In conversation with Fabien Charuau, as he discusses the ideological evolution of the “photographic”. He delves into the potential that photography and digital art offer, to make commentaries on our social landscapes.
The following text is the edited transcript of the conversation with Fabien Charuau, conducted on the 15th of July, 2022.
[00:25] CHAPTER 01: ORIGINS
It was a bit of a convoluted start for me; my entry into photography. I studied engineering, and I come from a scientific background. Photography was an accident which happened in my journey through life. I did not work for too long as an engineer, as I did not have much interest in it. I wanted to be in a more creative zone, and photography gave me the opportunity to do that.
A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Ram Rahman speaks about the works of his father, the noted architect Habib Rahman. He also speaks at length about Jawaharlal Nehru‘s vision for the new nation, the architecture and design in Delhi post-independence and its present-day state.
Basically, my approach to what I am talking about has come through photography. I am not really a historian. I am only here because my father, who you see there (referring to image 01), Habib Rahman was an architect and I grew up in the milieu of many of the architects whose work will be discussed today, but I will begin very quickly.
In a tribute to some of my Goan friends, these are pictures I did of Mario Miranda and Charles Correa at Dona Sylvia a number of years ago (referring to image 02). So, a tribute to them, tribute to these fantastic people who came out of Goa and did amazing work.
I first came here in 1986, it was for ‘Architecture + Design’ magazine (referring to image 03) at that time edited by Razia Grover. My introduction to Goa was actually Goan modernism in architecture. I came here to photograph the work of Ralino De Souza, Peter Scriver mentioned him earlier today, and I am happy he did. Also, Sarto Almeida and Lucio Miranda amongst many others. And these were wonderful issues at the time when much of this work had actually not been seen in the rest of India. So, salute to these architects too.
PRAXIS is a curatorial project to chronicle contemporary architecture practice in India, with a particular emphasis on the principles, the structure, the challenges and the ideology. This film – a panorama of the first phase of the PRAXIS initiative – documents eleven studios from across India.
In the advancement of urban architecture, glass has played a key role and Şişecam Flat Glass has worked extensively to bring forth glass products catering to safety, functionality and aesthetics. Originating from Turkey, Şişecam Flat Glass is a multinational glass production company with manufacturing facilities in fourteen countries and a presence spanning 150 countries. With an experience of over 85 years, Şişecam Flat Glass has worked with the motto, ‘The world is our market’. Their values are grounded in building fair, transparent and mutually beneficial relationships through knowledge exchange with collaborators in all fields in the construction industry.
Glass can be perceived in two ways – through the lens of materiality and utility. In its innate properties, it offers control on several levels. With the right treatment and application one can modulate heat, light, noise, safety, visual connect, physical connect, ventilation, the feel of a space and aesthetic requirements of a space. Secondly, and more importantly, glass can be perceived as an idea.
How does this material extend as a means to an end to facilitate ideas?
Tracing the roots of its usage, an understanding emerges that historically, glass was used for smaller fenestrations or as fragmented parts of a whole such as in a stained-glass window. What was once a luxury material started to become more accessible during the industrial revolution. As iron and steel construction technologies developed in parallel, the glass and metal combination became key in the modern architecture movement. Glass started to appear in public spaces that demanded naturally well-lit large spaces. As towering glass-clad skyscrapers started rapidly dotting the horizons, developments in structural glass led to the material playing a critical role in today’s urban architecture. In a tropical climate like India, where heat is unavoidable, the usage and sourcing of this material evokes careful consideration. In this context, Şişecam Flat Glass is one of the world’s leading glass producers that is set apart by its brand values. As General Manager of Şişecam Flat Glass India, Mukesh Sharma articulates, Şişecam believes that glass is not a commodity, but a functional product that adds value to the user.
A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Dr Himanshu Burte speaks on the nature of Laurie Baker’s human-centric architectural practice; as an empiricist, environmentalist and extremely critical and creative practitioner.
So it is going to take a while for me to recover from one hour of Geoffrey Bawa and after this lush serenity, especially because I have to follow it up with an argument. But, I will go ahead and I am going to be talking about Laurie Baker. I have kept what I am saying fairly narrow and it is mainly in the form of a straight-on argument I am offering, and I am hoping that we can have a discussion afterwards, whenever we are scheduled. I have actually changed the title from what is published or what was originally given to it, because I actually took the title of my obituary for Baker, written just after he passed away and because of the resonance with yesterday’s discussion around Gandhi and Architecture.
I will begin by looking at the context, the objectives and the premises of what I have to say. To begin with, since this is about heritage and we are talking about Modern Heritage particularly, I approach heritage with the understanding that every map is really a plan. It just does not show you what is there, but it is a project. Heritage in that sense, I see as an exercise in constructing the future. By constructing the past in certain ways, by preserving certain memories and ascribing certain meanings to it, we are really constructing and doing the work of creating a future that we want. That I think extends to some extent to Prem‘s point, though I am sure he would not necessarily disagree with this. So, given that this is what is involved in thinking about heritage, it becomes very important to be conscious of our value positions and especially about the ethic of architecture, its politics, economics, the aesthetics and of course, the actual processes and practices that go into making the practice or the product itself.