The Indian artist drawing portraits with a typewriter

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Indian artist Chandrakant Bhide shows an artwork depicting elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesha which he created using a typewriter. (AFP)
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Indian artist Chandrakant Bhide creates artwork using his typewriter that depicts elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesha. (AFP)
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Indian artist Chandrakant Bhide creates artwork using his typewriter that depicts elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesha. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2018
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The Indian artist drawing portraits with a typewriter

  • Chandrakant Bhide has produced around 150 pieces of typewriter art over the past half century
  • Typing requires dedication and concentration. If you put one stroke in the wrong place then you have to start again

MUMBAI: Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, ding rings out from a home in India’s Mumbai where Chandrakant Bhide is creating his latest artwork — on a typewriter.
The 72-year-old thumps the keys of the bulky, manual machine to draw portraits of famous people, all bearing an unmistakable resemblance to their subject.
From politicians and film stars to cricketers, animation characters and religious symbols, Bhide has produced around 150 pieces of typewriter art over the past half century.
“I have done many personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy. This is my hobby, my passion,” he tells AFP.
Bhide has held 12 exhibitions of his work and become something of a local celebrity since discovering his unique talent in the late 1960s while employed as a bank clerk.
As a young man he had wanted to go to art school and become a commercial artist but his family was unable to afford the costs so he trained in stenography instead.
Bhide was working in the administrative department of Union Bank of India when in 1967 his boss asked him to type up a list of staff intercom numbers.
“I typed it in the form of a telephone itself. When I saw it I thought, ‘This is fantastic, I can make art through this medium.’ Everybody seemed to like it too,” he recalls.
Bhide started using the “x” key to produce images of Hindu god Ganesha to mark India’s annual festival celebrating the elephant-headed deity.
He then began to experiment with other keys — including “w,” dash, asterisk, ampersand and percentage sign — progressing to create portraits of celebrities from India and abroad.
While Bhide takes only 15 minutes to draw Ganesha, several hours are required to complete a famous face in what is a painstaking process.
With steely focus he uses his left hand to grip the knob that controls the platen — the roller that feeds the paper through — as he taps the keys with his right index finger.
He stops every so often to change the angle of the page before typing again.
Sometimes he’ll flick the color-change lever from black to red or vice-versa and he’ll glance down regularly at the photograph he is working off to make sure he hasn’t made an error.
“Typing requires dedication and concentration. If you put one stroke in the wrong place then you have to start again.
“It’s not like a computer where you can delete. Many times I’ve made mistakes and had to start again,” says Bhide.
The septuagenarian has drawn several Indian actors over the years including Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar as well as American cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Archie.
Cricketers feature heavily, such as Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, whose famous curly hair Bhide recreated with hundreds of “at” symbols used in email addresses.
Bhide, who doesn’t sell his artwork or take orders, has been featured in several Indian newspapers and has been able to show his portraits to many of the Indian stars he has drawn.
He says he plans to attempt Donald Trump, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
All of his works have been produced on the same Halda typewriter he used for the 30 years that he worked at Union Bank. The bank gifted it to him for one rupee when he retired in the mid-90s.
“I have got so many things out of this typewriter. Typing is an art,” he says.


Will flying cars take off? Japan’s government hopes so

Updated 18 September 2018
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Will flying cars take off? Japan’s government hopes so

  • This vision of the future is driving the Japanese government’s “flying car” project

