While growing up in the midst of a wonder-riddled world, curiosity intoxicates us with the urge to know more. Tons of questions baffle the mind as we try to figure out a pattern, a system and a reason that orders our richly diverse habitat and its constituents. With time, this curiosity dies down a bit, and we get absorbed and swept away in the prescribed, the known, the obvious, the ubiquitous. But what if we decided not to accept these standards? Would we notice a quiet disruption in our conditioned surroundings? Would an anxious rabbit in a waistcoat continuously checking his watch while hurrying away make us run after him?
Revolutionaries talk about the forcible overthrowing of the present order and the imposition of a new system. I would like to offer the potential seeker something else: a secret, fleeting revolution in the form of a quirky moment of freedom and play that blurs the notion of time and place for as long as the viewer is enraptured with it. The moment the viewer switches off his or her attention, the circuit is released and he or she returns back to his or her familiar environment.
From ideation, experimentation, animation and creation of the interactive installation, all was carried out by me along with amazing critique and guidance from multiple advisors and colleagues along the way.
The binary character of connections is simple yet powerful. They are either complete or not, on or off. And within this system, they control the functioning of entire networks from a micro to a macro level. When a connection breaks, entire industries come to a standstill. And when complete, these same industries could move mountains.
The viewer as a switch to a work was one of the areas I explored through this project. In a way, it is reminiscent of a symbiotic relationship, where the piece gains life from the curious person who enters to discover and unravel it while the viewer is transported metaphysically through the experience s/he is immersed in.
As an artist, I want the work I create to not only come to life, but communicate with the viewer as well. I'm looking at niches that are ordinary, mundane spaces that people often pass by every day and after the first few times, stop noticing.
I seek spaces that we constantly inhabit or move through, exploring cracks for quiet disruptions, such that the curious viewer could get transported to a place that one cannot access otherwise; that does not exist unless we believe in it.
But where would this place be located? And what kind of a space would it be? What kind of spaces would be ideal germination grounds for these quiet revolutions I was looking for? What are the spaces we are most immune to? Which are the spaces we take for granted?
While trying to deconstruct my everyday space, the realization of it possessing an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ struck me as strange, more so as it was something I saw every day. Here were two completely different worlds, nested within each other but with each oblivious to what was happening in the other. Thinking of the window within this conceptual framework of the inside versus outside, it shone as a portal connecting the two worlds.
Thus the liminal space of the window became the experimental area. Within it were two parallel worlds, the outside and the inside, between which the spectator moved, physically or metaphysically transcending fixed standards like boundaries, time and orientation. The space that was held within the window for me was another world that we were looking upon. However, the orientation of the outside world framed by the window did not dictate the orientation of the inside world. This led to some interesting experiments discussed ahead.
I aimed to create for my viewer an immersive experience that transported one into a different world as one lost sense of standards like orientation, time, space and direction. piece. The more aware, curious and bold you are in the space you inhabit, the more rewarding your experience becomes. Just like the music that wouldn’t be appreciated/ enjoyed sans it’s immersed listener, my work would not exist sans the viewer.
The environment I was looking at involved the concept of play not just among the characters in the piece, but including the viewer as well. I wanted to extend the viewers’ participation in the experience by making them the switch, but not having them act as the ones breathing life into the piece but rather as participants in changing the course of the work’s narrative.
Thus there is a parallel world present alongside the world the viewer is present in, i.e. the installation space. The parallel world consists of two children, a little boy and girl, who are playing in their garden. They spend their day pretending to have picnics, playing ball, flying kites, chasing butterflies, digging earthworms, running around crazily and collecting odd objects.
This parallel world is not conspicuously visible to the viewers in the gallery space. If they happen to notice a crack in the room’s wall, and they happen to be curious enough to bend, crawl and peep into it, they suddenly are peering into what looks like a dirt/rabbit hole.
At the edge of the hole, above ground, the viewers would hear/see these two kids playing and enjoying a sunshiny day. If their curiosity is piqued enough, they would look for and find an opening that leads into the ‘hole’. However, entering the ‘hole’ makes the children aware that some disruption has occurred in their world, a secret unknown entry. They move away from the hole and start whispering and talking, discussing the potential intruder. If the viewer waits for about fifteen to twenty seconds within the space quietly, the kids come back to play and enjoy the sun!
The viewer is rewarded with the experience he initially sought, but only after discovering and understanding the rules of ‘play’ according to which the piece operates.
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