Digital artist Baiju Parthan is one among the few Indian artists to use lenticular printing extensively in his creations. Elaborating on the technology, he says, “Lenticular print technology is derived from the ‘parallax stereogram’ developed by American inventor Frederic Eugene Ives in 1901. The technique involves combining two or more images of a scenery from different angles into a single image and presenting it underneath a transparent refracting panel to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth. The way I use this medium, diverges from its lineage in the sense I use it to showcase virtual objects and scenes generated with 3D software.”
One look at his creations and you know he is constantly observing and commenting on how the virtual cyberworld is affecting the real-world experiences. Little wonder that the work he produces contains references from both these domains to make that message come through. It is definitely a difficult balancing act, but Baiju manages it with aplomb.
“I think I am kind of interested in the philosophical implications of the cyber/virtual world vis-a-vis the real world. To me, cyberspace appears to be a probable manifestation of a variation of the platonic metaphysical space where ideas and intellectual concepts can acquire form and presence. I’m a very nerdy artist,” says Baiju.
The artist holds degrees in botany, civil engineering, and fine arts, and diplomas in comparative mythology as well as philosophy. So, with his plate full, was it not a distraction? “No. On the contrary, instead of being a distraction I find that exploring various disciplines other than art provides entirely different ways of comprehending the world. And to set the record right, I did not complete my civil engineering studies, I left it after a year to pursue a degree in fine arts,” he says.
Diverse education has definitely been a big influence on the artist, and he admits that. He believes that as an academically trained artist, one could easily get locked up in a perceptual bubble defined solely through art history and art world concerns. But the very fact that he was involved with disciplines that have nothing to do with art, allowed him to be open to all kinds of art whether high art or lowbrow art. “It helped me be more fluid in my own practice,” he says. At the same time, he believes it is research that is paramount to creation of art. “At times, I get carried away because the research that goes into a work would lead me onto unfamiliar areas and themes, and in turn become the seeds for some future work,” Baiju smiles.
The artist is hesitant to talk about his cARTpet project with curator Brinda Miller and gallerist Tarana Khubchandani that concluded at Art and Soul, Mumbai, on November 1, as he says he might not be the right person. “I’m just one of the many participants,” he adds.
On being asked about India’s understanding of digital art, he says, “When I started producing art using digital technology in 1999 in the time of dial-up internet and landline phones, there was a fair amount of unease and scepticism. Through the years followed the burgeoning cellphone and internet usage. The audience has also grown comfortable with the fact that digital technology is very much a part of everyday life and even art,” he signs off.