Spectral Emanations by Nandan Ghiya

Akshay Raheja
4 min readJul 8, 2020

On a special day, 14th February 2019, while strolling through the rainy night at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, I saw my dorm mates, installing the exhibition of Nandan Ghiya’s Spectral Emanations. If one is sensitive to an artistic experience, it is overwhelming to be alone in an exhibition.

A popular myth states that art is meant for higher class, taste, and understanding. A little interrogation might lead us somewhere. The meaning of an installation is exactly what one understands from it at the first glance. It is not an objective test of intellectual potential. In fact, it is exactly what one makes of it. A rational creator welcomes criticism to empower perspective. Spectral Emanations would roughly translate to “originating out of ghost-like shapes”.

There is an even bigger myth involved in public perception around art, we do not want to think in a museum or cinema, we go there for entertainment and not an interrogation. Here I would like to redirect to one of my earlier blogs, Counter-intuitive culture of celebrations. It is the fear of investment of thoughts and ideas that scare people away from exhibitions. Probably why more tourists find these spaces meaningful than locals. The wide empty spaces and white walls in exhibitions probably exist to host imagination (kalpana) and the infinite possibilities of thoughts (vichara) and experiences (bhava).

Nandan Ghiya puts it in his own words as, “To thine own self be true.. It seems likely that instead of holding one stationary, fundamental self.. we are all just a disordered, vulnerable shape shifting collection of traits and histories and tendencies that seem to wax and wane over time. And these various selves, jostle for distinction from moment to moment- organically transforming with the click of the mouse, in a blink of an eye.”

One could easily imagine a glitch on a computer screen, or of how an error damaged these portraits due to pixelation over the years, or that it is a portrayal that betrays the presentation on a screen.

It is interesting to think about the aging of portraits in the age of the internet. For instance, it is entrancing to see Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi portrayed as hybrids of cartoon characters.

With the textured background and broken frames, the portraits almost break away from their form but don’t actually get to a different form.

As if, it broke away from the box only to be trapped in another one where it is misrepresented. It’s as if, the characters of the portrait broke away from their home but the deadly parasitic pixels stole their identity.

What is also interesting to watch is the eye directly goes to the background and understands how images are formed, almost nostalgically, to the times we learned to use MS Paint and edited images to look like cartoons. In windows 98, there were a lot of glitches that looked exactly similar to some of the portraits in the exhibition, and then there were screensavers that would sometimes add effects such as distorting the existing contents on screen in this manner. There were software that would let you erase, blur, zoom with the screenshot of the window.

The installation process was just another day at work for my dorm-mates who were not concerned about meaning. They were concerned about meme-fying the images, using their imagination to draw parallels between Pub G characters and those in the installation art. There is humor, irony, and art for everyone to enjoy, a pervasive medium to offer a way of life.

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Akshay Raheja

theatre artist who wants to write some meaningful prose, occasionally