MARY N. WOODS: Let me begin by generally introducing this session. Since the Model T Ford and Volkswagen Beetle, cars with a promise of movement and mobility have penetrated far beyond the automotive world. They have moved into the slipstream of both high design and popular culture, as we saw so wonderfully presented by Philip Patton this morning.
In this session, on the nano and practices, three speakers, Curator and Historian Donald Albrecht, Designer and Curator Abbott Miller. We kept changing the order. We were very much in the moment here as well. And Architect Bijoy Jain unpack the exchange and the traffic in the car's cultural capital. And here, we begin to move a bit away from the nano and our focus on it. They will speculate on design past, present and future at a number of different scales, that of the object, the exhibition, the building, and, again, levering off of Nima's wonderful session, place and context, the local in many ways.
And again, this was purely luck by chance. But I think Nima's session and the three wonderful speakers have set up really issues now of the local-- and of spaces in which the nano and cars in general are interpreted. So we're going to move into those spaces.
One important issue for us is, as we have seen with other car owners such as those who own the VW Beetle and Cadillacs, and hopefully nano owners as well, as they alter, modify, and resist-- that is, customize what Tata Motors, in this case, has designed and imagined for them. Will their methods and design interventions have any purchase in wider realms of design and building cultures? As the world's most affordable car, how fluidly and how long will the nano travel on the paths of our mindscapes and design practices?
And can the nano become the thinking woman and thinking man's car, not just in the United States as the VW Beetle did in the post-World War II period, but now potentially across India, across the region of South Asia, and potentially across the globe as well. It will be interesting to see the ambitions of Tata Motors in that respect. Well, nanoism, and especially this idea of frugal design in engineering-- and I might add to that, perhaps, frugal consumption-- mark 21st century design and popular culture as pervasively and profoundly as Fordism did in the 20th century.
So I'd like to introduce our first speaker, Donald Albrecht, whom I'm delighted to have here. Donald is an old friend, and he's visited Cornell many times before. He's the Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of the City of New York, but he's also an incredibly active independent curator. He told me this morning at breakfast he has five other exhibitions that he's working on.
He has organized exhibitions and created their accompanied publications, and they have ranged provocatively over broad cultural trends, as well as nuanced profiles of individual artists and design firms. And these have included World War II and the Dream in the United States, Green House-- New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design, which were both created for the National Building Museum. The National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. I've got a lot of nationals here, it seems.
Paris/New York-- Design, Fashion, Culture, 1925-1940 for the Museum of the City of New York, the work of Charles and Ray Eames for the Library of Congress in the Vitra Design Museum. And Eero Saarinen-- Shaping the Future for the Finnish Cultural Institute, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, and the National Building Museum. And I should say that the residue of Donald's exhibitions, these marvelous exhibition catalogs have won numerous prizes, such as the Philip Johnson Award for the best exhibition catalog that's bestowed by the Society of Architectural Historians.
His presentation this afternoon is entitled Auto Design, and it explores Cars, Culture, and the City, the exhibition that he and design historian Philip Patton curated at the Museum of the City of New York in the spring of 2010. And here through a very imaginative use, which is, I would say, a Donald Albrecht hallmark-- and now, I'm beginning to learn, a Phil Patton hallmark as well-- they use drawings, photographs, models, miniature cars, TV and film clips. This exhibit and the publication showed that New Yorkers have always found inventive ways to coexist with the car. But Donald and Philip also have demonstrated that cars not only shape the physical fabric of New York, but the city, just as Ginger Rogers did for Fred Astaire, gave the car glamour and sex appeal. So what are the prospects possibly for the nano in shaping cars, culture, and the city? Please welcome Donald Albrecht.
DONALD ALBRECHT: As Mary said, I'm going to talk about a show that we did together at the Museum of the City of New York. It was call Cars, Culture, and the City. And I'm going to weave today two themes. I'm going to weave the content of the exhibition with the ways in which we communicated the content of the exhibition to the general public who come to the Museum of the City of New York.
As far as the content goes, when we think of urban car cities, we in America tend to think of Detroit and Los Angeles. New York City, as you may know, has the lowest per capita ownership of automobiles of any city in the country. We don't tend to think of it as being a car city. The premise of the exhibition, though, is that New York is actually a car city, and that in many ways, leading New Yorkers from government officials, mayors, city planners, regional planners, engineers, et cetera, all came to find very innovative ways to accommodate the car to an existing city. Remember, New York City existed far before the introduction of the automobile at roughly the turn of the 20th century.
The second theme of the show is that in the middle years of the 20th century, from probably the 1920s into the 1960s, more than any other city, New York City as a media center was the place that kind of manufactured the magic around the car. It kind of made New York-- it made America in love with the car, and it did so through things like very glamorous show rooms and automobile rows. It did so through automobile shows, and it also did so through two very important world's fairs. So New York was the kind of arena or the venue or the spot from which car glamour was generated.
The exhibition focused on these two themes, accommodating the car and promoting the car, for a variety of reasons. The main one is we had-- the Museum of the City of New York does many exhibitions, and we had recently done a show on the very controversial regional planner Robert Moses, who was very much tied to the automobile. And we had just done an exhibition about sustainability in New York City today, based on the mayor's green plan. And both of those were shows that dealt very much with the automobile. So we figured we needed to sort of, in the menu of things we present to our public, to kind of stay away from those two areas to allude to them, but to come up with alternate themes the we could actually talk about.
The second theme is how we interpreted the show within the museum's galleries. And so what I'm going to do today is I'm going to show you some of the artifacts, the photographs, and the media we chose with a very careful eye to what they had to say. Sometimes these photographs and these images have double meanings. They can be both documentary, but they can also be very evocative. They could be very poetic in what they have to say about the car and the city. I'm also going to talk a little bit about the text that we wrote for the show, and how we interpret it through words, which is a main way the curator oftentimes talks about his or her show.
And last, I'm going to talk about the insulation strategies that we use. I was educated as an architect, and am still kind of a frustrated architect. And so what I tend to do is I love to do exhibitions that have a kind of high physical or architectural dimension to them. I never design my own exhibitions because I love to get designers involved, because designers, really good ones, can bring editorial ideas to the table, and I like that dialogue very, very much.
Before talking about our exhibition, I want to talk about two other exhibitions that put Cars, Culture, and the City in a context of the automobile. On the left, you see an image of one of the first exhibitions to take place in the United States. This is Raymond Loewy showing off his Studebaker coupe in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. MoMA was the first art museum in the United States to put on an automobile show.
