A Mechanical Eye: A Virtual Art Exhibition Bridging The Gap Between The Past and The Present By Repurposing Technology

by Team ACF
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Gallery Art Exposure presents a solo exhibition of recent works of artist Viraag Desai, titled ‘A Mechanical Eye, Studies of Lattice and Light. This art show will be live from 11th September- 30th October 2020. 

If there is one thing that this pandemic- induced lockdown has taught us all, it is that everything is connected. ‘A Mechanical Eye’ is an artist’s adjustment to the new creative. Using his technique of collage/ decollage and watercolor Illustrations, he 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. 

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.The ways of seeing are much ordained by the times that we live in and more specifically by the technologies of vision that they commandeer. These technologies of perspectival augmentation from Camera Obscura to modern digital cameras, are in fact, what is recalled by the exhibition title, ‘A Mechanical Eye’. The mechanically-mediated interpretations of reality are in turn incorporated into our sensorium, shaping its landscape and colouring our attitudes towards the world. It is important to remember however, that perception not only captures reality but also invents it. The vision of the world offered to us by the mechanical eye underscores our worldview which in turn wills the world to fit that frame.

Desai believes that in these unprecedented times it is this type of transdisciplinary semi- interactive art that will usher in the change and give a connectedness that participants can experience together, though remotely.


Giving an insight into the illustrious exhibition, Somak Mitra, Director, Gallery Art Exposure, shares, “Speaking of landscapes moulded by human will, the term ‘Anthropocene’ has swiftly gained currency in the recent years, denoting the epoch characterised by significant geological, climatic and ecological shifts that could be laid at the door of human activity. We now have markers in the form ‘plastiglomerates’—rocks composed of sediments and organic debris agglutinated by molten plastic. Desai’s Eidetic series are resonant of these Frankensteinian anthropic-signatures. The amorphous composites collaged together from salvaged bits of quotidian posters represent a cross-section of human desires and needs. Mimicking the natural forces of accumulation and erosion that codify time in the arrangement of rock strata, these abstract timelines of human culture and exploits are literally brought to surface through a process of controlled abrasion. The variegated cultural topographies in the Eidetic series are further adumbrated by impressions of the aftermath of Amphan, the cyclone that wreaked havoc in Desai’s native Kolkata earlier this year. If the agate-like blobs can be seen as a brick in the wall of the Anthropocene, then one can interpret these painted shadows as writings on the wall.

The chimeric visions of the Anthropocene are further explored in a series of digital collages where the artist has turned to a combination of photogrammetry, 3-D scans obtained from various open source libraries and airbrushing to render the many co-extensions—neural, cybernetic, ecological—that bind us into a composite whole. Our biosphere is rapidly reconfiguring itself as a reaction to human activities. What we espy in digital collages such as Progeniture are new alphabets of a shape-shifting biosphere. These composite characters signify a fusion of hardware and wetware in a manner that complicates our understanding of life. An immersive optic installation Trichotomy uses the additive and reductive qualities of light to illuminate and meld different layers that symbolise animate matter, technological and machinic infrastructure, and the mesh of flows interlinking them. In rendering visible some of these invisible flows the artist emulates a scientific gaze with its implied imperative of empiricism and objective distance, laying out the specimens for examination on an anatomical table as it were.”

He believes that like art, a gallery too 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 recalls exactly these technologies of different ways of seeing. It is sure to be a promising experience to look at the exciting world of contemporary art with ‘A Mechanical Eye.’ 

You can view the exhibition online at @artexposure.in.

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