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Corpus Grandiferum by Jaden Hastings (left); and a still from the video by Paribartana Mohanty.
Corpus Grandiferum by Jaden Hastings (left); and a still from the video by Paribartana Mohanty.

Where science meets art

A mixed-media show that explores the two seemingly unrelated subjects

When the first atomic bomb was detonated on 16 July 1945 in New Mexico, US, American physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer remarked that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Years later, these words played on the mind of New-Delhi based artist Paribartana Mohanty as he created his video installation, The Miniaturist, for The Undivided Mind-II.

“It seems Oppenheimer is searching for a way out from his trauma by reciting the spiritual text, but simultaneously defending or justifying the atomic experiment on the basis of dharma and karma, alluding to what Krishna suggested to Arjun," says Mohanty, whose installation was created during the second edition of a six-week art and science residency at the Khoj International Artists’ Association in the Capital. It explores the crossover between the two seemingly unrelated fields of art and science.

Mohanty’s work is on display till 14 April, along with that of Jaden Hastings (US), Lalinthorn Phencharoen (Thailand) and Shreyasi Kar and Bidisha Das (Bengaluru).

Mohanty’s installation is not limited to Oppenheimer’s experience. Colour slides and images of the destruction after the nuclear bombing, sourced from Hiroshima museum, Japan, are juxtaposed with images of ancient civilizations taken from New Delhi’s National Museum.

Mohanty has tried to show how colours and images can change the perception of a nuclear bomb. The Miniaturist explores the common thread between a miniature painter and a physicist who can see beauty in the smallest detail—in this case, the atom.

In the first edition of the art and science residency in March, the Khoj studio was converted by some artists into a mini-spaceship. “In the second edition, we wanted to explore how art and science go hand in hand in our daily lives," says Sitara Chowfla, one of the curators of the show. For this residency, for instance, Phencharoen has treated Khoj as her laboratory, using text, scientific drawings, specimens of earth and water collected from the area around Khoj to show how the human brain maps things.

Hastings has used her blood mixed with pigments and metallic oxides to stain glass slides. Once projected on Giclée prints, these stains look like abstract art.

Artist duo Kar and Das have created an eclectic laboratory that has several mini-labs inside—a bio lab, an electronics lab, a sound lab and a photo lab. Their DIY lab tries to show how plants react to light and oxygen and convert these into sound. “It sounds much like 1970s’ electronic music," says Kar.

The Undivided Mind-II is on till 14 April, 11am-7pm, at Khoj International Artists’ Association, S-17, Khirki Extension (65655873).

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