Action 3 – Extending and Seeking

For Action 3 I chose to go with Ecological Literacy from the Stretch Lexicon.
As I was in quarantine due to a neighbour being tested with COVID at the time of the assignment I did not have the access to go out and explore much. So I did the second best thing which was to go sit in our little balcony garden where my parents have grown a plethora of wild herbs, flowering plants and a lot of pigeons visit often for a cool drink of water.

Having cooped up myself inside my room all these months juggling work and studies this was the first time in a while that I had sat ‘outside’ of my screen. Usually that’s the space my parents occupy for their morning and evening tea. This time around they found me lurking around with a camera and my sketchbook. Needless to say they were pretty surprised to see me out and about for once.

I decided to use this time simply for a meditative hour were I just sat and observed what was going on with each plant. What creatures visited them, those who even lived in the soil, the way each plant differently reacted to the wind and how well domesticated they were. At this point I couldn’t help but think about how different they looked from the nature we see when we actually go outside. The domesticated face of nature was pretty and well kept but so selective. Almost classist. Like I know my mom would never bring a plant that did not go with the decor or served a purpose in the kitchen.

As I sat there sketching the flora around me I started at a micro level observing the imperfections and textures. My parents were really intrigued and curious as I told them about the assignment and tried to contribute to it in their own little way. They talked to me about why they enjoy spending time here especially in the mornings and tried to direct my sketching by placing the pots at different angles. It was a relief to finally have a discussion with someone that was not centred around what news channels and social media has been feeding us all this while.

Wrapping up my sketches I went back to screen and just digitally altered a few of my drawings to see the juxtaposition of natural colours and forms on digital colours. This was me just getting back into my comfort zone. While doing this I became conscious of our need to make our work look pretty. The commercial designer in me has really limited my creative potential and ability to stretch out of the box. Have we become so ingrained in selling good work that we end up ignoring the exploration and reflection part of our process?

On this note I thought to myself how political, social and cultural jargon has taken over our lives completely and cut us off from our root – nature. We rarely talk about design or art or anything in the context of ecology anymore. How do we start altering design to shift from this existing paradigm of information overload? How do we go away from creating work meant to please clients and create work that actually contributes to the world in a meaningful way?

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