TOKYO: Electric drones booked through smartphones pick people up from office rooftops, shortening travel time by hours, reducing the need for parking and clearing smog from the air.
This vision of the future is driving the Japanese government’s “flying car” project. Major carrier All Nippon Airways, electronics company NEC Corp. and more than a dozen other companies and academic experts hope to have a road map ready by the year’s end.
“This is such a totally new sector Japan has a good chance for not falling behind,” said Fumiaki Ebihara, the government official in charge of the project.
Nobody believes people are going to be zipping around in flying cars any time soon. Many hurdles remain, such as battery life, the need for regulations and, of course, safety concerns. But dozens of similar projects are popping up around the world. The prototypes so far are less like traditional cars and more like drones big enough to hold people.
A flying car is defined as an aircraft that’s electric, or hybrid electric, with driverless capabilities, that can land and takeoff vertically.
They are often called EVtol, which stands for “electric vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft.
The flying car concepts promise to be better than helicopters, which are expensive to maintain, noisy to fly and require trained pilots, Ebihara and other proponents say.
“You may think of ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘Gundam,’ or ‘Doraemon,’” Ebihara said, referring to vehicles of flight in a Hollywood film and in Japanese cartoons featuring robots. “Up to now, it was just a dream, but with innovations in motors and batteries, it’s time for it to become real.”
Google, drone company Ehang and car manufacturer Geely in China, and Volkswagen AG of Germany have invested in flying car technology.
Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. said they had nothing to say about flying cars, but Toyota Motor Corp. recently invested $500 million in working with Uber on self-driving technology for the ride-hailing service. Toyota group companies have also invested 42.5 million yen ($375,000) in a Japanese startup, Cartivator, that is working on a flying car.
The hope is to fly up and light the torch at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it’s unclear it will meet that goal: At a demonstration last year, the device crashed after it rose to slightly higher than eye level. A video of a more recent demonstration suggests it’s now flying more stably, though it’s being tested indoors, unmanned and chained so it won’t fly away.
There are plenty of skeptics.
Elon Musk, chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc., says even toy drones are noisy and blow a lot of air, which means anything that would be “1,000 times heavier” isn’t practical.
“If you want a flying car, just put wheels on a helicopter,” he said in a recent interview with podcast host and comedian Joe Rogan on YouTube. “Your neighbors are not going to be happy if you land a flying car in your backyard or on your rooftop.”
Though the Japanese government has resisted Uber’s efforts to offer ride-hailing services in Japan, limiting it to partnerships with taxi companies, it has eagerly embraced the US company’s work on EVtol machines.
Uber says it is considering Tokyo as its first launch city for affordable flights via its UberAir service. It says Los Angeles and Dallas, Texas, and locations in Australia, Brazil, France and India are other possible locations.
Unlike regular airplanes, with their aerodynamic design and two wings, Uber’s “Elevate” structures look like small jets with several propellers on top. The company says it plans flight demonstrations as soon as 2020 and a commercial service by 2023.
Uber’s vision calls for using heliports on rooftops, but new multi-floored construction similar to parking lots for cars will likely be needed to accommodate EVtol aircraft if the service takes off.
Unmanned drones are legal in Japan, the US and other countries, but there are restrictions on where they can be flown and requirements for getting approval in advance. In Japan, drone flyers can be licensed if they take classes. There is no requirement like drivers licenses for cars.
Flying passengers over populated areas would take a quantum leap in technology, overhauling aviation regulations and air traffic safety controls, along with major efforts both to ensure safety and convince people it’s safe.
Uber said at a recent presentation in Tokyo that it envisions a route between the city’s two international airports, among others.
“This is not a rich person’s toy. This is a mass market solution,” said Adam Warmoth, product manager at Uber Elevate.
Concepts for flying cars vary greatly. Some resemble vehicles with several propellers on top while others look more like a boat with a seat over the propellers.
Ebihara, the flying-car chief at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, says Japan is on board for “Blade Runner” style travel — despite its plentiful, efficient and well developed public transportation.
Japan’s auto and electronics industries have the technology and ability to produce super-light materials that could give the nation an edge in the flying car business, he said.
Just as the automobile vanquished horse-drawn carriages, moving short-distance transport into the air could in theory bring a sea change in how people live, Ebihara said, pointing to the sky outside the ministry building to stress how empty it was compared to the streets below.
Flying also has the allure of a bird’s eye view, the stuff of drone videos increasingly used in filmmaking, tourism promotion and journalism.
Atsushi Taguchi, a “drone grapher,” as specialists in drone video are called, expects test flights can be carried out even if flying cars won’t become a reality for years since the basic technology for stable flying already exists with recent advances in sensors, robotics and digital cameras.
A growing labor shortage in deliveries in Japan is adding to the pressures to realize such technology, though there are risks, said Taguchi, who teaches at the Tokyo film school Digital Hollywood.
The propellers on commercially sold drones today are dangerous, and some of his students have lost fingers with improper flying. The bigger propellers needed for vertical flight would increase the hazards and might need to be covered.
The devices might need parachutes to soften crash landings, or might have to explode into small bits to ensure pieces hitting the ground would be smaller.
“I think one of the biggest hurdles is safety,” said Taguchi. “And anything that flies will by definition crash.”
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