Thursday, July 2, 2009

Remember To Breathe

An explorative pursuit that seeks to survey internal resonances of an itinerant mind; by using still images in a fluid manner, I have sought to create layered visuals that speak of penetrating surface realities. The short film is an attempt to link the creative cycle to the breathing process and thus, understand it as a living, regenerative experience. While questions flicker in the subliminal horizon, the mundane is rendered a tactile consciousness.

Thoughts embedded in the discursive imagination are agents of infinite possibility, it is when they are given a tangible birth that a stable identity becomes manifest. Yet this work seeks to convey the rupture in each articulation by addressing dualities that are inherent in the expressed images.

Visual Artist, Paul Klee once said, "We must stop and listen for a response to the world in ourselves. This means becoming intimate with objects, reaching a stage... where we can wait attentively and silently until the essence of their being is revealed."

When seen through a phenomenological lens, this endeavour seeks to comment on the act of critiquing. It acknowledges the repetitive nature of visual analysis involving the drain-ing of the mental realm to translate thought into propositional modes of meaning-making.

An Address to the Unknowable...

My writings throughout this residency have emerged as notes in the margin, rather than elaborate essays. It seems contrived to formulate a fixed piece of writing based on a lived process that is still a continuing quest of sorts. This 4-week journey have raised critical questions for each of us; while some have transformed into purposeful voyages acquiring visual dimensions; others continue to float and unfold in the subterranean niches of mindscapes. Though the experiential spirit is not something that can be pinned down to a document; it is through the terrain of visual language, reflective ponderings and socio-cultural environment that ephemeral currents may be explored.

The experience of being in the midst of creative activity and contributing to the unleashing of energy and ideas has been extraordinary; as over time the coming together of a varied set of young art practitioners led to the building of a unique dialogical space that generated freedom for self-cultivation within an ambience of collective enquiry. Working outside the academic realm has allowed resident artists to challenge normative standards of art-making by crossing disciplinary thresholds, thereby expanding their oeuvre of artistic expression.

While viewing art-works as showcased end-products, what we might miss out on is the layered nature of creative endeavours: process-based cycles, the pulse of imbibed logic and the flow of intuitive subjectivities. Participating in this residency has enabled me to witness artistic impulses oscillating between the meditative to the frenetic, and to significantly engage with covert in-betweens, like filtration of thoughts, construction of forms and distillation of intent. Often such vital steps appear as unknowable realities in the garb of interiorized characters that may not be seens but strongly felt. And hence, these words may be nothing beyond corporeal deposits of intensely felt momentum.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sammy Chien, In The House...

We had a talented visitor at Khoj Studios today - Sammy Chien, a Vancouver based experimental filmmaker, electroacoustic composer and media artist. He has recently begun experimenting with the interspersing of Analog and Digital film techniques - creating a powerful juxtaposition between the stunning feel of celluloid and the malleability of digital formats.

Acting as a bridge between past and present - his latest film, Oceanic explores the terrain of memory, individual quest for belonging and the playing out of remembrance rituals. The use of mix formats is useful in communicating some of the debates that surround rapidly developing film technology. Sammy believes that the answer lies in instilling sensory elements in media projects by blending old and new methods thereby, generating a layered visual language.

He has also carried out exciting collaborative projects through the use of real-time programming environments like Isadora. While performance artists and VJs are mostly familiar with programmes like Isadora, there are a lot of us who are yet unaware of the possibilities of such hyper-interactive media initiatives. This programme was initially created to facilitate the media intensive dance practice of Troika Ranch, a performance company managed by Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello. It is at the frontier of merging dance and technology through the generation of interdisciplinary performances and workshops.

Real time manipulation enables body movement to inform the visual canvas. Light and sound become sensory devices that alter the image; constantly connecting mental consciousness and body language with computer generated output.

Sammy Chien's Website:
Troika Ranch Website:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

AT work...IN Play

Photographs by Prateek Sagar

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fragmented Communitas

The notion of community has changed dramatically with the entry of digital culture. With cyber relationships forming vast global networks and swift infoways feeding fluid knowledge systems, the means to form inter-relational societal structures are extensively diversified. Besides a virtual coming together, there is also increased mobility between geographic boundries as governments put on a friendly face for foreign businesses, tourists, students and scholars. There are exceptions as not all 'outsiders' are welcomed within closed borders. Today, racial conflict and socio-economic neglect are pervasive in refugee colonies and migrant ghettos across the world. As transnational politics becomes complex, and social neighbourhoods become larger webbed cross-cultural realities it seems as though we need to re-conceptualize the idea of community.