MoMA then-- and which is somewhat true today-- at that time, presented the automobile as a work of art. And this photograph is telling you that as there are three women sitting, sort of sketching this sort of metal model automobile. Arthur Drexler, the curator of these early '50s exhibitions, once famously said that an automobile is a rolling piece of hollow sculpture. So that clearly positioned interpreting the car not in many contexts, but in pretty much one context, that as a work of art focusing on the formalist issues of the automobile.
On the right is a screen image of your Nano show, which is more contextualized than the MoMA shows, but is, to some degree, less contextual than the show that we did. The exploding automobile is a great way to interpret the car from the standpoint of assembly, manufacturing. How it's put together is one of the great devices that an exhibition can use to talk about that. So basically, the nano here is interpreted through schemes of assembly, manufacturing, fabrication. There's also, if you've seen the show, it has to deal a little bit with economics and with travel distances.
As the title of the Museum of the City of New York's show implies, Cars, Culture, and the City, we took an especially broad view of the automobile. We do this for a variety of reasons. The Museum of the City of New York is a city museum. It is not an art museum. It is not a design museum. It does not have a niche audience, per se. It has a general audience. And we try, therefore, to do exhibitions not only in the overall roster of shows we do. But in the nature of each show, we try to come up with topics that we can interpret along many different frequencies, many different aspects or perspectives or facets. I myself particularly love to do these kinds of synthetic shows. And if you heard Phil Patton's talk this morning, that's why we reached out to him to work with us, because he sees the car very much in these various modalities.
We do this particularly also because as a way to communicate to our public, we find that as they come with many different perspectives of their own or many different knowledge bases, we try to find some way to communicate with them to get into the topic. And then hopefully, once they're into the topic, one aspect of it, we can then open up other avenues to express to them.
This photograph on the left is the lobby of the museum. We used a typical trope of automobile showrooms. The neon signs, these kinds of rounded edges, these sort of streamlined type forms are very characteristic of the kind of commercial architecture that was used on the showroom windows and on the kind of store windows. And on the bottom of the stairway, we have a large photo mural. You can see it blown up on the right.
This is an image from the museum's collection of Times Square. An argument in the show was made that Times Square is that place in New York, that iconic place where the lights of the architecture, many of which at the turn of the century were selling automobiles, and the lights of the headlight come together. The neon sign and the automobile headlight were actually invented roughly the same time. But this image of New York lit at night by neon signs and by headlights is an iconic image of New York and of New York City that really fuses the car and urbanism.
Throughout the body of the exhibition, then-- this is the section dealing with accommodating the car-- we looked at some very simple things, and we paired images in the simple before and after kind of effect. We talked about how, for instance, when the automobile comes along, the streets need to be paved. Sometimes people's memories are short, people's knowledge of history is limited, and to just tell people how things happened before what they see before them is actually a bit of an eye opener.
One of the things that we discovered in giving tours of the exhibition that people found particularly interesting is that Park Avenue did not always look the way it did, the way it does today. And I can get this to work, you'll see that when Park Avenue was built-- this is looking I think north on Park Avenue-- the median strip was very, very wide, and had even parks, sort of serpentine parks, topiary benches, et cetera. By the late 1920s, a time when the car had been turned much more egalitarian-- and Phil had mentioned this earlier. The Model T is 1908, the assembly line is the beginning of the teens. By that point, the car had gone from being an object owned by the wealthy to an object that was basically the universal car. Much more car ownership in the city of New York.
And so what also happened in New York City, the streets needed to be widened. Now New York City's grid had existed long before the introduction of the car. So what happens is while the buildings could not change-- whoops-- while the buildings could not change, what happens is the median strip itself was narrowed, thereby in effect widening the street. And this kind of very simple before and after image proved very interesting to people who had not really ever understood that what they Park Avenue is like a given actually was not, and had actually been modified over time.
The other major transformation in New York, as I said earlier, the grid existed. And as a result, there needed to be ways to accommodate the car. You could narrow the sidewalks, you could widen the streets. You could also build double-decker streets. And the most famous example in New York is, of course, when Grand Central Terminal was built, an alternate road is built above Lower Park Avenue so as to bring traffic up, around, and then deposit it north. This double-level street was not done that often, but there are many examples in New York where it does exist.
We looked at very small-scale things. In addition to the larger infrastructural, we looked at the smaller scale things. This is a model of a 20-foot-tall traffic tower that was used in New York. The Museum of the City of New York owns the model of the tower, which was one in the competition, because the architect of the tower was the architect of the Museum of the City of New York.
This was a moment when, as you can see here-- there's the tower as it's been built, a traffic tower along Madison Avenue. That's Madison Park with the Metropolitan Life building in the distance. They marched up Fifth Avenue from about 23rd Street all the way up to 57th Street. And in a way, this shows, in the years between the World Wars and the '20s and '30s, the car is in many ways being celebrated in New York. A traffic light is becoming a kind of a piece of civic art at that time. It's very different than what happens after the war.
This is a cutaway of the Holland Tunnel. New Yorkers early on were thinking regionally. Manhattan is a problem in many ways. It's long and thin, and it has a grid of streets. And therefore, trying to create a regional system of automobile traffic around New York City is difficult, and you have to come up with various ways to bisect and to break that grid. One of the first ways in which it was done was through a massive series of bridges, tunnels, and parkways, which were built in the 1920s and '30s. Interestingly, in New York City builds some of the first parkways in the country. The parkways of New York City and its regions were actually built before they were created in Los Angeles.
This image, as I mentioned earlier, the images can tell you two things. We use this image for telling people that the Holland Tunnel was built for automobile traffic. You can see the cars there. But what else does this image convey? It conveys it in that inter-war period, between the First and Second World Wars. There's a kind of grandness. There's a feeling of grandness, of celebration to this infrastructure being built by the fact that this is the section that's being photographed with these two small figures. It's expressing the kind of optimism people had in that inter-war period.
We bring the story up to date in the exhibition. The period after the Second World War is quite different. New York City presents a greater challenge to the-- the car presents a greater challenge to New York City than it does before the war. After the war, the creation of automobile suburbs drains the city of its economy in many ways, and the car suddenly becomes, in many ways to people, more of a menace. And the moves are much more subtle.
So previous to the Second World War, the accommodation of the car is done through small things, but also through large infrastructural transformations. After the war, one of the most significant changes is the use of malling or pedestrianizing, or creating bike lanes. You'll see on the left, this was from a 1960s urban plan of New York to pedestrianize Times Square. And the right is a scheme that has been put into effect that's very controversial, that Bloomberg is very interested in, and that is turning certain streets into pedestrian malls and introducing bike lanes. This, interestingly, just flared up politically just a couple of days ago.
