In the Himalayan mountains of Kalga village in Himachal, a group of artists and designers created ‘An Allusion to a Cloud’, an installation made of light, sound and organza silk, enlivening it with the energies of dancer Wei, Ching-Jui.
Installations are fascinating objects. Or are they subjects? Perhaps both. An Allusion to a Cloud, fabricated during the KYTA artist residency, although not a public installation, is nevertheless an interesting specimen when it comes to artistic collaboration. KYTA (Karma Yatri Travel & Art) residency brings together practitioners from varied backgrounds be it Electronic and Experimental Music or Dance, Photography, Music Theory, Sculpture, Architecture and Art into one place – a village called Kalga in Himachal Pradesh – for a month. The participants work together and the confluence of these creative energies in the pristine surroundings of the mountains, fresh air and nature, produces inspiring works of art.
Ameet Singh introduced us to the video above, to bring the installation to our notice . What piqued our interest is not how the installation “looked” but how the dancer interacted with it. What was aesthetically appealing was her buoyant movement that replicates the gush of mountain breeze, and the kinetics of natural elements, while interacting with something as simple or flimsy as cloth.
We spoke to Ameet Singh, of Design Bureau, one among the team that put the installation together, who said, “This was the first time that a dancer had interacted with one of my installations and kudos to the performer that it was all improvisational with no prior rehearsals. Wei Ching’s personal style of dance is spontaneous; she responds more to the space and volume. Also somewhere, the residency, KYTA, was a Travel & Art experiment in itself.”
The main body of An Allusion to a Cloud is made of approximately 6ft long, 4 inches wide strips of synthetic organza silk, with fishing net wire used for suspension, jute ropes used for tying supports, and a chair and table for scaffolding while setting up. While the dancer sashays her way through the installation, a projector of 3500 lumens is used to project animated media (produced by Ameet) onto the strips . The background track has been produced by Fernando Visockis of Brazil, one of the resident Sound & Media artists and the remaining was generated using an iPhone App.
The installation is an ode to “natural sunlight in the practically untouched mountains of Kalga”. And why the name? “It was conceptualised as an abstraction of a volume of light which could hold space and light and could be experienced by walking in it.”
The inspiration for the installation comes as a “progression to installations loosely based around the theory of ambient music pioneered by Brian Eno. In retrospect, one has a lot of things in the back of one’s mind and ‘Wind Veil’ by Ned Kahn also comes to mind.” Ameet philosophises, “I remember one particular evening right out of an animated fairy tale set in a fictitious mountain kingdom in which the clouds had descended and we were at the highest point of the village, and we could only see the suspended rooftops of our guest house and other buildings (which is almost at the lowest edge of the village).”
But the one prominent question that irked the mind still was, “How do you experience something that can’t be felt or touched or seen?” Apart from designers, how does the public react to it? Ameet told us that, “To the uninitiated or rather the villagers what most of us were doing was not of a great consequence. One of the things which ended up happening for the entire residency process was that it lacked social engagement. The installation was never designed or intended to stand out and ask for the attention of the casual onlooker, from a distance it could blend in as clothes hanging to dry in the orchard or on a clothesline.”
The installation is an experience which is hard to fathom as it celebrates an element of nature that can’t be physically experienced as much as a solid surface, but can be felt. It’s like installations in light or like sonic design. Globally, we have been increasingly observing experiential and interdisciplinary design and events like the recent Story of Light festival in India, show how the interdisciplinary movement has found its bearings closer to home as well.
An Allusion to a Cloud is a basic representation, attempting to merge light, sound, wind and dance through the thin veils of silk creating an illusory experience, best described as a play of the creators’ fantasy and an experimental collaboration. Such retreats into the wilderness are a treat to the curious mind, and perhaps precursors to bigger ideas to come.
Project: An Allusion to a Cloud
Dance & Choreography: Wei, Ching-Jui, Taiwan
Video documentation & Photography: Sachin S. Pillai, Mumbai & Ameet Singh
Music: Fernando Visockis, Brazil
Fabrication: Damian Linossi, Fernando Visockis & Ameet Singh
KYTA organisers: Hashim Qayoom (KarmaYatri) and Bianca Brasileira Mendonca
KYTA curators: Shazeb Arif S, Bianca Mendonca, Haily Grenet, Rabia Khan , Shang-Lin WU
KYTA hosts: Hashim Qayoom, Sanju
Text: Anusha Narayanan