Ever since I've come to Khoj, I have been observing the micro-neighbourhoods that exist within the area. With a highly fluctuating demographic composition, Khirki village is a melange of many social imaginaries. The emergence of the Citywalk mall opposite the road, has had a huge impact on the socio-economic dynamics of the locality. The urban village was once occupied by large groups of migrant labourers but with the altering of the surrounding cityscape it is now becoming a convenient living space for young call centre workers, students and basically those categorized as 'upwardly mobile.'

A visit to the Khirki Masjid built under the Tughlaq dynasty provided me an enlightening peep into the manner in which residents engage with a historical monument in their midst. While children consider it a playsite, young males treat it as a congregational space for a lazy afternoon of card-playing. To the tourist and the occasional student of architecture or archaeology, a visit to this site holds another set of values all together. I enjoy watching the streets around the Khoj studio metamorphose through the day. As evening approaches, residents begin to wander through the lanes - making conversation with passer-bys, squatting on porches, collecting around tea stalls, momowallas and ice-cream carts.

When I got here I was hoping to gain a more meaningful insight on art emerging from community based processes, now I'm beginning to concern myself with attempting to address fundamentals, starting with what constitutes a community...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Presentation Spiel

I’m very excited to be engaging with five young artists who work in varied formats and modes of expression. We come from diverse social and geopolitical realities, yet there appear to be common concerns emanating from a connective cultural ethos and the rapidly changing built environments that surround us. There are overlaps as particular issues like mass violence, cultural identity; gender and sexuality become resonant themes. Though each artist here has a unique way of conceiving and charting leitmotifs - they seem to combine an approach that blends social investigation with personal narratives and experiential tonality.

Coming from art schools across the country, at this juncture we gather to escape academic rigour, and work in a syncretic manner. PEERS is an opportunity that encourages us to be unafraid to question some of the things we have been taught to take for granted, where are can think outside quotes and where expression is not guided by entrenched conventions and commercial currents.

Though I have been labeled critic, I perceive my role here as a collaborator working towards amalgamating disparate creative journeys. This residency provides me a chance to closely observe thought trajectories and ideation, serving as a laboratory to probe and participate in creative processes. I see myself deriving great value and insight from working closely with emerging artists as we maneuver through discussions, intentions and obstacles as a collective.

In a discursive space such as this – the visible culmination maybe an essay, a blog and audiovisual documentation but it is the intangibles – questions and dilemmas raised during this time that become exploratory possibilities and avenues for fresh debates. The past ten days here and my interactions with the resident artists have already got me thinking of a whole range of issues. I’m significantly interested in looking into the manner in which traditional knowledge is merged with contemporary art practices, and in how community related processes can be ethically and effectively displayed in an exhibition space. Further, with emerging artistic trends that blend research methodologies and technology related approaches, I believe it is time to create new habitats for art-works. While institutional inertia continues – much else can be done to capture the present creative moment. The six of us, hope to start here...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kinetic Exploration...

It has been a while since I have responded to an art-work with a dropped jaw reaction - I confess that viewing contemporary art often leaves me with a furrowed brow as thoughts of psychosocial-cultural-ecological contextualization race through my head...But today as Prateek, Shine and I collectively stared at the laptop screen looking through the works of Dutch sculptor Theo Jansen, we had no words - we were left wide eyed and dropped jaw-ed.His Kinetic works have been informally described as wind powered robots since he employs biological mimesis to generate realistic dynamic motion in his sculptural projects. "The walls between art and engineering exist only in the mind" says the artist. His light-weight structures are infused with a sense of live activity as they interact with the surface they tread upon; simultaneously working through synthesizing natural energy to plot maps of mobility. These works appear to project the increasing reliance on technology driven apparatus in daily living as well as the complexities that crop up when a new kind of mechanized creature is placed within our environ.