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Desire Machine Collective

Indian Contemporary Artists’ Group
Mriganka Madhukaillya
Born 1978, Jorhat, Assam, India
Lives and works in Guwahati, India

Sonal Jain
Born 1975, Shillong, India
Lives and works in Guwahati, India

Collaborating since 2004 as Desire Machine Collective, Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya employ video, photography and multimedia installations to confront the constricting capitalist structures that give rise to a schizophrenia and alienation in urban spaces. It derives its name from Anti-Oedipus theory, a seminal text by philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. Their projects aim at questioning identity and politics, and at creating a dialectic dialogue between art, science, technology and ecology.

Education

Mriganka Madhukaillya

Postgraduate work in film and video, National Institute Of Design, Ahmedabad, India
Degree in physics, Fergusson College, Pune, India

Sonal Jain            

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara, Gujarat, India

VIEW     Selected exhibitions     Text      Videos      Selected images      View all

LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Desire Machine Collective

No fixed notion of a studio in their practice

A studio is something that is ever-changing in their practice. It is a nomadic and temporary enterprise and takes on the extended form of an open space like the project ‘Periferry.’ A space that is also malleable and can take on the form of a studio, a workshop, residency, symposiums, a space for larger concerns and discussions. “Periferry” aims to promote experimentation in art, ecology, technology, media and science and to create a public space and public domain, physical as well as virtual for critical reflections. It has the scope of being more participatory and inclusive of multiplicities than a conventional studio space. It is a site, which allows for trans-local dialogue and extending the boundaries of a practice.

Desire Machine Collective, “Periferry”, ongoing Project space since 2007.

Desire Machine Collective, “Periferry”, ongoing Project space since 2007.

Activist artists engaged in cross-disciplinary practice

The artistic output of these two artists, primarily in digital video and film, has undergone a number of shifts and transformations since 2004.The two activist-artists have split their efforts between the production of their projects and lending diverse support through an experimental platform known as “Periferry”—a ferry serving as a laboratory for hybrid disciplines creating a dialogue between art, science, technology and ecology. Their practice lies in a space post authorship and deals with modes of cultural production that are process-driven and outside regulated establishments. The location of the Northeast of India where the absence of any art market, gallery, or state run art establishment, meant that they had to assume a larger role than that of an individual artist.

Desire Machine Collective, Nishan I, 2007-2012, still from a 4 channel colour video installation with sound.

Desire Machine Collective, A+, 2011, photograph.

Their works create raw symbols and images

Their film Residue is centred on an abandoned coal plant on the outskirts of Guwahati. Filmed in 35 mm, Residue reclaims many key ideas of the Anti-Oedipus theory. The artists focus the viewer’s attention on the rehabilitation process of the natural land as it reclaims dominance over the industrial site. This no man’s land is invaded by a growing jungle and offers an apocalyptic, aesthetic sight. Close to the vision of an abandoned temple or a monument in ruins, here, nature and industry intermingle. Without an explicitly documentary statement, “Residue” is an experimental film, a stroll through a dream world incorporating both the universe of the mechanical, human, and natural as when a machine morphs into a butterfly, or power meters indicate depleted figures. Evoking the idea of perception image, the artists try to articulate the known cycle of the creation and destruction of memory.

Desire Machine Collective, Residue, 2011, still from a 35 mm colour film with sound, 39 minutes.

Desire Machine Collective, Residue, 2011, still from a 35 mm colour film with sound, 39 minutes.

The collective works against grand narratives

The title of Desire Machine Collective’s digital video 25-75, shot in Shillong in North-eastern India, alludes to a local lottery system. Here, members of the Khasi tribe believe that dreams correspond to numbers, which ultimately inform the outcome of the lottery. The video is an assemblage of images and textures, set against a soundscape of dripping water that drifts viewers into an aqueous dream world. Like with other works, this video is inspired by a penchant for stories about people living with a completely different worldview. The artists’ focus our attention on “micro modernisms”– seemingly mundane parallel realities and time scape that escapes the notice of a hegemonic centre (of government and media production).

Desire Machine Collective, 25-75, 2007, still from a 35 mm colour film with sound, 39 minutes, looped.

Desire Machine Collective, 25-75, 2007, still from a 35 mm colour film with sound, 39 minutes, looped.

The use of sound as a medium

The collective had installed on the exterior of the art-space an interactive, round-the-clock public artwork Trespassers Will (Not) Be Prosecuted, 2012, inspired by sounds collected in a sacred forest in north-eastern India. In the case of the sounds from the sacred forest, the taboo is in taking any material out of the forest. Sounds are vibrations, or a property, and thus non-material. The recording of the sounds is thus not opposed to the belief systems of the community. These kinds of works explore the realm of dematerialisation and transience. False memories (of a forest) are instilled in the audience’s mind and the work has a life after the installation is over. It acts as an intangible intervention into time and space.

Desire Machine Collective, Trespassers will (not) be prosecuted, 2008, multi-channel sound installation, speakers, cables, sensors and audio, dimensions vary with installation.

Desire Machine Collective, Trespassers will (not) be prosecuted, 2008, multi-channel sound installation, speakers, cables, sensors and audio, dimensions vary with installation.

Bibliography