The Universal Thirst Gazette

The UT emblem series, designed by Tara Kelton

Artist Tara Kelton collaborated with the owners of Bangalore’s desktop publishing (DTP) printing shops to create a surreal, and surprisingly avant garde set of polar bear and lion artworks

“A lot of my work has to do with authorship,” says artist Tara Kelton, who was born in Texas, grew up in Bangalore, and spent time in New York before returning to the Karnataka capital. Kelton, who’s a former graphic designer, has spent years creating work in collaboration with other image makers, many of whom have little to no formal design or artistic training. Projects include visualisations of the Uber headquarters - created by local photo studios based on imagined descriptions from Uber drivers - and 3D still lives modelled by Bangalore design studios and inspired by descriptions written by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. “I like thinking about taste, and the dominance and authority of Western design,” says Kelton. To create her surreal version of UT’s polar bear and lion logo - which has also been reinterpreted by illustrator (link: text: Sophy Hollington) and artist (link: text: Arne Bellstorf) - Kelton approached Bangalore’s DTP businesses. These printing shops exist across India, and cater to people’s everyday graphic needs – editing imagery, creating signs and producing business cards. Many of these businesses rely on extensive image libraries, drawn from CDs as well as the internet. “They share images from studio to studio, and I was interested in that kind of image circulation,” says Kelton. “How these things are moving around was quite fascinating.” The artist provided a verbal prompt by describing the UT emblem, which each DTP shop based its final artwork on. The end result is a series of completely contrasting pieces, each of which offer different interpretations of the archetypal forms of polar bear, lion and globe that make up the basis of the logo. “It’s interesting to me, because so much is contained in power and inequality,” says Kelton of the project. “It feels quite top-down in the West, with the way design works, and here it’s quite organic. I’m very interested in how people are working with the software in unusual ways that aren’t prescribed.”

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Tara Kelton

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