|all ways - saraswati and strange attractors ////
multimedia installation //// Overstolzenhaus Cologne //// © rajele jain 1993
|"Does the quantum physicist really work on empirical entities that can be seen, heard, smelt, touched and tasted? If he can be a mystic to explain the empirical phenomena, why is he afraid of metaphysics to explain the totally?
N.C. Panda, Maya in Physics, Delhi 1991)
|The basic material of the project "All Ways - Saraswati and Strange Attractors" are statements of Western scientists, mostly physicians, who are told to be ranking with the so called "New Sciences", and ideas of other philosophers and theorists who are talking about cyberspace, artificial intelligence, electronic network and other visions.
By reading or hearing their words regarding the "new media" it was quite striking to see many relations to the Indian philosophy - either by just naming their projects with Indian names (like "Indra-Net") or even referring to fundamental ideas of this philosophy (like "immateriality").
So I developed the idea to establish a real dialogue to Indian philosophers to explore if the visions and hopes around the new media are comparable as a matter of fact.
The process of establishing the dialogue between Europe and India was supposed to happen by already following one of the visions which have been told in these years - 1991..."global network" which would provide everyone with free informations from all over the world....The project has shown, at least at that time, how much dependent on money, climate, geographical region and quality of the machines the communication facilities were. Even the older ways of telephone or telefax have been difficult because of high expenses, bad weather, electricity problems and time differences. Since there was no worldwideweb, the exchange of images as well were not possible and it was doubtful if a fruitful dialogue is possible just by the exchange of words...so finally the old way of writing letters was used. "All Ways" (of communication) in the end meant the personal visit with the video documentation camera and the purchases of various materials from India in order to create the installations. Not only words, not only images, also smell and real objects.
The dialogues were mostly done with Mr. Nataraja Deekshitar from Chidambaram und Dr. Nrusingh Charan Panda from Bhubaneshwar.
Mr. Nataraja Deekshitar is "high priest" of more than 600 priests in the oldest temple of South India, a Shiva temple. In Mysore he had studied philosophy, economy, psychology and classical dance from South India. He has been invited to severak universities in Europe and USA to give lectures about Indian philophy and Indian Dance.
Dr. Nrusingh Charan Panda is a professor emeritus of Sanskrit, philosophy and sciences. He did his thesis in animal physiology at the University of Missouri, USA. In 1993 he had just received another award, the "Sarala Samman", "a prestigious literary award, given to outstanding literacy and creative literature in Oriya language". He has published a number of novels, short stories and essays as well as scientific publications such as "Maya in Physics" (Delhi 1991). In 1993 he was writing his book "The Psychic Universe" with topics on cyberspace and artificial intelligence.
The process of the project and the results of the confrontation of the statements from the quantum physicians, chaos theory, artificial intelligence research with the Indian ideas about time, scientific methods, communication, universe, knowledge, image, matter, immateriality, coincidence, wisdom, network and so on have then been used in the installation.
The installation consisted mainly of three parts:
1. the "Saraswati temple"
2. the "computer temple"
3. the "information and interaction room".
1. The Saraswati temple
contained a small "temple" for the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of science and art, with a video projection of a pooja (an action of sacrifice). In the form of a monitor there was also a big plexi glass protecting square shaped photos (big pixels!), each showing a face of an Indian looking towards the entrance to the computer temple and therefore trying to substitute the absence of real Indians during the exhibition time.
Following the architecture of the beautiful space of the old building "Overstolzenhaus", three more pillars have been built. The first one, still the inside the space of the Saraswati temple, shows a video which is corresponding with the next pillar at the entrance of the computer temple. It shows alternating a statement of the Indian philosophers concerning a specific notion (science, cyberspace..), then turns into an orange screen whereas the video in the next pillar starts with a statement of a western scientist about the same topic which afterwards turns into a blue screen. Each color video has a specific tone which if heard at the same time, creates a musical harmony. If one positions himself in the middle of the two pillars (the border between the two "temples") one can follow the dialogue.
2. The computer temple
beside the pillar of the Western part of the dialogue, three more pillars are built in. They show videos in different sizes of monitors made out of digital produced "monitor lights", the flickering and greenish/blueish coloured sceens which enforces the lights of the computer monitors of the computer lab where these pillars are installed, meaning which was transformed into the computer "temple". The working process of the people working with the lot of computers in this laboratory was not interrupted during the exhibition. They have been integrated with their motionless concentrated position in front of the monitors, quietly working, the shadow of the monitor light on their faces, dealing with the "immateriality"...
On the floor a photo print of 1.55 m to 1.55 m size under a plexi glass shows a digitally processed image containing parts of 3-d-Animation-Software with its wireframe aesthetics ... related to the "mandala" of Indian temples. The plexi glass was reflecting the lights of the computer monitors and the video lights and therefore remembering the water bassin which is a part of an Indian temple.
A sound composition of 40 seconds made out of different sounds inside and outside computers was played every 40 minutes. A digitally working person would feel reminded immediately at his own working atmosphere - as an Indian who is visiting frequently a temple would remember this when listening to the bells used in temples.
A temple a the characteristic artistic expression and focus of the social and spiritual life of the society whom he is serving (quotation after G. Michell, Der Hindu-Tempel, Baukunsg einer Weltreligion, Dumont 1991).
3. The information and interaction room
Informations and additonal references could be found in a nonlinear hypercard program which was installed on a macintosh computer. The hypercard software was just two months before updated and now able to use color (!!). The program is attached to this documenation. If you want to see it, please click here.
Beside this a fax machine was connected and the visitors could start the dialogue with Mr. N.C. Panda in India. Since the exhibition was opened during the evening hours in Cologne, Mr. Panda had to be present in a fax shop, not even close to his house, in the very late night at India! So again I have to say that his support and engagement was just incredible and I want to thank him again very very much.