Art

Art of design

Prakash Moorthy at a teaching session. Photo: Aby Robin   | Photo Credit: special

Sequential Art is the term Prakash Moorthy uses to replace the more popular word ‘animation’ and it is the medium in which he has made substantial contributions. As a creative designer and teacher of credibility, Prakash feels that the word ‘animation’ is widely misused and does not serve to express its real meaning any more.

An alumnus of the first generation animation design course in the country at the National Institute of Design (NID), Prakash studied Applied Arts at the graduate level and did his post-graduation with specialisation in illustration at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. Prakash studied further at the NID for post-diploma in animation. These two institutions provided him with two teachers: well-known artist and teacher Jeram Patel at Baroda and R.L. Mistry, celebrated teacher and designer at Ahmedabad.

Prakash always explores and admires personalities and their influence in shaping artists and creating movements. As a tribute to his guru, Prakash wrote a biographical book on R.L. Mistry who had devotional commitment in shaping the design education of the country.

His first assignment after leaving the campus happened to be a versatile project – production house Navodaya’s Kishkindha, the first amusement park in South India, at Chennai. Working with filmmaker Jijo for the Kishkindha project inspired him to open up new arenas in spatial design.

His long association with auteur Shaji N. Karun led to the production design of the French/German feature film Flame in Paradise, directed by Markus Inhoof. Although Prakash has a handful of films [ Ivan Megharoopan, among others] to his credit as art director, his memorable experience was in the making of Vanaprastham. Working with Shaji and Ranette Bretto, the perfectionist cinematographer of Godard's films, Prakash could explore the length and breadth of a scenic designer in terms of cinematic language

His creative designs

Apart from his film assignments one sees a linear development of a narrative language and a signature of authorship in the creative designs right from the beginning of his career. Whether it is the Protagonist (two minutes, 35mm, 1998), The Jungle King (10 minutes, 35mm, 1988), The Magic Tree (five minutes, 35mm, 1990) or the latest, Sulochana and the Jungle Detectors, the undertones of an organic eco-centric world emerges phase by phase in terms of form and content. It seems that he has been in search of a visual narrative which synthesises the vast folk/oral tradition of India and the contemporary world.

A world that encounters the immediate reality at the same time along with the history behind every living being, Sulochana and the Jungle Detectors begins with the protagonist child Sulochana – belonging to the post-global warming world – who is being sent back to the past by her teachers. As she goes back to the past, she reaches the 16th century of Hortus Malabaricus (a 16th century book on the herbal plants of Kerala) where she meets the jungle detectors or guides who introduce her to each plant of the forest.

In the succeeding sequence of the movie, Prakash establishes each visual with a historic insight, using references from the early travellers of the jungle and the views of Vander de veen, a Chinese traveller, the narratives of the 18th century planters and Hortus Malabaricus. Thus Sulochana and the jungle detectors become a true realisation of his views on life and art that each object carries a meaning and it is the meaning that has to be transformed into a work of art.

The narrative took its shape and form from the extensive trip he had with the jungle detectors of Rajamala forests where Prakash had completed the design of the information and interpretation centre for the wildlife sanctuary. It is also to be noted that his short stories published in the collection titled Between Earth and Sky (Penguin India) is an anthology of writings on the forest.

For Prakash, design has no boundaries and sequential art is just a small part of the universe called design. As a designer and visualiser for Sadhu Vaswani Museum project, Mumbai (2009-10), the project director of Unsung Among Us (the New Media project of UNDP with 14 films on 14 unsung heroes of the people, 2002) and the animation head of Sesame Street India, Meditech, New Delhi - (2005-2009), along with several teaching assignments in design institution, Prakash has widely represented the country in international animation festivals and workshops.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 4:35:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/Art-of-design/article12544872.ece

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