Post Narrative / 2019
A quasi manifesto in poster form, calling for a rethinking of the role of narratives in design.

Year: Fall 2019

Typology: Poster

Size: 24 x 36 in

Tools: Rhinoceros, Adobe Creative Suite

Typefaces: Suisse Int’l by Ian Party

The Frame / 2019
A short video highlighting the role of narrative framing in shaping how information is received.

This project originated as a passing thought as I was working on the Kashmir Project and thought about how I could communicate what was going on in the region. There seemed to be jarring contrasts in how the conflict in Kashmir was being framed by the Indian media. Some images showed people suffering, unable to visit hospitals for treatment and locals being beaten by the Indian armed forces, while others captured scenes of urban normalcy with people going about their business. The biggest contrasts took the form of public gatherings. Droves of men in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s capital city, took to blocking streets by starting bonfires while members of the BJP (India’s right wing ruling party) lit firecrackers and distributed sweets at public gatherings all over New Delhi.

Post Narrative / 2019
A quasi manifesto in poster form, calling for a rethinking of the role of narratives in design.

What was true? Certainly, both public gatherings took place. But only one reflected reality in Kashmir. It wasn’t business as usual in the region as some sources suggested. The whole state was shut down with communication lines cut, curfews imposed, and shops closed. The state was violently rendered into silence while media outlets and BJP party members spun grand narratives about the people of Kashmir being unfaithful opportunists and their party leader and our prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi being the great messiah saving the nation from economic and political doom. Does this framing seem familiar? It was, in fact, the age-old conflict-resolution narrative script being deployed to craft the public’s perception of reality. And it was successful.
        What about counter-narratives that attempted to combat rising tides of disinformation and instead deliver the truth? They weren’t effective enough because other framings of the Kashmir conflict were deemed more appealing. How strange was it that reality was contingent on the aesthetic qualities of its framing? This, in fact, was the case because the battle for the truth was being fought within the province of narrative.
        To me, some battles ought not to be fought within the realm of narrative. Some issues warrant a coldness and detachment in their treatment, and must remain unframed by overarching narratives that play into our impulse of reducing complex situations into a game of protagonists and antagonists. Indeed the emergence of phrases such as fake news and alternate facts signal not the defeat but the victory of a narrative approach to reality. In the case of Kashmir, narratives were deployed to portray the residents of the state (predominantly Muslim) as the other.
        The solution, in my opinion, lies in a more scrupulous approach to narrative deployment. By using media synergistically—be it print, video, audio or code—the goal is to capture reality in its rawest, most human form, allowing the inherent characteristics of the media used to aestheticize what is being captured. Here, narrative isn’t really the end-goal but an incidental outcome.


1        Žižek, Slavoj. 2008. Violence. London: Profile.