1. Cartographies of Sensation
The first set of videos under ‘Fields of Vision’ attempts to locate the cartographies of sensation – those that attempt to map the coordinates of experience, observation, perception and artistic production. In these mappings, moving images play between the polarities of science and fiction. They become vehicles of thought and speculation interweaving science with artifice – relocating the boundaries of awareness of the self and its surroundings. The moving images slow down time, make us pause, repeat and reconsider, or suspend us in a limbo towards opening new ways to sense the world. Through such awareness, one may begin to demarcate a space for expanded consciousness in mapping the self.
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Do join us for the concluding panel discussion for this set with artists Hansa Thapliyal and Gigi Scaria moderated by writer-researcher Najrin Islam on 27 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm. Register via Zoom Link here.
WEEK 1 VIDEOS
The video links below will remain active from 20 to 27 November, 2021
Abhishek Hazra TO DISSOLVE INTO ENTROPY (2010)
A bespectacled subject, apparently the artist, repeatedly spits at what appears to be his own image, a large-scale photographic print of his own face. He uses his saliva to dissolve the water-soluble ink of the inkjet print. Is this video performance an act of auto-erasure, or perhaps an attempt to restore disorder or entropy into the ordered matrix of pixels and ink droplets? A desire to dissolve into the exquisite smoothness of a dead universe? No definitive answers are provided to such questions, the aim seems to be to provoke reactions at the sense level.
Amol Patil STUDY ONESELF (2020) 05.14
This video is a take on the do-it-yourself videos that are increasingly consumed on social media. Amol Patil is teaching himself to crack open peanuts, from the video that he is producing himself. His intention was to make a performative video about the relationship between the camera and the body, an idea that came from watching people learn skills from online tutorials during the lockdown. He reflects on the fact that people take up such activities collectively from multiple locations and share the experience, without any contact among themselves and/or between themselves and the teacher.
Ankit Ravani UNDERPAINT (2017) 07.10
Ankit Ravani works with spontaneously formed patterns. In this case, these are made off a dripping paint brush on a window pane.The work was conceived in an attempt to conjure up images of landscapes and river tributaries with transitory patterns and shapes. The artist aims to slow down time with this video and to create an atmosphere for contemplation with the sedimentation of patterns, erasing and revealing what lies underneath.
Baiju Parthan MANIFESTO (ENGINEERED FRUIT) (2011) 02.44
Baiju Parthan explores the human enterprise that aims to modify the ecological environment and reality to suit our ideas of convenience and perfection. This ever-expanding sphere of activities range from plastic surgery to genetic engineering, synthetic biology to bioinformatics, and computational biology. The video alerts the viewer to the unanticipated returns such ventures bring into our experience of the world. A wholly computer-generated video of 3D rendered physics simulation and animation.
Bharati Kapadia PLAYING WITH DANGER (2021) 02.12
The phenomenon of danger has many faces, asserts Bharati Kapadia in this brief video. It changes its guise in different circumstances and triggers new emotional responses in us. As we continue to live longer, our experience of danger gathers more meaning. Playing With Danger Is a portrait gallery of sorts, displaying portraits of danger, each painted in a new light, from a different perspective.
Gigi Scaria PRISMS OF PERCEPTION (2010) 04.20
Gigi Scaria asserts that while claiming to live in contemporary times, we actually live deep inside in our own subjective worlds, seeing social ‘change’ only from our limited angles of view. We generalise from what we see, imagining this is obvious to everyone. Scaria puts up a vista across five panels and a train travels through them. Every time the train comes to the boundary of a screen, a new locomotive and wagon model enters the next screen and thus about a 150 years of train designs magically cross our view. He says “Time splits, dissects and reconstructs reality to get us confused with the multiple layers of its persona.”
Hansa Thapliyal SUMMER FLOWERS (2004) 03.54
SUMMER FLOWERS was made by Hansa Thapliyal while trying to understand how the desire to make films could be translated into self-originated ventures. This had seemed a challenge till the early 2000s, as the medium was too capital intensive for individuals to fund projects on their own. With new technologies and the generosity of friends – one loaned a camera, another did the camera work, another did sound, and another played the guitar, she made it. Past memories and the present jostled together, as did still photos and videos too, in this piece about carefree summers, some fresh and some long gone.
Hansa Thapliyal TRYING TO TALK ‘AGNES’ (2015) 05.00
Inspired by a short film by Agnes Varda, the ‘Diary of a Pregnant Woman’, Hansa Thapliyal took up Trying to Talk ‘AGNES’. It was an attempt at ‘Agnes speak’, to create a free voice with which one could wander about, gather ideas and express them. Hansa set a classroom exercise for her students, to tell about an object dear to them and did this work as her contribution. Her chosen object was her spectacles, her “eyes over my eyes”. Those and various other lens-like objects eventually found their way into the film.
