By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANSlife) Creating art from found posters on the city streets, whether they were “temporary newsprint of training courses and services or the ubiquitous film posters that seemed to morph before one’s eyes”, artist-designer Viraag Desai is currently exhibiting his solo show online.
Titled ‘A Mechanical Eye’, his exhibition is viewable on the website of Art Exposure Gallery from September 11. The Kolkata- and Mumbai-based artist Viraag Desai employs his multidisciplinary experience of working as a sound and set designer, to create mix-media collages and an immersive installation that reveal our historical engrossment in supplementing our vision with a view to ‘capture’ the world.
“My current art practice deals with the perceptual nature of information… information that passes by the ‘outfield’ of our view, but nevertheless has a powerful effect on our thinking. In my long walks through cities and towns in various countries, it struck me that the paper posters on public walls always caught my attention even over large advertising billboards. They quietly captured my attention, not just through strength of numbers, but through their melding into the architecture of the neighbourhood. I became a scavenger-collector, tearing and peeling old signs, thin-paper posters, advertisements for unbelievable college degrees, everything – ethically leaving ones where the ‘dates’ had not yet expired!
“I collage these in my studio, often layering scraps that barely have a life. Taking a cue from the ‘katah’ tradition of Bengal and Bangladesh, I glue these scraps into a strong sheet, sanding them to get a forced smoothness and an unforced colour palette. Once they are layered with resin, they become my pictorial space for mark making/illustration. At this stage I investigate and submerge myself into the symbols, unfamiliar narratives, heritage and stories that occupy the current space. Just as the ‘white noise’ of common posters spoke to me earlier, now the stories of the place and the people become my muse. Old houses, old people, forgotten histories are reborn in a contemporary form,” he explains his process.
Explaining his two other processes, he tells IANSlife: “Using the relatively new technologies of 3D scanning and photogrammetry, I’ve created a series of works that is a reamigining of the natural world, with a nod to botanical illustrations and diagrams.”
In trichotomy, he has used the additive and subtractive properties of light and colour, to create a multi layered dynamic image. He honed this process over the years, in theatre productions and jazz concerts.
Desai repurposes technology to bring a connection between the times we lived in, recently, and the times we live in, now. He uses the new technology of photogrammetry and 3-D scanning to blur lines between digital and analog.
According to Somak Mitra, Director, Gallery Art Exposure, a gallery too, like art, must be in constant evolution. In the past decade, and particularly in the past few months, art has found its own space in the digital world with artists using cutting-edge technology to bring new media immersive art to the forefront of the art world. Viraag Desai’s solo exhibition ‘A Mechanical Eye’ recalls exactly these technologies of different ways of seeing.”
“Social distancing has come at a great price to the art world. One way to stay connected is to embrace technology…which in turn will helps you to perceive the world differently. In the end, it’s all about how you see,” the artist concludes.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])