Kabir Mohanty

Arts Collaboration

Grant Period: Over one year

Kabir Mohanty and Vikram Joglekar are among the very few people working in cinema who have shown an interest in exploring the possibilities of installation art. Mohanty holds a Masters degree in Film and Video from the University of Iowa. His short film 'Eldon Moss' won the Tom Berman Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1986, and was adjudged the Best Art/Experimental Film in the Bucks County Film Festival that same year. In 1996 he completed 'Home', a video film that was shown in 1998 at the CIMA Gallery, Kolkata, in its inaugural exhibition on multimedia. Joglekar, his collaborator on this project, composed and recorded the soundtrack for 'Home'. Before graduating from FTII, Pune, where he specialised in sound recording and engineering, Joglekar had begun his training in Khayal with Pandit D. G. Marathe, and in Dhrupad with Ustad Zia Mohiuddin and Zia Fariuddin Dagar.

Apart from collaborating with Mohanty on ‘Riyaaz' and 'Home', Joglekar has been working as a Dolby consultant (since 1994), introducing this technology to music composers and editors, film laboratories and cinema houses. He is now based in Italy. Mohanty readily admits that his decade-long association with Joglekar has influenced his own ideas about sound. While the former will direct and shoot the IFA-supported collaborative work and layer it, the latter will compose the sound independently. The duo feels that in this installation piece sound has a greater finality, and is in a domain of itself. They will attempt to place sound in a more equal relationship with image. Typically the soundtrack of a film is played back using five channels selectively to enhance directional cues and evoke a plausible sense of the real. For this project, though, Vikram and Kabir will use sound channels as a compositional element rather than to elicit verisimilitude.

Kabir and Vikram will record — on both, audio-tape and video film — many hours of conversation, dialogues and presence of five or six people. The human voice, Kabir says, is probably one of the most difficult things to record

"Is there anything else apart from visual synchronicity that matches faces to voices in film?" Kabir asks. In their attempt to address this question, Vikram (who uses his training as a Dhrupad musician to bring the discipline of music to the soundtracks) will create patterns of musical elaboration using only the texture of speech. Multiple soundtracks will explore the range of the human voice, and record the pauses between thoughts or the silences of human presence. They will create a soundtrack that, in contrast to how it is used in cinema, will allow you to only listen, and look away from the image.

The impermanence and absence of the fixed form of most installation art is accentuated in this sound/video by the fact that the different members of the audience will hear distinct sounds, depending on their position in the room relative to the speakers. The audience perception of the images, too, could be multiple. And because the images will be rear projected the audience will be able to go right next to the screen and examine the particles of the image. The precision and clarity with which the collaborators envisage the final form of their partnership struck the advisory panel.