Now how did we interpret these ideas in the context of the exhibition? The designers of the show are a firm called Pure+Applied. They're a New York-based firm. We work with them a lot on a lot of different projects. They took an image. This is, on the left, what was called the Motorama. The Motoramas were these amazing General Motors car displays that took place at the Waldorf Astoria. They were like plays. They were premiered in New York City, and then they were taken on the road. And they used these kinds of streamlined forms, this kind of indirect lighting.
And so this image became the inspiration for a series of circular displays that were created and built-- circular pavilions-- that were created and built and used throughout the exhibition. We used the indirect lighting. We used the curvilinear forms. To be very honest with you, whether the general public ever makes this connection, I have absolutely no idea. But if it is a key to helping people to understand the show, if it's a means of communication, then I'm willing to add it to the toolbox that an exhibition can use along with the images, the artifacts, the text. It's another way in which you can communicate ideas is by trying to pick up on an idea that's evocative from something historical, and bringing it into the exhibition.
I mentioned earlier that New York City was also a kind of center of promoting the car. These kinds of environments are virtually now gone. But from the beginning of the 20th century, really into the 1980s, there were a series of very glamorous automobile rows in New York. It's now on 11th Avenue. But into the 1920s and '30s and '40s, it stretched along Broadway. And as many people have noted, it was almost like an extension of the Broadway Theater District, that people would walk along these automobile rows, look in the windows, see the cars. The cars were almost displayed, in a sense, like actors on a stage. This is the 1950s. It's the corner of 57th Street and Broadway. And you can see the enormous impact that car showrooms, display areas, tire stories, et cetera, billboards had on the physical landscape of New York City into the 1950s.
Leading architects would work on many of these showrooms. We discovered, on the left, in the early part of the 20th century, Stanford White of McKim, Mead, & White did car showrooms. On the right is the recent Tesla, which is an all-electric car coming out of California. Interestingly, Tesla chose to put their current showroom, which you see here, they chose to put it in the Chelsea Art District. That's to market it as, this is not a car. This is not a car. This is actually a work of art.
Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s designed a showroom for Hoffman Motors. We also talked in the exhibition about auto shows. New York City hosted the first automobile show. It's still the most popular. We had lots of wonderful ephemera that we could use in the exhibition.
Sometimes photographs say things, as I mentioned earlier, that they don't normally instantly convey. The sexism of these auto shows is clearly depicted by these photographs where the woman becomes a kind of object as glamorous as the car, the car on the woman, the cars being depicted in this kind of romantic way through these exhibitions.
The world's Fairs of '39 and '64 were very significant. Most of those two World's Fairs were devoted to corporate pavilions. Most of those pavilions were devoted to the automobile companies. This is a font of wonderful, ephemeral material that we could exhibit throughout the show. This is how we exhibited these things, both through large, environmental photo blowups, as well as small vitrines in which objects could be placed. And again, there are more traditional display modes through the exhibition. Frame drawings, et cetera.
Phil pointed out to us early on that actually, there were cars made in New York City in the early years before the emergence of Detroit. And we made a series of maps showing how the cars-- where the cars were made throughout New York City. This was a tremendous surprise to people.
We had a section of the exhibition devoted to schemes that never happened. This on the left is Robert Moses' controversial scheme for turning Canal Street into a shop-- into a highway. And the architect Paul Rudolph was commissioned by the Ford Foundation to basically do a scheme saying, if Robert Moses' proposal happened, what could be done to create a city above it, a kind of infrastructure above it?
The movies were very significant. This is Judy Garland. And we had a whole section devoted to the movies and how they depicted the glamor of the car. Judy Garland and Buddy Ebsen bringing the car and the skyscraper together, the two symbols of modernity.
We had a section on art and the automobile in New York from an Albert Gleizes painting of a cubist-- a cubist painting of an auto race to Saul Steinberg on The New Yorker. Photography, which grew up in many ways-- modern photography, which grew up in many ways with the car was a particularly [INAUDIBLE] period to us.
And also, the car as a kind of stage. On the right, Sugar Ray Robinson in is Cadillac in the 1950s in Harlem. Remember, this was a time when many African Americans couldn't own a house, but they could own a pink Cadillac. So he's expressing in Harlem the promotion of himself with the pink Cadillac. And of course, the kinds of events, the kinds of motorcades that happened in New York that are tied around the car. Marilyn Monroe coming down and opening up a movie premiere in Times Square. All told, as I said, our goal was to try to tell a story through the exhibition where the exhibition was as complex as the relationship of cars, culture, and the city is. Thank you.
MARY N. WOODS: Now I'm very pleased to introduce someone, I believe, who is new to Cornell-- and we welcome him as heartily-- J. Abbott Miller, whose work as a designer embraces identity, branding, exhibition, signage, publication, and web design. As a partner of Pentagram, J. Abbott Miller has evolved a hybrid design practice that crosses from page to screen, to interior environments, and to objects. He often combines the roles of editor, writer, and curator in many of his projects. He's indeed a triple threat. Vitra, Knoll, and Herman Miller are among his many clients, and his own environmental work includes identity and signage for the Art Institute of Chicago, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Whitney and Guggenheim museums.
Abbott, if I may say, become very familiar now, has written extensively about design in books like Design Writing Research-- which sounds like it should be required reading here at Cornell-- The Bauhaus and Design Theory and Swarm. And again, a new publication of his work called Open Book will be forthcoming by Princeton Architectural Press this spring. Is it already out? Oh, I'm sorry. Next spring. Oh, OK. So we have to wait a little bit.
His work is in many museum design collections, of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design. And his many honors include the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award from his alma mater, The Cooper Union. His talk today is entitled Exhibiting Design-- from Salmon Skin High Heels to Leather Chaps. And here I have to say, all three of the speakers in this session, I think, have the most evocative and provocative titles. And we'll see that with Bijoy Jain, which is our last paper. So I think our session wins hands down, the title, the award for best titles, as long as we're talking about awards.
In his talk, Abbott will focus on how design is exhibit. And here, he will consider two of his projects, Design for a Living World, an exhibition and publication produced with and for The Nature Conservancy, and the Harley-Davidson Museum, a new attraction devoted to this iconic brand and symbol of American mobility. While seemingly divergent, both of these exhibitions present design and the work of designers to a general public, and portray them as complex activities connected to larger social and economic issues. Thus, his talk today promises to engage questions particularly of the sustainable in the future, I would say, of both two-wheelers and four-wheelers. Please welcome J. Abbott Miller.
