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Art + Science The Undivided Mind Part II – Meet the Artists

Meet Art + Science Resident Artist Jayden Hastings.
Describe your practice in 3 words:
– Hacker
– Materiality
– Identity

What do you think Science is?
An attempt to capture universal/shared knowledge.

What do you think Art is?
An attempt at sharing ones subjective experience with another to reach towards a universal knowledge.

Why do you think it’s important to explore these two spheres in a multidisciplinary way?
I have the impulse to do both – I can not personally not explore both. I try and avoid the reduction of art and science into two separate disciplines because they are so intimately interlinked within and between everyone’s lives; I’m not talking about academic science or academic art those are professional activities, but rather the practice of an integrated experimentation.

What do you hope to get out of this artist residency? Why are artist residencies important?
They are invaluable in subverting any tendencies towards tedium. As artists when you are relegated to a specific space, a specific community, a specific discipline, or a specific technique,it undoubtedly tends to relegate or limit the possibilities of your own work.

Coming to Khoj is also an attempt to connect with colleagues from all over the world that I would not have had the opportunity to connect with otherwise; to develop new ideas and practices perhaps together,through drawing from own individual work and by forming a cool intermediate space together.

Perhaps you can tell me a little more about your art practice now and the project you will be working on over the next month at Khoj?
I’m going to continue with my hybrid art science research project titled the Matter of Humanness, but what I am interested in is developing new ways of expressing these ideas by maybe rethinking the techniques I’ve used, or ways of representing science specifically in my own personal research. I’m working on a whole bunch of different ways of working, I’ve mapped out an array of possibilities exploring each of them individually to see which ones get the most mileage, they are a whole series of experiments some on my own, some collaborative, some repeating old techniques, some exploring new techniques, it will be a period of hyper experimentation.
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Meet Art + Science Residents Sreyashi Kar and Bidisha Das
Describe your practice in 3 words:
– Interactive
– Excavation
– Experimental

What do you think Science is?
Everything around us – I don’t think there’s an intention to and for scientific enquiry we see science as a vessel for understanding how things work, you can play with science.

What do you think Art is?
It’s an expression, it is a tool used to make sense of our surroundings.

Why do you think it’s important to explore these two spheres in a multidisciplinary way?
For us its not that we want to investigate art and we want to investigate science, it’s more of an organic evolutionary process. The science we’re dealing with is very basic and fundamental it is all around us. We don’t have any formal scientific training at all, the work just takes the form of an artwork and this is how you make a circuit between the two.

What do you hope to get out of this artist residency? Why are artist residencies important?
This is an open space and an open mix of people, already through simply talking to the other artist’s we are finding lapses between Lalin’s and Jayden’s work. The great thing about the residency is that you are creating non-stop and it’s a great set up; there are lots of invaluable collaborative ideas coming through and it is also great exposure for us as artists and practioners.

Can tell me a little more about your art practice now and the project you will be working on over the next month at Khoj?
First we developed a mind map to guide us through building a lab, if you cant build your lab you don’t deserve to be there. The Lab also becomes the central point; the lab is a space for labour. Through the residency the first thing we’re trying todo is build our space, to bring everything from the outside inside and to allow the lab/the studio/the space to become an installation in its our own way. It becomes a space for collaboration, investigation and participation, we want to use this space as a mother ship, to invite people in and have a conversation.

At the same time one other thing we are working on is plants and their responses to the environment, we want to try and decode what the plants are like in this area. We want to explore how we can better understand species outside of ourselves. We also want to explore the interactions between the natural and the man made environment in Khirki through robots and automatons, we also plan to work with Jayden to develop some bio-printing techniques using the de-celluloid and hope to carry out a series of workshops in the field using a mobile lab you can carry in your backpack, the idea is to take it out into the public sphere and create in.
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Meet Art + Science Resident Artist Lalin PH
Describe your practice in 3 words:
– Art
– Science
– Religion

What do you think Science is?
Art, science, religion they each want to answer the question of what the world is and what life is, but the method of their investigation and their final answer is different. I realised that not everyone thinks in this way, when I shared these thoughts with my teacher laughed at me, but the way we view the world and the way she thinks is very different.

