The mysterious, yet powerful play of shadow and light, showcasing tangible imprints of memory using soap bubbles and a feeble attempt to try and punctuate time: these, among several other artworks at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale, display the might of kinetic energy and how subtly the technique has made its way into the world of art.
It is this world of mechanics that unfolds at the second edition of the biennale, where both national and international artists have created installations that reflected the theme "Whorled Explorations" of the 108-day-long festival that opened Dec 12.
It is this mystery and understanding of the unknown world and objects that will compel viewers to observe these works with a different outlook and try to understand their objective with a deeper meaning.
For the biennale, artist Susanta Mandal has worked with soap bubbles to create kinetic sculptures where steel and mechanical elements frame an unfolding drama of effervescence. His three sculptural installations at historical Aspinwall House here are based on the simple premise of the interaction of air with water and soap salts.
"This leaves tangible imprints in memory, building a wall of experience that gives form to an idea or a mystery," Mandal told IANS.
Of the three works, "Where Have All the Stories Gone" has been created for biennale and is composed of several free-standing devices that continuously create fragile globe-like firms of soap which ascend from a solution and envelope space for a moment before disappearing.
His other works are from his previous series.
One of the most powerful exhibits of the biennale surely ought to be Japanese artist Ryota Kuwakubo's kinetic sculpture "Lost #12" that creates a phantom landscape out of the play of light and shadows.
The installation consists of a small-point light source fitted to the front of a moving toy train that slowly runs over the tracks laid on the gallery floor. Arranged around are everyday objects like bulbs and candles that produce a procession of shadows that rise and fall, rescaling the relationship of these objects to the viewer's body.
According to Kuwakubo, the objects are arranged in such a way that the shadows they throw remind a viewer of familiar images.
"... a forest perhaps, or a tunnel or a city space that each viewer might perceive differently, drawing from his or her own personal experiences," a press note from the artist said.
"The installation thus creates a self-reflective space, summoning a viewer's conscious and subconscious recollections," it said.
Delhi-based Malayali artist Gigi Scaria's work however delves into the history and myth with his giant metal bell suspended on the seaside remixing history and many myths of this port city.
The bell by itself is a universally acknowledged symbol of time and mortality. In the bell, the artist has drilled holes through which water flows out, making it look like a fountain.
"The reason for putting holes in the bell is to symbolically puncture time," Scaria told IANS.
"There are other aspects of the history related to this bell that highlight overlapping episodes from Malabar's history, such as the arrival of not just traders but transformative cultural influences such as Islam and Christianity to its shores via the sea," he added.
Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat has curated this exhibition of contemporary art where around 100 works of artists from 30 countries are displayed at eight venues spread across Kochi.