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Ancient Light for Madras Day
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Ancient Light for Madras Day



Notes from my Madras Week talks and a video of a similar presentation at the TEDxSSN conference

Notes from my Madras Week talks and a video of a similar presentation at the TEDxSSN conference



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  • Some slides have additional information/notes. Do check them out.

    For slide 3: The reason there isn’t a photo is because no one’s seen the bulwark in a really long time. V. Sriram tells you why, here: http://sriramv.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/de-havilland-and-the-madras-bulwark/#comment-1796
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  • According to the Madras Terecentenary Volume, the structure, known to all as de Havilland’s Bulwark, formed the foundation on which the Beach Road, fronting the Fort runs. So, obviously, with the building of the harbour, the sea receded and the road was built on the bulwark.In 1967, when a subway was built to connect North Beach and South Beach Roads, excavations revealed the Madras Bulwark. More of it surfaced in 1978 when the area near the Beach Station was dug up. No doubt, the ongoing Metro Rail work will throw up some more bits of the Bulwark.
  • In 2007, a few months after Thomas Hawk, Robert Scoble and Trevor Carpenter created/began the photowalk concept, I organised one in Madras. 38 months and about 55 photowalk later, I am going to talk to you about it.
  • Did we stand up because tree branches/fruits were out of our reach as quadrupeds? Did we stand up because food was scarce, energy had to be conserved; standing presented less surface area to the harsh climates of Africa?
  • Class: Mammalia Order: Primates Family: Hominidae Genus: Homo Species: H. sapiens Subspecies: H. s. sapiensAnd migrated. And colonised the world.
  • David Jordan: UCSD, Making of the modern world, evolutionary pressures for bipedalism: narrower pelvis means better locomotion, bone conservation, less likely to break. Price: birth canal narrowed, hence greater risk for fetus. And mother.Child has to look up to a bigger, better, powerful entity for its survival. Hence – religion?
  • All this is because, ultimately, we all would like to know who we are and why we are here. (I know. Free lunch, and to get out of office.)And, for india/indians, an idea of how to perhaps do things better in the future.
  • History: from ἱστόριονFrom the proto-indo-europeanwid-tor. Meaning to know.
  • Communicating knowledge acquired from different sources, abstracting, metaphor-making and connecting these varied streams of knowledge, is essential.VS Ramachandran – the idea of metaphors, synesthesia. Why shouldn’t our brains be prone to greater wiring-together of the parts?
  • Of tragic poetry and comedy – the two principal elements of drama, play. Of film and TV.
  • Idea for India: cities with teams that work on understanding its history. Team to be made of multi-disciplinary members. Idea for India: Schools and universities to work with teams, learn how to appreciate history. Dig in the school. Dig in your neighbourhood. Go to museums. Talk to people, find out. And put a show. Make a film.

Ancient Light for Madras Day Ancient Light for Madras Day Presentation Transcript

