23 September - 7 November, 2014
Payal Kapadia, Nandan Ghiya, Prayas Abhinav, Prajakta Potnis, Sahej Rahal, Sonia Jose, Sandunes, Wolves
A real space, sound and visual connects with the residues of memories in individual mindscapes. The mind then delves into pockets of past and present time to create personal maps, which comprise of the virtual and the real. This labyrinth is discreetly compartmentalised into a library of memories from which we draw out reference cards of objects, smells, voices, pictures, emotions, sounds and experiences. The pace, at which we proceed through a day within these frames, differs in accordance with the revenues of time we need to deposit for a memory when it is pulled out from the mind’s archives.
Seven raconteurs (the artists of this exhibition) engage the visiting registers of memory maps through interactive works that involve the carrier of these inventories to participate mentally, emotionally and physically.
Payal Kapadia’s video - “Dream Caused by the Last Mango, Before the Monsoon’ - tells the tale of two fictionalised narratives that are triggered with dreams and memory. Her work, which is a reflection on the destruction of the forests of the Western Ghats, examines a sense of loss amongst a longing for nature. “Two technicians from the forest department walk through a forest, setting up cameras to document animal activities in the night. The cameras have a heat sensitive detection that allows it to capture the animal's image. A transfer of energy takes place where the heat energy is converted to an electronic signal that in turn captures an image, a memory of the animal.
A woman has moved away from a forest a long time ago. She yearns for her dead husband who is also the forest. Her desires are manifested in her dreams that are triggered off by the last mango of the season.” On the wall there is a letter written to the past. Here, you too can leave a residue of time in a letter to a memory; one, which only you know the name of… it will create a silent map outside of your own with the past of others. At crossroads, it may even find an overlap or missing piece of a lost object, person or experience.
When you fix a missing piece here, there is another one created elsewhere. Nandan Ghiya deliberately pixellates the identities of old photographs and objects to digitise them into memory facades of the digital era of the twenty-first century. These found objects of past residues - which include old photographs, paintings, frames, books and memorabilia - are recreated as by-products of a conscious portrayal of incidents that validate created facts. Degeneration is increasingly apparent in software, social expectation, and interactions - both physical and digital. A conscious loss of perception makes the object appear like it is decaying; though not organically, but in a geometrical and pixellated fashion; which is the effect and symptom of a ‘digital disease’.
This decay takes over the entire space, creeping up the walls, seeping into the paintings, infecting everything in its wake. The form of objects loses their intrinsic value, which is another symptom of the ‘disease’ and become almost unrecognisable and useless. It will turn into a ‘Blue Screen’, which was once confined to our computers. The space is converted into a real-virtual digitised interactive experience from where one is invited to take away a ‘pet-pixel’ from ‘The Pet Pixel Unveiling of Our Ancestors’, to help reveal a moment from the past. However, by the time these are eagerly consumed by the viewers, the blue screen has begun taking over the memory like a slow virus creeping in; and the object is rendered useless as a constant reminder of the encroachment of the digital into the physical. There is no way to rectify this. The identity has been lost forever and the original picture of the past only remains in the lost pocket maps of the mind.
The manner in which we remember situations and experiences is broadly visual and aural. Images have played an important role in defining histories of the world and a majority of what we consume today is a translation of another person’s mind map, fantasy or memory of the past. The history of the moving image can be traced back to the early seventeenth century in the creation of the ‘magic lantern’, the invention of which is usually credited to Dutch scientist Charles Hugyens. Similarly, sound and music have been known to cross barriers of language, political borders and other differences to stimulate feelings that stir up pensive pockets of wistfulness.
A nostalgic ‘Memory Lamp’ evokes reminiscence through a soundscape by Sandunes brought alive by an immersive visual experience created by Wolves. “The Memory Lamp illuminates the pathways to roots of our creation as a collective consciousness.” Open-ended narratives of memories, tales and fantasies are projected on organza silk. They lead one into the extravaganza of retrospectives woven in the warrens of the brain. This collaborative work by Sandunes + Wolves, delves into pockets of memories and navigates the mind to tumble back into the past - first into innocent childhood experiences and then deeper into a spiritual context of several lifetimes that entangle the quantum and logic of time.
