The Untold Intimacy of Digits
Looped video projection (00:47 minutes)
Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2011); Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2011); Museum fur Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt (2012); NGMA, Delhi (2014); K21, Düsseldorf (2018)
In every sum figured by power, a remainder haunts the calculation. Not everything adds up. A people are never equal to a listing of their bodies. They are something more and something less than a population. Counting counter to the reasons of state, Raj Konai, a peasant from nineteenth century Bengal, the owner of the floating trace of a disembodied hand indexed in a distant archive, persists in his arithmetic. The handprint of Raj Konai was taken in 1858 under the orders of William Herschel – scientist, statistician, and at the time, a revenue official with the Bengal government. It was sent by Herschel to Francis Galton, a London eugenicist and pioneer of identification technologies. It is currently in the custody of the Francis Galton Collection of the University College of London. This is where the Raqs collective first encountered the image of Raj Konai’s hand. Fingerprinting experiments, and later technologies, all began with this handprint. India has now embarked on a nationwide Unique Identification Database (UID) and plans to have its billion soon counted and indexed.