Sep 28, 2009

Re-thinking 'the Idea of Book' : Mapping Interpretations

All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth …… Friedrich Nietzsche

Our understandings of history are largely based on a set of interpretations that followed one after the other into thousands of documents that are archived and recorded in various forms. These are what we consider as, memoirs of the past and present, evidences of an evolving history and culture. This aspect/act of interpretation is the central premise to this essay. It deals with interpretations with specific reference to the ‘Book’ both as a historically constructed object and idea. It is ought to set up a conceptual premise wherein which the interpretations on the idea and the object of the book be enquired, understood and critically engaged with. It also enquires the possibilities of imagining the idea/object of the book outside the ambit of its historical construction/understanding.

The book as it was understood is ‘a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers’. [1] This definition codifies a formal schema on the basis of which you can call an object ‘book’. Though the content of the books keep being interpreted and re-interpreted, it is only at specific junctures that the formal structure of the book is really re- thought. Keeping these aspects in mind, the primary initiative of this residency has been to re-think the physicality and functionality of the book. It is also necessary to understand that apart from re-thinking the physical/formal structure of the book, this residency has also brought forth various aspects such as narrative, text, image etc. that are historically associated with books into a different context. The artists in this residency have come from different cultural/disciplinary backgrounds, thus brought together the diversities of understanding/interpreting the very idea of the book. My attempt in this essay is to map the interpretations these diversities had put forward in the domain of bookmaking. It is also, to critically understand their implications within the discursive field of cultural production.

With the intervention of newer technologies, the way in which information is deciphered has significantly changed. The premises like internet function as obvious information sources in today’s global scenario. So book as understood today is not just something that deciphers information rather it has re-defined its own role and function within a socio-political sphere.

In specific reference to the visual art tradition and its association with the idea/object of the book, the Artist’s Book becomes an important genre that attempted to imagine the art work in the form of a book. One of the significant innovations the initial form of Artist’s Book had brought in is the intersection of text/image. Works of William Blake can be considered as initial example for this, as many of his books have an integration of image and text to the extent possible. For him this practice was a strategy to gain certain amount of independence in the process of bookmaking, publishing and distributing. Some of the significant western art traditions such as Futurism, Dada, Surrealism and Conceptual Art attempted to deal with the genre of Artist’s Book in their own distinct ways. Whereas Futurism published their avant-garde ideas in the forms of pamphlets, posters and magazines, Dada used the genre as a methodological strategy to contest against the established social/ disciplinary structures. Later to this Surrealism tried to revive back a specific kind of Artist’s book that existed around 1890’s in France and tried to manipulate its formal aspects. Conceptual Art as a movement adapted the form of Artist’s Books in much more strategic way with artists like Sol Lewitt, Bruce Nauman, Jaroslaw Kozlowski having Artist’s Book as a centre to their practice. In Indian context artist’s like Ghulam Mohammed Shiekh, Arpita Singh and Nalini Malani briefly but significantly dealt with this genre. This genre in that sense, historically opened up newer space wherein which the visualities imagined by the artists negotiated with the idea/object of the book. [2]

Keeping in mind the historical trajectories/transformations of both the idea/object of the book and the genre of the Artist’s Book that emerged at a specific historical time. The formulations in this residency attempted to move away from existing understandings of bookmaking and re-formulate diverse methodologies of dealing with it. In this process, objects such as bird cages, mirrors, window frames, bamboo sticks, and bricks came together to play their role. These objects however, are articulated through a different language as they are displaced and re-situated in different contexts and functions. These attempts also distance them from the historically constructed genre of the Artist’s Books and formulate a discursive space wherein which there are no clear demarcations on the basis of the genre.

At this point there are questions that need critical consideration. What are the possible ways in which the idea/object of the book can be re-interpreted/ re-imagined? What are the methodological strategies that can play role while one is set to move away from the basic structure of the book itself? The following analysis would try to broadly engage with these questions.

