as well as the intrinsic. The interplay of all the aspects works towards the presentation of our social extension, which we call 'self'.

Much like Visual Design.

If the self is a social idea, analogically, corporate communication is a visual manifestation of an organisation. And similar relationship alterations have occurred; especially between the manufacturer and the consumer. No more is it, 'I make this, and you must buy it'. But probably has become, 'This is where I come from, these are my beliefs, this is my history, etc. So, since my credibility is thus, I believe I can offer you these options, which are better. For these reasons. And hey, so and so has bought it too, so there. So please, buy'.

And thereof has the role and understanding of the designer, where one is expected to create a gamut of information, each in context with the other, and each prioritized in sequences to be seen, read and registered one after another. Such layering of messages allows for a new piece of information being assimilated each recurrent time, to keep the interest levels sustained, and yet the focus message remaining the same, constant.

Creating for today is therefore an exciting proposition, where one starts adding motifs to the core message. One motif at a time, layer by layer, in a composition that has bearing to the context, medium and of course, the message. This approach of working with layers is like building the self of the content we need to design and represent. Where each makes up the conclusive whole, each having something to contribute, obvious and overt or subtle and subdued.

And then, on the other hand, the interplay of layers on the electronic canvas is a multi dimensional domain, where every composition is never final, ever plastic. It is often of one's individual choice of what an optimal solution is or could be; of what we anticipate is logical within the mix of aspects, of what is scientific in the melting pot of concepts that we need to lend voice to.

Living in the aura of our electronic galaxy, if ever we were talking of creative visualization being an uncharted realm, it is my belief that we have yet to achieve the tip of the iceberg. Where each creative statement has the character of a kaleidoscope, and each changing layer becomes another derivation to attract another new perception, each altered colour or effect the becoming of a new embryo.

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[below: some of Anando's recent exhibition and print-media design work]

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Anando Dutta
D 79, Saket
New Delhi - 110 017 (India)
Tel (91-11) 656 3818