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The art of technology

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Nepali artists have for sometime been creating interactive artworks, but only a few have succeeded.  Finally, Yantra 3.0 has brought art, technology and science together in a seamless and fascinating amalgam.

The exhibition launched on Saturday 8 November at Nepal Art Council is organised by Karkhana, Robotics Association Nepal (RAN) and Siddhartha Art Foundation’s Education Initiative. Till Saturday 15 November, Yantra 3.0 displays  eight exhibits that deal with issues of identity, education and cultural heritage.

A student discovering the history of a stolen sculpture with Davis' Revisiting Kathmandu © Nischal Oli

A student discovering the history of a stolen sculpture with Davis’ Revisiting Kathmandu © Nischal Oli

In ‘Revisiting Kathmandu’s Lost Sculptures’ computer engineer Roshan Bhatta and Californian artist Joy Lynn Davis  explored the theme of stolen Kathmandu Valley artwork.  Visitors were invited to put their hand in 14 empty niches embedded in a brick wall containing sensors. By reaching inside each empty niche, a corresponding animation was projected on an adjacent wall to show a stolen sculpture, its original location and information about it. The animations were based on the artist’s amazingly realistic paintings of sites where sculptures were stolen from.

Davis started her researches on stolen sculptures of the Kathmandu Valley in 2010, and believes it is the artist’s responsibility to remind people of the beauty in the world.
Raising awareness was also the intention of Bidhata KC in her art which delved into the objectification of women in Nepali society. “I don’t understand how we can worship goddesses, but mistreat women in real life,” explained KC, whose ‘Jigsaw’ installation was an interactive puzzle on the theme of dowry.  “Like the different parts needed complete a puzzle, the varied identities of a woman make who she is.”

Art and technology was also used to awaken the curiosity of children in Yantra 3.0. The ‘Mané’ at the entrance showed how children can implement what they learn in classrooms. The accelerator meter inside the mane has its data transmitted wirelessly via a Xbee device to two video projectors.  When the mane is turned, animations screened change accordingly to the speed. Karkhana and Artree conceived this work to re-purpose, both in form and function, a prayer wheel to deliver a contemporary message.

Modernity and tradition also meet in ‘Galaincha’, which was conceived 15 years ago by Alternative Technology  as a software to generate carpet patterns by the movement of hands over a sensor. “Our product is the illustration of how modern technology can sustain traditional arts,” said designer Sanim Shrestha.

The other installations included Art Lab’s ‘Prasad’, ‘Scan Me’ by Mahima Singh using QR codes to display images and videos on the theme of urbanisation. International artists Hayes, Las, and Scotti constructed ‘Strange Fascination’, an ontological portal allowing the viewers to examine their identity and how it relates to others.

“For Yantra 3.0, we wanted to create a dialogue between artists and technologists,” said Sunoj Shrestha, president of RAN. “The exhibition was designed to deepen a mutual understanding of how each works and creates.”

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