Looking through some old ted talks, I came across Aparna Rao and this fascinating TED talk about some of the art pieces she was working on last year (August 2013) her art work is playful and puts no barriers between the viewer and the art. The art itself senses movement near it or in the room, Aparna doesn’t talk about all the technical sides to her works, this type of art is more a kinetic art, but the playful way in which she puts the pieces together delight the viewer, making them smile and enjoy the work… Do they see it as art or is it installation, or technology, or is this the beginnings of a new way of experiencing art… For Aparna, it seems the interaction between her ‘shy’ little characters and the random movement of a viewer in the different spaces it’s all about connection and then disconnection.
Her first piece is Imperial Monochromes the art space has several panels of art on the wall, but they are all messily arranged, but as you enter they autonomously form into a neat grid layout, as if you have disturbed them at play, and caught them being naughty. After some time passes though, they relax back into their disorderly state.
So here it appears as if it’s the viewerthat’s sort of instigating the sense of order among the panels, but it could also be the other way around, that the panels are so stuck within their preconditioned behaviors that they sort of thrust the viewer with the role of a tyrant.
her second piece is a delightfully innocent ‘sculpture’ called ‘Handheld’ where a piece of A4 paper is held by two delicately carved tiny wooden hands, that appear to tremble with the natural forces of outstretched arms over time, as they start to quake with the effort of holding in the same position
we’re sort of trying to evoke a self-effacing gesture, as if there’s a little person with outstretched arms behind this enormous piece of paper. That sort of likens it to the amount of strain to be at the service of the observer and present this piece of paper very delicately to the viewer in front of them.
Next is a work called Decoy, which appears to be a very needy household object that desperately tries to get your attention by waving and rocking, but once that is achieved, it gets bored and just wants to wait for the next person…
It appears to be mass-manufactured like it came out of a factory like vacuum cleaners and washing machines…. we like how this consumer aesthetic sort of depersonalizes the object and gives us a bit of distance in its appearance, at least. And so to us this is a kind of sinister being which is trying to distract you from the things that actually need your attention, but it could also be a figure that needs a lot of help.
Next Aparna introduces a large scale piece called ‘clappers’, the viewer approaches what looks like a scaled down amphitheater where 996 little figures will clap, or not dependent on their ‘mood’ , they have their own free will.
So to us, I think we’re really looking at an audience as its own object or its own organism that’s also got a sort of musical-like quality to it, an instrument. So the viewer can play it by eliciting quite complex and varied, nuanced musical or sound patterns, but cannot really provoke the audience into any particular kind of response. So there’s a sense of judgment and capriciousness and uneasiness involved. It also has an alluring and trap-like quality to it.
And the last on in this talk is ‘Framerunners’, Aparna took the idea for the frames from a real window in their studio and managed to place inside the frame depth the little framerunners themselves, but she wanted them to have a more realistic puppet like quality and in collaboration with a Zurich firm was able to manufacture a naturalistic hand manipulated movement which is sweet and comical. But not only are they immediately endearing and engaging, again these little figures react to the viewer, it’s almost as if the watcher has disturbed or frightened them and they dash back into the safety of the nearest frame.
So to us, this work also presents its own contradiction.These figures are sort of entrapped within this very strong grid, which is like a prison, but also a fortress, because it allows them to be oblivious and naive and carefree and quite oblivious of the external world. So all these real life qualities that I talk about are sort of translated to a very specific technical configuration
For me this artwork is the other side to augmented reality as this is real physical involvement, your presence changes the art and what it does, perhaps in the future Augmented Reality will be more like this, rather than having to use an intermediary device to see the movement… It’s also self contained within the piece rather than an extra screen that could show the film on interaction with someone entering the space.
Food for thought on displaying my artwork…