Tuesday, November 19, 2019

175. Foreword to SWAN: The Intelligent Picture Book. P S Remesh Chandran


Foreword to SWAN: The Intelligent Picture Book

P. S. Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

Article Title Image 1 By . Graphics: Adobe SP.

Announced a decade ago. Just released.

[Courtesy: Book Cover Image By Miss Orphelia. Graphics: Adobe SP.] 

Buy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081N4WNL1


Single line drawings are rare. Even those who attempted them in the past have not cared to publish them. After going through publishing companies’ catalogues, it was seen, no book of intelligent single line drawings has ever appeared in print or digital media. A few such drawings from my archives are here, all done by me before or during the Millennium Year 2000. They are here in the original form. 

Single line drawings are very easy to create. They are also called one line drawings. They are created with a single stroke of hand. Because of this simplicity of theirs and also due to the limitations in their scope for expression, they are usually created with pencils, pens, quills, crayons and wax, not with painting brushes. Painting brushes need more strokes of the hand to finish a picture. They are generally meant to create depth in pictures through colours. Paintings enjoy much freedom of movement of the hand. Single line drawings cannot take that much freedom or privilege. In a single line drawing, the movement of human hand is limited to one single stroke and therefore the movement of the mind also is, or may be, limited. It is this limitation, barrier, that we break or bridge by incorporating script in single line drawings. Paintings do not have script in them, generally. 

Leopold Stokowski, Pablo Picasso and quite a few others have done single line drawings in their time. Some made an external profile and filled it in with continuous movements of a line to make their pictures. Some envisioned the end product in their minds and realized it on the medium with a single stroke. Some just followed their crazy imagination and spontaneity with their hand. I have gone through hundreds of pictures classified under line drawings, out line drawings, one line drawings and single line drawings. The majority of them, at least of what I had the opportunity to see, were mostly interesting but not intelligent and stimulating generally as brain testers or brain teasers. Not that they weren’t superb but I felt they were not as intelligent and challenging as I expected. I now have arrived at the opinion that these pictures here are unique in that, and that is why I dare release them for the public as a book. 

These pictures are released as such, without editing, colouring, beautification or polishing of any kind. Once such things are done- the background print removed, the lettering projected well-cut in colours and the lines traced in other neon colours- they would add charm to these pages and make them beautiful to look at. How background lines and printings can be removed and the pictures cleaned are illustrated by the last two pictures in this book, the last of which done by my friend, Mr. Pushkin. E. H., a gifted painter and author himself. 

But I leave this remaining task in this book to the gifted children of the world, in the present times and in the future, who surely will come across these pictures someday and see what is to be done. It is their pleasure to do it. In their hands, with their craft in modern image editing and enhancing technologies, I am sure, these pictures will fill up themselves and stand up and please young minds. 

Script in these pages may be in most cases in differing and unreadable styles but making them out with the help of pictures or making the pictures out with the help of scripts is in itself a rewarding exercise, to be practiced by readers, so that their multi skills- aesthetic as well as linguistic- will develop. Sometimes, deciphering the script itself would be the exercise. There are also pictures with no script, the meaning of which are left to the common sense of readers. In such cases, the artist and designer had either forgotten to include suggestive writings or had nothing to write. Perhaps, he himself had not understood them. Also the readers, especially the young and the intuitive among them, may want to add their own meaningful script anyway. 

The script is generally in English. But a few writings are in the Malayalam language of the author’s native land Kerala, and a very few others are in the North Indian language Hindi, which may please be excused by readers. There were a few other images which had words from French and Tamil in them which are not included in this book. There were several pictures from the author’s original diary which are excluded in this collection as they would be totally irrelevant to an international audience. Some of them were fully in regional languages and depend more on script than lines to convey a message. Many of them were tricky advertisement posters for films and books. 

Reading illegible scripts written in different styles is also a skill which these pictures wish to impart to readers. Where scripts are obscure, they can certainly be guessed with the help of the lines and a little common sense. The lines and writings are meant to supplement one another. Lines cannot have a language except one of emotions which appeal to the intellect. Sometimes there will not be pictures but writings alone. They too are meant to convey something intelligent, perhaps a coinage of phrases which, the author thinks, is meaningful. 

Even though these pictures have their position on their pages, they needn’t always be viewed as such, in their usual vertical positions. Often, rotating them will reveal their fuller meaning or other meanings, if writings on the sides, above or below suggest so. Or, if you are reading this book in the print form, simply turning the book will do. Or, you can do it all in your imagination. This book demands the intelligence of the reader anyway. 

Skilled, patient viewers can read them anyway, moving their heads to the desired position, even without turning pictures. Some may want to work on some pictures to see how they look in different positions. It is safer to download and save pictures to your computer and make a copy before rotating, as rotating the images may alter some of their properties. 

Copying pictures to a computer or a similar devise has also the advantage of being able to enlarge them and read undecipherable scripts also easily, which is one of the challenges the author wants to pose before the readers through these pictures. Once they are in your computer, you can start Photoshop or Picassa or whichever and do what you wish. Whatever you do, you will sure be improving the pictures. 