Jyotee MADHO-MADH (2020) 04.19
Jyotee believes that art is the amalgamation of experiences that an artist undergoes throughout life. In this video, the past (traditions), the present (poet) and the future (technology), coalesce within the frame, expressing a period of transition from the old to the new and raising questions that seem to have no answers. Jyotee’s curiosity about the daring of people who opt for a chip implant in their brains makes her wonder about the desperation for the convenience of having access to infinite amounts of information. “What are the side effects?” she wonders. Maybe complacency and be-numbing of feelings?
Manjot Kaur CONSTANT MOTION (2018) 07:40
This work of Manjot Kaur is perceived as an intervention between the microbial, biological, ecological and banal aspects of motion. Time and growth are the central ideas here. Taking us to the microscopic and macroscopic aspects, the video attempts to encourage viewers to construct their own personalised narratives using the symbolism and analogy of various elements. These include flies multiplying, pollination, different phases of embryonic germination, Hanuman carrying Dronagiri mountain, clouds passing, scientific diagrams of cellular organelles hovering, release of dopamine, the maha-mrityunjaya mantra from the Rigveda, clocks falling down and more.
Manjot Kaur THE UNTALKABLE VIDEO (2012) 05:48
Manjot Kaur originated this work with a series of drawings with unclear meanings, as a random physical activity. The creation of these drawings took place in a busy environment, where the sole purpose was to tap the subconscious. She sees the drawings and animations on them, as a process rather than a product. The sounds, like the refrigerator hum, the buzz of a sewing machine, the sound of water falling in a bucket, and so on, pertain to mundane life. The artist says that there is no direct representation depicted, only a structural play of elements. The video is “untalkable” about, hence the title.
Neha Choksi CHARGE (2017-2021) 01.45
In making CHARGE, Neha Choksi asked friends in Mumbai and Los Angeles to choose a stone that fitted into their hands and to throw it directly at the camera. This multiplied action of successive throws keeps the viewer alert, reminding us that the screen is but a veil, beyond which lives play out in ways more charged that they appear to us.
Parul Gupta HAIRFALL (2011) 05.48
An experimental work with fine lines, made when Parul Gupta was pursuing her studies, her first engagement with line. She used her own hair, collected over a few weeks from pillow, comb and bath, after realising that the strands of hair were simple, organic lines – weightless and occupying a space that lies between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional form. This work became an exploration of drawing with unconventional modes and materials. Each hair strand was dropped from above onto a sheet of white paper, where it occupied space and formed shapes that could not be directed. The mark-making process slowly became dense, akin to drawing with pen or pencil on paper.
Praneet Soi NOTES ON LABOUR: HOW I MADE CERTAIN OF MY IMAGES (2018) 11.34
Praneet Soi developed a series of sculptures made of coir after participating in the Kochi Biennale 2017-18. Inspired by media images he collected on the representation of events related to 9/11, he made a series of drawings he called “the spectre of terrorism”. Soi made standing maquettes of some of the drawings, which he showed the owner of a coir carpet factory near Kochi. He introduced Praneet to a set of craftspersons whose skills were becoming outdated. They used scissors to cut patterns onto the surface of coir mats. This was perfect for cutting out Praneet’s drawings on the coir fabric. The video relates this story in chapters, stitching together the references and taking this story much beyond process documentation.
Ranjini Krishnan DAUGHTERS OF SCHEHERAZADE (2020) 18.18
In DAUGHTERS OF SCHEHERAZADE Ranjini Krishnan traces the figure of the virgin and places her in the wedding night, a time of amorous encounters with pleasure and pain in mind and body. It presents the wedding night as a liminal event and projects the liminality of the event onto a psychic landscape. Placed at the edge of time, the nuptial chamber in the film becomes the feminine place of contemplation. The film is a search for the shadowy, nocturnal and the oneiric. This is Ranjini’s debut visual work, produced with a grant from the India Foundation for Art.
Saba Hasan WATER SUITES (2021) 05.00
The video WATER SUITES is characteristic of Saba Hasan’s preoccupation with the human connection to nature, seen in several earlier videos. In WATER SUITES, Saba puts together studies of water filmed in Budapest, Seychelles and Goa, drawing connections between the ever-changing aspects of water with the human condition. There is varied dynamism, beauty, interdependence and also constancy, as in the steady flow of the Danube at night. The music track for WATER SUITES is a blend of sounds of waves and a downpour with music composed by her son, pianist Aman Hasan Kumar.
Sajid Wajid Shaikh LIMBO 03.19 (2021) 03.19
Here Sajid Wajid Shaikh conducts an experiment in the juxtaposition of two different video works, originally made without any intention of combining one with the other. These are played together in parallel time, to create a third narrative based on the contrast between the two situations. The only intentional binding element is the sound design. Suspension of disbelief needs to be practiced by the viewer.