J. ABBOTT MILLER: I would like to start off by just showing a little project I did 10 years ago. I collaborated on a project with a curator named Judy Fox that looked at the automobile interior in the context of art and film. And building off of the themes of the exhibition, I developed an issue of Twice, which is a visual and performing arts magazine that I've designed for many years. And most of the topics kept very closely to contemporary art and film.
But in thinking about this presentation today, I remembered that Phil Patton wrote a really lovely essay for the catalog that actually pointed to this beautiful painting by Matisse. And as he tells it, Matisse's son Pierre was driving, and he-- this is 1916-- and he asked him to stop so that he could draw this scene. And I think it's really-- I think you said, Phil, that it was one of the first such views. And what I think is so beautiful about it is that it really shows this very close mediation of the landscape from inside the car, so that technology really frames an entirely new way of seeing the landscape.
Today, technology and design frame most of our landscapes. And the two projects that I'm going to talk about have a kind of unusual relationship to landscape. I came to realize, after working with Harley for a few years, that people fetishize the machine itself and get very excited about it as sort of a piece of sculpture. But that ultimately, what sustains their interest in it is really the landscape. And there's a story told throughout the Harley-Davidson Museum that really is about the kind of transition from an invention to a very sort of function-specific device that was used for all sorts of service uses, to something that I think we now think of as primarily a leisure device. And I think that that institutionalization of the machine is part of the story that's told at the Harley-Davidson museum.
With the invitation to design this project with Harley, it was one of the largest projects that Pentagram as an entity, as a multi-disciplinary design firm, has taken on, really, in its whole history. And what was unique about it was the fact that it was from the ground-up effort. Harley, of course, is a global icon that had decided to kind of make that final step into institutionalization and create a museum of its own brand. That expectation, that decision was really fraught and difficult, I think, for them, that it represented a kind of a leap that was into kind of a new formality about their own messaging.
What also was really exciting about it was that this was a purpose-built museum. My partner at the time, Jim Biber at Pentagram was the architect, and Denise and Alex here were involved very intimately with Jim and his team in designing the building. It's a three-building campus of an archive building, kind of a commercial building for restaurant and retail, and then the museum itself. And it's a formidable piece of architecture, and it would be a rich talk to just talk about it on that level. But of course, I'm not the architect, so I'll let Jim do that at the next symposium.
My responsibility were the exhibitions. And what made this project fascinating was that we were basically developing the story as the building was developing, and trying to conceptualize the exhibitions. And for exhibition designers, we're almost always given a space. You are told, this is the room, or this is the sequence of galleries, and you work from that point forward.
With Harley, we were actually conceptualizing how you would tell the story as the building was taking shape. And we would have these moments of checking in with one another and saying, how's the story developing? And then we'd say, well, how's the building developing, and kind of check it against one another.
I realize this is a little dense to read, but we've actually created a few different maps of how that content might play itself out. And we started actually plotting these maps in relation to the building and finding how they fit together, and using really crude models to sort of diagram how we would tell the story in a building of that shape. And I think from the architectural side, it was a very broad exploration. Certainly from the storytelling side, it was also broad. Our kind of fit models kind of coalesced, luckily, at a point on schedule, so that we could actually kind of start in earnest to really articulate both the building envelope and the storytelling.
So this is kind of a bird's eye view of the whole structure, which is two levels. And you enter, and one of the immediate sort of goals or desires was to not have a Disney-like experience, to do something that was very much a reflection of the kind of adult or independent character of a Harley enthusiast, and really let people sort of create their own path. There was a linear quality to it. But this notion of kind of letting people see what they could see as they walked in and let them decide on their path was really critical to our thinking. So you actually entered on the second floor and kind of found your way down to the lower level. And by doing that, we were kind of able to give people a view onto the whole scene.
We came to really realize that we were telling a few different stories. There was the kind of art of the motorcycle design story, seeing the motorcycle as a piece of sculpture, giving motorcycle enthusiasts their kind of fetish object, and kind of doing an art exhibition. The Guggenheim's Art of the Motorcycle show had happened a good three or four years before we ever started, so there was that template to fulfill in some way. And we started working with toys, little, beautiful scale models from Italy that we could actually start to really play around with. Because we knew at the outset that one of the things this museum had to deliver was a lot of motorcycles from an incredible vintage collection. That was one of the repositories. One of the main functions of the museum was to actually put these things that were in the archive on display.
One of my favorite museums is the Natural History Museum in Paris. And there's this beautiful kind of Noah's ark moment right on the main floor where these animals, these taxidermied animals just kind of trail out, breaking out of their vitrines and dioramas. And I really love that notion, and thought that it was a way to portray the motorcycle on a kind of a historical road that ran through the center of the museum. So these were some early digital sketches and some renderings for that idea.
We loved the idea that this was a building that allowed us to kind of embed these decisions in the exhibition design. So there is this very long promenade of the kind of prize vehicles. And off of those are these thematic spaces that allowed us to tell the other parts of the story that were about the motorcycle as a kind of mechanical invention, something that had a science and a history to it.
And we started to realize that we had a three-part attraction, which was the beauty of the bike and what people get out of that, the mechanical engineering story on the one hand, and then lastly, this incredible story of an American company that is very much a portrait of an emerging American enterprise that goes from local business to global industry. So in the invention side, we realized that as people walked in, it would be great to actually sort of try to talk them through what a motorcycle is in a fundamental way, and get them attuned to looking at a motorcycle.
We analogize this to a kind of periodic table of elements, and focused on the engine as something Harley has always put on stage in the motorcycle, in the design of the actual motorcycle. So there's a lot of talk about these different engine types really being on display within the design of the bike, and that became the template for this wall, which actually introduced people to that theme with consoles that allowed you to tap on the various iconic engines that were arrayed on the wall.
The other part was to get them kind of thinking about how the different parts of a motorcycle look. And we are thinking at this point about these very beautiful diagrams of early motorcycles, and with a nod to the Nano exhibition, also had been inspired by this Damian Ortega sculpture of an exploded VW beetle. So our premise was, have people see the familiarity of a motorcycle from straight on as they come around the corner, and then watch it sort of deconstruct as you came towards the object and divided it up into different pieces and elements so that you could talk about each one as kind of a strip of content. So that was an undertaking of considerable effort to get it to actually coalesce visually in a sweet spot as you came into the exhibition.
And then you see there, the exhibition of the engines on the far wall. This element was a kind of-- had hands-on-like elements. At every point, we brought in media where it felt really necessary. Instead of feeling like kind of a circus of attractions, I think we use a very deliberate and kind of minimal use of media.
