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ADS0: Umwelt – The Environment as a Pictorial Stage in Constant States of Change

Anusha Alamgir

Anusha Alamgir is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in London. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in 2017, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Following which she spent the next 3 years expanding her practice in New York. Originally from Bangladesh, her work investigates the on-going homogeneity of values in Bengali society due to globalisation, media and the internet. Primarily working with painting and photography her images document the shifting faces of current culture. Her practice expands through the narration of her personal experiences and memories to unveil commentary about contemporary issues.

Currently developing her practice in sculpture, painting and photography, to implement and influence methods of creating new architecture. At the RCA, she is researching the presentation of the female body as a site through notions of self-portrayal, the voyeur gaze, and spaces of performance. Inspired by practices of artists such as Sarah Sitkins, Cindy Sherman, Claude Cahun and Samuel Fusso, her project proposes a filter for the form: A wearable sculptural piece that subverts binary presentations of the self.

The Body As A Site

As visual culture expands with mass adaptations of social media and the virtual world promoted by algorithms dictating certain aesthetics over others, it has developed a phenomenon where the body has outgrown it’s original biological utility. Users create stark iterations of their reality, one that aims to conform and further perpetuate the ideal standards created by the images we are continuously exposed to online. Infinite ‘how to’ videos are uploaded every second—tutorials that teach us how to contour the face, grow our glutes, or trim the waist—all in an effort to pressure viewers to progress their form into what the algorithms considers ideal.

The consequences ripple into reality, creating a feedback loop, as individuals trying to conform into the ideal avatar, resort to one of four methods: surgically enhancing certain desirable body parts, such as breasts or cheekbones, artificially expanding the muscles through exercise and steroids, declining the form through starvation, or other binding techniques such as waist training or chest binding.

The project: Body As A Site: proposes alternative forms individuals can inhabit by exploring these parameters of extension and restriction. Instrumentalizing forms that are so predominant in the online media we all consume, and using those precedences to then subvert the form the collective imagination considers ideal. The proposal is a tutorial teaching the viewer how to construct a structural wearable filter for the form, one that defies stereotypes of existing body structures and further questions the biological and physical limitations of the human body.  

The project proposes alternative forms individuals can inhabit by exploring parameters of extensions and restrictions. Body Form 4 is an untitled form that was developed through immediate and iterative exploration of structure. The Untitled sculpture is not tied to any preconceived ideas about existing body proportions, and thus acts as habitable filter for the form, allowing the wearer to redefine narratives of how they are perceived. The proposal enables individuals to conceal, alter and add to their form as they see fit, challenging the primary habitations humans occupy: the body.

Study Of Site
Tool Kit
Primary Building Block
Permutations Of Primary Building Block
Primary Building Blocks
Primary Building Blocks

Analysis of the skin, proportions of the frame, muscle composition, fat percentage and anatomical study of the body was used to develop forms. An assortment of household items such as balloons, foams, tape, rope, tights etc, were used to replicate elements that imitate skin, fat pouches, adipose tissue, muscles, ligaments and skeletal elements. Experimentations of permutations of the forms allowed the individual in creating new architectures of the body.

Body Form: Iterations
Body Form 2: Willendorf Figurine
Body Form 1: Homme Venus
Body Form 3: Kite
Body Form: Iterations

The project explored the construction of multiple different silhouettes. Forms that allow for the body to extend out and constrict in and defy anatomical logics of what accepted bodies in space look like. Certain silhouettes explored the parameters of a muscular form, certain silhouettes test mobility and torque, and certain silhouettes were developed with proportions of of a female body might appear if the she were to be looking down at herself. All in an effort to question and test the biological and physical limitations of the body.

Snippet From: How To Alter The Architecture Of The Body Tutorial: Untitled Body Form
Snippet From: How To Alter The Architecture Of The Body Tutorial: Tool Kit
Snippet From: How To Alter The Architecture Of The Body Tutorial: Homme Venus

The final proposal culminated in the tutorial: How To Alter The Architecture Of The Body, where the instructor teaches the viewer how to construct a structural wearable filter for the form suitable for each individual.