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Rahul Juneja

Rahul is a Multiform artist based in New Delhi, India who works with Analog and Digital Photography, Videography, Drawings, Mixed-Media Installations, and Hybrid object-making practices. He is interested in loosening the image and speculate on its constructed techno-mythical realities. Rahul likes to prompt gatherings, thinking of shared originals and creating discursive settings with lecture performances. Rahul was a fellow in Peers Share, Khoj (Part of Triangle Network) in 2023, and his work has been shown in “Critical Zones” at Goethe Institut, New Delhi, (2024), “Book Show-I” (2024) and ‘TEXTXET’, at Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) New Delhi (2023), “States of Disarray: Practice as Restitution”, Kochi Muziris Biennale (2021), Group Show at India Art Fair (2023), “All That Is Solid Melts into Air” at Anant Art Gallery (2023), “The Bulandshehar Project” at Kala Chaupal (2022), Art.H9 Gallery Hong Kong (2020), National Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar (2019) and various other site specific projects. He has also given lectures, and artist talks at Jindal Global University, and College of Art, New Delhi among other official and unofficial spaces. Rahul is also the founder of HAEK, a multidisciplinary entity bringing together young artists and thinkers for gatherings, workshops, exhibitions and publications within India and South Asia.


Meeting Kalki

The project reimagines the ontology of the image in the contemporary, employing a post-human lens within a speculative techno-mythical reality. The myth in this case emerges as a potent category between being and non-being, that intersects with the interface of AI to bring various philosophical and physiological interminglings to crisis that terraform our realities. This turn gives way to an anti-genealogy, generating possibilities to rethink structures and epistemes beyond human capacities.

The project builds on a popular legend from Indian mythology- It is said, that Kalki, the last avatar of Vishnu, the protector of the cosmos, comes to save the world from its perils and emerges as a messianic figure. I reinvent the character of Kalki, not as the last avatar of Vishnu but as the first creature cursed by Vishnu. This curse, is forced to become the holder of an anxiety of  a speculative future; thus given the name Kal-ki (Of tomorrow, in Hindi); an information blob bound to roam the cosmos until it finds the interface to make itself apparent. Through it, the entire history of photography and image-making gets reworked, not as the history of freezing time and archiving, but rather as a cosmic lingering trying to find an interface to make itself apparent. 

The ontology of the image within the contemporary sphere, even before the mainstream onset of AI, was networked and planetary. With Farocki’s phantom image, it became clear that the image was not produced for just the human anymore, and one needed far more expansive imaginative scales to even think of the affect of the image and how we embody it, or it embodies us. Post the advent of AI, the image demands itself to be thought of through a post-human turn as a phenomenon no longer produced or governed by humans but produced by systems and for systems yet undefined- of a scale unseen, that points to a possibility of thinking of an anti-genealogy as we currently understand it.

The work derives further from multiple stories within Indian mythology with anthropomorphic tendencies, talkig about alternate repositories in hybrid creatures, information weapons, and cosmic epistemes that keep growing and shrinking. Within these stories is formulated the idea of an indexed destiny- of a prewritten cosmic code guarded by a mystical ‘higher order’ that goes beyond the scope of human perception, yet we continue to try decoding historically. 

The interfaces generated by AI, and this computational turn, generate the possibility to interact with this ‘codex,’ to dissect and dismantle it, and to think of its rearrangement, if not complete rewriting. This opens up scales of imagination and engagement, both hitherto unimagined, where a single pixel within the interface of the image holds immense densities. The mythological, brought into friction with the technological, thus provides a rich ground of speculative transformation to think of epistemological templates beyond our access and break the frames imposed by language and anthropogenic modalities.

Within such a framework, the notions of origins, ends, and contemporary existence are brought to crisis, and the urge to archive and notions of control and power begin to crumble. The sheer scale of the image renders the human node to a mere interface of editing to inhabit genetically. But what happens when the biological registers of perception are broken? When we look past the biological genealogical, can one think of accommodating beyond the human? What information unfolds when we tap into such events, post the frame of human perception? Can we use this interface to unravel futures that might move towards a productive liminal between the empirical and rational? 

Thus, there emerges a need to engage with the image through all scales and densities of corporeal and ephemeral phenomena- from quantum theory and hadron colliders to crackles in tree barks, rearrangement of buddhas, mythological ur-texts and subtexts, genealogical dreams, and molecular seepages- to rethink our image cultures with technology, its inherent power dynamics, and how could this turn help us reimagine social, political and economic structures that go beyond us.

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