Enchanted, fascinated and overwhelmed by the ‘Tao of Physics’, a book written by Fritjof Capra, this little playground is an attempt to assimilate the concepts within the book and simultaneously express what unfolds in the process of assimilation at an experiential level.
The chapter titled ‘The Dynamic Universe’, almost a revelation, defying my pre-conceptions and notions of space and time form the canvas and point of departure of a journey which will lead me elsewhere..
Thank You: For inspiring me through this journey Russel Mills, Neville Brody, Laura Fitzgerald, Leena Mehta, Henrik Kubel, Adrian Shaugnessey, Byung-hak Ahn, Ronit Mirsky, Soumyak Kanti DeBiswas, Yashodara Udupa, Amol Sharma, Cecilia Wee, Premjit Ramachandran, Greta Khoury, Sigita Zivoltaite, Sanjana Nanodkar, Gaurav Gupta, Matt Gorbet, Sameer Kulavoor, Jeff Lieberman, Jennifer Nightingale, Yen-Ting Cho, Catherine Anyango, Pragna Mehta, Christos Antonopoulos
How it all began?
In October last year, everyone I met and knew asked me to let go and just be, and be more experimental and spontaneous. I was searching for something and chasing too hard, basically struggling. It was the ‘Across RCA’ week and I had enrolled for the Art Writing workshop with Julia Calver. I think we were twelve of us. Laura was one of them. Laura is doing the MA in Painting at RCA and is about to finish her first year. I did not know Laura until we began this workshop. After reading some texts and discussing various methods and approaches to writing, Julia asked us to go away and write a page on our own individual practices and what we thought we believed in and stood for, almost like a an artist statement (personal philosophy). I woke up early next morning before going back into the workshop and wrote my piece in about an hour and a half.
Here is a scan.
I was reading this book called 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art by an Indian mythologist, Devdutt Pattanaik at the time. It may have had some influence on what I wrote. Perhaps not. I am not sure.
We exchanged our written pieces amongst the 12 of us and each one read out another person’s writing aloud. I can’t remember who read mine. All I know is, it felt queer hearing someone else read what I had written and somehow I don’t even remember writing certain things I did. For example, the reference to an upsurge of familiar electrons and the molecular orchestration culminating into a perceptible rendition. Anyway, I think I wrote all that I did , especially the usage of sub-atomic analogies purely in a metaphorical, descriptive sense to convey what I wanted to say. In my head, I thought it would sound good.
The piece I wrote was read and everyone around the table except me was asked to respond to it. Some of the things that people said surprised me and Laura was among them. I recollect her saying that she had the same interests and questions as me and the whole world of quantum physics inspired her and that she had written her previous dissertation on it. I was surprised because anything remotely close to physics would only elicit a dislike from me. Nevertheless, she said I should read the Tao of Physics, infact actually asked if I had already read it and of course I hadn’t. Its title clearly stated physics.
It was a stimulating session with inputs from everyone, new ideas and sharing. We went to get some lunch and I met Laura in the canteen. She said we must get together and talk again. This time she mentioned the Tao of Physics but also something about reality and alternate realities. Now that grabbed my attention.
I went up to the library and borrowed Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, which was in a tattered state and bore the likeness of one of those dense intellectual books. The front cover had some mathematical equations and numbers which did not seduce me into reading it but might have actually worked the other way round. The back had a picture of a statue of the Lord Nataraja (a depiction of Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer) in its archetypal stance. What had the two got to do with each other, (the front and the back cover)? Nothing in common, according to me. Perhaps it was the back cover which would have induced a slight interest and made me open it to begin reading. I only got to the first few pages and left it aside as the Work In Progress show approached and I started to work with Ahn (my classmate) on our collaborative project called, ‘I am Juxtaposition’ which involved making work on each day of the show and putting it up on our pre-designed template.
It was intense and more spontaneous than normal for both of us. Although we ourselves set the brief, we cut up sentences using William Burroughs cutting machine to generate phrases each day to which we’d individually respond and produce visuals. It was 9 intense days. I had never generated work at this pace before. Aesthetically quite abstract, I did like some of the visuals I produced in the course of the 9 days but I wasn’t sure if they communicated any thing.
Examples of a few visuals from the show
I don’t know whether this was a futile exercise and if I did get anything out of it besides generating some good looking visuals and learning new things from Ahn while working with him. It didn’t seem so productive and nothing magical happened.
But it had broken that monotony and struggle which was stopping me from making work. Atleast I was producing some visual work which was a slight consolation. I felt liberated. Possibly because I knew it wasn’t this brilliant project anyway so I could just be and do what I wanted for myself and ignore what others had to say for the time being. I think I liberated myself from that personal expectation of wanting to produce the best piece in every piece that I generated and treat each of them as precious objects. It was more of a flow, a natural flow now. Whatever happened, happened. Some of it was nice, some okay and some of it made no sense. But I continued to make.
The show got over and we had our Christmas break. I thought at this point I would have already known what I’d do for the final show or at least have a subject to work with. But I was quite clueless. I had attended a few ER (Extemporary Rendition) classes and Len (the drawing tutor) suggested that I should experiment with scale and translate my minuscule drawings (produced using 0.1 rotaring) into massive projections on the wall. I was like a sponge absorbing and wanting to take in as much as I could and I thought I’d give this a go as well. At this point, I was willing to do anything to make something work.
School shut for Christmas holidays and I was home in London for a week before I flew to India for a break in January. The Tao of Physics re-appeared while I was cleaning the house. I began to re-read it. I found bits very interesting, the ones connected to Taoism in particular. The physics bits were a little beyond me and I did not understand a lot of it, and whatever little I did was because of its analogies and metaphors with eastern mysticism. I took the book with me to India and finished it on the airplane.
To my biggest surprise, as I read it for the second time a lot of the physics was sinking in. It actually started to make sense and began to fascinate me. I doodled, drew and wrote from it. I wanted to read more and continue and not leave the book. Suddenly a lot of things were connecting and seemed familiar. Being exposed to a ubiquitous environment characterised by hints of eastern mysticism for a large part of my upbringing, Capra’s taoism elicited a willingness to explore the ‘quantum physics’ analogies intrinsically embedded with a deep sense of wonder. There surely was a connection and it was revealing itself gradually. A connection between what I had heard, known and what the book had to say. Now I was engrossed and enjoying this completely. I thought I needed to document all that I was reading, feeling and absorbing.
spaceiscurvednow.com was born. My two-dimensional visualisation was challenged and the curve in the space had begun to unveil and so did the third dimension.
All that follows now, (and a detailed chronological version of all that is said above) is documented here on spaceiscurvednow.com