Artist uses junk to showcase environmental hazards of tech

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Artist uses junk to showcase environmental hazards of tech
New Delhi, July 26: Contemporary artist Mukesh Sharma has fashioned obsolete keyboards, monitors and other junked computer parts into modern artworks in a new show, a commentary on the hazards of technological redundancy.

At his on-site studio in an under construction site here, Sharma displays an inverted tree covered with computer keys, junked computer monitors transformed into planters, an installation of keyboards and digital prints and a 3D painting doubling up like a computer monitor.

"The idea is how we are enslaved by technology and how this simple keyboard button is taking over our lives. Rapid technology change and its outpourings alter the aesthetics of a society," says the artist about his project 'A Terabyte-ing Serpentine', which opened here recently.

The 39-year-old artist who did his MFA in printmaking from MS University, Baroda has been developing the imagery of computer and its components in his mixed media installations, paintings and digital prints for the last four years.

Sharma's recent work is the result of a five-month long collaboration with project curator Unnati Singh who is herself an artist. For his installation titled "Inverted Search for Immortality", Sharma has used a dead tree found at the site and installed it upside down from the ceiling after sticking thousands of computer keys on its dried out branches.

"I have created faux branches that reach out towards the ground like complex, tortuous arms" says the artist. Sharma says he has "always responded to art and visuals with naivety of my personal intellect" and his current collaborative work is an attempt to create a synthesis of his experiences of technology with surroundings.

Adds curator Unnati Singh, "Science has allowed man's knowledge of the world to make its way up like an endless serpentine. With one invention being replaced by another in nanoseconds, the junk that is created is often ghastly."

Unnati points out that Sharma's work is a perception of this vicious cycle. "The keyboard like a serpent has entered our lives and is eating up our life, becoming much more than just a thing of usability. The way keys are taking us into a new virtual world, Sharma's work is a new direction of seeing the real in site specificity and art that goes beyond," says Unnati.

In a room at the onsite art show, a video installation takes viewers through the intricate process of stitching a blouse with the video encouraging viewers to throw digital prints of blouses on to the tree installation. The idea stems from the artist's memory of ritual in his village in Rajasthan where women throw their blouses on a tree after fulfilment of a wish.

Next to the video is a collection of nine junk computer monitors whose top has been severed to sprout money plants. Titled "Botanic monomania", the art work "forces us to think about recycling the non-biodegradable and the environmental hazards we live in," says Unnati.

"Also the artist's aesthetics with the junk and the organic, redefines the objects we see everyday and goes beyond being ready made. This work also extends into an illustration and manual of how to make a planter out of junk monitors," points out the curator.

In yet another art work titled "Chip on the Shoulder" Sharma has created a 3-D computer monitor effect where a few men ride on horses adorned with intricately painted computer keys and chips. For his showstopper Mukesh Sharma has created an installation that occupies an entire room comprising thousands of pieces of keyboards and their digital drawings stuck together to entwine the whole room like a serpent.

"The work alludes to a movement that is unseen, a ghost of a movement, creating patterns with the mind, digging its fangs into the nerves that rule the mankind, numbing the senses that question its path. Humanity is in the grip of this serpent getting twisted with each nanosecond. Junk keyboards are a reminder of how each time a new invention happens so much becomes obsolete and how we have to deal with this monstrous serpent that has entered our lives," explains the curator.


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