What do you think Art is?
Art is everything. Sometimes I think art is documentation, it is a record of the past up until the present. Art is a document of the human story from a long time ago, artists learn about what humans were doing,and scientists equally have to learn about the human and natural forms of the past. Scientists work in lab but artists work in a studio, it’s the same. Both scientists and artists have to experiment before creating, when drawing something you have to concentrate, it is like a form of meditation, when scientist’s work they also have to concentrate, it is like meditation and religions use meditation as a search for truth and for good in the world. I try to find truth and answers through art.

Why do you think it’s important to explore these two spheres in a multidisciplinary way?
Because arts content and context is social, if I draw a Thai image it has a restricted audience,but if I draw a scientific artwork people believe in its universal nature, it is transformed into a serious object. In the past political art and political artists wanted to create specifically Thai images to connect with the locality, I want to create a new scientific way of working. To come back to the first question where I stated art is documentation I therefore wish to document the real ‘thing’ in the social context; I think it is important to explore what people are like, what it means to be human, what life is essentially. In the future I want to collect my artworksand display themina textbook that people can read and learn from. I hope that what I teach and document will stimulate people to be better versions of themselves, to encourage a happier life together. My practice is the ultimate search for truth and kindness together, an attempt at eliminating discrimination, lying and cheating.

What do you hope to get out of this artist residency? Why are artist residencies important?
Artist residencies are important because you get the chance to travel abroad and meet lots of different kinds of people. In this way you may also have the opportunity to change preconceived cultural expectations/differences from people from different countries.

There is also space in the residency structure to try and see your way through a new form of art production, to experiment with new art mediums and materials and to open yourself up to the world – this is very important.

Can tell me a little more about your art practice now and the project you will be working on over the next month at Khoj?
When I was young I was fascinated by scientific illustrations in scientific textbooks, they were both beautiful and factual and it made me want to create something that encompassed both beauty and truth together, the answer was in illustration. In philosophy you have the objective and the subjective, the rational and the irrational, in my work I want to harmonise these opposites to work with both the left and the right side of the brain and to create some new and universal.

In Thailand most people believe the artist is someone who is crazy, but the artist is not crazy, the artist is a serious person, they are knowledgeable and skilful. My practice aims to destroy this way of thinking and to present the artist as a valuable part of society, this is why I wear a lab coat at art openings and when I talk about my work it defines my both me and my practice with serious intention.

At Khoj I would like to continue with my interest in illustration through documentation but to also incorporate installation, this will be the first time I will try to adopt this method of working. I want to work in both a 2D and 3D way. I hope to find snake skins to incorporate in my work, the series developed at Khoj will focus on snakes and Bengali tigers, which are both symbolic and religiously tied to Indian society.
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Meet Art + Science Resident Artist Paribartana Mohanty
Describe your practice in 3 words:
-Fiction
-Collaboration
-Inspired

What do you think Science is?
It doesn’t matter to me whether we’re talking about science or art they are one and the same. My interest in Oppenheimer steams from an interest in fiction, I enjoy all aspects of fiction and I see a fictional dimension to both science and anthropology. It feel that fiction can play out because the history is so far away, it’s no more an absolute truth, I find liberty in dealing with history in this way. A lot of my work takes reference from history, different archives and performances, it’s never independent, it’s neither objective nor subjective in nature, it’s referential.

What do you think Art is?
Art is liberty – it gives the freedom to think and to do.

Why do you think it’s important to explore these two spheres in a multi-disciplinary way?
I don’t see art and science as two separate forces – when you read about scientific inventions or investigations they are experimental and their lifestyles are really artistic, most of these scientists are philosophers, Einstein Feynman and Oppenhemier are all philosophers with an empirical opinion on life.

