After the Partition of India in 1947, Punjab as a highly affected state, had the largest migrant population in the country. Its traditional capital, Lahore, was now a part of the new nation called Pakistan. The Indian side of Punjab required a new capital epitomizing the guiding ideals and progressive futuristic plans of an emerging, Modern India. Chandigarh was not about rebuilding, altering or expanding the peripheries of an old city but was about constructing a new one—a progressive beginning for a Modern nation.
American architect-planner, Albert Mayer in collaboration with Polish architect, Mathew Nowiki was called in to design world-class urban plans for Chandigarh. After the latter’s death, the Swiss-born French architect and urban planner, Le Corbusier was asked to work on the buildings and draft fresh plans for the city. The pioneer of modern architectural design, Corbusier’s architectural model for buildings proposed an open floor which consisted of concrete slabs supported by a minimal number of thin, reinforced concrete columns around the edges with stairways that provided access to each level above the floor.
These architectural plans, cross sections, geometric angles, the reflective-cum-translucent quality of glass and above all, the conceptual dilemma of breaking with the past and assimilating the progressive ideals of the West is articulated in the 3-D computer simulations of Swiss artist, Maja Weyermann. Using computer simulations as her artistic medium, she challenges the modernist obsession with ‘ocularcentrism’ and notions of ‘evidential truth’ which gave rise to current technologies like photography—blurring the very idea of ‘reality’ and the ‘truth’ perceived either through photography. She says “these images represent my view of contemporary Chandigarh as a ‘hybrid city’. It is both rooted in the European history of urban planning and at the same time is a modern Indian city. Using architectural plans and cross sections from Le Corbusier and his team, I began re-creating several houses in 3-D computer simulations. Multi-perspective views, various layers of time and the unique light of Chandigarh overlap within these virtual spaces. The resulting interior appears to be a photograph but, in actuality, they are renderings of an artistic construction.”
Whether it is Maja’s vision or simulation’s virtual reality, it has traced many of the missing links which connect the seen to the unseen.
This text was first published in: PIX Quarterly Vol. 3, Imaginaries: Exploring Photo Art, New Delhi, 2012.