Thursday, February 9, 2012

TRAFFIC MASALA by Christian Engelmann

Traffic Masala

The overwhelming chaos of Bangalore/Indian traffic is the first thing that strikes the foreigner as he lands in our country. The variety of vehicles from cycles, bullock carts, auto rickshaws to fancy cars, we have them all. Each one of them making their way to their respective destination, fighting for space, squeezing in and out of the maze of traffic. Here you make your own rules, for survival is the key. The Indian auto market is making cheaper cars like the Nano, we have just managed to have the metro but the traffic never seems to ease. We have office hours, rush hours, school leaving hour and sometimes happy hours on holidays!

Christian Englemann is a sculptor, who is fascinated by the mechanics of machines and has an ironical and satirical take on the idea of speed and the age of the machine. Where are we going is the question? It may sound philosophical but it is a vital question in our reality.

The bullock cart still exists in the city that has been hailed for its information technology. We see this oxen driving in all its majesty between the traffic, carrying loads of metal, steel, bricks, sand and any-thing the buoyant city needs for its accelerated growth. This project involves mechanization of this ancient mode of transport that is an icon of the man and beast. Englemann manages to fix an extra wheel and a remote to make an absurd remake. In the third world context we call it Jugaad-a local adaptation of a technical or mechanical device that can be recycled and reused to suit local needs. The futility and absurdity is part of this project. How do we innovate with iconic traditional bullock cart? Can you imagine it without the bull, but with a remote control that makes it move! Anything is possible in this cut and paste aesthetic.

Jugaad vehicles have been part of rural innovations that speaks of sustenance and survival as a tactic, to make the two worlds meet, high tech and innovative fixture by the street mechanic. In India this jugaad engineering is an alternative. It is a vital ingredient that is inspired by the method in the madness that drives a country, we live in the past as much in the future at the same time. We see it every day and the work of Englemann makes it more visible and is a tribute to this kind of local creative hacking.

1Shanthiroad studio/gallery

No comments: