Thursday, November 27, 2014


Post 110 - by Gautam Shah
 We express about things, ideas, dreams, experiences, concepts; to re-enact, record or communicate. The re-enaction helps to reinforce the experience of a happening, and recover the missing sets of information. Recording helps to organize and condense the information for posterity. Communication imparts information to someone or secures a reaction.

The focus of the re-enactment is what one strongly feels, desires, or believes, and with that entire experience enlivened, justified or confirmed. Events occur in spatial context and have time sequencing, but for re-enactment, it is the personal relevance that becomes the force-de-majeure. The links between spatial or temporal segments are not amenable to any logic and so remain ethereal.
The recording media (paper, tape, film) is an estate that must be used carefully. A record is created for its retrieval in some other time and space, by own-self or someone else and in part or as a whole. These, needs some order and frugality. So records are better organized then personalized enactments.

Communication occurs through writing, oral and gestural deliveries and through abstract medium of graphics. It is an expression for a target ‘audience’. The author must be proficient in the subject and have some knowledge about the target audience. The contents are sequenced, with time as the operative element. Oral or gestural deliveries are sequenced in time so are lineal. Writings can have non-lineal arrangement provided it is aided indexing. Graphical formats are impressionistic, rely on the holistic effect. 

Such spatial ordering is used to highlight or amplify certain sections as well as to demarcate sections. Other spatial formations are based on some value judgement system. Database management presentations use such value-based derivations. Spatial formations such as tables, matrices, etc. are used for data management in spreadsheets.
 Flaubert's heavily edited page of his manuscript for Un Cœur simple

Creative Compositions use many of these techniques:
Time and Space ordering:
The contents are sequenced, with time as the operative element. The time is apparent in sequencing of events, time related measurable changes, accelerations and deceleration and for cause-effect presentations.
In speeches pause is an important time section for concepts to sink in, allow the audience to respond (clapping, thumping or noise to die down), or enhance the delivery of next expression. Audio-video presentations are synchronized to beats, or tempo-pitch of the delivery. Background noise and music are scaled to the nature of contents. 

Emphasis by Condensation and Elaboration:
The emphasis in compositions occurs by condensation and occasionally by elaboration of the subject matter. Emphasis is often created by intentional de-emphasis. Obvious details, concepts, ideas, conclusions are not put forward at the nominal time and space, but are placed at the end, or the audience is allowed to draw its own inferences.
The condensation and elaboration are employed to colour a document as a personal style statement.

Condensation eliminates all unnecessary and less necessary contents, and thereby increase the clarity, reduce the expression size, delivery time, perception effort, etc. Condensation is also done by use of abbreviations and symbols that replace large units of contents. These include idioms, proverbs, metaphors, and signs. Condensation is often used to restrict the access to a specific class of audience, like magicians’ instructions.

Elaboration is achieved by augmenting the context of difficult to understand concepts, events, situations, or objects. It is also done by using the same word in different context, and using similar words (synonyms and antonyms from a thesaurus) to redefine the meaning. Multiple explanations help amplify content. Elaboration is achieved by inclusion of anecdotes, couplets, quotations, footnotes, end notes, and other sensorial effects.

Bridging and Linking:

The contents are bridged to create a seamless statement or a larger concept. The most common bridging is through time and space organization of the contents. The links to other documents (e.g. hyper-links, bibliographies, index) are such reference bridges. Recorded contents are classified according to the nature of content, name of the author, date of publication, size and form of the document. Such classification identifiers also provide associations. A well bridged or cited content vouches its authenticity through circumstantial referencing. Contents are also bridged using conjunctions. Words like and, if, or, when, then, whereas, therefore, etc. connect clauses or sentences. Bullets, numbered lists, also bridge sub topics.

Separating and Isolating:
The contents are separated or isolated, by spacing (white spaces, pauses, start of new paragraph, section or a chapter), and by tabulation (bullet marking, numbering, hyphenating, bracketing), to highlight or categorise the sub-topics. Separation in writing is achieved by commas, semicolons, brackets, or other interludes (gutter spaces in newspaper columns). In recordings a null space is provided for the machine to recognize the end of one section and the beginning of next one. By isolating the contents it becomes easier to link each such section distinctly.

The contents are abstracted by removing all less important information, time slots and space gaps. The expression language in Internet chat rooms shows the nature of abstraction spreading across the world. Common words are written by eliminating vowels and are denoted by their phonemes. Symbols and metaphors are also used to squeeze the contents. Vedic mantras represent knowledge in a very condensed form to easily remember it (‘Shrut Gyan’ -knowledge that is heard). However, such condensation allows for different interpretation of the contents.

Contents are marked to enhance (bold facing, underlining, Italics, large size type faces) their presence. The contents are delivered louder, faster or slower, brighter, repeatedly, and in metres (musical, couplets with rhymes) for the same effect.

Order of contents
An expression can begin as an inquiry into a seemingly un-ordered realm, and conclude with a definitive proposition. Other way round, the expression can state a hypothesis or belief, and proceed to present the evidence in support or against it. The third method is hybrid, as it starts by analyzing a happening with all the cause-effect contexts.

 Support from other media
Emphasis by support from other media is exploited to not only enhance the contents, but also its presentation. In writing and print media some of the topographical tools used are: underlining, bold printing, fonts' sizes, colours of font and background, font styles (plain, italics, small caps, with serif, sans serif, etc.) Other graphical tools include insertion of graphs, charts, illustrations, etc. within the document content. Multi media presentations have more than one format like static pictures, movies, 3D effects, animations, sound clips, body vibratory systems, ‘olfactory and taste’ supplement systems.
In oration a speaker boosts the delivery with body gestures, repetition of words or sentences, pitch variation of voice, use of rhymes, rhythmic, metre oration, poetical recitation, etc. The information gets registered easily when supported by visuals such as tables, charts and graphs, picture slides, movie or video clips, animation. Learning frames or interludes are subtly included to lodge the contents easily into the minds.

●  By Titling (Naming)
One of the best way of focussing (by declaration) the content is to provide a title to it. A title as created by the author is more truthful but is not accepted by the reader or audience, as their intentions of accessing need not match the author’s perceptions. Storage systems create own titles to facilitate access by their users’ needs. Titles have limitations of size. This is overcome by including long titles or list of keywords or summary or precis.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Post 109 - by Gautam Shah

A language is defined in many different ways. Some have defined it to be a string or combination of vocal sounds by which communication occurs. Others have called it to be an expression of ideas that combines the contents and sounds. In both the definitions, Expression and communication are common, but in the first definition the association of sound is considered an essential component. Contrary to it, deaf and dumb are able to communicate and express themselves. A language as an expression has either vocal or a graphical representation.

Within a community a language is the basis of expression and perception of information. It is the working system of communication matured over a period of time. In Gujarat, India, it is said that at every 30-km distance there is a noticeable variation in phonemes. This is due to effect of the local flora, fauna, terrain features, visitations by outsiders, and in recent times due to the media. Communities have unique spatial conditions such as the seashore, riverside, flat desert or a valley, providing different contexts for sound reverberation (response) system. Outsiders like street hawkers, and administrative officers, strongly impact the local speech style. People over a period modulate their sound delivery accordingly. Such impressions are stronger in close-knit societies. Immigrants pick up accents of the adopted place.

 The media, telephones, radio, television, and stage performers have very strong influence, overriding all territorial peculiarities. Their styles have an acceptance due to sleek presentation and frequent exposure. Non-local teachers do the same. The delivery technology used by the media affects the ‘sound’ quality, one tries to emulate. Telephones transmit sound within a narrow range of frequency to economise on band widths. Public speakers exploit the microphone-speaker system to deliver very faint sounds with sufficient loudness. Television broadcasts from extra ordinary large volume studio spaces rarely reflect the spatial character. Films and TV serials shot outdoors, on sets or in real built spaces never differentiate between the space volume, surroundings’ surfaces, or the background noises. People perceive the effectiveness (clarity, improvisations, improvisations, etc.) of the delivered product as the ideal manner, and replay the effects, but minus the production shortcomings or gimmicks.

