The Patterns of our Lives
Winston Churchill once said - “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Through street photography, I intend to explore this idea visually.
My photo series investigates the subliminal effects of architectural patterns on human behavior, and raises questions about their ideological purpose. I started working on this body of work during my visit to Singapore — a place that left me spellbound. I experienced sublime emotions due to the city’s architecture. A form of assertive power washed over me when I encountered humongous buildings there. This experience inspired me to read books by Michel Foucault and J.G. Ballard, which introduced me to the concept of ‘architecture of control.’ I started exploring different theories about architecture, modern society and human behavior. Eventually, I formulated my opinions and ideas, portraying them aesthetically in this series.
If we think about it, modern architecture’s proliferation is vital for capitalist development in our society. Architectural patterns and the capitalist system also share a fundamental principle — repetition. Major features of capitalism, like industrial production and standardized consumer goods, are based on the idea of repetition. A capitalist society comprises of people who behave according to a fixed set of rules and follow behavior patterns to survive. In a capitalist system, it is essential to modify human behavior to fit the needs of the system. That is, every person should function as a cog in the machine. I am interested in researching whether simple architectural elements have a role in weaving this complex fabric of modern society.
In this series, I question whether the built environment encodes and reinforces the capitalist ideology of repetition in the form of architectural patterns. My work explores the latent psychological forces and power structures embedded in urban architecture, that in my opinion, can modify and control human behavior. The main question which my work raises is - “Do people viewing architectural patterns accept the idea that their lives should also be structured and patterned?”
Patterns appeal to me because of their inherent dichotomy. They are associated with positive ideas like beauty, as well as negative ones like mundaneness. Similarly, the repetitions in our daily lives have a dual nature. Although they mostly have monotonous connotations, repeated rituals and behavioral patterns also give people a sense of security and stability. Hence, most people never appreciate randomness in life. They have an impulse to order their lives around a fixed set of patterns.
My methodology consists of photographing a solitary person who is encompassed by patterns present in the built environment. This approach is due to my love for minimalism. A large amount of space given to the patterns also depicts their dominance over the person both visually and metaphorically. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, these patterns also symbolize life’s repetitions. The repeating motifs and lines of varying widths create rhythms across the surface of my photos. This rhythmic ebb and flow echo the varied patterns of our lives. My photos are a commentary on the phenomenon of ‘patternization of life.’