Welcome to Imaginari
Story by Vatsala Chhibber | Art by Annada Menon
This comic began as an exploration of the idea of visual pollution, given the staggering number of images generated and consumed per day. And how its damage might be invisible, directed towards our inner worlds.
To add context to the theme of visual clutter, here are some statistics that shed light on the number of photographs taken and stored by the average smartphone user:
According to Phototutorial’s 2023 data, the average smartphone user has around 2,000 photos on their device (iOS users approximate at 2,400 photos while Android users at around 1,900 photos).
However, during the pandemic years (2020-21), the number of photos taken was 20-25 per cent lower. At a time when the outside world seemed threatening, many of us were forced to retreat into our inner worlds.
The link below contains other interesting insights on the number of photos taken worldwide, and the platforms they’re shared on.
An ‘imaginari’ world
While developing the story, I was curious to learn more about the image-making platform we live with – our imagination. The word’s Latin root ‘imaginari’, which is part of the title of the comic, means ‘to picture oneself’. And the purpose of these images, or mind movies, is to remember, strategise, problem-solve, break the rules and build favourable futures. For example, with the inclusion of AI in the knowledge economy, there is a greater need to imagine possible scenarios to manage the daunting task of future construction.
Perhaps befittingly, neuroscience’s understanding of imagination is far from definitive, and there are multiple rabbit holes one can dive into to find out more about this unique human ability. For instance, this article looks at the role of imagination in the evolution of mankind, and places it at the heart of human cognition:
While ‘Imaginari’ featured as a tangible space in the comic, in reality, there is no particular part of the brain where the imagination is located. The following video explains how imagination works like a collaborative symphony between different parts of the brain, including the Default Mode Network, or DMN, which is more active during periods of rest, and stimulates daydreaming.