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Updated: December 12, 2012 19:46 IST

Only time will tell

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Eye in the sky John Gollins pushed the envelope for the 3D aerial photographs
Eye in the sky John Gollins pushed the envelope for the 3D aerial photographs

Australian photographer John Gollings insists television will be replaced by 3-D holograms in the future

The ongoing exhibition at the Srishti School of Art and Design, Now and When: Australian Urbanism, is an aerial study of the current urban condition, particularly in Australia. Breathtaking 3-D photographs of the Australian skyline at night and the outbacks, are juxtaposed against what these cities will look like in the future. The futuristic designs are, again expressed in flawless 3-D graphics. The whole idea is woven into a 3-D film that is almost theatrical in its exploration of the concepts of cities in the future. John Gollings, photographer and creative director, talks about his project, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Excerpts.

Can you tell us about the concept of the show?

It is about solving the problems of the way current cities are designed. We had a competition for Australian architects to find the solution. We wanted to get people to think of designing a new city and not just fiddle with the existing one. We wanted them to start from scratch and come up with a city 500 years ahead.

Can you tell us about some of the solutions?

We selected 17 designs and they range from the design of the parametric databases of the computers that will be used to design these complex new environments, to ones that deal with the sea rising, global warming and environmental issues. There are others that have to do with the possibility of cities being in space and underwater. We also had ideas that drew from nature like growing mould in petro dishes to create organic life forms that might be a better way of designing cities than grids.

How did you shoot the 3-D photographs?

It took me six months in a helicopter to figure out how to get stereo photographs of cities from 2,000 feet. The normal stereo camera has two little lenses that are separated by a distance of your eye, which is 16 mm. But when you are at 2,000 feet high in a helicopter, the separation to get a stereo effect had to be 20 m apart and so we developed a system of flying a helicopter on a GPS which we synchronized in a motor drive Nikon so that we could get two pictures of the right and left eye exactly 66 feet apart. Then we worked on it in Photoshop to create the hyper stereo. That’s a first. Then the architects did 3-D drawings and we did the match in stereo in a programme called 3-D studio max and then combined it all into a film.

Do you think that these designs can be implemented?

It is possible, but not now. We believe that if we plant the seed of an idea that will set the way people think about these problems.

Is there room for nature in such a city?

There is no room for nature. That’s a provocative answer. There might be designs inspired by nature, but the solutions will be radical. I don’t see the world stopping population growth. There are seven billion people now and I am talking about 50 or 100 billion. And if we get holograms, they will be so lifelike that they will think they are in another country. People will be locked in a little box and the world will come to them. It’s a scary idea for us. But if you are born into it, you won’t see the difference.

The exhibition is presented by Australian Institute of Architects in partnership with India Design Forum as part of Oz Fest and will be on view until December 15 at the CEMA Gallery, Srishti School of Art and Design, Yelahanka New Town. For details, contact 43409505.

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