Sachin George Sebastian manipulates the paper roll and makes it into a fractured landscape; a plain sea reaches an urban architectural scene. The usage of roll here is a metaphoric act as it is something that doesn’t have an end and scroll in its artistic function has inherited quality of narrating short (hi) story. From the side view this work appears as a seismograph that has a plain line at the beginning and as the landscape head towards urbanity it goes up and down increasing its height and finally falls down at the end. Every fold in this work is understood as a fracture as it is transforming a space into something else all together. Sachin’s attempt through this is to question as to How Long? How Far? these fractures of landscapes in the name of development are going to happen, in midst of the fact that modern day urban architectures are bombarding with a visual excess leaving common person no space to relate or articulate. In this work Sachin brings forth the aspect of narrative in a peculiar way of his own. The various instances that got surfaced in this work are considered to be an outcome of his experiences/confrontations with the spaces around him and their transformations in the due course of time.

Sachin George Sebastian, How Long? How Far?

Sachin George Sebastian, How Long? How Far? (Side View)

In another work Sachin has conceived in this residency which also stands in continuation with the thematic of the above one, is a series of pages bound together. These are not mere pages in the conventional sense rather they have something unexpected to offer when you open them. The running text acts as an interacting agent making the viewer to turn them around into different ways. These are as Sachin explains the memoirs of his thought processes from a week before this residency has commenced and travelled in the whole five weeks. The end page of this is not a systematized approach with the skill; rather it was an attempt to move away from his own process of working thus questioning How Long? How Far? Such a formal experiment would reach. This work also moves away from the idea of linear narrative as every page has different story to tell and yet they all stay together as a fragmented assemblage.

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 1)

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 2)

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 3)

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 4)

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 5)

Sachin George Sebastian, Five weeks of Residency and a week Before That(Page 6)

The relationship between text and the image plays a very important role in the context of Sukanya Ghosh’s work. Her works are juxtapositions of images, texts and meanings that articulate through a newer language. The frames here appear as pages that are transparent having images drawn and text written over it. The transparency here is a formal strategy that moves away from the understandings about the opacity of a page historically. This works articulates through three forms broadly, firstly the structure is of Prologue that stands as an introduction to the one that follows. It is a closed structure tied together with papers pasted, images drawn and texts written over it and when you see through you can see one through the other. The second level of the work is a 3 fold structure that has a layering of text and the image with its frames wide open inviting the viewer’s view to pass through them. The text written on transparent surface such as glass with images overlapping and intersecting bring forth a newer methodology of dealing with image and text relationship. In the third level there are pages with printed texts and random images joined as if they are stitched together almost in the form of a tapestry. Some of these have an appearance of semi- transparency as they are joined with a paper on top and stitched from its four sides. These attempts also bring forth the overlap of images and text in various modes and layers thus, re-formulates the way in which the texts are situated and understood. In that sense Sukanya’s interpretations re-situate the functionalities of the objects, text, and image to produce newer meanings.

Sukanya Ghosh, The Book of Residues, A Folio in 3 Acts

Sukanya Ghosh, The Book of Residues, A Folio in 3 Acts (Detail)

Sukanya Ghosh, The Book of Residues, A Folio in 3 Acts (Detail)

Sukanya Ghosh, The Book of Residues, A Folio in 3 Acts (Detail)

Sukanya Ghosh, The Book of Residues, A Folio in 3 Acts (Detail)

Meghna and Aditya’s project is an attempt to perceive the space as a page and also to create a space in that page. The corner of their studio has been framed into the page and the wall joint stands as its dividing line. This space is explored to its limit as there are attempts of constant erasure and re-working in it by assembling objects, making drawings thus creating a space in a space. These attempts can be understood as their perceptions while confronting with the space day after day and experimenting within a fixed frame. The documentation of this process is a series of temporary constructions that have occurred within the page/space in the due course of the residency. Such an approach towards the form of the page brings forth interesting instances as this attempt moves out from the conventional idea of a page and places it onto a corner of the room. It also made possible a playful approach towards the elements in the page itself with strategic manipulations.