The other track on the other side of the big road that separated the galleries was this other story, which was a very compelling one about the growth of the company from this small shed where the Harley brothers and Davidson worked on the original motorcycle. This is a mythological object that no longer exists. It was inadvertently destroyed sometime in the '50s. It just disappears from the records. It used to sit near the factory building. So we sort of memorialized it with this footprint of light in the floor to show the modest origin of it.
The other critical piece of this was that this is one of the only two motorcycles that are in a glass vitrine. And that was a very deliberate thing that we struggled with quite a lot at the beginning, was to not kind of make it funereal. This was in a vitrine because it was probably the rarest bike. It was a special moment where actually the language of a vitrine made sense. But after that, we decided that none of these objects, none of these motorcycles should really be inside of a glass vitrine. It was just a two strange a message with a brand like Harley to actually kind of take that final step into what I would call the more funereal aspects of exhibition and museum effication.
This other chapter told the sort of historical story, and I think did it through this kind of evolution of the brand. And in the very early phases of Harley as a company, showed how styling and branding and color were used as kind of a prompt to spur consumption. And also extremely early, like, in the first 10, 12 years of the company, it was a global company that had dealerships or dealers working in Japan, all over the world, and that the literature, the apparatus of marketing was an incredible thing to see very early on in the company.
So we talked about the importance of styling, which I think originally associated as kind of a post-war phenomenon. It was absolutely very early in the company. But we also talked about the importance of these very function-specific motorcycles like police bikes, and the incredible importance of the war for Harley Davidson as a company when it began supplying vehicles for the war effort.
The other node of this, recycling as sport and identity, incredibly dangerous sport called board track racing, which was outlawed eventually, which were races on these incredibly dangerous tracks that were as dangerous for the riders as it was for the audiences. After numerous deaths, it was outlawed. But we knew that this was a very important part of that early story, and we created a kind of small-scale version of it with media projected on top that kind of referenced the speed of the vehicles on that surface.
This gallery also dealt with this other equally dangerous sport called hill climbing, where the vertiginous climb up the side of the hill was the sport. And we decided that the best way to talk about this was to show how steeply those motorcycles were pitched as they went up the hill, and by installing the motorcycles on a surface, a wall surface that replicated the incline. So that was shown in this gallery, along with this kind of incredible social aspect of the clubs and rallies and the identity aspects of Harley riders. There's a beautiful display of gas tanks.
And then what I call the inevitable diorama. This was on our don't list. We always said, well, we don't want to do those kind of dioramas that you see in natural history museums where everything looks sort of frozen in amber. And then as we were trying to think about how to deal with this transition from the upstairs to the downstairs, we found this photograph that was like a diorama of 1952. And so we decided, like, actually, let's have one of those dioramas. Let's use all the artifacts that we have to tell this transition from the post-war period-- into the post-war period when marketing and color and all this competition from other kinds of motorcycle manufacturers made life much harder for Harley.
Another chapter in the lower level dealt with customization, which was kind of the sport of Harley, the kind of consumer sport. And this is where people-- we talked about the importance of these accessories and the way that riders kind of customize and personalize their vehicles. And then the road continues on the lower level, and we deal with the spectacle of Harley's Evel Knievel, his stunt rides. And then we wanted to show a number of these stunt vehicles in relation to what we call the bridge, which was this sort of form that erupted from the floor of the museum, and actually created a great way to show these bikes in this kind of extreme condition, as well as created a kind of theater space in this public plaza within the museum on the underside where stunt footage shown.
And finally, we also wanted to be able to talk about the role of design and engineering at Harley as a culture, and looked back to Willie G. Davidson, who is the grandson and current sort of figurehead of Harley, and his own role within the company as a lead designer. These historical images of the design department actually inspired the shift in this visual presentation at the end of the museum experience where you kind of find yourself in more of a design lab, where we actually showed drawings and how they test the bikes, and some of the information related to the technical side of design and engineering.
Lastly, there was this interesting moment where, in the archive, we discovered that there are thousands and thousands of pictures of people identifying with their bikes in nearly the same way that they stand in front of or behind their motorcycle. And people voluntarily share these images with the company, and send them in, and they become a part of this long visual record of the entire century.
And after being told not to touch the motorcycles all the way through, there's a final gesture of making contact by allowing people, at the very end of the experience, to sit on a Harley Davidson. These are vintage motorcycles. And then to watch this imagery along the back, along the main wall, it's almost a drive-in theater effect of actually watching a very lyrical and kind of pastoral film of the whole experience of riding.
And then at the last point, this ability to sign in and actually sort of express the fact that you have visited. These visitor logs are actually stored in the archive at Harley so that people commune with the institution and feel like they've become a part of it. I'm not going to be able to talk about the other project, because I'm obviously over time. Thanks. Thanks.
MARY N. WOODS: Our final speaker in this panel is Mr. Bijoy Jain. And he was born in Mumbai, and received both his undergraduate and graduate architecture degrees-- I think that's right, Bijoy-- from Washington University in St. Louis And I must say thanks to Dean Kent Kleinman. He prevailed upon Bijoy to present a lecture yesterday to the architecture students, which unfortunately I had a class. But I understand it was packed, and there was a wonderful buzz in the audience. So along with Abbott, I think we have to have the Bijoy back as well.
Mr. Jain worked in Los Angeles and in London between 1989 and 1995. And then at that point, he returned to India to found Studio Mumbai, a practice that brings together skilled craftsmen and architects. Gathered through time, this group shares an environment created from an iterative process. The essence of Studio Mumbai's work lies in the relationship between the land and architecture. It endeavors to create buildings that emerge through a process of collective dialogue, inventive use of limited resources, and a face-to-face sharing of knowledge through imagination, intimacy, and modesty.
And as Dean Kent Kleinman wrote to me about Mr. Jain's work-- and unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to see it yet, but the next time I come to Mumbai, it's at the top of my list. But I think Kent wrote in a very eloquent and incisive fashion about the work of Studio Mumbai, that "it has found a way to develop relationships with local craftspeople and their building traditions that resists standard architectural representation, bidding, and building. He has discovered fluid and interactive ways of working that do not require the absolute projective certainty that characterizes so much of contemporary practice." End quote.
The Studio Mumbai, with its emphasis on an approach to design that privileges the low tech, the highly adaptive, and local knowledge is a counterweight to the nano, premised as it is on standardization and being mass produced. Yet once the nano, perhaps, has entered into the slipstream of real life, it too may become the raw material for local usage at different scales and for very different purposes in those envisioned and designed by Tata Motors. Mr. Jain's presentation is aptly title for our conference on nano-sized things, Pocket Man. Please welcome Bijoy Jain.
