If you consider ‘designer’ to mean storyteller, then that is what I am. I am a bilingual storyteller & visual communicator from New Delhi, India. I have my BFA in Graphic Design and Comparative Literature and Creative Writing from the Rhode Island School of Design. As a designer my practice lies in the interdisciplinary fields of graphic design, photography, filmmaking, writing & research. The world is built around misconceptions, and to me design is one of the lenses that allows for clarifications. I tell complex multilingual stories of individuals in the hope that those smaller stories will tell larger tales of nations whose voices have not been heard in the past by the West. Design for me is a necessity. It’s a translucent structure in place to help communication between people who may or may not have anything in common with each other. Design is a method of questioning, dismantling, & relearning our non-neutral, & non-universal reality. Currently I am focused on looking at design through the lens of decolonization, which in its essence means, giving voice & visibility to minorities from around the world. I started a design collective called Active & Concerned Citizen last year, whose focus is to help clear misconceptions of Indians living in India to the Western World. It is a collaborative effort with other Indian artists & designers. Our work can be seen on instagram @active.concerned.citizen My specialty has been in publication design, but I have recently diversified into film & sound. I have worked with narratives in a range of languages & I relish the challenge of finding various appropriate expressions for each individual story. I devote a great deal of time to research, in order to awaken a one-on-one relationship with it. Form to me comes solely from content & I do not hesitate to challenge the norm of what is expected from traditional graphic design.
Walking out of the RCA with my MA in Visual Communication I hope to enter the world of Advertising. I hope not to sell consumer products, but to help tell people’s stories better. To work with large NGO’s such as UNICEF and World Vision, to help them advertise humans better. We, as under and misrepresented minorities, deserve a better way of our stories being told rather than just equating the colour of our skin to pity charity. There is a dire need for people to be allowed to tell their own stories, and that is what I hope to be able to facilitate. We as designers can use our tools and knowledge in partnership with the people whose story it is, to help tell it. However, we alone cannot and should not tell their stories. At the center of humanity, in my opinion, is the human narrative. To start to decolonize the world we live in, we need to understand and appreciate each other’s stories more. The framework I am leaving RCA with is one of Questioning, Dismantling and Rebuilding. Decolonizing oneself is the first step to try to spread the initiative in the world. I will be attempting to unlearn and relearn for the rest of my life, in my personal and professional life.
Broken English — Demystifying Decolonization Through the Power of Narrative
What I asked from the participants of this initiative was to look back at your life through the lenses of ethnicity, race, disability, heterosexist rhetoric, or perceived representations, and try to explain to yourself and to the reader, where it is that you fit in the world, or don’t. Expression comes to us best in our mother tongue and so I encouraged people to write in their language of choice. I collected stories in 5 different languages. I helped with translations as it is crucial these stories be read in the West, as they are a part of the target audience.
The phrase ‘Broken English’ according to me is ‘the expectation that there is a ‘correct’ form of English for the non-native to express themselves in’. It is usually used in a derogatory sense. However, my blog celebrates the breaking of such tyrinical ideas and the stuck-up English grammar.
(mis)infographic — Visit the Blog for more information, articles and research
A ‘(Mis)infographic’ is a or set of graphics, images, or texts that highlights the tension in ‘information’. A presence of contrast is crucial in the formation of a (mis)infographic.
‘Information’, in my opinion, is ‘facts’ attempting to convey a particular arrangement or sequence of things or events.
‘Facts’, in my opinion, is a thing that is indisputably the case according to written down stories approved by lawmakers. Here I would like to clarify something; I am not disputing scientific facts, for example the temperature water boils at. Nor self-evident facts, for example a dead body is unquestionably a person who has passed away. I am questioning historical facts. Sociology in specific, ‘History’ is where the research and application of (mis)infographics is rooted.
‘History’, in my opinion, is a collection of stories written down, which form the lens of how the world is perceived and remembered.
Ruben Pater in The Politics of Design outlines the seed that gives birth to the weed, named misinformation, which is a privileged assumption that the concept of ‘universality’ can exist. ‘Communication was and is a volatile process, wherein misinterpretations cannot be entirely avoided. At the root of miscommunication lies the assumption that people will understand us because we use ‘universal’ or ‘objective’ communication. Assumptions of objectivity and universality in design are closely tied to the modernist design principles as they are taught in Western design education’. ‘Universality’ is not possible in reality beyond the scope of a willful theory because our cultural, social, economic, geographic, historic and racial heritages differ vastly from each other.
In order to disintegrate misunderstanding and miscommunications, we must be taught, or teach ourselves, how to learn, not what to learn. The concept of what to learn supposes that there is one correct answer. But there is no such thing. Instead we should focus on how to receive information and make sense of it for ourselves. Therefore removing the supposition that one person is right, and the other wrong. We are just left with different perceptions.
There is tension in all information, the probability that there was error, or information being left out due to political pressure, or personal bias, etc is omnipresent. The reasons for why the holistic truth cannot be built into diagrams are unlimited, so why should we try for the ‘truth’, when we can simply refer to it with bounds around it. A (mis)infographic is opposite to an infographic in the sense that is does not represent ‘information’ or ‘data’, but questions the validity of it.