Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Guarantee, in the next 15 minutes you will change and you wont know

Peers residency 2010 at Khoj studios (11th May'2010-15th June'2010)
"... of the five artists at the residency, has explored the link between consumerism and big-city superficial sentiments. In his installation, the idea takes the contours of a cosmetic cream. “I feel `squeeze' is a word from the city. How about tubes that squeeze out ready-to- use empathy or squishing `jealousy redux cream' on the palm, mixing it with `liquid guilt', and applying it on the face.Only to wash it off later?“ he asks."

other links:

The x-ray scanning machine at the Metro Stations

The x-ray scanning machine is installed at every metro station now. What is fascinating about them is the quixotic character of the machine. It is a machine that can look through. It can look inside without going there. The machine has exceptional powers.
This is how its experience unfolds amongst us. Just after the body is frisked by the security guard, it is mandatory for the commuter to feed his/her belongings into the machine. There usually are a few more guards reinforcing this compliance. Then the X-ray machine meets the eye of the commuter in a sort of existential way. There is no facade here, the machine stands out, and it looks like nothing else but a hollow cubical main body and its transit ramps on its front and rare end. The entrance to the machine’s main cubical is curtained and thus all that meets the eye there is a darkness as its paraphernalia confirms there is more to it than just that. The commuter figures out instantly where to put the Bag in from and from where will it re-emerge.
Accompanying this is the machine's prosthetic extension. The security guard sits there as the machine translates the x-rays into coded images. The machine shows the guard images of what’s inside. X-Ray Machine doubts the commuter’s extension- his Bag and differentiates between the good and the possible evil using different colors. The materiality of the objects inside the Bag remains the same as before, it is only their representation that changes. The bag is now a source of information and this information is censored from the commuter's eye. This is the privilege that the guard has over the commuter. This rightful access into the commuter’s belongings seen in X-ray light thus creates a spatial discontinuity. The one who can see and is embodied with a gaze the one who cannot. This is a significant debate because the commuter never called for it. The controlled X-ray radiations, in order to be useful become the X-ray scanner. This technology that sees beyond the surface reinvents itself in a particular moment, in the age of fear.
Thus contextualized technology-the X-ray Scanner only needs users now. One who would become the embodiment of the gaze himself and the other upon whom he would rest the gaze and flaunt his extraordinary might. But here the X-ray radiations deceive unexpectedly as it has already been found that one cannot subject human beings to unnecessary radiations and thus they cannot be used directly onto them. Now how will the gaze scan them? How will they consume the machine as a sign of the power of the embodied gaze that can see beyond?
The discourse of The Bag is brilliantly reinvented here, as it is chosen to be the prosthetic embodiment of the subject. The Bag becomes the carrier not only of the objects that reflect the identity of its commuter and also of his intent (considering the times in which the machine reinvents itself). This deficit, of not being able to use the subject directly has probably been the fuel for the development full body scanners. Full body scanners could embody an even mightier gaze.
The x-ray scanner along with its paraphernalia thus holds the power of making the commuter the subject of an observation. The machine, the guard and the commuter now form a closed system. Their mutual relationships shape their identity. The commuter is invariably mediated into the new identity of the one(like all others) who needs to be seen and not voluntarily but through his compulsory use of the machine.
By the end of it the X-ray scanner is a transforming experience for the commuter. He is now deemed safe because his bag has been sanitized using the uncompromising scientific technology by the authorities. He is also stripped off all cultural specifics and reduced to a neutralising nomenclature-‘Safe’ in the process. It is now that he is considered apt for consuming the Metro and transform from now to modernity. The surveillance and security mechanism has an undesired neutralising effect on its subjects. Like in the case of the X-ray machine the user has hardly anything to say. As has been presented here that the meaning of the experience of X-ray scanner is imposed upon the commuter. Its discourse only exposes the parasitic nature of the gaze that resides its power in the commuter and the feeds on it, and the commuter can only wait in anticipation while his bag is being scanned.


The following text is a part of project titled Metro and its Panoptic Modernity


Dictionary says an Escalator is a moving staircase. But a discourse of the Escalator would expose that it is not a staircase at all. An Escalator is a machine that carries people, from one floor to another; instead of people having to carry themselves (so does the elevator).

This is how its experience ascends onto the user. Knowing what an Escalator does, or figuring it out by giving it a quick look is the precondition for a ride on it(in a sense discovering it, in its form, location and meaning). Then comes the motivation (which will be discussed the end of the discourse) pressing us to take an affirmative decision, on how would we like to consume the escalator. By getting on it obviously, whether with excitement or indifference(and hence associating with it as a cohesive whole-affirming with its form, location and meaning) alternately, repelled by it, choosing to take its no-tech closest- the steps, and thus consuming it(with an even greater force) only in its visual and intangible(in a relationship of disagreement). Boarding the escalator is the next, which comes with statutory caution signage. Whether one reads it or not in the less than little time he/she would spend at this point, the signage would still be credited to press upon the user didactically the machine-ness of the Escalator- that it comes with a possible death beam and hence is a controlled form of extreme power so one must behave properly. It is in a way the first telling experience that this machine is only in its looks like the staircase but functions differently. The quintessential reductive form language (sum total of signs) of the signage system would also perpetuate the myth that motivated us to ‘Escalate’. Then the next moment is when after a brief horizontal stride the escalator rises with the user. This could seem to some to be a synergetic wonder moment, almost like fulfilment of a dream after long virtuous labour of cautionary compliance. By then the railing has been gripped as it moves coordinated with the escalator steps and now the user as well. Then there is the mundane monotony of the flight itself which exhibits a dilemma.”If I am on the stairs why am I not physically climbing...then how is it that I am still ascending/ descending?” So in a way the mind thinks me to be on a sort of a staircase but my bodily actions reject and so corporeally I am elsewhere. This would imply that the staircase is only a sign and the user is significantly distanced from it. The signifier of the sign is the Motor, Gear and Conveyer belt technology wrapped with the appearance of a staircase. This clearly renders its materiality in a lame light of dishonesty. Notice, how the height of each of its step is in a way a negotiation, nevertheless only highlighting the intent of the machine to pass off as a staircase. Height of each step of the Escalator is rather odd, that is, to comply with its technological bare bones and still visually remain a staircase.

After the steep rise and another horizontal stride is a clue waiting to reemphasize the dilemma. Getting off the Escalator is a peculiar experience and requires training one’s mind to adjust to its inertia. The fact that the body is actually moving has to be made evident to the mind otherwise de-boarding could be jerky, like a realisation of sorts. A realisation of a disjoint with the regularity of life.

The Escalator is a certain mechanical technology in the excuse of ‘the staircase’. The overlap of form between the escalator and the staircase is its only attempt to redeem itself from being trivialised as a fetish. Technology’s (gear, conveyer belt and motor system) meaningless (demeaning) emptiness serves as a container for a myth to be created. The signified staircase, in one word ‘the escalator’ is a foretaste of the future. It speaks about how life is going to be from now on-free from the hardship of physical labour, comfortable, subliminal and almost spiritual. It is a projection of a technological utopia accessed through the Escalator as portkey . The myth of technocratic modernity is carefully cultured and most mundane in the architecture (not even a spiral staircase-a transient element clearly less important than the facade or the sanctum but metaphorically full and apt to depict the transcendence from now to modernity) is chosen to be the artifice. Only to be decoded as an obscene exploitation of the ultimate power of myth to distort reality and project the signification of progress-Modernity.

DIY Guilt wash
Graphite on wall then flipped on photoshop