Painted Diagram of a Future Voyage (Who believes the lens?)
5 mins loop. 2013
The video was conceived as a part of a project exploring collisions of orientalism, colonialism and science fiction. It speculates a new landscape composed from the aquatints of India, made by the British landscape painters Thomas and William Daniells (1749-1837). The Daniells' paintings, developed exclusively for consumption in Britain, presented India as a world of pre-technological charm and primitive appeal. In the video, the distorted floating forms create ruptures in this pristine fantasy and form a new universe. The skewed forms recall the Early Renaissance technique of Anamorphosis, where certain elements within paintings were distorted systematically to afford a privileged viewing angle for the viewer to contemplate them. This was simultaneously a way of coding information as well as a device to propel the viewer out of the restrictive spatio-temporal framework of the perspectival gaze implicit in the paintings. In the video, the skewing and distorting tools in digital image-editing softwares have been used to create a visual discontinuity that resembles this older technique. When imposed on the Daniells' paintings that were made with the aid of a Camera Obscura, the digital distortions interrupt the fixed gaze and liberates the viewer from the naturalistic arrest.