  • ChandrachoodanGopalakrishnan
  • Madras Bulwark
    A photo of de Havilland’s
  • #punmozhi
    1800 years old, and still turns heads.
  • Michel De Certeu – Practice of Everyday Life.
    The flaneur – Walking the City.
    Does the city exist already, or is it created by the act of walking it?
    Are we experiencing the city? Or creating it?
  • Why do humans walk?
    Did we walk because we stood up? Why did we stand up?
  • What happened? We walked. #punmozhi
    Freed up our hands to manipulate tools – such as the Olduwan stone chopper. Or a Nikon D80.
    Deer and other game could outrun us in the short-term, but quickly lost stamina. Had to rest. Us homos, we walked slowly, but surely. And caught up with the game.
  • What happened? We walked. #punmozhi
    Our brains had gotten bigger. Our heads swelled up. So we couldn’t be born properly. We were all premature births.
    Abstraction. Religion. Organisation of societies.
  • Where’s all this going to?
    V.S Ramachandran
    David Jordan & Matthew Herbst
    Alan Fletcher
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Painting: Apollo Dancing with the Nine Muses, by Francesco Bartolozzi.
    Source http://www.mjt.org/intro/muses.htm
  • The Muse Clio
    A greater understanding of the past
  • A greater understanding
    Informing, for better interaction
    A connection
    Although, compromises have to be made with heritage
    To what extent do we preserve heritage?
  • Clio - History
    History out of text books, on the streets.
    John Keay, Archaeology, Time Team, digging, doing, learning.
  • The Muse Calliope
    And a better understanding of the present
  • Minerva and her muses
    Painting: Minerva and the muses, by Rottenhammer.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rottenhammer,_Minerva_and_the_Muses.jpg
  • Writing, talking, photographing, communicating.
    It’s not enough to know something. It’s important to tell folks what you know, and show why that knowledge is important.
    Is it?
    Opening doors, bad pun, I know.
  • The Muses Melpomene and Thalia
    Putting on a show
  • Questions, disciplines
    Are we creating the city
    Or are we experiencing/living it?
    To understand history
    Urban design
    Drama, film, television
  • Finding Madras in Chennai.
    The Chennai PhotoWalk
  • Clive kissed me on the brow
    I grew up in Madras. It always came last, meekly following Bombay, Calcutta & Delhi. (The New conveniently left out.)
    And then, 1996. Madras became Chennai. And Bombay became Mumbai and the world order changed. Calcutta soon became Kolkata and poor Bangalore became Bengalooru.
  • So I became, crowned above
    Something clicked. The name change helped Madras become what it could be – top of the list, at least alphabetically.
  • Brooding on ancient fame
    I grew up loving history, in-spite of the best efforts of my history teacher.
    Stumbled upon S. Muthiah’s book – Madras Discovered – and his columns in the Hindu
    And here I am.
  • St. Mary’s Church, 1st Chennai PhotoWalk
    Streynsham Master’s 1680 construction gave Yale his name, and the world the university.
  • Withered beldame? No more.
    The point is – Madras or Chennai – this is one of the best cities I’ve seen.
    The Chennai Photowalk is my way of forcing my opinion (of Chennai) down others’ throats.
    It’s simple really. Walk with me. With us. Look Madras, or Chennai, through our eyes.
  • Velu, spotted on the 2nd Chennai PhotoWalk
    Came from Thirunelveli to Madras. Found a life, a livelihood. Stayed on.
  • Wonderful kisses
    There’s no club. No application forms. No entry fees.
    Come if you have a camera. Come if you don’t.
    There’s immense potential in this city, if only we tap it.
  • Archaeology: For, By and to the people
    Ancient Light
  • Public and Community Archaeology
    Get non-archaeologists, people like you and me, more interested and involved in history, in heritage, in archeology
    Build better understanding of how the past shapes the present
    Make archaeology less of an Ivory-Tower pursuit
    Support laws to preserve the past and its evidence
    Get the internet involved
    Bring archaeology to the people, because the prophet does not have time to go to the mountain
    Make archaeology and history – heritage - fun with photowalks
    Bring photowalkers to archaeology, and thus archaeology to the www
  • How, Where, what and when
    Ancient Light
  • Tools
    Facebook group – acted as blog/forum/mailing list
    (Or, simply search for Ancient Light group on Facebook.)
  • Tools
    Flickr group – store of photos, information, tags
  • Photowalk 1: Berkeley Castle
    Berkeley Castle: Part of UoB Archaeology field school.
    Photowalk on June 2, 2010
    About 15 people in the walk
  • Photowalk 2: Exmoor
    Another UoB Archaeology dig, in Hawkcombe Head, Exmoor
    Photowalk on July 18, 2010
    About 20 people in the walk
  • Photowalk 3: Bangalore
    An old temple complex outside Bangalore City, India
    Photowalk on August 1, 2010
    About 15 people in the walk
  • Photowalk 4: Bristol
    Led by Prof. Mark Horton, UoB, tracing the birth and growth of Bristol
    Photowalk on August 20, 2010
    About 25 people in the walk
  • © ChandrachoodanGopalakrishnan, University of Bristol, and the respective Photographers
    Photos from Bala, ChandrachoodanGopalakrishnan, Devika Raman, Eleanor Ware, JulietaOgaz, Karen Wood, Katie Lynn Malone, Matt Gaunt, Philip Perrin and Ros Evans