E-interview #3: Lalithashree Ganesh

Lalithashree Ganesh is a writer and an artist who is passionate about making a difference to everyone who comes across her writing. She loves storiesLalitha 3. She loves people, animals, the arts, a good book, Bollywood, music, peace, and travel. Based in Bangalore, Lalithashree produces a vast variety of work through her roles in the advertising industry and as a creative practitioner–and still had time to give deep thought to the following questions about her engagement with art and craft, in the final of this special DWIR interview series.


1. Could you give a brief history of your work as a writer?
I have had the opportunity to write for about 60 brands (renowned as well as upcoming Indian and international brands) in the the last three and a half years. My advertising career started with Big Basket, Harman Kardon, JBL and HCG Cancer Hospital, after which I continued to learn and work at different agencies–reading, researching, absorbing, understanding and nurturing a strong, impactful, yet non-pushy voice. All this happened in a rather short span of time as the pace of work and the flow of ideas was rather rapid. I went on to write for brands like Shell, Acer, Ozone Group, Air Pegasus, The Oberoi, Fortis Hospitals, Zoya by TATA, and several other upcoming brands before growing into a Brand Writer for a menswear brand. Every brand has its own personality, and I have lent my voice to a number of brands–having worked on both online and offline ads and communication.

2. I understand that you work in advertising and also pursue creative writing and visual art. How is diversity in your craft significant to you?
Yes, I believe that diversity is essential for a writer. While being a Brand Writer means one must be able to think creatively, my career involves an immense amount of research, ideation, discussion, writing and crafting of thoughts. When it comes to my passion for poetry, it is a reflection of how I view and understand the world and everything that’s happening in it and around it. Poetry and ink drawings let me explore and make sense of the world without that unavoidable boundary that my writing as a Brand Writer sets for me–asking me to be truthful, yet cautious, sensitive, and channeled with a commercial angle. In this sense, it is poetry (although unconsciously structured, yet free flowing) that lets me express myself as an individual rather than a voice representing a collective conscience. I think that this freedom of expression is gained from poetry, and painting with ink is what gives me a sense of peace and contentment in my role as a Brand Writer. Just as no day is same as any other day, so is my writing.

3. How important is it to balance your different types of writing and roles?
The Brand Writer, the Poet, and the Artist, are all a part of me. A part of who I am. Although they can be seen as separate skills or different voices, expressions, platforms and means of sharing creativity, world views and individual opinions, they are extremely significant parts of me. And to move forward, they each need the other and the world and everything in it–The Brand Writer, the Poet, and the Artist. They are gifts that help me grow and evolve. At the same time, they are what make me feel whole. Even when the pace seems slow, the important thing is to keep making a path and walking on it. And the balance will be achieved.

4. Do you find that using a mix of analogue and digital media (however you define each) helps to achieve this balance?
Well, to be honest I think that achieving that balance is all in the mind rather than in the medium. If you want to do it, then you’ll do it. When I began my career as a copywriter, I was told by the hierarchy that I must practice hard to break the literary, poetic mould that I had felt so comfortable in. In fact, I thought and believed I had to break it fully and truly failed in doing so. However, I soon realised (after a discussion with my mother) that rather than breaking what had already seeped into my blood cells, I should build another mould for myself (that of being a copywriter) and let that become a part of my blood cells too. In a sense, it is making space for what is necessary. And when some things become a part of you, the balance happens rather naturally. There is no effort to let them co-exist.

Speaking about the analogue and the digital, there definitely is a difference felt when the words are written with ink on paper as opposed to typing the words onto a screen. I believe there is something inexplicable in the analogue that may perhaps never be captured or felt via the digital. And I guess the choice is finally up to the writer–to decide where to use which medium (analogue/digital).