The Animation projection that runs across the flying pages of telephone directory book is an outcome of the series of drawings that have taken shape one over the other on the surface of the long sheet that was pasted on the side wall of the studio space. This sheet stands as a residue that has a series of hidden images in its underlying layers that have been erased in the process. From another perspective the strategy of projecting this animation on a book that is printed is to mock the functionality of the object such as book by using it for an unusual purpose. The virtual nature of the images here, show their ability to travel across the physicality of the book.

Meghna Bisineer & Aditya Pande, Untitled (process)

Meghna Bisineer & Aditya Pande, Untitled

Meghna Bisineer & Aditya Pande, Untitled, Single Channel Projection

Meghna Bisineer & Aditya Pande, Untitled

Logaine Navascues’s Random Reflections are a series of micro narratives which are actually not narratives in the conventional sense. These are Random Reflections that articulate about various aspects of the social operation and function. The texts are printed on small white paper pasted on to the black cards in a sequential frame that appears as an attempt to highlight the aspect of the text. In other words when you see these folded black sheets bound together in the manner of accordion fold. The first attention goes to the small white paper that is pasted on to it with printed texts. This creates a site for interaction as it makes the viewer to push his sight a little in order to catch hold of the text. The series of mirrors weaved in between also act as interactive agents as they show multiple reflections of an image. The mirror in this context stands as a metaphor and speaks about a psychological reflection while one confronts with any space. The hung bird cage and a elongated board placed on to the wall with small mirrors all over having text printed on them is another formal aspect through which Logaine formulates her work, Here the short texts get reduced into mere alphabets thus inviting the viewer to create his/her own words by joining the alphabets. Getting all aspects together in short Logaine’s interpretations/reflections are outcomes of her confrontations with different cultures, space, and people. Though she titled them as Random Reflections they are not by product of the lack of coherence rather they are to be understood as a significant methodological strategy of engaging with the thematic, idea and space all together.

Logaine Navascues, Random Reflections

Logaine Navascues, Random Reflections (Detail)

Logaine Navascues, Random Reflections (Detail)

Logaine Navascues, Random Reflections (Detail)

Logaine Navascues, Random Reflections (Detail)

Sebastian Cordova’s works somehow situate similar trajectory; they are memoirs of his every day experiences expressed in various ways such as photography, text, and drawing. His work Strip Tease is a series of texts/narratives that are written about various aspects within a social sphere. They are reflections, reactions towards confrontations/conversations with space, people and culture at large. These texts have a poetic approach but they are not poems in the conventional sense. The drawings are narratives of different scenes that too having a strong poetic synthesis. These representations are scenes of game play that metaphorically approach into various aspects of life, re-working on the notion that understands the life as a game. Liberty Kites is a series of photographs that are conceived in different locations/frames. These are images of kites lying down that are recorded in patterns one after other or sometimes one led to the other. This series of photographs construct a visual narrative through a pattern that doesn’t necessarily have a specific beginning or an end. In another work Sebastian manipulated a readymade book titled Billy’s Truck Diary. In this particular work he erased some of the texts from the sequence of a sentence and replaced them with words that don’t make sense in that sequence thereby de-constructed the narrative.

Sebastian Corodova's Display Space

Sebastian Corodova, Mithila Painting in collaboration with Amresh Jha a painter in Delhi Haat

