Live and “hand-raised” pigeons confined in a room filled with copper wires and transistor radios emitting white noise from unused frequencies. It’s Sound Sculpture, an art installation on display at Lalit Kala Akademi.
The installation by Bangalore-based Naveen Thomas — who says he finds the effects of junk electronics on birds and animals fascinating — was first displayed in Bangalore’s GallerySke in 2010.
Thomas, nominated for the Skoda Prize for contemporary Indian art — the highest in the country — said, “I find it interesting to hear how the sound fluctuates every time a bird sits on the copper wire.”
But animal rights activists are not amused, as white noise can have dire effects on birds. Delhi-based veterinarian Dr SK Choudhary said a prolonged — and isolated — exposure to transistors emitting medium-wave radio frequency “can affect the birds’ hearing and homing abilities”.
Thomas, however, said he was unaware of any animal rights having been violated. “I’m treating the birds better than they were treated where they had come from. I would even use a monkey if I could.”
Anjali Sharma, a member of the Animal Welfare Board, said under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960), Thomas should have taken permission from the Animal Welfare Board to use birds and animals.
“The birds must be evaluated by a veterinarian before and after the exhibition.”
While Thomas refused to comment on this issue, Dr Chinni Krishna of the board said, “No such permission has been applied for.”
Uma Menon of animal rescue centre Frendicoes said, “Such use of animals and birds equates to a circus. What is appaling is that Lalit Kala Akademi is allowing such work to be hosted on its premises.”