Technology as an Institution- seven artists from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka respond to this provocation for the Online Exhibition under <de>confine 2021. Just as the state, the family, the education system and the capitalist organisation of society and economy shape every aspect of human life, technology too functions as an institution itself, pervading almost every experience, infiltrating human choices and decisions in ways hitherto unseen and unknown. This exhibition brings together diverse perspectives from the Indian subcontinent, with each artwork exploring distinct manifestations of how technology operates as an institution in modern society.
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay's Planchette Bot brings Gandhi to life, allowing audiences to converse with an icon long dead. His work raises questions about the capabilities of A.I. and the power of emerging technologies to immortalise human beings in unprecedented ways. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne's Auto | Biography also showcases the possibilities offered by A.I. technology, generating falsified author biographies that cannot be distinguished from real ones. His work comments on the ease with which such technologies are able to manipulate reality itself. Sahej Rahal’s downloadable interactive experience Shrota lets viewers communicate with a horned biped in a digital landscape by making noises through their own devices. Shrota signals the arrival of new modes of creative engagement with made-up worlds, and blurs the boundaries between the real and the virtual.
Morteza Herati’s Afghan Glitch uses the metaphor of the glitch- an abrupt disruption- to comment on the socio-political crisis in his homeland. His work reflects the proliferation of technology into language and thought, evoking its dynamic symbolic qualities. Sounak Das’s Perturbed Monitor is a screen-based installation that ponders the (im)balance of power between human beings and machines, by allowing the screen to determine how it is viewed, as opposed to allowing audiences to control the viewing experience. By simulating an experience where audiences feel powerless in front of the screen’s motivations, Das makes an analogy about the totalitarian tendencies encountered within modern technological cultures. Rabeeha Adnan’s Circuit City Ensemble, originally created as a physical installation adapted as a web-based work invites audiences to listen to an orchestra of machines. These machines struggle to cooperate with each other, generating discord and conflict. Adnan’s work not only draws attention to the physicality of technology, but also invokes the subversive potentialities of machines themselves. Samyukta Bhandari’s video artwork Their Dystopia is My Utopia, created by filming live ants, represents the maze-like characteristics of the internet, and remarks on the voyeuristic othering of those victimised within online spaces. Through her work, Bhandari makes a shrewd observation about the cruelty and violence enabled by the same technologies that claim to bring people together.
<de>confine invites viewers to explore this online exhibition, and seek their own answers (and questions) about how technology is an institution in contemporary times.