Refining 2005 - 2006
The video "Refining" is a really speeded up run through of photographs I took in Islamabad on the 23rd of March 2005 (of the parade being viewed) and then on the 3rd of March 2006(the day that Bush visited Pakistan and met with the president).
The run-through, which is otherwise too fast for the viewer to be able to see any picture no longer than 1/10th of a second, suddenly stops at certain chosen photographs of the Islamabad landscape with nothing but the mountains, or cows in green park areas, or the sky and also stopping a number of times at footage of commandoes / soldiers marching in the 23rd march parade, captured off a screen of the TV as seen all over the country.
The video has then been shot off the monitor of the computer, where the viewing of the photographs becomes an almost neurotic activity, pre-controlled and taped. The term "refining" is what appears on the screen as the software runs through the pictures, its part of a popular picture viewing software called Picasa, which refines each image as you see it. For me the term refining became a bonus word that also talks about the constant "refining" of the Capital city.
And then there’s the play of the capturing of the footage off a computer screen, of images taken off the TV screen in the first place, so there’s the constant refining of how it’s all viewed. This may not be apparent to the viewer, but is important to me in the context that currently I'm looking at the viewing of work, how work is supposed to be viewed in the shift between image and video and what’s real and what isn't.
Gang, Land(e)scape and Travel Diaries 2005
“Travel diaries” has been work that’s traveled with me for the last year. It started in Islamabad last April in the form of charcoal drawings that I then incorporated into digital images; these figures in safety suits ended up dancing, running, floating in real yet unrecognizable environments (resulting in a series called "Land(e)scape"). They looked happy and elated in their sudden incarnation, in their new-found identity. What initiated it was an image I saw in Newsweek Magazine of four men in safety suits walking down a road, one of them smoking a cigarette. They looked like a gang of mobsters/ four buddies/ four happy people just strolling towards the pub/ walking home from work. The image was actually part of their front cover article called “How Scared should you be?”
Two months into this work, I went to the Khoj Artist’s workshop in India (June 2005). At the workshop, we were staying in Vasind near Mumbai. Being guests of the Jindals (of Jindal Steel Industries), we were taken to the Steel factory where I saw this industrial woven plastic that was used to cover the Steel rolls once they were ready. I decided to make a suit out of it. Somehow the character wanted to appear in the environment of the workshop, in India, in a new place. The body was made in a reclining posture, as if the character was lying around, resting. Once ready, in the suit, he was placed in the room with the other roommates and photographs were taken as everyone slept. These photographs are thus true. In the morning it was found resting in the guest house lawn where a lot of people came to view him. It lay under a tree.
Though the work was originally meant to be an installation, the final work became its documentation in various places. The character to me has become an ID-less, form-less, indefinable character who a lot of people have also called the Astronaut or spaceman, but the space-suit or anti-contamination suit has metamorphosed into a being on its own.