My aim is to represent the conflict and relationship between the here
and the longing for elsewhere
through an interactive panorama of Mumbai city. A digital collage of appropriate symbols, popular images and architecture will create two bipolar city landscapes that will interact with each other and the user, creating an experience that emphasizes the difference between a collectively imagined dreamscape versus the ‘reality’ of Mumbai.
The song-site in Bollywood movies is a good example of the imagined elsewhere for middle and upper-middle class Mumbaikars, where we are suddenly transported from the streets of Mumbai or the here, into an ideal place frequently represented by Switzerland, New Zealand or Germany; a dreamscape that is actually being built (Fig.1) through the efforts of architects and builders who have realized and understood this desire amongst aspiring Indians (Ashraf, 2005, p. 68):
The longing for elsewhere is now embodied in new building configurations that are radically altering the urban landscape: malls and shopping centres, cineplexes and flyovers, and exclusive apartment or residential complexes.
Using popular commercial styles of architects such as Hiranandani and Hafeez Contractor, the elsewhere will be a seamless city inspired by exclusive residential complexes and sets from Bollywood movies.
A complete contrast to these new structures that boast luxury, the reality or the here is that two-thirds of Mumbai’s population live in slums that lack basic amenities such as water, health, education and sanitation (Jonas Bendikson, 2008). This is how the majority lives even as they aspire to the ‘elsewhere;’ consuming popular Bollywood movies that sell dream-like images of what India could be. The here will be represented by a fragmented collage of conflicting identities in Mumbai today, a panorama based on images of everyday streets, slums, art deco buildings and famous landmarks.
[The full essay with references and images is available here: Study_PlanFNL5]