The web designer Adityan Melekalam from New Delhi/India was awarded a fellowship for web design in 2016 within the new online program of Akademie Schloss Solitude. Alongside his professional career, he creates his own artistic projects on the web, which are influenced by multiple fields from technology and literature to cartography and geometry. His current project Jaguar Chronicles is a fictional journal based on a real event.
CH: How has your professional experience influenced your artistic practice? What interests you in your current profession?
Adityan Melekalam: In the past, my professional practice spanned various areas within communication design like graphics, advertising, film-making, and photography. For most of my self-initiated artistic projects since 2008, I have been using the skills I learned for these »regular« jobs.
Presently, I am designing Internet-based products like websites and applications. A professional in this field is a part of the inquiries and movements happening in the periphery of the digital subculture right now, revealing new ways of interpreting the web ecosystem and the transactions/interactions which shape and sustain it. In some of my artistic projects, I am trying to subvert the inherent possibilities of these products to create unexpected experiences on the net and its environment.
For example, the magnifying tool in the project An event in Jabalpur…, prompts the user to create a connection — exaggerated than the passive ones she is used to in her routine activity on social networks — with the subjects and spaces in the album turning her into a conspicuous participant of the event.
CH: Can you give an insight into your artistic work? What are the topics and the content you are working on?
AM: I create projects on the web in which I use images, text, code, audio, and video. The premises for my works are varied and are drawn from concepts from across multiple fields, like design, technology, literature, architecture, cartography, geometry, etc. These projects are mostly shaped as settings that force an arrangement on a group of articles (objects, words, or ideas). They make for repeated examination but offer inconclusive experiences, like in collections, logs, or journals.
My current project Jaguar Chronicles is a fictional journal based on a real event, as recounted by an ex-serviceman of the Indian Air Force. As he recalls a journey he undertook as an official mission, many fragments from his past too become a part of it. These »entries« – preserved stories and impressions of the days in transit – contains tractions between the different worlds he inhabits and the patterns that emerge when they come into contact with one another.
CH: How has formal design education influenced your artistic practice?
AM: My institute, NID (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad), was founded at a time when the design community in India was trying to find a place in a post-industrial, Modernist world. This atmosphere channeled both mainstream and alternate methodologies into its system, creating a setting suitable for both experimental art practices and traditional crafts and skills. The institute encouraged its community to explore different concepts, and this integrative culture, where both analytic and imaginative worlds were built and evaluated, is in a way the philosophical foundation for my practice.
CH: Have you worked with journalists before? What is your approach to digital storytelling?
AM: I have worked in the fields of print and video journalism in the past. On the net, the unmediated atmosphere (in relation to traditional media industry) and reduced dependency on standards/norms prompt interesting patterns of creating and presenting content.
My web projects explore speculative and fictional constructs. In some cases, a project’s structure (or the lack of it) holds together a system of ideas within it, and alternatively a single premise could be sustained across different projects. These layered and fluid experiences preserve the idiosyncrasies and abstractions of the concepts that I am working with.
CH: What was your motivation for applying for Solitude?
AM: The interactions at the Akademie would be helpful to better understand the politics and possibilities of emerging digital practices and to deliberate on their roles in relation to the prevalent inquiries of mainstream art and professional design practices. Besides that, I am sure the time at the Akademie would expand the formal and conceptual grounds of my practice and give an insight into the concerns that inform the practice of others.