5. What new trends do you see emerging in your industry?
I see a lot of real stories. I see openness. I see truth. I see consistent attempts to break stereotypes. I see the emphasis for a better world through values shared. I see customer-centered communication, customer testimonials and customer stories that become ads. I see more research and understanding. I see informality in tone and language, and acceptance of the same from consumers/viewers. I see less of traditional structures as far as writing goes, and more of free flowing and quick communication. I see transitoriness and change. I see impermanence via social media–which makes forgetting as easy as remembering. I see a lot more youngsters, middle-aged men and women as well as senior citizens using their voices via social media to support important causes. I see a lot of brands and advertising agencies transitioning and embracing the digital medium in order to be current and keep pace with the happenings in the country and the world.

There are a lot of positive trends, and there are some not-so-positive trends as well. I see a bit of carelessness in using language and grammar. I see outright copying. I see a lot of compromise on quality. I see that while many messages mean well, they can also be misinterpreted, as nuances are not paid attention to. I see that there is a need for depth and ‘originality’–the focus is leaning more towards quantity, speed, and keeping the customer/audience engaged throughout, rather than going deeper in a qualitative sense.

6. Who is producing the work you’re following right now?
I don’t follow anyone in particular. When I come across work that is good and worthy, I feel inspired. I admire it and try to learn from the work/craft itself.

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E-interview #2: Peter Wildman

coverPeter Wildman is an artist based in Sydney, Australia. He has been working with computer coding languages, electronics and other materials for the past five years. During this time he has also been an enthusiastic teacher, lecturing at a number of Sydney’s Universities. He is currently completing a postgraduate practice based research degree at UNSW Art and Design. His research is concerned with deconstructing binaries that exist in the field of computation. Situating his work in the field of codeworks, he is interested in how computer coding languages as literature can be used to erase binaries embedded in the discourse around computation and language: codepomofo is a collection of his code poems (for viewing on PC). Here, in the second of this special DWIR interview series, Peter boldly explains the concepts underlying his creative work.


1. Could you give a brief history of your creative practice?
My creative practice began when I realised that a question I had asked my high school careers advisor had come to fruition without any direct planning. When I was 17 I wanted to be an interior designer, psychologist and an accountant. The advisor told me that these three careers were so different and I would need to choose one. After some years of wandering I realised that writing computer code in an arts field actually satisfied the motivation behind all of these aspirations. My creative practice became clear; through computer code I realised I could create aesthetic work using logic that explored concepts. Since this realisation I have been using computer code and electronics to explore concepts that interest me – communal music making, meditation and now computer coding language as a literary medium. As my practice has matured I have also started to work with concepts embedded in the medium itself.

2. How have digital media helped you communicate the intent/s behind your work?
I understand digital media in a very broad sense, as a defining term, as a method of sensing and actuating materials that are seemingly different from the analogue method. The digital, referring to a series of on and off states, and the analogue as a series of waveforms are different, but so is one analogue medium from another, or even one analogue medium from another use of that same analogue medium. For example a person writing in a word processor of a computer who then prints their prose is working digitally, where a person who writes onto paper with a pen is working in an analogue medium. There will be a difference between the person who writes with a pencil on a wall or the person who uses a branding iron to burn their words into their own body. Defining my work as digital does not help my work and I do not use this framework when considering how to communicate. If my work seems to use digital as a driving force, potentially it is just the dominance of the medium itself in our current times reflecting back upon my use of its elements. Or maybe it is the new church and I am not so into organised religion.

3. Is there a marked correlation between your creative practice and your personal beliefs?
 When I started out in my creative practice the personal was a very strong reason for creating. I believe this came from a need to create a stronger self or person. I have recently overcome a lot of personal traumas and now find it much easier to create as a process further separated from the self. I am hoping that over time I will be able to fully lend my critical and creative abilities to what is eminent in my culture and the mediums I am using. Yet I will always be there as a space through which this critique and creation manifests.

