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10th Nov.1986 - 25th Nov. 1986

Rabindra Bhawan, New Delhi

Publication | Newspaper

Photographs from KHAM (SPACE) exhibition

What the mind moves towards is Kham,

Kharvati mono'smin Kham
Khanyate ksubhyate mano'nena va.

What stirs the mind, or delves

deeper and deeper into it

A multi-media presentation on Kham, held in 1986, projected a cross-section of the world view on the manifestation of space for various purposes through various mediums, and its many dimensions and levels.  The seminar explored the diverse levels of meaning of space, each merging into the other reflecting the movement from the inner to the outer and vice versa, from the centre to the periphery, from the gross to the subtle, from the mundane to the sacred.  Selected papers of this international seminar have been published.



KHAM  It began rather simply. That it might be difficult, we guessed. It struck us all as worth attempting . The subject was to be approached cross-culturally. It was to deal with building values in pre-industrial societies.

We thought of space.

Calligraphy and choreography occurred to us as concurrent 'acts of space'.

We decided on a sound-texture since space is defined and known acoustically.

Poetic allusion titles between sound and silence; thought, and mind-space. We decided to test this resonance too. Quietly.

As we approached the question of cultures, and usage-patterns, we inevitably came up against other disciplines. There was history, art history, archaeology and social anthropology. To our great pleasure, people from these disciplines listened and were interested. Some decided to join us, others to contribute.


Space awareness begins earlier than we think. Space ways grow out of peoples' ways from patterns of social organization and change. Also from mythic memory, ritual practice, thought traditions.

The wheeling stars, a study of their movements, pure mathematical calculation, these shaped men's world view and particularly sharpened their sense of structures and systems. We were lucky to find an investigator who already combined these interests.

The interaction in assembling this exhibition seems appropriate. Designer, researcher and studio collaborate and exchange in a mutually informing process.

Traditionally, as to space and applied-arts traditions, it is likely that as much went on in the workshop as in high centres of classical learning.

It might be interesting, we thought, to translate spacemeaning back into actual spaces.

Fourteen separate semantic shifts taken together, vividly convey space as a sensed experience, as usage and as concept. These became our exhibition areas.

The single source-word: kham is a Sanskrit spaceword and seed-syllable. It is used as a notational term from the Rgveda, onwards.

It is hoped that the cross-sectioning that comes out of all this may speak for itself. It may perhaps be used as a basis for enquiry. And further analysis.

For most of us, however, this may be the first time. We scan a vocabulary of usages. We listen to the worldview that is constantly alluded to behind the brick, stone and reed of tradition building.

The transmitted values of social, psychological and spiritual space are virtually endless.

We lose something when we strip 'space' of these meanings.

What is it we lose?

This is a question for all of us.

It is a question too, for the urban designer.

When on high heaven had not yet been named and when below earth was not called by any name
Tablet I : Enuma Elish, creation-myth of 2000 BC, Bablon

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