Artist Nandan Ghiya’s oeuvre defines the future by persistently exploring the past; a story that begins with the emergence of portrait photography in India. First construed as an object of curiosity and narcissism, this trend gave way to a new art form – studio photography, wherein the photographer blurred the lines between reality and imagination with the painted image creating a new paradigm of the hyper-real. Ghiya probes every aspect of this phenomenon, from the static frames, the flat, painted backdrops, the ersatz embellishments, the mismatched Indo-western costumes, to the bright background tints, unearthing an ethnographic documentation of a tempestuous era in colonized India. His works investigate the relationship between photography and technology, often subverting them, to ultimately comprehend the fragmented human self and desire in the age of precarious modernity. Ghiya traces the evolution of photography as a medium that projects the value-system of the culture it inhabits. Technology becomes the modern ‘colonizer’, an independent entity that continues to invade, shape and redefine social systems. His preoccupation with vintage photography began at a very young age. These images became objects of veneration and intrigue as he grew in a world struck by the Internet, a global phenomenon that drastically shifted the perception of humanity. His first project, ‘deFacebook’ (2010) employed found photographs sourced from pawnshops all over the country as raw materials with distinct identities, which were then ‘impaired’/’vandalized’ by glitches and pixels to express the loss of identity and image in the world of digital social media. He continued his scrutiny with ‘Download Errors’ (2012), a satirical attempt to highlight the intrinsic ephemerality of the ‘Internet Age’. His works form a particularity of their own, almost representing the deleterious impact of digitalization on personal and cultural identity with the blurring of the lines between the virtual and the physical. ‘Blue Screen’ (2015) seems to complete this circle of disenchantment as glitches, pixels and error boxes transition into an ominous blue screen – a metaphor for death. It exposes a hostile takeover of the digital over human consciousness; the blue screen turns into an alien destroying everything in its wake, only a void remains. But for Ghiya, this blank becomes a canvas, with the scope for a new beginning. ‘Studio Portraits from the 22nd Century’ (2017), Ghiya’s solo exhibition at Sakshi Gallery was a unique fantastical exploration of a future that projected virtual selves. The series envisioned an interaction of a subject with digital interfaces in a bid to create a ‘perfect image’ that goes beyond what meets the eye. The artist attained a Diploma in Fashion Design from NIFT, New Delhi (2002) and exhibited his work at the New York Arts of Pacific Asia Show, USA (2004), Gallery 9, Mumbai (2007), Exhibit320, New Delhi (2010, 2011, 2012) and Chancery Lane Gallery, Grand Palais, France (2012), amongst others. His recent solo exhibitions include ‘Ellipsis: Between Word & Image’ curated by Rahaab Allana at the Museum Galleries, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur (2019). The artist lives and works in Rajasthan, India.