All posts filed under: thought pieces

in pursuit of social change

This essay analyzes the construction and filmmaking approach used in “Cidade de Deus” (referred to as City of God throughout), a 2002 Brazilian film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same title, by Paulo Lins. The film was an international commercial success, receiving widespread critical acclaim, sweeping the awards of international festivals in 2002-2003. The film illuminates the darkest corners Rio’s favela’s in the 1960s – 1980s, raising the invisibility cloak on its most vulnerable inhabitants — the children who are brought into gangs, drug trafficking and who ultimately become victims of gun violence at a young age. While there does not appear to be clear quantifications of the film’s impact, nor its ability to garner social change (particularly for residents of the favelas), the construction of the film/ story can be credited (at least in part) in catalyzing much needed dialogue in Brazil and abroad about the social crises central to the film. The term ‘favela’ refers to highly populated urban agglomerations that emerged in Rio …

narrative reframing

This essay focuses on the first season of the Serial podcast, analyzing the narrative approach used in Sarah Koenig’s investigation of an old murder case. In covering the story, Koenig managed to correct cultural biases/ judgements inherent in the original criminal trial, and revealed a separation between truth and fact in the case, resulting in an upcoming retrial of the person convicted. Much of this was achieved through various techniques and aesthetics used in her reframing of the case narrative. Using the lens of theorists Palmenfelt and Jennings, I hope to illuminate the narrative approaches used, through an ethnographic analysis of aspects of the narration, and through examining theories around oral storytelling traditions employed in the podcast series. Serial’s Season 1 (referred to as ‘Serial’ throughout) is an episodic podcast first available late in Fall 2014. The podcast covers Sarah Koenig’s journalistic investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school student in Baltimore, Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of first degree murder the following year and given a life …

takashi murakami: owning the spectrum

“Japanese people accept that art and commerce will be blended; they are surprised by the rigid and pretentious Western hierarchy of ‘high art.’ In the West, it certainly is dangerous to blend the two because people will throw all sorts of stones. But that’s okay— I’m ready with my hard hat.” ~ Takashi Murakami While market size and sales volumes are usually not requirements in looking at an artist’s work, Murakami’s intent to blur boundaries between fine arts and commercial products, alongside the increasingly mainstream demand of his work, necessitates an analysis of the business strategies and models he employs. This should be accompanied by an understanding of how aesthetically and conceptually he crafts his work as an artist, a movement and a brand. Murakami’s approach is far from textbook in how he operates his artistic practice as an international business; how he combines elements of Japanese fine art and popular culture and makes it meaningful to both high art audiences and consumers worldwide. In the Artforum article, “Economies of Scale: Takashi Murakami’s Technics,” the …

taking flight: perspectives from the depths of an ideas factory

An essay that was published as part of the sarai 09: projections reader of the series of sarai readers. The essay follows the life of an idea and its propensity to travel far in the digital age, given the right coalescing conditions. It explores the process of fermenting ideas from within an ad agency and parallels this with the conditions which catapult social movements forward. download essay

kite fighting

Kite fighting is a sport, which traditionally uses unstable, single-line kites. Tension is used for control, while an abrasive line defends against other kites. The skins of fighter kites are often made from thin papers, the spars of light, flexible wood. When flown with a taut line, the wind pressure, paradoxically giving the kite stability, deforms it. With the line of tension reduced, the kite becomes unstable, rocking from side-to-side. Sometimes it begins to spin. By reapplying tension at the right moment, the kite increases in stability, shifts in direction, moving towards where the flyer desires. Kite fighting is perhaps an apt analogy to describe the structure and mobility of Indian families. The males of the extended family create an interwoven kite tapestry, becoming both a shield and a sail. The women form the spars holding the shape of the kite and keeping it together under pressure, while the children trail behind in the tails. The older generations hold the line taut, steering the family against external pressure in an advantageous direction for all. In …