How do we make sense of the barrage of images of violence and displacement that come at us in endless news cycles? Have our senses been numbed to the extent that we unflinchingly move past these images? How do we honor the gravity of these news fragments? These were some of the questions that inspired Introspection, Michelle Poonawalla’s multimedia project.
For this installation, the artist turned to sound, using a combination of audio clips from the news as well as ambient sounds to create an intense, immersive experience. The journey through this experience began with sound, moving to the visual realm with a 360-degree projection of torrential blood-rain that signified the violence and trauma described in the audio clips. The sensorial experience ended in a moment of catharsis as the fiery rain was washed away by a cacophony of butterflies that flooded the screen, symbolizing the final liberation of the departed souls.
Using fragments of audio clips from newsreels combined with ambient sounds and motion sensor technology, Introspection created a highly visceral and eerie experience which was conceptualized to push the audience into a contemplative space.
The work was first shown as a collateral project at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, and then exhibited as a guest project at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai during the Dubai Art Week in March 2019. The project is scheduled to travel to the START Art Fair, London in September 2019.
Sound and video make the viewer feel immersed. And this sensorial experience in art is very important to connect to the viewer. And I believe that this is critical for a lasting impact which is the fundamental desire for such work” says Poonawala in an exclusive interview with STIR. For her, butterflies, a recurring motif in her works, represent the fragility of life and also stand for peace and freedom.
Her forthcoming projects include reflective works on the massive environmental issues of pollution and water scarcity. “I will be working with Virtual Reality. Afterall we need to connect with the young citizens, and it is important to use their language”, she adds.