What is worse is when we assume, often out of laziness, that older tropes of making the world discernible will survive us through these fragmented and fictional times — fragmented and fictional like never before! If all of this is a dream; but it isn’t a dream, it is a nightmare, and the sooner we wake up the better. These fragmented and fictional zones of existence are indeed producing complex and interesting experiences, no doubt, even though devastating at times. But these are interesting times we are living in, and to make sense of the world we live in is a constant, important endeavour. What will be the modes and modalities of this ‘making sense’ and delivering comprehension — can today only be a series of constant experiments, bold and beautiful, rich in intention and courageous in their paths?
Architecture is sorely lacking today in its imagination of the world it occupies — the discourse and debates in India are appallingly unable to grasp (or else acknowledge) the new times of incomprehensibility we are witnessing. Education in architecture is at its poorest low. The practice of making buildings is pushing limits and struggling with the delusions and fictions of their times — some architects have fallen into the traps of delusions themselves, some other have guessed the trap and rather than getting lost, are, in fact, using the tenacity and unknown nature of these times to comprehend the nature and meaning of architecture itself. Architecture sure needs new meanings and new answers. And some architects are struggling as they sense that the times have changed and new times will need new minds; and new times are producing new spaces, spaces that are beyond our measured realities, treading a ‘lover’s discourse’ with their surrounding world and practice.
The tropes of Sustainability and Heritage are today’s escape routes; not that these debates and practices aren’t important, but the way they are becoming alibis to fail to address the realities of a fictional world we are occupying is disappointing and scary. To talk of ‘identity’ today is really a pathetic solution to address the present times! Identities are constantly escaping the medication of discourse as times, and moreover, recent histories have indicated that the complexity of ‘identity’ is beyond a few symbols and styles. ‘Identity’ is way beyond the banal associations with climate, soil, or region, and language has complex journeys we are yet not willing to study. If at least in some sense of theory and idea, the architects and planners are the contributors to the physical environment and built world we occupy, are we as practitioners or members of a large field of knowledge even addressing the nature of crisis, the world and we are in?
To build constant zones of discourse and debated engagements is crucialtoday, more than ever before. To engage the public arena of people and thoughts has become a critical zone for political within intellectual, and intellectual within political conversations. Teaching and building pedagogical frameworks (often tentative, but committed) within and outside the university, building platforms for multiple experiences, and biographies to intersect and debate ‘ways of seeing’ and ways of making, and to produce collections of objects in choreographed stories, reviving archives, opening up institutional containers, inviting audiences to discern and reject — are most important
today, and actually maybe the only space where new meaning for our ‘fractured and fictional’ times will emerge. In new economies, even the engagement with public sphere has become a joke. For example, the range of parties organising conferences and seminars every other day, always not-so-useful pop-ups, and selling off the city in the name of heritage walks. Within the plethora of productions, which are also a reflection of these confused and complex times, there are teaching and discursive platforms, and modes of active exhibition that struggle to fight the fog and the delusional times. These keen observations of perceptive practices, or at least perceptive projects and design journeys, are very crucial to our addressing the open realities of times now. Practices of discourse and institutions of professional-public interface or intellectual-everyday sharing need to be nurtured and protected.
There is never a doomsday, if the people of the time recognise and address the intensities of their changing and escaping realities, do not fall into delusional orbs, use their practices not as chains from an earlier time, but as tools that can be shaped with your power of knowledge to mould the everchanging present, that appears through many apparitions, fictions, narratives, and ‘experiments with truth’.