By Shilpa Raina
New Delhi: Birds chirping, funny conversations, melting glaciers, clinking coins and sounds of construction – all these and much more reverberate at the ongoing India Art Fair here, with some artists using sound art as their medium of expression.
Listen Up, a unique public sound exhibition at the NSIC grounds in Okhla in the southern part of the capital, has used a digital platform through a mobile phone application to make sound art publicly accessible across the city.
There are six booths at the fair where people can listen to different sounds and conversations created and produced by over 30 international and national artists. These include a conversation between a Kashmiri couple over breakup, a recording of melting glaciers by a British artist and the sound of chirping birds.
“Sound has always been a form of art. (Japanese artist) Yoko Ono had exhibited a sound piece in 1961. It is just that it is arriving a bit late in India, but we are catching up,” Rasika Kajarai, the brainchild of the project, told IANS.
Produced by 1after360, Mumbai-based Diana Campbell Betancourt and New York-based Tim Goossens are the curators of the project that was nine months in making with an investment of around Rs. 15 lakh.
“Sound is an easy medium to approach. This application is available on all Android phones and you can listen to all compositions, but if you want to download you have to pay,” Kajarai said.
“Art should reach out to the masses and we curated this project with that approach,” she added, saying they already have a booth in a plush south Delhi mall to give the sound project visibility.
While these sounds can be heard only after putting on earphones, artist Asim Waqif’s “Still Life” generates sound when you either touch his artwork or walk around it.
Hiding wiring below the carpet, visitors are surprised once they walk over the carpet. As the blaring sound attracts attention from passers-by, Waqif succeeds in creating a dialogue with the audience.
Similarly, Kolkata-based artist Nobina Gupta has used the medium of sound and light for her “Kalpataru” installation to communicate with the visitors. The 12-foot-tall steel installation is in the shape of a banyan tree and she hopes to sensitise visitors to the dangers human beings pose to the earth.
“I hope to trigger and raise questions in the mind of the audience with this interactive medium,” said Gupta who has used the sounds of a waterfall, birds chirping, coins clinking and construction for the project.
A loop of mixed sounds in the background simultaneously runs with three different lights, and using same “under wiring” technique, Gupta’s installation startles people, as the sounds and colours change.
“Art has to be interactive in case you want to communicate with the audience. I hope they get the message,” she added.
Not everyone was happy with what was on offer.
Peter Femfert of the Franfurt-based Die Galerie candidly admitted he won’t ever support technological-driven art forms because of their unpredictable shelf-life.
“I don’t support these new forms of art because who knows they might end up in the garbage bin after some time. Art is a collector’s dream and we sell something that one collects and preserves for generations,” Femfert told IANS.
Femfert, who has been participating in the fair for a few years now, is in the business for 35 years. His gallery represents works of masters like Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.
“We believe in traditional forms of art, and I don’t see us promoting this kind of art,” he added.