Babu Eshwar Prasad’s Skin of the Earth explores the effects of industrialisation on today’s world

The foreground is filled with anthills extending in every direction almost until the horizon, where the view is impeded by several high-rise buildings, some still under construction. The sky above is filled with what appears to be planes or are they birds?

“I collage various elements together – for example placing anthills in the foreground with high-rise buildings mushrooming behind. What is occurring is the juxtaposition of the insect and human habitat. There is, of course, the play with scale, with repetition and textures. I am really interested in examining regular and irregular patterns, contrasting natural / manmade or the organic and the inorganic,” says Babu Eshwar Prasad, describing his digital work “Dwelling”, part of his latest exhibition “Skin of the Earth”, that is currently on display at Gallery Sumukha.

Though the underlying theme of his work is “soil”, his series of digital images or photo montages, paintings and videos explores the effects of industrialization and its effects on the landscape, physically, metaphorically and psychologically. Physically, because of its effects on geography, and psychologically, in terms of how the identity of man is now shaped around industry, commodity and the notion of “development”.

“The exhibition engages with the idea of soil. It presents this pre-occupation at many levels – looking at its formal qualities and textures, and the kind of sedimentation that occurs over time, as well as speaking of it metaphorically as the soil ‘bearing witness’. I also explore its ecological ramifications, looking at the phenomena of industrialization and the kind of impressions it has made on the landscape,” he explains.

Most of his other works explore and reinforce this theme from different perspectives: for instance, “Side By Side” shows a panorama of colourful industrial junk against a cloudy sky, “Bypassing The Road” is a landscape constituted by loose red soil with a sand-covered track passing through. It is, presumably, a mining site, as is “Dystopia”, though this is a landscape comprising rocks (another mining site). While “The Yellow Sky and the Dragon Flies”, again juxtaposes a natural “landscape” of dragonflies and flowers against an industrial site. His videos, “Fast Forward To Zero” and “Looped” also show similar landscapes.

“I hunt for images like an archaeologist from the debris of visual imagery. I pick up pieces that speak to me with new meanings. Later in some unpredictable way these images are reinvented in my mind. I create these images with a specific intention and I strive to make each image visually engaging like visual poetry, a haiku, or philosophical verse that I can call my own.”

Prasad explains how he is interested in the concept of utility in the age of industry and consumption, where objects quickly deteriorate in value from luxury items to waste.

These landscapes of industrial junk composed of wires, machine parts, vehicles and industrial chimneys hold within them a sense of passing time, though the landscapes themselves appear very still, like a long pause. “What monuments will this moment produce? What kind of legacy will it leave behind? The images silently accumulate evidence and link together the past, present and future,” he observes.

“Skin of the Earth” will be on view until March 13 at Gallery Sumukha, 24/10, BTS Depot Road, Wilson Garden. For details, call 22292230.