BIJOY JAIN: After sort of returning back from a Western education and being exposed to a Western education from the '60s. So my interest here today is more than presenting the nano. For me, it's the potential of the transformations that can possibly occur. Sort of, in a way, the reconfiguration for me is what is actually where my interest lies. And what I'm going to show is basically fragments of conditions that exist in India at this point in time, in some way to sort of rearrange the things that we've been talking about today, the idea of the electric car.
Just to sort of just present the other side, is that a large part of India does not have electricity. So before we start talking about the electric car, there are certain fundamentals that still need to be sort of covered. A lot of the built landscape of India has nothing to do with the architectural profession. And I say more than 50% or 60% of that built landscape is self-built, independent, and comes from that idea of ingenuity through limited resources.
So anyway, let me sort of demonstrate through the images that I put together. It's nothing about our personal work, but just things that I encounter every day, you know, traveling through the sort of length and breadth of the country.
So this is a slide-- this is a sort of film taken a few months ago. And just to establish there, the condition like this exists. This is taken in [INAUDIBLE] therefore. And there's an entire sort of village that runs for several kilometers.
And this is something that you experience every five minutes. And what's interesting for me in that particular film is this sort of sense of maintaining an equilibrium-- man, machine, and nature-- and this constant condition where it's always in flux, and the idea of adjustment. And I think this is very much a very fundamental part of, I would say, the culture of India, or sort of part of our DNA.
Again, this slide here is to demonstrate that, you know, for example, we don't get piped or water. Or rather, most of India actually has to go to the source of water, whether it's a stream, a tank. That's actually in Mumbai. [INAUDIBLE] tank. And just the different conditions of relationships that we have with water. Again, I'm just trying to set this up as an argument in terms of just how we exist culturally.
That was what I was talking about, that most of the built landscape, that's the two, formal architecture in Mumbai and the informal. And again, it's not so much to make a judgment of right and wrong, good or bad. It's more just to sort of look at these conditions and possibly see if there's a potential for an overlap, an overlapping in two conditions that are existing in parallel, one of modernity and the other of tradition. And rather than sort of say, you know, we keep one for the other, or one is better than the other, the interest for me actually lies in the potential in which they sort of overlap. So just sort of, again, just trying to create an atmosphere of the landscape.
Your relationship to trees. It's an extremely intimate one, just this idea of the temple, the tree, its location, what the sort of symbiotic relationship of this man and nature condition in our architecture, and how they meet. Again, demonstrating these very close, intimate relationships.
This image here shows just climatic conditions. Again, the idea of water, which comes through rain. And in its beauty, I think, and also for me, the interest in its violence, or sort of the aggression that it brings. So this continuous balancing act between trying to find a space in which more than survival, or sort of a dignity in how one can exist for me is what is of interest.
Again, this is a fragment showing how architecture is now made mobile, where the heart of--
So what's of interest to be here is where architecture, the sort of-- what would be the heart of a community or heart of a place, which is the temple, which has now been displaced, and has been actually made mobile inside an urban city. So just sort of the idea of the potential in its displacement is what is of interest.
Again, this idea of objects of desire that get swallowed and digested, and then thrown out in sort of another interesting way is sort of what is of interest. This state of imminence, I think. It's a state where something is about to happen, or the potential for change, but in a way, reconfigured. And I think in that idea is true invention for me.
Again, just this relationship. Something that's, again, a few months old. That's the architecture that you sort of see s dotting the landscape of the country. And a sort of vast community that still clothes and walks in this way, but a certain ease in which they're able to negotiate this condition. And that's what I'm trying to sort of show here is this sort of ease.
And it's sort of interesting. For me, having grown up in an urban condition, this continuous conflict of good and bad, right and wrong, good architecture, bad architecture, and what constitutes these conditions or these sort of prejudices. So this is, again, just my own personal interpretation of documenting the ease in which the space in between is negotiated.
This slide is of particular interest, and this is the idea of taking the motorcycle, which is overlapped into an existing infrastructure where a ramp is built and there's a decoration that extends. And actually, the motorcycle is brought into the living room. So for me, I'm not really going to show the nano car. But for me, the interest is in how that transformation will take place, the potential for it to be sort of brought into the living room. It was quite close in demonstrating the film [INAUDIBLE] where he's built that ramp and sort of brings it into the courtyard or the foreground of his house. But the potential for taking it even further than that, into another enclosed space.
Again, this idea of displacement. These are sort of tribals, forest people who've lived in the forest. And their ability to adapt, you know, they've displaced. They've been moved out, and their ability to continue to do what they've been doing for generations. So this is what-- they fish in the monsoons. And I found this life particularly interesting. There's a sense of sort of an architecture, but more from that idea of what they can harvest locally for free, something that they're familiar with. And in their displacement, how they're able to take advantage of road buildings that are occurring in India right now. No Access to empty cement bags, which are used as sort of internal lining. And then they help themselves to sort of free asphalt, basically tarmac, which is then used as waterproofing for their boats.
And I think that's something that allows them to continue, allows then-- and again, it's that potential of something that is going to change, but does all of it change? Is part of it modified? So this is what I'm basically trying to present here.
And this is pocket man. For me, this is a very interesting slide. You know, the idea of advertising, commercialization that has come. And that's the traditional [INAUDIBLE]. That's the sort of traditional dress worn by men in Rajasthan. And you can see that's the dhoti, which is basically a cloth that is tied. So there's no potential for any pockets in it. And then, again, that's just a sort of local cotton cloth that is stitched into a shirt. But the pocket is-- you can see the pocket, and that's where all the belongings are kept. The money, the cigarettes or the beedis.
And it was interesting to sort of observe this guy who was buying these forks form him. And he was sitting, and then when he [INAUDIBLE], I asked, I said, how come you're waring this t-shirt? And he says, well, why not? I get this for free. And this is handed out by glue companies, by plywood companies, anyone, car companies that want to promote their product. And he says, so I get it for free. And it's sort of an appropriate dress in a way, because it's cotton, easy to wash.
And what struck me when we were exchanging money was that he sort of reached out into this sort of slot that was made. And this overriding idea of how that has swallowed, this idea of commercialization has swallowed or taken in the stride. And that's what's interesting. And then I said, how do you do this? Well, I just took it home. My wife cut up the t-shirt and added this pink satin lining. So to sort of takes it into another dimension altogether, and that's [INAUDIBLE]. Is that design, is that the swallowing up of sort if this idea of what we know as design?
Again, the roads being cut. And we were talking about [INAUDIBLE]. And this is sort of another scale where highways, public transport where they're cutting through these homes, and this sort the section revealed. So there's a certain sadness that is presented in this slide, but also a certain beauty that is exposed of the potential of what once existed, and what possibility can happen. And I'll show that in the next slide.