Sebastian Corodova, Strip Tease

Sebastian Corodova, Post-Colonial Thought

Sebastian Corodova, Billy's Truck Diary

Thus by bringing everything together it is important to draw attention here that the formulations in this residency in their own ways, moved away from the existing understandings with regard to idea/object of the book. Sachin’s attempt adapts the material of paper which was historically associated with the book. By displacing the understanding of the paper as a flat surface it tries to create a kind of architectural piece. Similarly his popup book also tries to construct architectures inside a space such as a page, thereby breaking the limitations it had historically. His attempts also engages with the aspect of the narrative, whereas the paper-cut landscape narrates the transformation of space from a rural to urban scenario, the pop-up book stand as visual narrative of his thought processes throughout the duration of the residency. The trope of page is also explored by Aditya Pande and Meghna Bisineer. In their work Untitled the corner wall of a room was visually transformed into a page and whatever experiments that have taken place are limited to this frame of the page. In another work they have conceived which a series of drawings animated are and projected on the flipping pages of an already printed book, is also understood as an attempt to mock the function of the same. The trope of page occupied a semi transparent state in the works of Sukanya, The window frames are transformed into pages with painted images and pasted/written texts over them. This diluted the opacity that has been attributed to the page historically and made viewer to see through them. Her works also formulated newer relationships between the image and the text. Logaine’s Random Reflections tried to articulate through narratives that were random in their approach towards subject. The trope of the page here is presented in an accordion fold having tiny paper with printed texts pasted on to the every fold. It also adapted various objects such as bird cages and mirrors in order create an interactive space wherein which the viewers are invited to make their own words. Sebastian Corodova explored the aspect of narrative in his own way, whereas Striptease and Liberty Kites construct a narrative through visual and the text Billy’s Truck Diary tried to manipulate the words in the already existing narration thereby de-constructed the meaning it had to offer.

Before concluding it is necessary to mention some of the critical questions the residency as a whole kept forward into the discursive domain of Bookmaking. All the attempts in this residency some way or the other tried to appropriate/interpret aspects/tropes/ instances that are historically affiliated with the object/idea of the book. But reviving back the basic premise of the residency that is ought to re-think and re-imagine the idea/object of the book, how far one can consider that the attempts in this residency re-imagined the historically constructed entity called book in the actual sense? This also leads us to a state where we realize the practical impossibility of re-imagining an object/idea outside the ambit of its historical formation. In that sense the attempts in this residency are initiations towards newer ideas about space, book, object etc that needs to extend its explorations/experimentations into broader avenues.

Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi

New Delhi

[1] Definition of the term ‘book’ as suggested by Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition

[2] What Are Artist’s Books, From the website of Victoria Albert Museum, V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Sep 23, 2009

Space as a Page and Page as a Space : In a Breif Conversation With Aditya Pande

In midst of the conversation with Aditya Pande, the following aspects surfaced and developed in the due course of the discussion.These are broadly conversations with regard to his earlier practice and also about his collaborative project with Meghna Bisineer for this residency.

Me: The process of your earlier work involves mediation by technology, how does this mediation operate in your practice? And what are the ways in which the processes such as Painting, drawing, technology overlap your work and how differently these processes reflect to your idea?

Aditya: Major body of my work is largely based on drawing, so whatever process I adapt drawing remains as a main form of exploration. But computer allows a lot of revision, an Imagination of scale I wanted to construct. There is always a confrontation of scale, the idea of scale is a dynamic thing, all of it is an imaginary construct and I imagine that how it is going to appear for suppose on a wall of 10 feet. I use vector based software, it expands the possibilities of drawing, and everything seems like in the sense of a continuum. I don’t call it a Digital Art as it is situated in a kind of mediation for something and also it is a bit sculptural. I don’t see technology or software as an individual medium rather it more or less acts as a mediating agent in my work.

Me: You come from a background of graphic design and you deal with various disciplines how does your initial engagement with graphic design help you in your practice?

Aditya: I studied graphic design and I respect design a lot, and I didn’t actually switched from it, I still like it and passionate about it. But I am little uncomfortable with certain limitations it has such as there is a notion that design is for specific kind of needs. I always had attraction towards visual art practices since long period of time. It is also important to note that all these diverse mediums operate in different levels in the process of my work thus it is not like i actually switched from one medium to another, rather i had switched my approach towards that medium in my own way.

Me: When we look at the figures of your work they are not clear they are clear, they are suggestions of something and they are not, they appear as developments from random lines. So how do they get formulated, are they randomly developed by a process or they are forms that have strategic functions? and also what are the conceptual motivations behind your work?

