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(ILR) Aditi Aggarwal: Microcosmic Urban Explorations: 1 Square Foot at a Time

Updated: Jul 11

Case Study

My artistic proposal seeks to capture the intricate temporal layers and emotional depths inherent in urban life, expressed through a multifaceted approach spanning various mediums and methodologies.

Central to my artistic philosophy is the recognition of multiple overlapping temporal dimensions. Each artwork endeavors to engage with these dimensions simultaneously, reflecting the noise, speed, and duration characteristic of urban experiences. Through techniques like free association and abstraction of time and space, I aim to articulate urban spaces suffused with both anxiety and dysfunction. This approach transforms initial meanings into a complex tapestry woven from my surroundings, memories, and urban elements, conveyed through diverse formats such as bookmaking, drawing, painting, and collages—both analogue and digital.

"1 Sq Feet at a Time," a key case study, distills urban experiences into one-square-foot segments. This microcosmic exploration allows for a detailed examination of the politics of connectivity and inclusion within urban spaces, each segment capturing a snapshot moment or memory.

In "Echoes of Light," conducted in collaboration with my father at Studio A89, Kaladham, pinhole photography becomes a vehicle to explore time, space, and memory. This project documents contemporary artists and their environments, blending archival practices with creative storytelling. It celebrates analogue photography, challenging digital norms while fostering community connections through workshops, exhibitions, and publications.

These projects are underpinned by three thematic pillars: Intelligence, Love, and Revolution. Intelligence manifests in meticulous archiving and reinterpretation of urban imagery, revealing hidden connections and insights. Love is reflected in the profound affection for cities and their inhabitants, integrating personal memories to foster shared humanity. Revolution calls for a reevaluation of urban environments, advocating for more inclusive and mindful engagements with our surroundings.

MY artistic practice aims to celebrate the richness of urban life while challenging conventional perspectives through innovative techniques and deep emotional resonance. Each project serves as a testament to the complexities and vibrancy of contemporary urban existence, inviting viewers to reconsider their relationship with the cities they inhabit.

Conceptual framework

The theoretical framework underpinning the projects "1 Sq Feet at a Time" and "Echoes of Light" situates them within the paradigm of Intelligence, Love, and Revolution, drawing on philosophical, urban studies, art theory, and social criticism perspectives. These projects aim to encapsulate the multifaceted temporalities of urban life, critique urban existence, and explore the transformative potential of artistic expression.

Intelligence, as defined by this framework, involves methodical documentation and insightful understanding of urban experiences. "1 Sq Feet at a Time" meticulously archives one-square-foot segments of urban spaces, objects, and memories. This approach resonates with David Harvey's concept of time-space compression, exploring how technology shapes our perceptions of urban environments. Jacques Derrida's "archive fever" further informs this project by highlighting the desire to collect and preserve memories, enhancing our comprehension of urban complexities.

In "Echoes of Light," intelligence manifests through the revival of pinhole photography, a deliberate return to traditional techniques amidst the dominance of digital media. This practice, rooted in Walter Benjamin's critique of mechanical reproduction, emphasizes the unique aura and authenticity of analogue photography, challenging prevailing digital norms.

Love, within this context, signifies emotional engagement and community building fostered by the projects. Both initiatives evoke shared human experiences through familiar objects and personal memories, encouraging viewers to reflect on their connections to urban spaces. "Echoes of Light" exemplifies this through collaborative efforts, particularly with the involvement of family members, echoing Hans Ulrich Obrist's emphasis on shared artistic endeavors and mutual inspiration.

Revolution entails the critique and transformation of urban spaces through artistic practices. "1 Sq Feet at a Time" critiques urban spectacles by condensing them into manageable segments, promoting a mindful engagement with urban environments. This approach draws on theories from urban studies and social criticism, exploring how localized artistic interventions can catalyze broader social and political transformations, resonating with ideas from Manuel Castells and Henri Lefebvre.

"Echoes of Light" revolutionizes by reclaiming traditional photography in the digital age, challenging digital hegemony and advocating for the enduring relevance of analogue techniques. Collaboration and educational components within both projects extend their revolutionary potential, fostering new perspectives on urban experiences and artistic practices.

"1 Sq Feet at a Time" and "Echoes of Light" converge at the nexus of meticulous archiving, emotional resonance, and critical engagement, offering a nuanced exploration of urban life and artistic expression. Through these initiatives, they seek to deepen understanding of urban environments, promote transformative artistic practices, and embody the triad of Intelligence, Love, and Revolution.


The projects "1 Sq Feet at a Time" and "Echoes of Light" converge on a visionary exploration of urban life and memory, employing a blend of contemporary and traditional artistic approaches. They aim to unravel the intricate layers of our urban existence, acknowledging the complexity shaped by overlapping frames of time. At its core, this endeavor seeks to capture the essence of urban experience—the noise, speed, and lasting impact—while addressing the accompanying anxieties and dysfunctions.

Central to these projects is the methodological collectivism that underscores local artistic practices influencing global structures, fostering connectivity and inclusion in both artistic and social realms. Embracing analogue photography amid a digital era, the projects aim to revive appreciation for traditional art forms, alongside educating through workshops and exhibitions to deepen understanding of photographic evolution.

Collaboration is pivotal, engaging local artists, communities, and audiences to foster dialogue and shared learning. This collaborative spirit aims to inspire innovative creativity and a sense of collective artistic pursuit.

The projects also delve into the dynamics of memory and time through visual abstraction, deconstructing and layering elements to reveal hidden connections and prompt viewers to reconsider their urban temporal perceptions. This approach creates visually complex narratives that resonate on intellectual and emotional levels, challenging viewers to rethink their interactions with urban environments. "1 Sq Feet at a Time" and "Echoes of Light" aspire to challenge perspectives and inspire new ways of seeing urban life. By documenting diverse urban experiences and promoting inclusivity, these projects aim to create a connected artistic community that celebrates and explores the multifaceted nature of urban existence. In doing so, they weave together contemporary insights with timeless artistic traditions to articulate a profound and comprehensive narrative of urban life, memory, and artistic practice.

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