That's another. That's a whole, like, a three-story building. It would be fabulous if it was a 10-story building, and I'm sure they would do exactly the same. Height doesn't have any limitation. But that's how you see it occupied. That's the transformation of the sliver. That is still used, because the highway becomes important. It's a great place of contact.
And I'm going to slightly deviate. We were talking about highways into sort of rural areas. I've spent a large part of the last 15 years actually living in a rural area. No electricity for seven hours, even [INAUDIBLE]. You know, access to public transport, very bleak. Especially in the monsoons, for four or five months of the year. That's every year, I have this desire, this great anxiety to actually move back to the city. And I actually have to work with myself to remain in that sort of extreme monsoon condition where contact-- and I just want to just present this as an idea of the potential of the car and the roads, driving themselves into this landscape, primarily for accessibility.
And I've thought about it several times. This notion of someone sick, my grandfather, a child. You know, pounding rain, five days, no electricity, no access to public transport. And this is what I'm talking about, the schism that modernity creates. And so in that condition, there's a great anxiety over helplessness that comes in. And we can say that the lack of governance, the lack of public infrastructure. But I think what's important is that self-empowerment, which is very fundamental to the culture of a country. I mean, Gandhi talks about it, and that was very fundamental in his thinking. So I'm more interested in sort of looking at it from there.
So anyway, this was a sort of slight deviation, just throwing something out there and the potential of, you know, why not? These roads need to go. Let them go, and let's see how things unfold in the process.
Mass transit. You know, localized, independent. And just a slide, again, to just show this pretty simple way of organization. What else? It's just a way of self-organization of the way they're able to move collectively.
So I'm going to read this small extract from Roberto Rossellini from films in India, and then sort of close it with the last slide. "The promiscuity of heterogeneous elements forms the Indian people, the most tolerant people on Earth. They even tolerate the architecture. Or better yet, this tolerance suits them well for any transformation or evolution without their ever severing their roots. This crowd has fun like all the crowds in the world. Carousels, spin toys, flutes, balloons, windmills. This crowd relaxes and has fun, and raises repair jobs to artisanal dignity. It carries, transports, bears, it walks, ruminates, sleeps, dreams, rests.
It builds works using traditional or modern methods. There are people whose tradition for thousands of years has favored peace, have favored tolerance over intolerance. The most authentic Indians live in the 580,000 villages. On only 1/20 of the Earth's surface lives 1/6 of the population. This dramatic reality is the mode of modern India." Thank you.
MARY N. WOODS: I think what we're going to do immediately is to open up the floor to discussion, although it would be very tempting to discuss amongst ourselves. But we'd like you to drive this panel discussion.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. For the last speaker, the transition that occurred in America in the 50 years after introduction of the Model T in 1908 didn't only involve building of roads and other infrastructure, the air pollution, et cetera. But do you foresee any comparable transformation occurring in rural India with the introduction of the nano tied into the last few points you made such as redevelopment of living conditions and into urban sprawl, suburban sprawl that we've seen here, and development of shopping malls, of drive-thru fast food restaurants, et cetera, et cetera, down the list?
BIJOY JAIN: And I don't know if I can specifically answer the question, but I think the nano is a very small part, I would say, in the larger scheme of things. For example, public roads, mass transportation. I think there's several layers that simultaneously are at work without any sort of specific role, so to speak, in a way, addressing the issue of just the nano. And for me, I think it's more critical just in terms of getting people from place A to B, whether through car, whether through a bus.
But also, connectivity is sort of the central premise. Nano just happens to be actually piggybacking in a way into this condition. And again, I say that this is more my personal view on it. And that's what I was trying to present is that there are many conditions that are at play simultaneously. And how they adjust eventually is something that is of interest. And so, no. I think to answer that question, the public infrastructure is being done independent of the nano.
AUDIENCE: I can try without a microphone. So I'm trying to go from the first presentation to the last presentation. This may not work entirely, but Donald, you seem to present a kind of urban condition and automobility as a very cooperative-driven, highly branded, well orchestrated, almost theatrical-like production. We come to the Harley-Davidson. You ended with a shot of the personal photographs, where that same kind of mass-produced object is susceptible to a kind of individuation through its user base, and it becomes [INAUDIBLE] adapted to certain personal desires and narratives, if I've understood those photographs. And then Bijoy, you seem to be saying that there's almost an innate, or maybe it's a necessary characteristic of the Indian population to be able to find great opportunity in very small resources.
And I'm wondering if there's a tale here that ends with a kind of modern ethos represented by the nano. And I would add nano housing and other frugal innovations represented by Tata and those kinds of approaches in the corporate, centralized, modernized efficiency model of producing an object for mass consumption. And against that is your last image of people appropriating these things in other ways. And I'm wondering, do you see that as a potential future for this product and products like it?
BIJOY JAIN: I think one of the things that-- what I believe is a positive for the country is its continuous state of chaos, which prevents the idea of organization. And hence, I think as hard as the corporates try to take that space, it's the negotiation which is what is of interest for me. And I don't know if it is as easy that this space can be taken up. And I'm sort of optimistic in that idea.
And again, when I'm using the word chaos, I don't mean a state of decay. It's a place where opportunities arise. And that was shown in one of the films, again, in this idea of the traffic signal. It's sort of taking those conditions, which are not defined, or which cannot be seen yet, through which there is some sort of interesting transformations that are sort of latently hidden.
DONALD ALBRECHT: Also in the city, in New York City and the exhibition sort of positedness, that the pre-World War II situation is really dominated by the corporation and by Robert Moses. And Moses is working-- you know, the World's Fair. He builds roads to the World's Fairs. The World's Fairs are very much about corporate America on display. And then his great nemesis is Jane Jacobs, who in the '60s and '70s really causes, in many ways, kind of a grassroots movement, and in many ways causes his downfall.
And that's what that image-- I couldn't elaborate on it, but the image of Robert Moses trying to build that road, you know, across Canal Street, she really-- that was his great failure. He had had other minor failures earlier in the '30s, but this was his big moment that he-- and it collapsed. And so in a way, you do get the corporation and the people in a dialogue in the sort of inner war versus the post-war.
And now what's happening is in many ways, there's a lot of controversy over these bike roads and pedestrianizing parts of Broadway. So that dialogue is still the Jacobs and, you know, the Moses dialogue that is still being sort of worked out by everyday people in the form of that big dialogue between the two of them.
