Ever since I saw the documentary, The Artist is Present, I have been a fan of her work. Maybe not in the exact form but the essence of it, intrigues me. Since the film, a phrase that she’d said had remained with me “it is the public who complete the piece.” Being an interaction designer myself, the words rang in my head. Humans are key and yes, art could be inclusive instead of being the exclusive kind that only a few get. So when came the newsletter announcing her 512 Hours at the Serpentine, all else had to wait while I scrambled my way to be of the fortunate few (160 to be exact) who could go “empty” to her.
While I must say the experience wasn’t as exciting as I had imagined it to be, 512 Hours is undoubtedly less sensational than The Artist is Present. Divided into three chambers, it felt a bit like participatory meditation. Being an Indian myself, the concept of closing one’s eyes, blocking the external world out while working on one’s senses isn’t a new idea. Given that I was subjected to it public unsettled me. Is that what performance art is about? Being touched even in passing by Marina Abramovíc I am forced to acknowledge the power of someone who has spent her entire life in performance art.
It is a show I would highly recommend to anyone who’s up for not-the-conventional gallery visit.
Though initially I frowned upon the bizarre location, Belgrade – Serbia for the conference, it turned out a pretty neat city. I knew of no Serbian interaction designer. Neither did I know anyone of Serbian origin. The only Serbian I knew till then was Nikola Tesla, that too by virtue of internet. I had assumed he was American.
After much running around and spending a night at the Vienna Airport (which calls for a completely different post altogether), we found ourselves in pretty ex-Russian theaters and Fresco Galleries attending what was, one of the most glamorous geek-events I’ve attended. I say geek not in the negative sense of the word but the amount of sheer brilliance packed in those three days could not be works of measly mortals (like moi).
Much of the first day went in trying to get into one of the many workshops. Given our last minute travel emergencies, we could not register for any of them. The Ototo workshop was one that I was really hoping to attend. 😦 Alas! I had to make do with a small chat and some post workshop try-outs. Dizzying as it were the Ocular Rift was quite the gadget to try out!
Some of my favorite speakers there included Jussi Angesleva, Pablo Garcia, Yuri Suzuki and Kimchi & Chips. Having seen Yuri Suzuki’s work earlier and being familiar with his innate interest in music put perspective to some of his earlier projects. What blew me away was this music video choreographed entirely with robots. Absolute brilliance!
Pablo Garcia showcased a really interesting low-tech way of drawing/sketching. Based on the principles of camera Lucida, titled NeoLucida it sort of aims at redefining ‘realism’. I love how hands on the technology is. It reduces the friction between the act and the user and makes the interaction seem seamless. Another project that I really loved was the Body Scanner by Jussi Angesleva. I realized, I really love projects that hide technology. And as a result what comes out is pure interaction.
Now, all work and no play makes Sayanee a dull girl.
Leaving with postcards from Belgrade. A war torn city, beautiful in parts.
Must try the ‘rakia’ but beware it’s not for the faint hearted. Walk into a ‘Baklava’ store and you’ll come out with diabetes. Vegetarian? You’ll probably have to live on thin air and water. Nothing, mark my words, NOTHING comes without meat. I’d be damned to find yoghurt sans bacon topping! BLASPHEMY!!
Disclaimer: The Museum of Contemporary Art on the banks of river Sava has been shut for the last 8 years. It’s best to avoid considering it’s not been keeping up with the times 😉 The Kalemagden is pretty cool. It has an underground walk-in dungeon and throngs of canons thrown around the campus (for the historically inclined). Though what will catch your eye is not the beauty of the place but the many young couples resting under the trees. Well, resting would have been fine but ‘mating’ was more common. I love the city’s idea of privacy! Don’t ask why the buildings look dirty, they were bombed 15 years ago. Also LOOK LEFT while crossing the road. Don’t make insurance pay for it.
ps. The people at Hedonist Hostel are angels.Thank you so much for the hospitality (and the croissants) 🙂