I had written a blog few days ago on the occasion of 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. While writing that I recalled that, I had attended a exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi titled Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Exhibition. This was unique experience, which I thought I should share here on the blog. I had been to this one, way back in 2008, when it was in the city. It was at International Convention Center in Pune. Now, I believe this exhibition has turned into permanent museum in Delhi.
The exhibitions which we usually see are “Touch Me Not” kind of exhibitions. This one is not that, but opposite, encouraging viewers to touch and feel. This exhibition, as the name says, not a regular exhibition, but it employs multimedia technologies. This exhibition, conceived by Ranjit Makkuni and her team of Scared World Research Laboratory, explores modern art, design and interactive technology showcasing Gandhian thoughts and values. It presents language of physical interface actions derived from classical symbols of spinning wheel, turning of the prayer wheels, touching symbolic pillars, the act of hands touching sacred objects, also collectively chanting as part of Gandhi’s satsanga. These interactions allow people to access multimedia imagery and multidimensional mind of Mahatma Gandhi. Each object in the exhibition spreads Gandhian views such as dignity of hands/labor, healing of divides, leveraging village creativity and diversity in the face of homogenization.
Some snapshot of objects I experienced in this exhibition.
Pillar of World without Caste: This art installation requires one to hold hands to light up a pillar of light symbolizing destruction of caste prejudice. E-Harmonium: In this installation, the keys of the harmonium. During Gandhiji’s prayer programs, this musical instrument was used, and in general also it is popular instrument for accompaniment. In the exhibition, it triggers off various interfaith songs.
E-Prison: This installation enables viewers to recall the scenes of Mahatma Gandhi’s life when he was jailed in the prison, through there interactive prison rods. Ashram Story: Ashram was Gandhiji’s concept of house without boundaries of caste, creed, gender, religion. It is embodiment of truth. Here all could live together to serve common cause and also find individual fulfillment. He borrowed this concept from Tolstoy Farm, South Africa, Sevagram, Sabarmati ashram.
Dimensions of the Salt March: Dandi Salt March is significant step in the India’s freedom struggle. This installation enables viewers to pickup salt from the urn, as it plays back dimensions of the Dandi March. To Do or Die: In this sculptural installation, a shrine is dedicated to 79 men/women who were carrying out Satyagraha, from Sabarmati to Dandi. There is a video display inside the shrine, which plays back the scenes of the march.
Charkha Mandala: In this art installation, small diamond like spinning wheel(Charkha) are displayed in an interlocking pattern, suggesting the notion of togetherness and collective power of individual action oriented towards achieving a common goal. From Mohandas to Mahatma: This is time line browser showcasing his life on the time line of 1869 to 1948. The act of walking along side of a wall is transformed into a retrieval device. It brings up images and events from Gandhiji’s life as a social revolutionary to his search for spiritual enlightenment. Traversing space along this narrow corridor enables you to hold a mirror to what made this man so extraordinary. Historic archival footage, photographs, and interviews with various eminent scholars and Gandhians create an information mosaic.
E-Train: This interactive art installation allows viewers to trace Mahatma Gandhi’s journeys in India, the places he visited, mainly by train. Soon after he returned from South Africa, he embarked on train journey to rediscover India, travelling third class, to feel one with masses and identify with their needs. He realized that political emancipation and social reform need to go hand in hand. Global Gandhi: This art installation provides an anthropomorphic computer, it can listen, see, speak with and understand its environment and viewer within its range. Here it expounds Global Gandhi, that is, Gandhi as seen by contemporary historians and academics in relation to current day values and the needs of the people in the 21st century,
Pillar of Truth: The pillar is typically a scared object, in many cultures. This art installation denotes pillar of truth, is located at the heart of the exhibition, with purpose. Eleven rotatable discs spin around the axis. The turning of the prayer wheel triggers off a visual representation of Mahatma Gandhi’s 11 vows, mandatory for Satyagrahis, in order for him or her a man or woman of truth. Vaishno Hands: This installation allows one to touch hands folded in prayer to explore meaning of popular song Vaishnanva Janato.
Gandhi Harp: This art installation imagines Mahatma Gandhi in the form musical instrument harp, where each string, when struck, plays different songs associated with him. Next installation which is titled In Praise of Gandhi, has various dolls, representing world leaders, talking about Mahatma Gandhi. Kaleidoscope art installation, allows viewer to look into it and experience the stories of Mahatma Gandhi for children. Raghupati Xylophone: This art installation takes Xylophone and transforms it into musical instrument tuned to the devotional song Raghupati Raja Ram. Each tone of Xylophone can be recognized digitally, and allows for creation of digital mosaic mural. E-Charkha: This installation allows viewers to spin the wheel to understand role of Charkha in Sarvodaya and Swadeshi movement, particularly in the context of economic sustainability of the freedom struggle.
This was great experience, which I still remember after, almost a decade. Against the backdrop of globalization, the Eternal Gandhi encompasses new boundaries. This exactly was my topic of the aforementioned blog, finding relevance in this age. Do visit it next time when it is around or if you get a chance to be in Delhi.