KOCHI: Poetry is often not a reading, it is an experience. Artist and writer Sheetal Shivaramakrishnan has found a way to make it tangible both viscerally and physically – you can feel, hear and touch every word of a poem that encompasses a myriad of meanings and emotions.
His installation at Lokame Tharavadu, the art exhibition curated by Bose Krishnamachari, is possibly the first attempt to combine technology and poetry in India. Sheetal used augmented reality to achieve this. The artist grew up in Mumbai and returned to Kerala around 2016. “This change has been overwhelming for me both emotionally and physically. Everything I knew and remembered about Kerala from childhood had changed: the social fabric of towns and villages, nature, way of life and food, ”she says. It was the beginning of ‘Mother, I need to hide’ – her installation.
“Bose selected me for this exhibition in October 2020. I was impressed by the beauty of Alappuzha and the place that hosts the work of 270 Malayalee artists from around the world. My work has been carefully crafted with a powder coated GI tray. The poem is cast in cement with a total of 171 letters, ”she says.
The poetry is an accumulated observation of today’s Kerala in relation to his childhood memories – of running around the house of his maternal grandparents in the hope of hiding for hours in the attic or on the trees . And then the vacation would end and she would go back to Mumbai while waiting for another summer.
“Maybe I became a poet because desire was one of my first, deepest emotions – a desire to be free among trees and nature,” she adds. The brief poem uses metaphorical references to the cityscape, climate change, migration, and familiar ironies.
Sheetal has always wanted to extend the experience of poetry with strong and tactile mediums. You have to use the five senses to experience and remember something, this is how she wants people to encounter her poetry. “I am fascinated by emerging technologies like augmented reality. Now we think that technology is more of a data collector that takes away the fun and childish wonder.
But I think people should also be able to enjoy technology with innocence. It’s a challenge, but I hope more artists will understand the possibilities of incorporating technology into their work, ”she says. Jithin MS of Kitebe Pvt Ltd, a state-based startup, helped her with the AI portion of her setup.