A performance piece with an old media apparatus.
The Bioscope is a pre-cinema optical device – essentially a peepshow – that was extremely popular as an itinerant street entertainment in South Asia from mid-1800, and remains widely known and embedded in film culture. With the expertise of my friend Steve Dowding, I made one for my MA in Film and Screen Studies at Goldsmiths, and have devised a performance with it based on a character I uncovered in my research called Mangaldas V. Lohana. He is the presumed author of a scrapbook of Indian cinema from the 1930s – 40s called Filmi Jagat (Film Universe) published by Rahaab Allana.
Inside the Bioscope I have a series of images taken from the Gazi scroll, a picture scroll made in Bengal circa 1800, now in the British Museum collection. I’ve combined them with a narrative I perform, that is adapted from a folk tale featured in Keralan film Kathapurushan (Man of the Story) directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. I am working on more picture scrolls and narratives to go with them, plus music, costume and sound effects.