Doctored Sounds of Media

Across communities, different meanings are assigned to different sounds and written scripts, and often words and groups of words have different meaning. Expression in one language is difficult to transport truthfully into another language, phonetically or literally.
A school slogan asking elementary students to speak Putonghua is annotated with pinyin, but without tonal marks.
Large number of words in a language have no phonetic bearing, because our experiences are not directly related to sounds. The sound is believed to be the basis of human language.

In ancient times preparing a manuscript was a hardy task. The Expert who dictated was rarely capable of writing or scripting it graphically (calligraphy). Copies of the manuscripts were made by other people, often in different time and space. The original document reasonably matched the phonetic impressions, which was diffused in copies of the copies. Every copy maker had own calligraphic style and smartness of editing, and produced a slightly modified version. In India, several manuscripts of the same composition are found at different places, collating them into a master-authentic version is nearly impossible. Popular old songs have varied forms of lyrics, because every singer improvises the phonemes.
Atlantean language is a constructed language created by Marc Okrand for Disney's film Atlantis The Lost Empire. Wikipedia image by DrNegative
In India Veda and other ancient literature were originally Shrut Gyan, knowledge propagated by listening and remembering. As a result all compositions were recite-able, set in metres. Sections of Shloka or stanza were phonetically of same duration in time. However, when these came to be written down, the temporal (time) equalization was not being reflected in written format. The signs (alphabet) and calligraphy, together created stanzas of spatially unequal lengths. What was sensible in speaking or reciting had acute graphical or representational problems. This was solved by combining several words (called Sandhi). Now the written and recited stanza had same time-space relationship. Very often new enlarged and shortened words devised, or shorter synonymous words were employed. In many languages the scripted and pronounced words have anomalies.

Vishnu Shahastranaam

The meaning of a sentence comprises in the meanings of the words it contains and the structural or grammatical meaning carried by the sentence itself. Sentences containing exactly the same words, carry different meaning, because the order of placement of words distinguishes -conventionally called subject : object and meaning. However, in Sanskrit the object-subject relationship is not dependent on the sequence of the occurrence.

The formal resources of any language for making distinctions in the structural meanings of sentences are limited by two things: the linear (time) dimension of speaking and the limited memory capacity of the human brain. Writing exactly copies the time stream of speech. Writing is partially relieved of memory capacities by the permanence of visual clues. Written texts are almost entirely ‘divorced from oral pronunciation, sentence length and sentence complexity can be carried to extremes, as is being observed in some legal and legislative documents that are virtually unintelligible if read aloud‘.

Thursday, November 13, 2014



Post 108   by Gautam Shah ➔

Space is an entity a person identifies with. The relationship with the space manifests in many different ways. The most primordial one is the inhabitation. It becomes a precinct of safety and security. The precinct is reinforced with distinct reservations in time schedules and space markings, for different activities. This arrangement also involves the participants. The participants who make such arrangements also imprint their own selves here. The relationship between the participants and their space, occurs naturally, but the user wants to personalise it further. The user by adding and modifying the space imprints a personal identity.


The space identity is seen at several levels. The identity within an interior space is very individual, moulded usually by the housewife who conducts the house affairs. Outside the habitat it is formed by the housewife but it reflects the owner of the house. Neighbourhood identity develops as a common facet of all families. The influence of the richer, bolder and more aware families are always striking in a neighbourhood. In culturally close-knit communities, however, the individual identities are less impressionistic.

Unplanned Individualization Gaziabad India


Personalization of an interior space is most evident in who occupies which section of a space, how long and at what times of day (and night) or the season. It is represented through the abstract means of colour-pallette, textures, patterns, etc. It is exhibited via exclusive means, facilities, amenities, gadgets and tools. It comes through intentional and unintentional sounds, smells, airiness, illumination and other sensorial effects.

