Baiju Parthan searches for link between technology, history & postmodern lives

Baiju Parthan keenly follows the theme of technology and its inclusion in life and art. As he puts it, communication technology has transformed our cultural space and social reality. The artist is interested in witnessing its impact on our lives.

In his new series of works tilted 'Liquid Memory + Rant' on view at New Delhi based Vadehra Art Gallery (till January 15, 2008), the artist tries to mull over the concept of history's significance in our postmodern lives, and tries to launch a query into 'what makes us who we are.' Through a wide array of media, the artist Baiju Parthan attempts to answer whether virtual concepts eventually will dictate real-time lives.

Baiju Parthan was interested in art since childhood. His love for art received a sense of direction when he chanced upon Harold Rosenberg's book 'The Anxious Object'. It provided him an entirely different picture and perspective of art making as an evolving intellectual and formal discipline with a well documented history. He gave up engineering studies and joined the college of art Goa for a BFA in painting.

Elaborating on his motivations as an artist, he says, 'It was the experience of something magical happening while transferring an image from one's imagination into reality of the picture space which operated as the major incentive. Then again there was that feeling of self-worth that came from being able to do something out of the ordinary. From the provocation angle, art making was my personal rebellion against traditionally tried and tested careers one was supposed to follow.

The artist has studied the Indian mystical arts, tantra, ritual arts as well as Indian mythology. According to him, they have become 'part of my life and my art'. Those things have become lens through which I look at reality and that gets reflected in my art quite naturally, he adds.

In the early 1980s, he began working as a writer and illustrator, and returned to painting only in the early 1990s. His reading in post-modern theorists enabled him to re-contextualize things from his immediate environment. He has once stated: 'The post-modern theorists have accepted the localization of reality. We're now reconciled to the idea of an individual reality. Art is about local realities. Personally, I live in a post-colonial concept of space. The world exists as a flux."

In 1995, the artist learnt hardware engineering, building his own machine, and creating programs. He is particularly interested in the influence of technology on religious beliefs, the implications of genetic engineering, and the possibilities of post-humanism (i.e. the development of symbiotic relations between men and machines).

Spelling out his concerns as an artist, he mentions: 'When I say we cannot ignore the presence of technology in our life, I am over stating the obvious. I wish to reflect the changes occurring around me for one. I also want to generate fresh symbols and metaphors which have the potential to expand the range of meanings that we can wrestle out of life and reality.

He works with traditional media as in painting and also likes to experiment with new media ranging from interactive programming based art as well as large scale prints on metallic surfaces. If new-media allows me to be more proactive, painting allows him the space to be introspective.

To him, the challenge is to be global without losing one's local moorings and flavor.

The urban contemporary context is what the world is changing into owing to globalization and the ubiquitous communication technology. In that sense my work is operating within a terrain that is in many ways universal, he concludes.

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