Aditya: I think the two aspects which you have mentioned work together in the process of developing the form the strategies are also applied. Thus I don’t perceive them as two different aspects rather they work hand in hand and also of the fact every creative process operates with the overlap of process and strategy. As far as conceptual motivations are concerned the motivations are real and they are honest.

Me: Your Collaborative project in this Residency with Meghna is an exploration within the idea of space; some of your earlier work also has a different approach towards the idea of space. So how do you perceive the space as such in the context of your work in this Residency?

Aditya: Here we don’t want to perceive page as a flat surface, but as a volume. We are treating this space as a page and we are attempting to create a space in that page. There is a broad idea of treating the space as a page and what happens within that is an idea of play. This work is more in the process of construction, a kind of experimentation and whatever comes in the process are our understandings about this space. Working on a wall by perceiving it as a page is very difficult, as it is something that is immovable. In a conventional form of page you can turn it in whatever way you want but in this case you have to physically move according to it. In that sense it is moving away from the structural qualities of the book/page as we understand and introducing newer forms of understanding the space as a page and page as a space.

Sep 19, 2009

Orijit Sen Visited the Khoj Studios

Orijit Sen a designer, creative writer and the co-founder of People Tree visited the KHOJ studios to share ideas and interact with the participating artists of the residency. His visits to each of the studios brought up into discussion the concerns of the artists in both technical and conceptual premises. In an informally initiated dialogue on the different modes of understanding the structure of the book, Orjit explained the way in which the structure of the book itself transformed. He said that the Books today are no more informing agents rather they are understood as objects having larger political function. He also inquired the concerns of the artists as to the way in which each one of them are dealing with the idea of the book, as the thematic of the residency is to move away from the conventional methods of bookmaking.

The Discussion with Orijit opened up newer ideas about the formulations of the residency both in the technical and historical contexts.It actually made us realize at an appropriate moment as to where the residency is heading towards in the process of interpreting the Idea of the Book and how to go ahead with it in much more nuanced way.

In discussion With Sachin G Sebastian

In conversation with all the participants of the Residency

In the Studio of Meghna and Aditya

In Sukanya Ghosh's Studio

In the Space of Logaine Navascues

In an Interaction With Sebastian Corodova

Sep 17, 2009

Speaking Spaces

In the process of amalgamating the ideas and creating them into forms, the studio spaces here speak in a language of their own. As the residency is approaching towards a mark, the explorations within these spaces are becoming nuanced, coherent and discursive. These can be understood as the inspirations the studio as a creative site has provided with its spatial ability. However, there is diversity in the way in which each of these spaces articulates as they are mobilized by different practitioners. Aditya and Meghna perceive the space as a page and attempt to create space within that defined page. They Move away from the conventional mode of approaching towards the form of page and transform the studio space itself into a page that constantly re-configures/re-shuffles itself.

Logaine brings together objects like paper sheets, mirrors, bird cages, at her work place and negotiates with them while developing the desired form. It is also interesting the way in which she incorporates text in to this process, these texts are micro narratives that speak within and outside of the frame.Her attempts stand asRandom Reflections to various aspects that she came across day after day.

Sachin’s studio space is a paper workshop where unimaginable formal structures arrive from sheets and rolls of paper. These structures in this specific context are criticisms of architectures that constitute to visual bombardment within an urban landscape. Questioning as to How Long? How Far? will be our existence within such spaces.

Sukanya Ghosh’s studio seems like a collage of diverse material such as found images, news paper cuts etc waiting for their turn to decipher meanings. Though collaged within a particular frame every instance in this case has its own story to tell. As different material and meanings came to place this attempt is called as a Full Scape Folio, a conceptual structure that binds all these diversities together.

Sebastian Corodova re-situated his studio to the guest house saying that the space speaks his language.This re-location is ought to produce newer methodologies as there is a displacement from the studio spaces of the residency where thoughts are collectively shared and discussed.