Yesterday I was really thrilled to learn that in the beginning scientific research was published in philosophy magazines until the 19th century; after the 19th century science decided it didn’t need religion or philosophy anymore and chose to concentrate on what was considered ‘the real matters of science.’ Reading this re-enforced for me that art and science never intended to be considered separate from one another. Richard Feynman talks about light and he references the swimming pool, he speaks of the waves and the way that light is refracted in this way. David Hockney the British painter, paints swimming pools and similarly captures and references the light hitting the water and reflecting, in this way you can simulaeously think of these two as parallel, exploring similar ideologies and empirical questions.

I see Oppenhemier’s video that I’m working from as a performance, I don’t see it as truth – it’s a very strong video work.

What do you hope to get out of this artist residency? Why are artist residencies important?
There are two things happening now in this residency that is different from the other residencies I have been a part of; when I went to Japan, Switzerland and France I was far from my home, so I could explore in any direction because my time was mine, without any friends you would meet people and discuss your work but it was very different. Here it’s a little bit difficult for me because I live so close, which is why I chose to stay at Khoj.

During residencies when you’re working in your studio you meet and you talk about your progress. I am interacting with the artists here to get feedback and collaborate. Most of my work is based on collaboration so when working in a residency I get to collaborate with a lot of people, which is incredibly valuable. I am trying to gather people around my work, the residency format allows you to live in another space and to detach from your personal life, I am here, I am an artist, 24 hours a day of my life, but in my home I have my friends and family and this causes distractions.

Can tell me a little more about your art practice now and the project you will be working on over the next month at Khoj?
Act The Victim is a public performance project, I go to people, do an open call and place posters around the city and get them to perform as victims. They come, they bring their reference material and we discuss it, next we improvise, we find an object, or an action to process this loaded idea of victim hood through.

Dear Document Fukushima is another work of mine which is not exactly about Fukushima, but rather focuses on atomic development and disasters. Today humanity uses nuclear energy as a power source and there is a chance that we will become dependent on power plants in the future, but as humans we make mistakes and if a mistake were to happen in this space it would be catastrophic. Fukushima is for me a site of crisis and I am trying to understand what its possibilities and limitations are. In this project I am talking to a lot of artists who are using Fukushima as a site and making artworks based on collaborating with these people, there are musicians, dancers, photographers, writers etc. so the ground is very fertile, it’s not dead.

This project at Khoj is about Oppenhemier’s reading of Bhagavad Gita, I am open to exploring the fictional possibilities of this video documentation. I have started reading My Name is Red, which is a novel written by Orhan Pamuk based on a miniature painter. The book talks about the murder of a miniature painter, the conspiracy is very similar to Oppenheimer’s; there is a connection I am developing between light and blindness. The book speaks of blindness and physics; the miniature painter’s intent is to find, or to see that which is beyond. In the case of Oppenheimer’s film he is not looking at the camera, he said when he saw the bright light he felt threatened (the atomic explosion); light is generally considered in a hopeful manner but this light became a threat. In the case of the miniature painters light was equally considered as a burden, for the miniature painter light was not helpful but rather blindness was considered a virtue. In Persian painting they don’t use the light to see, if they want to draw a horse for example they go and look at the horse, but they do not copy, they go back and draw from their mind. This is one example another is that Persian artists never wanted to become too dependent on their eyes as they feared when they grew old they would no longer be able to create, so they chose to practice their art in a dark space by candle light. In this way the artist would struggle, however he was teaching himself invaluable lessons so that even when he could no longer see, he could still paint. They treated light as a different thing altogether. They also used to blind themselves, blindness was considered a virtue. The master Bizat blind himself and after that a lot of painters felt they had to follow because as these artists aged, if their eye site did not deteriorate, their character was questioned.

As I work with the footage of Oppenhemier and his response to seeing the first atomic blast I am correlating these two things together, I am reading this book and taking some inspiration. I am not taking Oppenheimer’s name in the work I am taking Bizat’s name, all the narration will happen around him, it will be based on physics and the possibility of light and blindness.