from the exhibition catalogue

My maternal uncle Prabhakaran was a wireless operator with the Indian armed forces in Nagaland. His pastime was photography. He used to handcolour black & white photographs - most of them self-portraits in uniform - with transparent ink and during his visits he generously distributed framed prints to all the family households. It was a ritual everyone, especially we, children, loved.

Is it worth telling/depicting' This question lurks beneath each and every autobiographical endeavor. What makes us think that some one else would be interested in our memories'

I was leafing through our old family album and I noticed something strange in the photos where I figured: in all of them my expression was almost the same. I was staring at the camera with fear. Even today I hate being photographed. I decided to confront this spectre - the gaze of the camera - with my digital tools. I dumped those photographs in my computer and then started hiding myself behind cats, cockroaches, sweet boxes and LP records. While playing with these childhood reminiscences I suddenly recalled the game's name - "hide and seek!"

Memory is a grand trap. So better forget this statement. Suffice it to say that remembering is just as dangerous as forgetting; and more so in the case of representation of remembrances, because representation has its own memories. Being an artist who failed in conventional drawing I toyed with the idea of bringing Photoshop to meet my worn out school drawing book of 1979! (suman's drawing book, part 4, published by suman prakashan(p)ltd, new delhi, Rs 2.50 ). The book mostly consisted of blank pages and some tiny little pencil scribblings here and there highlighted by heavy eraser marks. I had hardly touched those drawing lessons in symmetry that were meant to teach how a circle can be converted into a pot! Those weekly half hour drawing classes had always given us great bliss of freedom. Even our otherwise stringent English teacher Pushpa madam was a different self in the drawing class. (She had the additional charge of our drawing periods.) While I digitized this drawing book and started filling it with colors and forms I realized with a mischievous joy that ages later I'm settling scores with a childhood nemesis. These memories might collide at some junctures: moments of sublime violence that could turn both sets of memories into the double of the other.

My room is pretty big with a lot of windows that always provides me with enough light for daydreaming. When I feel lonely I hang around there for some magic to happen. Sometime back my nephew Ananthu gave me a web cam and I decided to film this enchanting space. I invited clip art - which always reminded me of Binaca toothpaste company's plastic animal miniatures - to share the amazing low-resolution images only a web cam could offer. My dreams my fantasies my qualms my sorrows, everything started pouring in.


b.priyaranjanlal with s.sanjeev