In, Between the Pages: 2014

Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India

Video walk-through of multi-media installation

Aligned installation view. Viewers watching themselves in the illusory book held up by the angel.

Viewers watching themselves in the illusory book held up by the angel.

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Aligned installation view. Viewers watching themselves in the illusory book held up by the angel.

Aligned installation view. Viewers watching themselves in the illusory book held up by the angel.

Aligned installation view. Viewers watching themselves in the illusory book held up by the angel.

Detail. Projections of animations referencing  the Surya Siddhanata: (a 4CE mathematical treatise on gravitation from Kerala), acrylic on paper

Detail. Projections of animations referencing  the Surya Siddhanata: (a 4CE mathematical treatise on gravitation from Kerala), acrylic on paper

Detail. Projections of stop-motion animations, acrylic on paper

The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Installation view from the  back of the room

A small book placed on a table at the back of the room, comes alive with flying birds, growing plants, revolving planets and characters (viewers) walking through them. The illusion created over 70ft of space is viewed in this little book.

A small book placed on a table at the back of the room, comes alive with flying birds, growing plants, revolving planets and characters (viewers) walking through them. The illusion created over 70ft of space is viewed in this little book.

A small book placed on a table at the back of the room, comes alive with flying birds, growing plants, revolving planets and characters (viewers) walking through them. The illusion created over 70ft of space is viewed in this little book.

Viewer entering the ‘book’

Detail: animation referencing the exchange of pepper for gold between the Portuguese and the local Malabar rulers.

Detail: animation referencing a story in the Surya Siddhanata: a 4CE mathematical treatise on gravitation from Kerala.

The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Detail: animation referencing a story in the Surya Siddhanata: a 4CE mathematical treatise on gravitation from Kerala.

Detail: This animation creates a star map of the historic moment of May 20th, 1498 in Calicut, Kerala, when Vasco da Gama landed and transformed Kerala’s destiny.

The astrology of May 20th, 1498, Calicut, Kerala when Vasco da Gama arrived. Research for stop-motion animation.

Detail

Viewer watching himself in the illusory book

Process. Painting the Banana plant.

Process. The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Detail, Banana plant

Process. The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Process. The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Process.

Process. The source images for these paintings of plants are etchings from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th C Dutch initiated encyclopedia of 720 varieties of plants from the Malabar region.

Detail

Process. Calculating the placement of animation.

Process. Calculating the placement of animation.

Process. Drawing the illusion

Process. Composing

Process. Installing

Viewers in installation

Viewers watching themselves as characters in the illusory book.

Process. Day 1.

Process. Day 5. Mapping the boundaries of the illusory book.

Process. Day 7. Composing.

Process. Day 10. Composing.

Process. Day 17.

Process. Day 20.

Process. Day 20.

Process. Day 22.

Process. Day 23.

Process. Day 24.

Process. Day 25.

Process. Day 27.

Process. Day 27.

Process. Day 27.

Process. Day 27.

Project Description: This interactive, multi-media installation plays with perspective to create  the illusion of a manuscript book, in which viewers see themselves and others moving about as miniature characters.

Read more about this project

Media: 12ft scrolls of paper, installed over 70ft X 30ft of space (with hand painted elements and projected stop-motion animations which reference Kerala’s astronomers, its history with the Portuguese and its native vegetation) all align from 1 vantage point to create this illusory book.

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KOCHI-MUZIRIS BIENNALE: text from SHORT GUIDE

Sumakshi Singh’s interactive installations play with perspective to create ‘illusions’ that allow viewers to inhabit and alter her imagery through their movements. In, Between The Pages (2014) is an installation with references to history of Kerala, both as a protagonist in the maritime voyages of the 14-17 centuries, and as a vibrant centre where early astronomer-mathematicians were fiercely pursuing the problems of locating themselves and the earth within the cosmos.

Close to the entry to the gallery is a table where audiences get their first glimpse of the illusion: The projected view of two manuscript pages where the various elements – birds, whirling planets and viewers such as themselves – are in motion. Turning away from it, they enter a 70 feet-long maze made of hanging paper scrolls that align from one angle to form the elusive manuscript book. These scrolls feature paintings, delicate collages and projected animations that bring to life a range of narratives: The cosmology of Surya Siddhanta, a Sanskrit treatise to astronomy dates to as far back as 4CE;illustrations from the Hortus Malabaricus, a 17th century Dutch east India Company-initiated compendium on Kerala’s flora; and the mythology surrounding Vasco da Gama’s arrival in Callicut, poetically represented here by a star map of the sky as it appeared on the night he disembarked.

At the other end of the galaxy, a second projection ties together these fragments of history through yet another aligned view of the illusion where viewers find themselves reflected back as a part of the image, transformed into one of the characters in the pastiche manuscript.

According to Singh, she has always considered voyages in the external world to be reflections of the inner journeys through which we seek to locate ourselves in ‘space, time, cultural history and simply in our own stories.’