Marking Home space 


Outside the habitat, the ownership of the space one of the key element of personalization. Identifying and declarative elements state the owner, the nature of ownership, and conditions of visitations. These are done by direct expressions as well as very subtle means. Often these are placed due to the social conditioning, without knowing their purpose or significance. Identification elements differentiate a building within a group, or connect it to a category. Identical doors and windows conjoin several, even differently styled buildings into a cohesive entity, -as a colony. Similarly in a mass housing colony, people treat their doors, windows, or curtains, extravagantly different from their neighbours.

The personalization elements are very essential enrichments of a building. Immigrants try to enrich their homes with a lifestyle they have inherited. These are like the colours, fabrics, furniture, landscaping features, artefacts, and other decorative features.

The entrance door (or a street window) is not just the place of arrival but is a metaphoric point of entrance for everything, good or evil, friend or enemy, known or unknown. In a way, it is the point of fear, doubt and danger, as much as it is of hope, fulfilment and safety. The declarative elements announce the nature of opening like, entry, exit, restricted access. These elements are placed on the outer face of an entrance to warn new visitors. And also the same are occasionally placed on the interior side to reinforce the message to departing visitors (e.g. close the door gently or fully). The personal identifiers mark the owner, nature and antiquity of the ownership, name of the building, its date of commencement, occupier’s name, caste, educational qualifications, native place and titles.

Means of personalization also include, bells, knockers, buzzers, talking pipes, whistles, sirens, rattlers, vibrators, horns, intercoms, video recognition, surveillance systems. Personalization also comes through linguistic expressions like quotes and couplets. These are often in ancient languages, or in forms which are incomprehensible to themselves or others. Means of physical and spiritual defence are placed here even though there may be more vulnerable locations in a building. Names and indicators of Gods and saints not only reflect the religious affinity but also faith in specific groups. Display of forms, patterns, signs and symbols reveal the owner’s affiliation with secret communities.


The means of personalization in a neighbourhood are not personally executed. It develops gradually, but on its own. The basic response derives on how a community explores the local materials, talents, flora, fauna, and handles its riches (economics). Buildings, food preparation systems, dressing, personal adornments, all emerge as cohesive personality. Very strong and sudden influences (through immigrants, media, etc.) are seen as a mismatch identity in the community. The neighbourhood identity is seen in the common celebrations and ceremonies or rituals. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

IRON SMITHY - craft -1

IRON SMITHY - craft -1
Post 107   by Gautam Shah ➔

Since prehistoric times, nearly every region of the world and every culture had some knowledge about iron. It was perhaps not sufficient enough to explore the very abundant resource material. Bronze was easier to extract and work, but Iron was tougher than bronze. It was less toxic for food and water storage, except for rusting. Pure iron as meteorite nodule is soft but unavailable in sufficient quantity. First lesson of iron-smithy was the realization that smelted Iron (with its impurities, chiefly of Carbon -automatically included during smelting) is a very hard and durable material. First Iron utilities were of Cast Iron varieties.

Iron Bloom

Lack of copper, and the abundance of iron everywhere encouraged developments in iron working. Large furnaces produced vast quantity of iron that was not processed further, but was shaped into various forms (vessels and solids) through casting and moulding. The next Iron smithy craft was forming sharp edged tools for home, agriculture, hunting and warfare. This was done by forging a shape and annealing-hardening treatments. The treatments and reheating showed how to adjust carbon content as well as other impurities. It is believed that by 5th C. BC, bronze was replaced by iron as the material for utensils forming and weapons making.

Iron making must have started in India, earlier then 1800 BC, as Rig-Veda mentions Ayas (metal) or Shyam or Krsna Ayas (black metal). A description like ‘for as a ploughshare that has got hot during the day when thrown into the water splashes, hisses and smokes in volumes’ shows use of quenching processes.

First crucible-based steels were developed in India, around 300 BC. In this process iron was mixed with glass, as the mixture cooled glass would bond with impurities, and float to the surface as scum. The porous walls of the crucibles added the carbon. This steel was exported throughout the Middle East, where it was known as Faulad (Persian). Faulad or wootz steel (in Europe) has a Kannada term(Language of Indian region of Karnataka) for it, ukku.

