Neha Luhar-Trice

Florida, USA

iContact by Neha Luhar-Trice
24”x24”; digital collage; 2022

Neha Luhar-Trice has long worked with the themes of technology, social media, and her Indian American heritage, seeking to disentangle the unrelenting chaos of the former two through the visual and spiritual aspects of the latter. She has observed in her own self, as much as in others, the potential harmful effects of keeping technology and social media as one’s central focus; this need for continual comparisons to the unrealistic world of influencers, as the prime indicators of economic status, can saturate one’s self and supersede meaningful connections in physical reality, gradually eroding general satisfaction with one’s overall life and individual status.

Luhar-Trice manipulates the ancient concept of the mandala, a tool for inward meditation, in her digital collage iContact, to call attention to our obsession with, and dependence on, the capitalist, consumerist machine that dominates so much of our daily lives. The mandala, with origins in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, is a complex symmetrical arrangement of geometric forms, meant to promote an environment of quiet contemplation. It is a direct antithesis to the design of the virtual world which is purposefully built to be distracting, addictive, and exigent, through relentlessly activating the “pleasure centers” of the brain.

The artist writes:

“One enters the mandala, concentrating on the symbols within the overall pattern while proceeding towards its center. This exercise encourages the observer to focus on inner knowledge and can open doors to happiness and clarity.

“In my work iContact, I subvert the meditative, inward-focused nature of the mandala by appropriating the iconography of corporate consumption and social media. As the viewer discovers the true nature of the forms constructing the overall pattern, I hope they can begin to see how these candy-colored, superficial distractions can prevent one from connecting with a deeper sense of wholeness and personal fulfillment.

“Far from the environment of introspective, self-reflection promoted by the mandala, social media forces the user to persistently compare the appearance of their outward self to the equally contrived facade of others. By mashing these two opposites into one hypnotic, repetitive image, [I use] the meditative nature of the mandala to ask the viewer to contemplate whether the consumption of technology is truly providing the happiness and connection that it promises.”