India experiments with new media in art (IANS Feature - with images)

July 10th, 2010 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) New media is the buzzword on the high streets of Indian neo-contemporary art. And that means much more than just digital art, computer graphics and interactive hi-tech art.

Indian artists are exploring a creative matrix of tradition, spirituality, history, urbanisation and Western references to create a distinct Indian new media genre where East happily blends with the West.

Artist Veenita Khanna has been experimenting with funky discards for creative installations for the last 18 years. Her materials range from used milk bottles, plastic water bottles, wire and glass shards.

She twists them into intricate floral motifs and a cluster of clouds that are juxtaposed against landscapes, rivers and the blue sky - in live outdoor installations.

“I deal with commonplace material that everybody uses and throws. I like to explore the relationship between materials and ordinary vinyl objects to create seductive and organic forms. These objects have immense possibilities as raw material,” London-based Khanna, who replicated her work “Cloud on the Thames” in the capital, told IANS.

Artist Shubha Taparia uses video images and automatic camera imaging from Mumbai and the Taj Mahal Hotel - the target of 26/11 attacks - to capture the face of the city before and after the bomb blasts.

“I work with photographic images, recycled images from the media and automatic imaging - a technique to click a subject in rapid motion,” Taparia said.

She is currently working on a video art expose on how Gen Y reacts to legendary art collector Charles Saatchi.

“It is a homage to Saatchi, who was a media man. I intend to return the video art to him through a gamut of new mediums like twitter, facebook and YouTube with viral footages. The work is known as ‘To Saatchi With Love’,” Taparia added.

The new media art movement gathered pace in the 1960s with the invention of videos and computers. The genre comes across as “cultural and social objects - sometime events” - as opposed to traditional paintings and sculptures. Mediums and concepts are the primary focus of this genre.

In India, the genre is barely a decade old. It grew with the penetration of the internet, video and digi-aids in art schools - giving commercial and graphic artists more creative manoeuvring space. The new media in India is often dictated by the concept and the context.

Artist Ganesh Selvaraj, for whom concept is key to the medium, recalls using human blood for an installation in Chennai dedicated to the cause of the environment.

“The work, ‘Contributions to My Environment’ was made of more than 100 medical blood slides containing human blood smears that I arranged into a large square frame to convey that my existence was not my own but was linked to hundreds of people like me,” Selvaraj said.

“I want to make my art interesting and experimental,” said artist Kanta Kishor Moharana of Orissa. He recreates solid newspaper models in marble and hand-etches the printed words with ink on the surface to address social issues like child labour, environment and crime.

Smriti Dikshit of Mumbai crafts her abstract “floral balls and bouquets” with strips of dresses, threads, wires and lingerie, clothes’ tags, sponge, brass, rivet and junk. Her work reflects changing neighbourhoods.

Bangalore-based alternative sculptor Shymala Nandesh mixes manmade and natural elements in her outdoor sculptures. “I created a live sculpture in a stream called Five Homes at an artists’ village in Karjat in Maharashtra. I used kharvi (indigenous plant) sticks, lime, turmeric, kumkum (sacred powder) and leaves since I did not have enough money,” Nandesh recalled.

Noted illustrator and graphics novel designer Tapas Guha, who has converted Indian cinema maestro Satyajit Ray’s private eye novels into works of graphic art, observed that “new media art allowed greater freedom to artists”.

“Digital and computer art cuts cost, saves time and offers room for correction and improvisations. In the age of television and cinema, it is easy for viewers to identify with it,” Guha said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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