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Art + Science The Undivided Mind Part II – Mid Way Update.

Over the course of two weeks various ebbs and flows have shaped the artists and their projects. As a member of the Khoj team and the critic-in-residence for Art + Science: Part Two, it’s been a really valuable process observing the way being a part of Khoj and interacting with others, has informed and pushed the thought patterns and output of the resident artists.

It is inevitable that within a scientific and artistic framework the endless experimentation taking shape in the studio leads to endless observations and digressions. It is really fascinating to see Shreyasi Kar and Bidisha Das (members of ISRO in Bangalore) work together as they try and generate an installation that is aesthetically considered, whilst also being interactive, educational and highly technological. This is where the symbiosis between art and science really takes flight, as ones witnesses these artists/scientists trying to visually illustrate complex data and biological cause and effects, in a beautiful and thought provoking manner.

Kar and Das are working with plants; they are investigating how different impulses cause physiological changes in the biological material and how that can be captured and represented. Through printing cooper circuits the team will trace the shadows cast by the plants via a chain of inorganic materials, in an organic formation. The process is an analogue one, which has been described by the artists as much more flexible then digital practices. A small synthesizer is planned to connect to the plant in the final work so the responses can be tracked and explored reading like a heartbeat.

Local Delhi based artist Paribartana is extending upon his interest in atomic energy and Oppenheimer, he considers Oppenheimer a fictional figure with multiple dualities and personalities, a creator and a destroyer. Parallels have been drawn between Oppenheimer the physicist and miniature painters, equally conceived as physicists. Paribartana has been developing a voice over, his unsure at this point how/if it will feature in the final work, as he is also developing a projected optical illusion which plays with the notion of lightness and blindness and the strain the eyes are put under when exposed to great, definite light. Observers of the first atomic blast stated they could not hear anything they could only see the explosion happening because they were so far away.

Thai artist Lalin PH is researching the illustrated relationship between art and science. Using the wall as a canvas she’s exploring elemental forces drawing inspiration from water, air, and Earth. Through her practice she is trying to bridge the gap between what is conceived as low art and high art and shallow intersections between the two fields of art and science. Her practice is an illustration of truth, fact and beauty. Her studio has transformed into what has been titled Lalin Lab and denotes a series of experiments and sketches drawn from her immediate surrounds, including the faces of those who move through Khoj and have been closely associated with Lalin throughout the residency. Launching from her formal drawing Lalin is excited to move into the world of stop-motion animation during her final weeks at Khoj, she plans to create an animation that organically moves, flows, grows and decreases in upon itself, as she explores the endless possibilities and limitations of the drawn form.

Resident bio-hacker Jayden Hastings is exploring a range of different ideas and projects through various forms and collaborations. I walk into Jayden’s studio and am met with a video of the artist withdrawing blood from her hand and mixing the organic material with inorganic products. The end result is a pantone colour palate, the residue of metal oxides and watercolours mixing and/or resisting the blood and watercolour paint. The outcome was rather surprising for Jayden, as the forms began to resemble satellites images of Earth, which closely interlocks with her overarching program of study being the Matter of Humanness. The reactions taking shape between the blood and the additives is captured through inverted webcams, which document the processes taking shape through both stills and video. Process is an immensely significant component to Hasting’s practice, it is not something overly new in her art making, but her work at Khoj has taken various new paths including a collaboration with Gati dancer Ria. The choreographed dance sees bodily movements mimic and interpret the energetic movement of a protein. The performative dance is a metaphor for human life and the life of a protein, moving from slow to fast with a heart beating, pulsating energy. The dance represents the circle of life, from birth and dependence, through to the developmental phase where a hyper energetic, ultra productive, sexual dimension is embodied, back into an exploration of the disintegration into one’s self and the Earth.

The diversity in subject matter, impulse and inspiration, between all four artists demonstrates the widespread positional and endless possibilities found within the rich space of Art + Science.

Text by Lleah Smith, Art and Science Critic-in-Residence.