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CONTENT by Tara Kelton

On view: 17 Dec - 14 Jan

 

                                           

                                                 she unscrewed the top of the flask and drank the contents 

 

                                    soya milk has a low fat content 

 

                                                                             the contents page 

 

                                                                     the tone, if not the content, of his book is familiar 

 

                                                   online content providers 

 

A collection of artist books and video works by Tara Kelton, this exhibition highlights a thread running through Kelton’s practice. These works speak to the generic image, the template, the empty forms of content, through their specific and peculiar interactions with daily life. Through processes of collecting, archiving and re-contextualising, Kelton’s books function as containers of seemingly mundane digital realities. 

No Help From Epson is a book of found images taken from Amazon reviews for desktop printers. These images come together to make a unique typology of “first prints” - from text documents to god pictures - made by amazon customers in their homes or offices. In a similar vein, Twin Sharing archives images of “twin sharing” bedrooms advertised by realtors and landlords in Bangalore. These shared rooms are usually occupied by Bangalore’s IT workers and students - often migrants from other parts of the country. Starkly similar in size, configuration and interior design, the book brings these rooms together in a photographic index of (potential) life in the IT city. 

Still Life, presents another view of Bangalore’s vernacular digital aesthetic - through the art historical form of a still life. The book contains iterations of Still Lifes created by desktop publishing workers in Bangalore, India, based on the same textual description provided by the artist. Interior Freedom, on the other hand, deconstructs commercial graphic design by separating the cover artworks and titles from thirty two new age spirituality books. 

Accompanying the books are four video works, each using simple digital tools and templates to point at their own forms as empty templates. In Alchemy, Kelton turns images of stone into 'gold' using popular in-browser GIF editor effects while Nature Patterns shows the artist drawing plants using the pattern stamp tool in Photoshop using its default sample tiles. Magic Tricks refers back to the “magic” of cinema, by recreating special effects through humorously lo-fi or primitive digital techniques. Through these slow and iterative engagements with the tool, these videos reveal the contents of the templates built into contemporary systems of image production. 

These recent works are accompanied by a relic from an older virtual world. Kelton’s Homeward is a video installation consisting of a portable projector mounted on top of the kind of cleaning robot popularly known as a Roomba. The projector plays a looped selection of “virtual walk” videos meant to run on screens in front of treadmills, to create the illusion of walking through

nature while working out. The Roomba wanders across the floor with the video projected on the wall before it as it moves. Here, the simple robot, divorced from its functionality (that of a vacuum cleaner) appears to undergo a kind of existential crisis, endlessly moving “homeward” to the virtual landscapes before it. 

— Anisha Baid

Tara Kelton is an Indian-American artist based in Bangalore, India. Tara’s work considers the traditional figure of the artist (and craftsperson) in relation to the digital. Working across media she reflects on the diminishing role of the human in contemporary society (replaced by automation, AI and digital mediation) and the remote algorithmic control of labour by western bodies and corporations. Tara is co-editor of the publishing series Silicon Plateau, an art project and publishing series that explores the intersection of technology, culture and society in Bangalore.

Tara has exhibited internationally at the ZKM Karlsruhe; ICA Singapore; Queens Museum of Art; Vox Populi; Franklin Street Works; GallerySKE; Clark House Initiative; Mumbai Art Room; The Centre for Internet and Society; or-bits.com; New Digital Art Biennale; and the Kochi Muziris Biennale. Her work has appeared in Artforum, ID Magazine, rhizome.org, Platform Magazine, Arts Illustrated, Vogue, and Shifter. She received her BFA from Parsons the New School for Design and her MFA from the Yale University School of Art.

Anisha Baid is an artist and writer from Kolkata, currently based in Pittsburgh. Her work attempts to poke at the flat-scapes of the computer screen to decode computer labour through the interface - a technological tool that has converted most spaces of work into image space.

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