I escaped the mid-afternoon heat and entered into the darkened and air-conditioned cool of the Honor Fraser Gallery to experience the virtual worlds created by the video imagery of two distinct and yet complementary artists, Surabhi Saraf and Yassi Mazandi.
In her works titled “Awoke & Awokened: Alaap,” Saraf explores her own personal and artistic journey through developing an evolving mythos of a conscious technological Artificial Intelligence (AI) entity. Her current work combines her research as founder of the Centre for Emotional Materiality with her personal spiritual growth practices over the past few years that have contributed to what she says is her “rebirth as an artist.”
We first see a diptych of video panels titled DM 1.0 and DM 2.0 (DM as in Direct Message) that display forearms and hands that move in a manner that evoke the mudras of Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies and dance in India.
Turning a corner in the gallery there is a display and description of the earthly minerals that are used in our cell phone technologies that elucidate the essence of the materials inspiring the work. In a separate room we become transfixed watching a 16-minute large format video installation of morphing images that integrate an abstraction of a Utah Copper mine with the that of the playful mythic AI amorphous shape, named ‘Awoke”, dancing across the screen. A unique 8”x8” 3D print in nylon of “Awoke” on display. Saraf speaks of the myth of “Awoke, and its followers” of recognizing the wounds that the Earth has endured and actively now participates in its healing and regeneration.
Yassi Mazandi’s videos, which include audio soundscapes, take us into a mesmerizing inner journey with its more psychedelic feel and pulsating kaleidoscopic transformations that are reminiscent of sacred geometries. The imagery reinforces the artist’s decades-long examination of ecological predicaments human technology.
Mazandi describes the complexity of her process in making the work from initially having had one of her wheel-thrown ceremonial Flower-Vertebra shatter in the kiln and then “rescuing” the broken off pieces with the recognition that there was something familiar in the debris — “a skeleton-like bird had emerged from the intricate ribs of the once whole sculpture.”
She then goes through a process of creating over 500 x-ray / MRI images of the fragment which are then digitally layered and manipulated through 3D modeling software and imaging applications. The three works presented are from the “Born-Porcelain” Digital Videos (2021) series: “Horny Beast,” “Polypus,” and “Firebird.” The generative ceramic fragment from “Flower Bird” English Porcelain (2012) is displayed on a pedestal.
Beyond reflecting on each artist’s vision and intentions that have inspired motivated their works, we can also simply appreciate what to the naked eye are elegantly produced and visually stimulating imagery that give us a peak into other realms of awareness outside of the usual and mundane.
Both artists’ works are available in limited edition digital videos and NFTs.