VISION EXCHANGE WORKSHOP (VIEW)
Mumbai, Maharashtra ,1969
In the late 1960s, artist Akbar Padamsee was the recipient of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. With the funds Padamsee received, he set up the inter-art Vision Exchange Workshop (VIEW), between 1969-1972, at his flat in Napean Sea Road. But this wasn’t always the plan – he had originally intended to establish a workshop in Delhi.
The idea behind the workshop was to create a space for interdisciplinary experimentation and collaboration. He provided the participants from across disciplines, including painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and filmmakers, a cinematographer, an animator, and a psychoanalyst, with resources such as books, slides, 16mm cameras, and film editing and projection facilities. The workshop also housed a dark room for experimental photography (photographer Bhupendra Karia was given the task of constructing the workshop’s darkroom), an etching press for printmaking, and facilities for editing and projecting film. They were not easy to procure at the time.
The workshop was well received and was attended by artists such as Gieve Patel and Nalini Malani, psychoanalyst Udayan Patel as well as film directors such as Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani. Padamsee himself made two short abstract films – ‘Syzygy’ and ‘Events in a Cloud Chamber’ – at VIEW. While ‘Syzygy’ is a stop-motion animation inspired by Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, ‘Events in a Cloud Chamber’ was shot entirely on a 16mm Bolex: the six-minute film (now lost) features a single-colour, almost-surreal, landscape. Padamsee, apparently, reproduced one of his own oil paintings using projected light, tinted filters, and stencils, instead of pigments. In hindsight, VIEW was not only one of the first spaces to create new media art, but it also fostered a spirit of collaboration and exchange of ideas.