Sajid Wajid Shaikh and Kartik Mishra EAT HIM BY HIS OWN LIGHT (2021) 06.19
In this experimental film, Sajid Wajid Shaikh and Kartik Mishra tap into what they see as the absurdities of the human mind. The protagonist of the film, an artist, travels through multiple dreamscapes, navigating the many layers of his consciousness. Eventually he gets consumed by a multi-dimensional space goat, his personal demon. The artists say that the film is a homage to Dadaism and early Surrealism and its interpretation is open to each viewer.
Sanskriti Chattopadhyay BECOMING INVISIBLE (2020) 11.54
2020 marked the 25th year of the internet in India. Digital culture has grown immeasurably in this period. It is no longer an assistive technology, but a shared culture, understood in varied ways by different segments of society. Sanskriti Chattopadhyay feels that a sense of uneasiness shrouds our understanding of “the digital”. She draws attention to the issue of the virtual footprints that we all leave behind on the internet. These are studied by innumerable machinic-selves like AI. The artist starts with the intention of becoming invisible to these machinic-selves and makes some discoveries on the way. The video spins out this quest for invisibility in a fascinating intertextual play of visuals and concepts.
Sohrab Hura THE LOST HEAD & THE BIRD (2016-19) 10.12
Sohrab Hura takes us to a disorienting and absurd world, where the boundaries between fact and fiction are blurred. Undercurrents of hysteria, rage, euphoria and violence lurk beneath the surface, erupting in ever more frequent outbursts. THE LOST HEAD & THE BIRD explores a frighteningly fast-changing, post-truth world where actions are fuelled by appeals to emotions and facts are increasingly ignored. Twelve variations turn the film into a puzzle, constantly changing itself, pulling in different directions and never remaining constant.
Sukanya Ghosh ISOLATION OF PECTORALIS MAJOR (2010-12) 02.04
This video collage by Sukanya Ghosh, began as a playful look at a 1911 publication, Muscle Control by Maxick, featuring instructions for body building exercises. Beginning as a quirky look at animating a certain kind of ‘instruction booklet’, it evolved into a deliberation on the body and fitness / illness over time. Preoccupied with her father’s health while making this work, his scans and X-rays found their way into the video. This helped the artist to develop a deliberate take on the perception of the body and to juxtapose the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ body. She says “The final work has become for me a meditative take on the notion of physical beauty and internal atrophy.”
Sumakshi Singh MAPPING THE MEMORY MANDALA (2008) 06.52
In Sumakshi Singh’s installations, environments are transformed into illusions, through time-lapse animations. She invites viewers into a world where physical objects appear to disintegrate with vantage point. Her works explore the bases of how we assign attention, construct meaning and perceive our realities within and without. After the death of Sumakshi’s grandfather, she says “I began to draw out the illusion of his living room on top of the existing objects in my studio (in France). As viewers walked into the installation, they watched themselves in a live projection where they moved through the aligned illusion of the living room. Bodies slowed down as people negotiated being in two spaces (physical and mediated) at the same time.”
Sunil Padwal ANACOUSTIC ZONE (2021) 01.30
With regard to this animation work, Sunil Padwal says: “Instead of keeping so many visual stimuli and disturbing sounds around me, I tend to go into this zone of silence.”
Sunil Padwal DADDY LONGLEGS PLAYING CAT’S CRADLE (2021) 01.07
Speaking of this animation work, Sunil Padwal remarks “I see this everyday. People are more interested in things other than what they are supposed to focus on.”
Sunil Padwal THE TURNING EARTH (2021) 01.31
Sunil Padwal was inspired by an orrery, a mechanical clockwork model of the solar system, which demonstrates the movement of the planets. In this animation work he says he is looking at the play around the turning earth.
Ushnish Mukhopadhyay VIDEO FROM AUTOPSY SERIES (2019) 05.19
In this excerpt from Ushnish Mukhopadhyay’s AUTOPSY SERIES, we meet a person who may be alive, but he is kept drugged to stay out of harm’s way. He may possibly be mentally ill. He talks to his other self, seeking understanding. The two selves visit their physical body at an autopsy and comment on its psychological existence. Animation with black and white line drawings, brain scans, images from a laryngoscopy are elements of the visual language adopted. Ushnish wants to engage the viewer in a conversation by generating questions about the essence of the person no longer present. Death is seen as a truth of life, but always governed through human actions and behaviour.
Vishal Kumaraswamy SWAAYATTATE (AUTONOMY)(2020) 16.14
SWAAYATTATE is an investigation into the complex entanglements of the organic and synthetic worlds. Set in a computer repair market in Bengaluru, the artist examines the nature of human-machine relationships. Vishal Kumaraswamy makes layered enquiries into notions of gender, caste and labour. Narrated in three chapters, the film traverses multiple timelines and plays out the evolution of an embedded neural network through speculations and suggestions. Vishal draws from critical reflections on surveillance and racist capitalism, and ethical concerns related to the adoption of Artificial Intelligence. These thoughts are relayed through the usage of text-based neural networks, volumetric video and sound design to create a spectacular and resonating work that keeps the viewer enthralled.