It is an established understanding that meanings are produced according to spaces. An object may decipher different meanings in different spaces as its function is being manipulated according to the space. Keeping some of these Instances in mind this was an attempt to briefly map the newer ideas/strategies/processes the current international residency has brought while dealing with the thematic of book making.

Sep 14, 2009

How Long? How Far? : In Conversation with Sachin G Sebastian

Me: Geometry and Paper appear as two dominant aspects in your work. What is the reason for your constant passion towards them, and how do they help you while dealing with your practice?

Sachin: Paper was my passion since childhood. I remember replicating the pop-up greeting cards my mother and her friends use to get me, and doing my own drawings on top of the replicated forms. After I reached to pursue my graduation in NID (National Institute of Design) I was confident that I can deal with anything that is related to paper. Geometry, I got the kick when I was studying in NID, one of my faculty was saying that geometrical grid is the base for every form. Then I started viewing and dealing the practice with these understandings of geometry. My experimentations in geometry thus made me more comfortable and this is also one of the reasons that I never used to like a flat two dimensionality as adapted by the Graphic Design. I was more interested towards the processes in which works like organic architecture takes shape. My practice in that sense primarily has the geometric grid as a base on to which different forms are developed. This process also makes things easy in the sense of time and execution. My explorations with paper became more nuanced when I shifted to Bangalore after my graduation with the understandings on geometry I gained from my graduation. I felt that paper would be an ideal way to deal with my concerns and thus all of it started.

Me: How does the process of your work go, as it is based largely on paper? What are the kind of techniques you adapt to execute them? More importantly what are the contextual/conceptual motivations behind such developments?

Sachin: Well I have done largely pop-up’s, For Instance in my recent work Ramayana, there is a basic story which I already knew and my attempt was to go deeper into it. In this work I have taken 6 main scenes, the first scene is like Ram lifting the bow, while dealing or working on this scene there are certain factors which I keep in mind, When you open a page how can one feel that the Rama is really pulling down a bow, for this I visualize the scene and understand how the animation of pulling the bow can be orchestrated with paper. Even similar method applies while dealing with other scenes like Sita being taken away by Ravana. So after the first visualization I start with developing additions as it progresses. Sometimes there is a possibility that even the base structure may also change accordingly and that’s how all these processes amalgamate into the final one.

Sachin G Sebastian, Image from the Pop-up book Ramayana

Me: How do you perceive and interpret the physical structure and the aspects relating to the conventional idea of book. For Instance the way, in which the narratives of your two pop-up books on Christmas and Diwali go, they are unusual narratives being narrated by a character called Toto. So there is an attempt to move away from the existing formats of book and also the narration, can you share your experience in more detail?

Sachin: I was always uncomfortable with the conventional form of books, especially those which you sit and read with concentration, and rather I always used to prefer watching a movie. But many of my friends use to be of the opinion that it is more productive to read a book as there is a possibility of visualizing the text that is written, whereas movie is already a visualization of somebody else. And you can say that this is one reason that made me to deal with pop-up books. In a book as I feel, by opening it there should be some place to play around, and by just opening the page half of the story should be told. One of the other important aspects I try to engage with is that people have strong ideas about books that they in particular formats and in with such function, so pop-up’s in that sense are something to go away from these established notions. There is no possible speculation before opening the pop-up’s about the visuality of the inside structure. Coming to the narration part I was always against this typical narrative formats. I use to write short stories, for instance there are short stories on cards, where suppose there are 5 cards having different things written on them still each one of it stands as an individual story but when you begin to read the others then you realize that there is a connection between each other. In that sense how much ever you shuffle the cards the story is the same. I took this aspect as a conceptual motivation and how much ever I manipulate, the story is the same and every page in my book stands as a different stories and also contributes to the book as a whole. So these works can be understood as not stories that fit in specific narrative but as fragmented instances that does make sense even if they are assembled.