4. What appeals to you about collaborative practice? Do digital media lend themselves to collaboration more than traditional media?
I have done a very small amount of collaboration in my practice. I feel that collaboration brings different interests together that broaden and enrich work. Collaboration also enables different time frames to influence the production of a work. I don’t believe any medium would lend itself more to the collaborative process, rather each medium and mode of transmission would eventuate in a different work. For example Cosmic Poem by Tomomi Adachi and Akihiro Kubota, a series of poems being generated and sent from ARTSAT, a satellite deployed in outer space orbiting the earth, is dependent on the collaborative nature of radio signal retrieval and subsequent ‘reunification’ of these transmissions received on earth in fragments. Whilst Candy Chang’s work Before I Die transforms public spaces into walls where people can use chalk to complete the sentence Before I die I want to…

These works are public collaborations that are made in very different ways when viewing them from the perspective of digital and traditional mediums, yet neither one lends themselves more so than the other as artworks of collaboration.

5. How does digital media succeed as a method of reflecting different realities where traditional methods might not?
My interest in mediums are more idiosyncratic and attempt to cross and collapse divides of broader definitions. This is important to me because to keep a medium confined within a binary structure is to restrict it to a dominant conversation and restrain it from being a multiplicity of things in different contexts. For example I am currently interested in computer coding languages. But I have read these aloud on stage, written computer code on paper with a pencil, executed computer code by sewing graphics by hand. Each of these interactions with computer code are outside of the digital and able to exist in different ways because they are transient and defiant. This is why you will see a mix of mediums in my work and a range of influences. In my current work I am interested in how language systems, looking at one computer coding language in particular, execute or generate something. But through this I am interested in constraints, instructions, ordered processes and translation. And because of these interests I am inspired by Sol LeWitt and his series of instructions for wall drawings; Dada poetry; Fluxes actions; Oulipo constrained writing techniques; Multiples, edited by Adam Thirwell and contributed to by 61 authors; or Ramsey Nasser and his arabic programming language قلب.

Snapshots from an Unfamiliar Album

‘Like haiku; [the snapshot] will ask us to complete it.’
–Douglas Nickel

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Consider these photographs. They were all collected from various locations, various countries. All were purchased—none were inherited. None of them interrelate beyond the fact that they are products of similar technology; societies of ‘consumption and disposal’ (West 81-2), and perhaps the result of the same purpose: to capture a context and meaning, too soon lost.

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Consider how many words each image is worth. It would be quite a game of ekphrasis to invent stories to pin to the background of these scenarios, these times, these people, who are no longer of this life but of an afterlife; there relegated the instant their impression settled on film.

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Consider this afterlife. This one, now, as the photographs appear on the screen before you; the processes that these snapshots have come through to reach a stage of digital display, of internment.

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Context; capture—sometimes highly orchestrated—meaning; loss.

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‘Once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of posing. I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image.’
–Roland Barthes

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Consider the layers, indiscernible when looking across, that create a depth when looking down.  Rediscovery; recollection; reformatting into an album, into an unfamiliar sequence, set in or sharing a page according to a new context, a different aesthetic. Then re-photographed, re-calibrated into pixels, then uploaded. Then, downloaded. Then again in view, but under the gaze of a gallery of strangers, a global unknown, a new reflection of the people in the snapshots (who is peering at whom?), able to be accessed and copied.

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It is obscene, this kind of invasion of nostalgia. It is a contemporary trend to re-purpose objects—but do people require re-writing? Is this transference to digital form enough of an encoding for an unwilled, unwilling exhibition?

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And yet. Consider not only what is lost in this process but also what might be gained: what new life is this afterlife. Possibly it’s one of nourishment, where we can look from the uppermost layer down and declare that we are learning, or re-learning. Where we attend to the past via this digital resurrection. Where the faces will be reconfigured and their stories, those real and invented, will fill us with wonder. Where they might even, again, be seen.

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‘If snapshots are no longer innocent or private pictures, maybe we need to question whether, in fact, they ever were.’
–Marvin Heiferman

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References

West, Nancy Martha. 2008. ‘Telling Time: Found Photographs and the Stories They Inspire’ in Now Is Then: Snapshots from the Maresca Collection, ed. Marvin Heiferman. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 78-120.