Section Chirag Jindal 2018

Section Chirag Jindal 2018

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) Algae Cyanotype Published in  Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. (1843)

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) Algae Cyanotype Published in Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. (1843)


 The Collapsed Section

In Jindal’s hauntingly beautiful drawings, collected multidimensional scanning data has been

collapsed into the conventional architectural language of plans and sections. Rather than produce

the expected range of digital models with such highly-accurate and intense spatial data available,

Jindal has elected to disturb the familiar, and here the drawing type of the section is of particular


These sections are accurate and recognizable, however they are not the usual conceptual ‘cut’

through object and space, but a condensed version of the millions of points in space collected

through the laser scanning. The result of using such technology to create a section is the fusing of

quantified data with qualitative information.

The overlapping of quantitative and qualitative information produces a richness in the sections

which is at first difficult to understand, with the familiarity of the Cartesian section as a drawing type

being unsettled by the underlying inclusion of sensory conditions – not via colour or light conditions

as would typically be employed in an immersive section, but through the very data itself. The intense

quantification here creates the qualities in the works, seen especially where the light ‘sources’ are

the locations of the laser equipment positions.

The fine ‘lineweights’, which are effectively clustered points, create textures evocative of knotted,

woven and frayed materials, yet we know they are volcanic stone. The lines themselves are made of

light, using it as a material rather than atmosphere. Where the collapsed section is most clearly

illustrated is in the lack of a singular cut edge where stone meets space, instead the layering of

points and lines describes both spatial depth and movement, quite possibly evoking the historical

slow crawl of cooling lava.


The use of current technology to explore the essential nature of a section’s subject calls to mind the

contribution of previous technologies such as photography to architectural drawing, via the sciences

and arts.

In her paper ‘Seeing in Section: the Practice of Photogrammatic Drawing’ 2 , Shelley Martin discusses

how a section can be conceived of and made as a drawing of collapsed space (my terminology), with

embedded depth, rather than as a measured slice. To illustrate this idea, she presented a series of

Virginia Tech student works created in the dark room using their own previously made models. The

resulting photogrammic 3 imprint captured not only the accurate measurements of contact side of

the model, the section as a slice as per a knife, but also the condensed space of the depth of the

model itself. This illustrates the inclusion of qualitative spatial information inherent in the model.

2 Shelley F Martin Interstices 11, Enigma: He Aupiki, Auckland 2010

3 Often called a photogenic drawing, with origins in the 1830s in England by W.Talbot and pre-dated Daguerreotypes.

Cyanotypes are another type of photogenic drawing, known commonly as Blueprints, and followed in the early 1840s,

understood to be first used by Sir John Herschel.

The history of photograms shows their use in both the sciences and fine arts, with an initial interest

in the post-Enlightenment recording of the natural world. The first book with photographic images

was by English Botanist Anna Atkins in 1843, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. 4 In the fine arts,

the photogram technique was used most widely in the early Twentieth Century, by artists such as

Man Ray, Lee Miller and L. Moholy-Nagy, among others.

In Jindal’s works, both the sciences and the arts interweave in these simultaneously quantitative and

qualitative drawings, and despite the differences in era and technology, there is a pleasant similarity

to Atkins’ 1843 coral cyanotypes. Martin suggests that “…the photogram is a materially productive

tool that registers, activates and transforms both material and phenomenon.” 5 I would argue that

Jindal, too, uses a highly sophisticated version of data technology to achieve precisely this.

The method of making these images has an impact on the viewers’ understanding of the underworld

spaces depicted. One that most of us may never visit. Tāmaki Makaurau’s underworld is here

beautifully described through being generated literally from within, increasing the sense of power

lying beneath the thin suburban layer of most locals’ daily lives. Jindal has drawn upon mythology

and its relationship to darkness and the underworld, in particular the Maori concept of Te Kore,

often described as ultimate darkness and pure potential. 6

To contrast this power, the same method of data collection and image-making has been used in the

measuring, drawing and archiving of the surface infrastructure. This gives familiar objects of our

daily lives – weatherboard houses, roads and cars - an ephemeral feel. To increase this sense of

uncanny, the immediate juxtaposition of these two worlds reminds the viewer of the inescapable

reality of rational, measured space – the closeness depicted here seems impossible. Rarohenga,

governed by Hine-nui-te-po, in our minds is distant and unreachable in this life.

The works in this exhibition, and it’s predecessor in December 2017, have grown from Jindal’s post-

graduate thesis carried out at The University of Auckland in 2015, called Into The Underworld: The

Architecture of Katabasis (2015, Supervisor Jeremy Treadwell). Jindal’s body of work is an excellent

example of the importance of the research-by-design thesis year at the conclusion of five years of

architectural study. Chirag Jindal’s thesis has extended beyond the academic world and become a

conflation of art, technology, architecture and business in his practising life.

4 Ed. Hannavy, John, Encyclopedia of Nineteeth-Century Photography, Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2007

5 Shelley F Martin Interstices 11, Enigma: He Aupiki, Auckland 2010, P161

6 Ranginui Walker, Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End, Penguin Books Auckland 1990, p11.