ABBOTT MILLER: Yeah, the customization piece of Harley fascinates me, because customization is sort of the ritual engagement with pre-made elements that once assembled, people feel the stronger sense of identity and connection with this mass-produced object. So I think that that has been really a fundamental feature of Harley, that the show, the exhibition really tries to portray. Because it's almost a folk art of an industrially produced object. So I think it's a different way of interacting with most commercial interactions that a lot of us have with clothing or cars.
MARY N. WOODS: Phil or-- [INAUDIBLE] Phil.
AUDIENCE: I had a similar thought, I guess, but more about the notion of frugality, that there might be something shared by the frugality of development of a nano stipulated by numbers, pricers, requiring the sort of expedience that pocket man comes up with, the expedience and frugality born of poverty, or that this may be a shared feature. There's something desirable in the sort of innovation and expedience at the genuinely frugal world, which is to say the role of the poor person, the person who really is frugal versus a frugal design approach. Whether that's a national characteristic perhaps [INAUDIBLE]. Because I really appreciate these sort of expedient design solutions too, and I think we often all do, and by contrast to corporate planning, neatly laid out. When you make a decision to put one windshield say.
BIJOY JAIN: Again, like I said, what is of interest is this idea of anonymity, where if there's a good idea, it's taken, it's picked up, and then it proliferates. And I think that it's something which is very much in the way the country functions. So when I was talking about the idea of the built landscape-- and you can see fragments of whether it's a handrail in a certain community, and you'd see it repeated, and then you'd see it personalized. But the intent in its construction is very precise, and the way they deal with material and this idea of frugality.
But not just frugality in terms of cost. There's a frugality in terms of its aesthetic, its sensibility, in its making. So the amount of energy expended in its production. I think all that is taken into consideration. So my understanding of frugality in an Indian way is one that sort of encompasses all these varied parts that are put together.
And again, just to make this idea of closed space and open space. And it was sort of interesting watching the presentation, the first part this morning of the earlier versions of the nano. And actually, what was fascinating in terms of the aesthetic was the earlier models that were presented in a way were, in a sense, more appropriate to an open aesthetic. Now I'm using aesthetic not as an aesthetic of form and shape, but a sense which sort of covers a larger sort of framework for its adaptation.
And my instinctive sort of response, again, coming from this idea of people that I closely work with or intimately work with every day, and one of the experiments is sort of to present a car like the nano and see how it-- will it be transformed? What would be the responses? But I could see quite easily the idea of an open and a closed space, and the potential that lies in both, or the potential that lies in one and not the other. So this idea of presenting the pocket man, it's an idea that it takes one person to do it, the second person to see, and then it just spreads like wildfire. And for me, that's what I call design, because of an appropriateness which is all-encompassing. And again, like I said, the nano-- and I would state the same. It's an aesthetic that-- there's a certain aesthetic that I come from, and that's why I use my Western education, the exposure that I've had to modernism.
But when I'm going back, I do sort of rethink all of this and the position that I had, through the experiences that I had. So a lot of the architecture, which I did not show intentionally today, is sort of trying to find a bridge between these two cultural conditions. And I can say-- we can say we're Indians, but culturally, we're quite different from Indians in India. And there are many different cultures within this singular culture. But yet, there's a certain overlap that exists.
So maybe I've sort of strayed away from your question, but that's, I think, fundamental for me of this idea of open and closed space, and the idea of opening space. So for me, the interest of pocket man was where potentially the space could close, and the idea of corporatization taking over control, where just by this cut, like a Carlo Fontana painting, where there's a cut made through this fabric, something else is opened up. And that's really my curiosity.
MARY N. WOODS: So perhaps time for one question?
AUDIENCE: Well, Bijoy, this is to you. And throughout your presentation, I was thinking about this contrast and the celebration of this notion of Jugaad, this idea of this kind of innovation that seems to have become very huge in describing the reason which Indians adapt, right? So it's adaptive innovation. Pocket man, at one level, seems to be a perfect example of that.
And contrasted with that, the notion that design, as we understand it through a kind of Western lens, needs to have some sort of self-conscious idea of good versus bad, right? I mean, there's some sort of self-conscious embedding of an aesthetic that can also simultaneously turn itself into an ethic. So an ethic of judgment more than anything else.
And it seems to me that this discussion can keep going in many different directions where Jugaad is appropriated by the economist, for example, to celebrate how Indians are actually making it in this chaotic world of theirs. On the other hand, it can be also celebrated by progressive designers who look to it as a means of thinking about what the innovation is.
But what you've done, it seems to me, is very interesting, is to precisely put it in relation to another notion of design, which has this sort of kind of transition or marks of transition from an ethics of judgment to an anesthetic, and to a sensibility of appropriation that can actually proliferate into a cultural space, can actually turn into shared meanings. So in a way, it's not really a question, but rather a comment on where I see we might be able to look at your images and your interpretation, and sort of try to move it beyond some of the spaces that this kind of frugal innovation has landed into.
For example, in the work of people like Rem Koolhaus and so on who look at traffic intersections in Lagos and say, oh, wow. This is how cities are going to be in the future. I mean, we don't need to go then, nor do we, I think, need to say that pocket man is going to be the solution or the only way in which design will happen. But somehow, retaining that relationship to an ethical questions is--
BIJOY JAIN: Yeah. I think because, again, it's a sort of curious condition, this idea of modernity and tradition. And it's so strong within the culture, and I think one of the few places at this point in time that has these two conditions. And for me, this very important-- sort of this idea of latent potential in a state of imminence, it really becomes critical. And there's a sort of unpredictability of the potential of what can unfold in that process. And for me, that's really-- at least, my interest continuously lies in that particular condition. And which has the ability to sort of enter mainstream, become exclusive, inclusive. So this is, again, not a comment, but this is just something that I experience continuously within the country.
Another thing about this idea of judgment that we talk about. And I think that's-- when I said that there's one thing that connects us is this idea of something much bigger than us, this idea of displacing time. Because the moment you displace time from our lifetime, all the scenarios will talk about change. Because you know, what is then the measure of looking at it? And I think this is something that is a very critical point of the way we look at things, being Indian. So just, I mean-- that's, I think, sort of very broad sort of viewpoints on how we understand aesthetics. Because in many ways, time is displaced from viewing an object.
MARY N. WOODS: Thank you.
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Starting with the Model T, cars have penetrated far beyond the automotive world, entering into the slipstream of both high design and popular culture. As the world's most affordable car, will the Tata Nano shape our imaginaries and design practices going forward? Speakers: Donald Albrecht, Bijoy Jain, J. Abbott Miller and Mary N. Woods.
Panel session from "Unpacking the Nano: The Price of the World's Most Affordable Car," a symposium focusing on the arrival of the sub-$2,500 Tata Nano car in India.