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Seminars and Multi-Media
Exhibitions on Fundamental Themes
Stretching over a span of six-years, IGNCA explored a
series of fundamental themes which transcend cultures, periods of history, disciplines and
linghistic barriers. These themes which dwelt on many dimensions and perceptions at the
interior and exterior levels of experience and manifestation were expressed through
multi-media projections and linked to multi-disciplinary seminars.
||Explored the many dimensions and
levels of Space
||Explored the multi-dimensional & cross
cultural perception of Space
||Dealt with the relationship between the
unarticulated silent sound, the articulated word and the written word. The exhibition also
projected the art of writing as script and calligraphy from diverse cultures.
||Focused on the relationship of
sound & writing, manual and technological skills, the language of form in iconography
||Explored the many dimensions of Time, as
thought, expression and experience, objective and subjective. and man's perception of it.
||Dwelt on every aspect of Time,
reaffirming the notion of university of Time.
(Nature and Man) 1992
||Sought to provide an integral
vision of the symbiotic relationship between man and nature
||Dealt essentially with reflections on nature
with reference to the basic elements that constitute man and the universe, from both the
traditional and the modern perspectives.
The four exhibitions and seminars which dwelt on the
universal concept-metaphors of Space, Form, Time, and Nature and Man were organized as a
tribute to the universal heritage. The first of these was the exhibition entitled 'Kham'
and seminar 'Akasa'. Taking all the multi-layered meaning of the term 'akasa'
into cognisance the seminar integrated the insights of ancient philosophy, religion, art,
architecture and those of modern science. The participants included scientists,
philosophers, men of religion, archaeologists, art historians, artists.
The seminar elicited the insights of Raja Ramanna, a
physicist, on the one hand and R. Panikkar, a philosopher, on the other. The eminent
scientist-philospher D. S. Kothari drew attention to the inextricable link between these
two disciplines. In an analysis of the cosmological dimensions of Space, Irene Winter
represented the Ancient Near Eastern Monuments, while Michael janson dwelt on Space in
Harappan City Planning. Stella Kramrisch, John Irwin and Lokesh Chandra established
the connection between Indian Cosmogony and Indian architecture and T. S. Maxwell spoke on
Spatial Structure in Indian Sculpture. Mani Kaul, Tripti Mitra and G. Sankara Pillai
concentrated on the several facets of the artistic dimension. Maha Mahopadhyaya Lakshman
Shastri Joshi who closed the seminar, gave an exposition of the multiple layers of
'akasa'. In short the seminar stretching over six days and comprising distinguished
scholars from various disciplines and cultural contexts was an attempt to reintegrate the
fragmented humanity of our times. The exhibition was an attempt to translate Space meaning
into actual spaces. It tried to convey Space as a sense experience, as usage and as
From the abstract Space the movement veered towards the
concrete area of Form and so the next twin programme was 'Akara', a "Quest for the
perfect form, beyond." The attempt here was to consider the parallel relation of the
spoken word to writing. Though systems of writing differ vastly across time and cultures,
the fundamental principles of the origin, the configuration of letter forms and the
perception accepted this essential premise. The programme also underscored the importance
of calligraphy where the sign becomes the symbol, and the unmanifest becomes the manifest.
The third in the series was 'Kala' (Time), for the notions
of Time have dominated man's imagination from time immemorial, finding expression in
traditional speculative thought as also in modern scientific explorations. The seminar and
the exhibition dealt with Time as a point or duration, stillness and movement, void and
fullness, arrow and circle, conical or concentric in form.
The seminar focused on Time as inspiration of artistic
expressions and as "experience" of the ever present NOW, transcendental and
immanent. The seminar was a culmination of a series of preliminary workshops on the
subject. Divided into six major themes 'Concepts', 'Consciousness', 'Myth and History',
'Creative Process', 'Creative Response' and 'Transcendence and Immanence', the seminar was
attended by about sixty multi-disciplinary scholars from all over the world. Among them
were Seyyed Hossein Nasr, John McKim Malville, R. Panikkar, V. N. Mishra, John Broomfield,
S. C. Malik, Peter Malekin, Kapila Vatsyayan, G. Sontheimer and many other scholars from
The philosophical, religious, scientific, artistic concepts
of Time were unravelled during the seminar. Aspects like specific textual treatment of
Time, its impact on particular fields of experience, creative processes of nature of
artistic form in relation to the notion of Time were all explored in the seminar. The
multi-media exhibition on Time was an attempt to highlight this universal theme as a
physical and metaphysical presence.
The next attempt was to decode the perceptions of man and
nature, in terms of the basic elements (bhutta) that constitute the universe, to
evoke an integral vision. The five elements (pancabhuta) - earth, water, fire,
air and ether / space - provided a matrix on which a holistic worldview of traditional
societies is based. They also form the basic vocabulary of creation myths, sacred rituals,
creative expression and the seminar tried to re-evoke the traditional perceptions of
nature and see them in relation to contemporary ecological insights. A series of four
subsidiary seminars held in 1992 in the broad area of cross-cultural lifestyle studies.
- Perceptions of the Bhutas (Elements) in the Oral Tradition.
- The Concept of Bhuta: Vedic, Buddhist and Jain Traditions.
- The Role of the Elements (Mahabhuta) in the Indian Arts and
their Agamic Background.
- Bhutas: Seminar on the Nature of Matter.
The seminar 'Prakriti: Nature and Man - An Integral
Vision', which marked the culmination of all these seminars, was held from an
interdisciplinary approach, with the participation of scholars from all over the world.
Some of the papers include 'Holistic Science and Consciousness' (S.C. Malik), 'An
Integrated View of Nature' (Satish Kumar), 'The Zuny View of Nature' (T. N. Pandey),
'Cosmic Nature of San (Bushman) Law' (A.J.G.M. Sanders), 'Pancatattva in Artistic
Manifestation' (Haku Shah), 'Traditional Knowledge Systems and Modern Environment
Management' (Anil Agarwal), 'Man, Nature and the Universe' (Jayant V. Narlikar).
The underlying assumption of the seminar was that the
overriding insight is the same in astrophysics and the indigenous tradition across the
world because man's life is thoroughly interwoven into the fabric of life on our planet
and ultimately into that ordered and harmonious system which we call cosmos.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 1999