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
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.