 Water pattern on Damascus steel swords These images are of 1800 AD production

Faulad was processed further to produce Damascus steel. Swords and other sharp cutting edge tools made from Damascus steel had distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. In India though for a long time after 600 BC, cast-iron was used for making spikes, knives, daggers, arrowheads, bowls, spoons, saucepans, axes, chisels, tongs, door fittings etc. India had mastered the craft of casting very large sized pillars.

Iron Pillar Delhi India

Chinese were able to melt the Iron and cast it into desired forms. This method was less labourious than individually forging each piece of iron from a bloom. But most remarkable point was that China’s iron smelters achieved a temperature of 1130 °C, hot enough to be considered a blast furnace. The devised very efficient bellows of leather to deliver a continuous stream of air into a furnace. Chinese smiths had also mastered the technique of melting wrought iron and cast iron together to produce a material of intermediate carbon content that is steel. The process was called ‘harmonizing the hard and the soft’. This was to be the basis of casting of Iron statuettes.

Chinese poodle and Blast furnaces

The furnaces and bellows as used in Roman time Europe worked at 1100° -1200° C, so Pure Iron’s melting point temperature of 1540°C was difficult. Iron at this temperature did become soft but not liquid. It was a solid state conversion requiring chemical reduction of the ore. Ore was placed in a pit and mixed with hot charcoal fire. After a sustained temperature of 1100°-1200°C, the slag fell to the bottom leaving the spongy mass of iron called Bloom. The bloom while hot, was pounded, into a denser mass called wrought iron.

In later periods, both the processes, the cementation and the crucible process, were practised. ‘In a cementation process wrought iron was heated with charcoal (to add carbon) without exposure to air, whereas In a crucible process wrought iron bars were melted in crucibles with charcoal.’ For wootz steel was made by a different type of blast furnace. Here a charge of Iron ore and a charcoal material was added in the crucible. It was held at high temperature for long time, for the bloom to absorb enough carbon and reduce the melting point of the iron. Cast buttons or disks were reheated in the direct flame to a temperature just below their melting point. The buttons were then forged together by pounding.

Roman steels provided Hooks, harness rings, tires, chisels, adzes, saws and shovels, but not the damask swords. Roman artefacts include few items of case-hardened sharp edges, but architectural craft uses were rare.

Roman-Greek attitude to Metal making is exemplified by Aristotle. He noticed there were large amount of unattractive metals in the ground such as lead, iron, and Tin. He thought every thing grows (develops) to perfection, and so these metals in stages can grow into Gold. Ancient miners blocked the mines to let Earth grow the metals in her womb. The ancient Greeks believed that Iron rusted because elements like water, fire, air left Iron leaving the Earth-rust behind.

Greek metal smiths worshipped Hephaestus. Greeks placed small dwarf-like statues of Hephaestus near their hearths. He used the fire of the forge as a creative force, and had twenty bellows that worked at his bidding. He designed Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Agamemnon's staff of office, Achilles' armour, Heracles' bronze clappers, Helios' chariot, the shoulder of Pelops, and Eros' bow and arrows. He was a crippled god of fire, metalworking, and craft, with the tools of a smithy hammer, tongs and anvil. His crippled, lamed and ugly appearance is believed due to effect of arsenic poisoning, a common problem with all metal smiths. His sacred animals were donkey, dog and crane. He was husband of adulterous Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation and Roman equivalent of Venus).

Hephaestus was Roman equivalent of Vulcanus. Vulcanus (Vulcan) was feared for his destructive potential and associated with the volcanic power of the earth, but Hephaestus was gentle. Another mythical figure of Scandinavia was metal working Thor. His hammer was unbreakable, struck its target without fail, and no matter how hard and how far he threw it, always came back to him.

Forge of the Vulcan


 Roman God of Fire Forge and Anvil


  Post 171 -by Gautam Shah .  SUNDAY Feature on ART of Architecture John Terrick Williams (1860-1936) was a British painter, who was a me...