The notion of circular time, which we live with, in our mind spaces, causes the residues of floating experiences to embed themselves permanently in our mapped memories. Prayas Abhinav’s interactive game ‘Even If You Roar’ offers multiple cycles of exchange for the viewer to play the game and remain in it. According to Prayas, “Self flagellation is not an acceptable social norm outside of faith-based communities, but the anguish of the object's relationship with the audience needs this outlet”; which is quite similar to our personal reflections and opinions on many relived memories.
The game behaves as a metaphor for our lives that are governed by outside elements and situations. Each step links to another, which will either give you a curse or a voice that nullifies the earlier curse; thereby protecting you from getting the three curses, which eventually eliminate you from the game. The game evokes feelings that one can relate to various experiences in life, from fear to elation - along the way your experiences leave behind residues.
We place ourselves in vulnerable positions that create pangs of realisation and memory, which in turn become easy to access and exploit. The basic willingness to feel is an exposure of the human condition of trying and loving. Personal spaces become public emotions on display that are magnified and offered not by a real, but a perceived perspective.
Feelings are very subjective and can be read into differently. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a feeling to illustrate and everyone has a unique memory map of emotions. ‘Stories of Loss and Desire’ -a series of illustrations by Sonia Jose, with the heart as a protagonist (and recurring motif) takes the viewer on a journey through personal stories of sentiments and feelings. Similar to a game, the heart is trapped in a circular maze or simple shadow play. The blurred lines of spilt metaphors on raw kora cloth are hung up on a line, as though to unburden the vulnerability of the exposure of emotion. Offered on a plate, or being rolled up a hill the presence of the organ related with feelings is placed out of context (body) to translate into visual representations of otherwise convoluted modes of expression.
The subconscious picks up on signals from our everyday experiences and converts them into dreamscapes that float into the mind. These are most often revelations of realisation during low times for the head and heart to logic and reason. While moments may be limited to real time, the memory of an object, person or experience is immortalised in mental time.
In Prajakta Potnis’ ‘Time Lapse’ series, the ambiguity of space is laced with the shadows of time, where everything seems to change within a constant. In her painting ‘3:37 a.m.’, a sheet is veiled over objects that outline a part of a dream sequence from the mind. These objects seep in and out of memories as they bundle up sentiments with occurrences that repeat themselves in lapsed time. The idea of time and space diffuse in the territory of memory.
The intervals at which time lapses occurs may differ, but the structure around which experiences are built and mind maps are drawn are as constant as that of a Helix, which is the framework that defines the formation of DNA as it spirals around a steady centre. Similarly, in Sahej Rahal’s video - ‘Helix House’ - objects from the past, which resemble the artist’s performance props, make their appearances with a shamanistic figure that constantly revisits the past and future while coiling in, out and around the elevator-like time machine.
This video circles time from the past and into the future, only to come back into the present moment to spiral one back into residues of memory, pockets of time and personal keys to the private maps of our minds.
The artists have translated memories and facts that have been mapped, manipulated, created, contrived and planned according to emotions, social existence and perceptions of another. Private emotions are revived and witnessed via sound, spaces, pixels, letters, hopeful thoughts and feelings. This involvement causes an experience of memory to be registered in affiliation with the residues that are stirred.
The transgression of winning memory bids is manipulated by facts, histories, and fantasies which are revived from known departures of dismissed time. In the digital era, we operate the manner in which we choose to leave behind contemporary footprints of memory. However, the act of selecting this over another option is that, which will remain as a private residue in the pocket maps of your mind.
In these pocket grids we stack and shuffle data and details that sift in terrains of utopias from pasts and futures… here we freeze and overlap moments and create personal paths outside of public knowledge. These are the perilous utopias created due to the inevitability of emotions being exposed to a public domain. These however, can never be destroyed, because in our minds’ maps they will always exist as residues of memory.
Text by Veerangnakumari Solanki.