Sachin G Sebastian, Image from the Pop-up Book A Christmas Dream

Me: Your work in this residency is a Paper based work which is developed by cutting and folding the paper roll, having a running landscape starting from a sea to an urban scene, it seems like the landscape is transforming from one into another. In what context do these diversities come together?

Sachin: The aspect of Architecture is what I broadly wanted to engage with in this residency. There is a bombardment of architecture in the name of development. The notion of struggle for survival is moving everyone from rural to urban landscapes. These are the perspectives from which I initiated my attempts in this residency, I narrate this with the help of a visually fractured landscape that starts from sea to green fields and ends at a stage of urban architectural excess. The reason for executing this on a single paper scroll is to narrate the whole story on a single scroll. For Instance in Chinese Scrolls, one scroll narrates the whole story. This attempt can also be understood as an articulation of the landscapes I have been passing through since my childhood. From a plain landscape of Kerala, where I step out of my house and keep my leg on the soil to the current day architectures of Delhi where land the outside concrete surface is just a dream. That is why I call this How Long? How Far? Primarily questioning myself until how long and how far I am going to operate in these spaces. In another sense this is also a question to the society that bases itself in urban spaces at large as to how far and how long these practices in the name of development are going to be there. More importantly these spaces are limiting one’s senses to articulate with architecture and that’s how I call it an architectural bombardment. If you look at the scroll from the side it appears like a seismograph. This is also to metaphorically say that when the landscape is in sea and plain, the line is steady, the moment it goes up to the city it goes up and up and up.

Sachin G Sebastian, How Long ? How Far?

Me: There is an attempt to create a discursive space through this residency between practitioners from different backgrounds. How do you perceive this attempt and how does it help you in different ways?

Sachin: It is obvious that every time you get exposed to new things your mind also opens up to newer vistas, through discussions and many other productive modes. Especially when people come from different geographies of the world, there is a diversity of understandings. Though we are dealing with a similar subjective interest such as bookmaking in this residency the ways in which everyone approaches to that is drastically different. It is also a benefitting factor that comes out of the freedom this space has provided us to understand the thematic in our own ways and work accordingly.

Sep 10, 2009

It is 'Book' but it is not a 'Book' : In conversation with Logaine Navascues

Me: I am interested first to talk about your earlier work Epistola Diastole. When did the process for this particular work exactly start? Have you been gathering the material such as letters since sometime or it is only with the initiation of the project you gathered them?

Logaine: It happened in both ways. Most of the texts/letters I already had, they were not only love letters though, some are written while I was thinking about someone or they are basically texts that I wrote in different moments, but they are not letters in the actual sense as I never sent them to anyone . When I actually found out about a book object contest, I thought I should get into it; I spoke to one of my friend who is a visual artist and said we should together plan something for this. I said that I have lot of letters and texts and we have to do something that has to deal with Love. I already had decided the name Epistola Diastole. This is how I generally work, first I decide the concept or name then I search for the form according to it. We started executing it for the contest but we came to know that the contest was postponed and finally after it got finished, it was never part of any contest.

Me: Is the idea of making a box in the form of a book something to say that it is a compilation of letters thus adapting the trope of the book was important though it is functionally a box, or because the form of book has a different physical/historical function all together. What is the motivating force to bring the aspect of book and box together?

Logaine: We didn’t wonder that much about their value, it is something to redefine the approaches towards a book, it was to create a interactive space/object rather than having a mere passive approach.There are books of special things,there are boxes where you keep memories deposits of what you want to preserve. However in the context of this work it is the reading the personal’s of the other, looking at other people’s life in voyeurism. I think you are familiar with the notion that a Person’s personal are something that we should not look at, so this is something which is a take on that and we wanted people to read somebody else‘s personal life’s memoirs.

