Over the course of a year and a half, my IB Visual Arts journey involved exploring and creating a commentary on the role of technology in my life and my observations. My goal as an artist was to explore a diverse array of media and push myself to create artwork that would instill a reaction from the audience.
The journey culminated in an exhibition at the American Embassy School, New Delhi
Here are some of the pieces I exhibited:
The circuitry connected by “Bindis” (a traditional dot worn by Indian women on their forehead) explores the influence of technology on rising westernization of traditional India’s cultural norms. I used graphite to depict the circuitry because it can only be seen from certain angles, revealing the ambiguous reality of technology while questioning whether it truly connects or separates us.
Delving further into the themes surrounding “Bindis”, the idea for Swipe Right was born when I saw a friend mechanically swiping through Tinder. Swipe right to accept. Swipe left to reject. Repeat. An instantaneous decision spurred by a mere glance at an image made me consider the effects of this action. In order to be more accepted – through Tinder Swipes or Instagram Likes or in real life, we are unconsciously gearing ourselves toward the western beauty ideals more accepted online. These tiles were a commentary on the waning vibrancy of our traditional culture.
At homes, parties, airports, and schools, I constantly see people tied to walls by a thin cable that extends from their hands like a human appendage. As these devices begin to control our lives, their limited battery life becomes our limited battery life. Our actions and our decisions become centered around the needs of the devices in our hands. Using a combination of oil and a collage background inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s technique, the subtle imagery of each piece in the collage and the three dimensionality of the found object add emphasis to the charger that leashes us. The circles in the background symbolize the vicious cycle of our technology addiction and the subsequent societal elements from which we distance ourselves. Furthermore, the chaotic collage illustrates the subject’s tunnel vision as she stares into her phone: her surroundings are reduced to a translucent blur.
This hanging found object is composed of discarded electronic components that form a shadow when light is cast upon them. Inspired by the compositions of Tim Noble and Sue Webster, this project consisted of three stages: locating electronic waste in a junkyard, determining which objects to use, and assembling them to align and form a shadow in the background. The objects used in the composition were intentionally chosen based on their status as “trash”, specifically the trash that used to be the paraphernalia in our classroom. The assemblage is complete when light is cast upon the hanging parts that move in a synchronized manner, causing the shadow to mimic the movement of a person disposing of a phone. This man is a commentary on our consume-and-dispose lifestyles as well as the rising e-waste problem in the world. Yet, the irony is reflected in how the gently swaying figure emerges from what would have otherwise been considered trash.
These tattooed mannequin arms use metaphorical scenes to highlight social changes and aspects of our lives that are slipping away in the digital age. For example, one arm has goldfish that symbolize our shortened attention spans, while the octopi refer to our lack of focus as we give in to the illusion of multitasking. The light casts looming shadows in order to develop a bleak tone and develop value, while the painterly ink strokes capture the piece’s temporal nature.
The Hand Dance
Upon observing subjects using their phones, I recontextualized their idiosyncratic interactions as a choreographed dance. The hesitation of an adult using Tinder for the first time is juxtaposed with the confident swipe of a college student. The frenzied News Feed scroll is contrasted by the passivity of bus riders absent-mindedly swiping through Instagram. In “The Hand Dance”, the viewer takes the perspective of an observer within the screen, as frenetic movements build to a tense crescendo. This video was projected on a floor to ceiling wall within my school’s theatre to make the viewer feel trapped within the screen.