The pictures are arranged not based on their theme or finery in perception but according to the date of their drawing. They stand as such- bare, unpolished and crude. It’s the world’s interested future generations who are going to build on them. There may be good ones among them and there may surely be inferior ones too. It is the reader who is to judge them. 

You may ask why this collection of pictures is termed an ‘intelligent picture book’. It is simply because you can use it to gauge your own or other persons’ intelligence without the aid of anyone or anything else. Gauging another person’s intelligence is a necessity human race always faced. We have had to depend on the collective wisdom of the human race and out own intuition to do that. The tools which we can use to gauge one’s intelligence and his or her quickness of mind are but few. Even those tools which are there are either not accessible to ordinary citizens or unaffordable to them. They exist only in the world of higher psychology, psychiatry and management sciences. They are accessible to and handled by only professionals, and are costly. It is hoped that this book would serve common man’s purposes and needs and supplement those in the fields mentioned. 

Each man responds to this kind of pictures according to the level of his intelligence and clarity and alertness of conscience. Dormant genius and intelligence can be sparked by quick glimpses of vision which the pictures are intended to provide. Some may never read the script in them, some may never connect the script with the images but some others will in no time read the script as well as connect them with the images, in whichever positions the scripts are displayed and however obscure and illegible they appear. 

As a general rule, the lesser time one takes to fully comprehend a picture, the better his intelligence and clearer his conscience as can be gauged. If you know what is there in a picture, you can assess the intelligence of another by gauging the time he or she takes to comprehend the picture fully, without you needing to be anywhere near the higher level of his intelligence. If you are going to interview someone for a top position in your company, be ready with these pictures. And never take these suggestive chapter headings with you. They will take away the surprise and deprive the test of its ingenuity. 

Suppose you are interviewing candidates for a top management position in your firm. Suppose there are several candidates too intelligent and clever to be selected between. You find it hard to select one. Suppose you take up the picture here with of cource the words ‘The Girl With The Mirror’ and ‘A Single Line Drawing’ removed or covered and ask what it represents. If one candidate answers ‘it’s a girl with a mirror’ you can definitely select him. If more than one answers the same, note the time they took to come up with that answer. And there may also be other excellent intelligent interpretations which the author of that image did not even ever dream about! 

Even though these pictures were created in the 2000s, their publishing was not taken seriously until 2009, the year of the beginning of my internet presence. This novel idea of a book was first put before Lulu Publishers who encouraged me to finish this book early and publish it with them. Not only this worthy publisher but others there too presented me with options for publishing. When they were drawn, they were done on pages of diaries and costly books. I could have drawn them on criss-cross-type bond paper which I usually used for my writings but it did not happen that way. Had it, there would have been no need for removal of background and cleaning. 

I knew someday these pictures will have to be cleaned, the printed words in their background painstakingly removed, and lines and pen-written letters traced in neon colours before sending them to press- which all needed the expertise of a professional, then. I was not such a professional and I did not have time to become one. Moreover, I did not have the resources to engage one. What I decided then was that without professional touch, these drawings would never go to press. But now that time is past, and technology has advanced such that guidance and suggestion of how they could be cleaned is enough for the modern reader with his resources which already has been done in this book through one illustration. Besides, now has the option (like this) of publishing them without removing background. 

For a time, my dreams were full of the book becoming a hit and thousands of copies being sold all over the world. One certainly has the right to dream. But I soon recognized that publishing a picture book, especially this kind of a picture book, was not easy. For one thing, a book of single line drawings is not an accepted and popular idea of a book in the publishing industry. For another, the pages of the book were not done in exquisite colours, resembling beautiful neon displays in a thoroughfare at night. Another factor against the marketability of the book is picture books are usually published for little children. Publishing picture books for infants is a very large and lucrative industry also. ‘SWAN’ does not belong to this category. After one or two years, Lulu stopped reminding me of this book. Even before that, I had stopped remembering it myself. 

So that’s how this book came to be. It was started accidentally by a whim of emotions stirred by ethereal elements and completed within a short period of time. Procrastination was not in the creating of the book but in the publishing of the book. As to the modus operandi of this book- how these pictures were envisioned and how the script was conceived- I will discuss in the Afterword part of this book. 

I must admit, someone dead and gone- actually two- took hold my hand and drew these pictures for me, though I was perfectly well aware of what they were doing to me, doing through me. Though it was a hard experience emotionally and physically to stand in those times, I did come up with this book anyway. 

The forbearance I felt in those times is now past and today it’s a sweet memory. My mother stood by me in those hard times and without her presence, kindness, ardence, affection and caring, I could not have withstood the confusion in those times which I could reveal to no one due to its special nature. She is now no more and I dedicate this book, ‘SWAN- The Intelligent Picture Book’ to her sweet memory. 

P. S. Remesh Chandran,
Nanniyode, Pacha Post,
Trivandrum- 695562.
18 November 2019

 An image from SWAN: The Intelligent Picture Book.

(Under edit……...) 

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