Me: At a conceptual level Love is something which can be considered as a universal concept even though it has different expressions according to its contexts. So, what was the reason behind adapting such a concept as a main area of interest? And you also said that it is a recurring theme in many of your works

Logaine: In specific reference to this work each letter is actually made, we did try and reflect typical cliché love scenarios. For Instance - The Platonic love where you always love, look up and never actually convey your love. Some other love letters are that denote the typical clichés of love. Other than this more importantly we had a set of letters which we call love letters though they are not love letters in the conventional sense. For Instance – There is a letter written by a woman explaining how much she loves her own self, so these are also a kind of expressions of love, in that sense this was also an attempt to move away from the normative clichés of understanding love as it was understood. It was the reason we wanted the work to be colorful and childish as it had to create a space for play, to play a game called love.

Me: So in that sense it is a Book, But it is not a Book, it is about love but it is not about love, Interesting.. What is the meaning of the title Epistola Diastole?

Logaine: You are right, it is in the form of a book but it is not a book it is a box that appears as a book, it is about love but it is not just about typical clichés of love. Well, the word Epistola Diastole can be understood as Letters from the Heart, it is also kept for the phonetic similarity.

Me: You said that the National Library in Peru didn’t accepted this as a book so how did you deal with that then?

Logaine : The National library of Peru hasn’t accepted this work as a book so in order to negotiate we compiled all the letters that we had for the project and made it in the form of a book and then kept them there. So we have to change the box into a book in this context, but that doesn’t mean that we have changed the whole idea and this can also be understood as one of the attempts.

Me: Did you display this work somewhere, what were the kinds of responses you got?

Logaine: We made around 55 copies of this work and it was displayed in the cultural centre of Argentina and later the copies went to different people and friends all over the world. Responses were good. Everyone liked the interactive space that this small colorful box has created with its contents. And to clarify we never duplicated it again but it does leave lot of memories behind.

Me: The website of this work seems like an interactive space by itself, every part of the work can be closely looked at. What made you to keep the process of the work in such detailed manner in the website?

Logane : Six Months later to the work was made we thought that we will put it on a website ,we would like someone else to see it and have it, that was the main reason to create the book itself. The whole process of how is it made is explained in the website. But the website is wholly designed by my friend who had also collaborated with me in this project.

Me: What made you interested in this residency and how does Indian culture appear to you, and what are your plans for this residency?

Logaine: When I heard about this residency on bookmaking and that too in India I thought wow my two dreams came together, books are my passion, thus I immediately wanted to take part in it. As far as the culture and practice is concerned, here in India the things obviously appear to me different because I come from a different background all together, and I want to say that it is definitely a good experience where I can see diverse ways of approaching a subject. The project which I am going to do here is titled as Random Reflections which can be understood as thoughts that have no sense between them as of now, as they are still in process, they appear as senseless objects and thoughts, I hope they stand as something when they come together at the end.

Sep 7, 2009

In Process..

The definition of Book according to OXFORD concise dictionary: Is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together. The conventional idea of book is a form that has a specific kind of physicality and function.The aspect of value production is the crucial role that these forms of book play as they have been understood as memoirs of historical times. So, there is something which is understood as the bookness of the book in the sense of the way in which it should be made, read etc.

Through mentioning some of the basic instances with regard to the conventional ideas about books, my attempt here is to introduce the process of the current international residency that largely contextualizes within the peripheries of Bookmaking. It is important to understand here that the basic conceptual premise of this residency is to move away from the conventional modes of approaching the structure of Book. It is to re-think about the book itself, including the processes of how it is made, looked, understood and read. But some of the fragmented aspects that have been associated with books historically definitely re-occur within the creative methodologies of this residency. As the practitioners come from different cultural/disciplinary backgrounds it paves a path for newer explorations and enquires with regard to space, medium and approach. In a discursive space such as this, the Ideas are shared, thoughts are re-worked and attempts are re-interpreted.

The studio space transforms into a Page erasing and re-working itself. A paper roll gets molded into a large landscape starting from the sea to an urban architectural scene. Multiple varieties of objects like mirrors, bird cages come together at the work place to decipher meanings. Thus this residency is the space where all these diversities come together and stand as a site of fragmented assemblage. As these attempts are in process I would look forward to see their re-configurations in the coming days.