, ,

Published: Verve Magazine, Nerve, Art Pick, September 2013

Former newspaper cartoonist, Raghava KK, uses art and technology as a means of storytelling – often dramatic and radical


He’s one of CNN’s 10 most remarkable people (2010), a four-time TED speaker, a lecturer at top American schools and his iPad book, Pop-it, won several awards, including a Kirkus Book Award (2011). New York and Bengaluru-based artist, Raghava KK quit school at 18 to start his career as a newspaper cartoonist. Now, the successful young artist is also actively involved in a radical education initiative, NuVu Studios, an offshoot of Harvard and MIT, to redefine creativity in education. He combines art and technology to bring multiple perspectives into the deployment of knowledge. His new show That’s All Folks! has come about through “the emotional mapping of the three disparate worlds: The Cartoon, The Historical, The Memetic”. Verve catches the artist, who believes in “non-linear, dispersive, collaborative storytelling” for a few questions.

Raghava KK’s solo show, That’s All Folks!, will be on at Art Musings, Colaba, Mumbai, from September 4 to October 25, 2013.


How does your iPad art book Pop-it bring perspectives to children?
I created the book when my first child was born. Pop-it is about the things children do with their parents. It shakes up the concept of the ideal family and is meant to expose children to multiple perspectives at the earliest stage. The book starts out with a gay couple raising a child. If you shake the iPad, you get a lesbian couple. Shake it again, and you get a heterosexual couple. I can’t promise to bring my children up without biases, but I can promise to expose them to as many biases as possible.

Where do memes in art take us – are they a bridge between the graphic form of visual storytelling and the print form?
Contrary to what it may appear, memes serve exactly the opposite purpose. The meme breaks the bridge, giving the graphic a life and context of its own, disconnected from its original intent. (A meme, like a gene, contains certain properties, including the ability to self-replicate. But unlike a gene, a meme can move laterally and hierarchically from host to host, much like a parasite would. Memes create emergent phenomena when they reach critical mass and have a life of their own, separate from the life of their creators and replicators.)

Your interactive artwork brings together science, technology and art….
My brainwave art pieces use the viewers’ thoughts and mental state (read by an EEG headset) to dynamically bias and change the artwork. I am currently developing works using other biochemical sensors, kinect hacks, and a new touch-screen frame technology. These works are changing the role of the viewer from that of just a spectator to an active, biasing participant in the artwork.

Do you see the extinction of the traditional canvas?
Each medium, whether paint, digital, iPad, or performance, lends a unique perspective to the visual experience. I don’t see the future as doing away with any one of these unique forms of expression. Instead, I see a more inclusive pool, where there will be unique combinations and re-combinations of these mediums arising in new exploratory visual experiences.