Print Edition - 2014-11-16  |  et cetera

Technology and Art

- Sophia Pande
Technology and Art

Nov 15, 2014-On November 14, 1969, Apollo 12 landed on the moon, the second ever moon landing. It left behind a unique object called “Moon Museum”—a ceramic wafer that measured three quarters of an inch by half an inch. On that ceramic tile are six images by six artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Forrest Myers, the last being the man who conceived the idea. While two of the six artists have confirmed their involvement in “Moon Museum”, it must be said that the only way to prove its existence is yet another visit to the moon.

With the placing of “Moon Museum” in space began a long history of art combining with technology in order to further itself, to push boundaries and to continue creating new hybrid works that can only come into existence with the matching technology to help it along.

Conceptual art has a lot to do with imagining an idea and then figuring out how to execute it: in other words, problem solving. We now live in a world where things are almost always on the cutting edge. Artists must think outside the box, as must filmmakers and writers, to truly push the boundaries of what we take for granted as ‘art’. All too often we veer towards convention in our tastes because conventions are easier to process.

With “Yantra”, a joint effort between artists and scientists alike, now at the Babar Mahal Arts Council, Nepal begins a new phase in its artistic evolution.

The installations and exhibits within “Yantra” constitute a collection of fruitful collaborations that have yielded pieces such as “Mané”, a giant, 5-foot-by-7-foot prayer wheel built out of fiberglass, adorned with brass plates that are etched with drawings of playing children, and fitted with motion sensors that trigger two projectors so that when the wheel is spun, as is part of Buddhist tradition, then the children in the stop-motion animation start to play.

A similarly thoughtful, conceptually very sophisticated work titled “Revisiting Kathmandu’s Lost Sculptures” is adjacent to “Mané”. Joy Lynn Davis, the artist, has spent a great deal of time in Nepal researching the lost and stolen sculptures of Nepal. As part of her ongoing project, Davis has designed a wall of geographically mapped niches, which when you place a hand inside, trigger a sensor that then prompts a visual animation, bringing you to the site of the lost idol, starting from an aerial view and ending with a much more intimate frontal view of the vacant space sans idol. Davis worked with Roshan Bhatta, a teacher at “Karkhana”, one of the main partners in the show. Bhatta provided the technology required to complete Davis’s vision.

Every artist, filmmaker, or writer will tell you with chagrin that it is not easy to crystalise, in reality, the vision exactly as one sees it in the mind’s eye. As artists move towards conceptualising more technically sophisticated work, so too must they reach out to people in different fields to help them.

A case in point: recently with “Interstellar”, Christopher Nolan’s newest space age film, a homage to both Stanley Kubrick’s“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” (1972), Nolan chose to fortify his vision by consulting with a proper theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne, who weighed in every step of the way so that the film would be as close to reality as possible.

With a show like “Yantra”, we are starting on a new path in Nepali art, a path towards embracing openness and experimentation without having to apologise for any perceived eccentricity or outright strangeness (in the case of some of the more outlandish or spacey projects). Just as I am mildly astonished at anyone who says they are wary of science fiction, so too would I be slightly sad for those who might run away from a collaboration as fascinating as “Yantra”, even though it does require a great deal of patience. Sadly, by the time you read this, the show will have been dismantled. For the lucky few that went to see it, or those readers who are so inclined, I would hope that “Yantra 3.0” will soon lead to “Yantra 3.1” at the very least.

Published: 16-11-2014 09:27

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