“I’m a child of the world wide web, the Internet has always served as my playground,” says Malavika Anupraj, a 21-year-old video editor and multimedia journalist.
Malavika’s work exists at the unique intersection between what is comfortable and what is unknown. The air of nostalgia mixed with her incredible thought process creates a fascinating playground in the mind of the aimless, robotic social media scroller. Shared primarily on her Instagram account, @ambotti, her work carries an air of nostalgia backed by her nuanced take on sound and lighting that really define her visual signature.
Her Instagram has quickly transformed into an online portfolio and a testament to her growth as an artist. When Malavika first began experimenting with visual art in 2015, she was struggling to recollect moments of joy and meaning due to the manner in which she processed grief. Her art began as a collection of memories, she says, and video editing became a channel to process emotions.
Her Instagram is, in fact, a visual journal of sorts. She quickly outgrew her original username @dixnchix – “I’m bisexual and this was a phase in my life where I was just elated and proud to be out” – and wanted a username that was “less embarrassing.” Though she picked the word randomly, ‘Ambotti’ came to represent her creative brand the longer it stuck around.
“The word has two meanings to me. ‘Ambotti’ is a Malayalam word my mother used during my childhood when referring endearingly to my sister or myself. It’s also a word that I recall being used to refer to God, while I was a child. This dichotomy was amusing to me.“
On many occasions, visiting Malavika’s page has been therapeutic for me. Her ‘vibe’ is welcoming in that way – put simply, it’s visual poetry. The rhythmic nature of her art can draw you into an endless, almost kaleidoscopic sub-genre of visuals that she does best. From her gifs to her short films, the energy of the powerful, alluring visuals is accompanied by her immaculate choice of sound and music.
“I spend a lot of time with music trying to find underground or unique artists and other auditory pleasures via Soundcloud and Bandcamp,” she says. There’s almost always the instant urge to Shazam her films or read the description to see if she’s shared the sound, and that’s pretty much what she’s going for.
As a ‘child of the world-wide-web,’ however, Malavika Anupraj is inspired by a plethora of sources. Music videos, fashion, home decor, concert merchandising, advertising, etc. – the ‘Ambotti’ is born from a diverse collection of media. Unfortunately, the digital space has become challenging to navigate. Malavika agrees, “I try to restrict my consumption of digital media especially now, as it all feels extremely saturated and suffocating to derive any artistic satisfaction or inspiration from.”
“Social media and the digital landscape always served as an escape from reality but I feel like that is no longer the case since the pandemic began. The distinction between social media and news applications have blurred.” She is right, of course. As necessary as social media platforms are to rally the masses and spread awareness, they are fading as platforms to distance oneself from the crippling reality.
In response to this lack of online artistic inspiration, Malavika started ‘Malu’s cool newsletter‘, a quirky curation of unique websites from across the internet. From playlists to interactive games and virtual art, her “personally curated Internet art gallery,” as she calls it, is a testament to her propensities as an artist and a digital consumer.
“With my newsletter, I wanted to provide interactive and digestible alternatives of media to broaden our idea of the internet itself.” (You can sign up for Malu’s cool newsletter here.)
Malavika Anupraj moved to Canada in 2019 to pursue her postgraduate degree in New Media Journalism and graduated earlier this year, as the pandemic began. “I realised earlier this year once COVID-19 struck that my attempts to figure my life out as a recent graduate would be even more daunting than I had envisioned,” she shared, “In March, I had to decide on whether I was going to head back home to Dubai or do the impossible – get hired as a recent grad (and an international student) in a new country (and unfamiliar industry) during the pandemic.” And she did it. Malavika is now employed and continues to freelance as a video editor and content creator.
“Professionally, I wear multiple hats and often find myself limiting my bio to just ‘video editor’ or ‘visual artist’ for the ease of communicating with others. However, I dance between industries, techniques and gigs and that’s how I find myself truly fulfilled by the work I do.” From working as an Assistant Director in the Malayalam film industry in Kochi to directing a series for GQ Magazine in Dubai, Malavika’s work thrives because of her adaptability to every industry and city she dances between.
What’s next for Malavika?
Well, “I’m currently working towards building my own studio/company to sell personalised and one of a kind items across home decor, fashion, literature and art designed by me.” Malavika also just launched her YouTube which you can check out here.
As the algorithms continue to silence those creatives that are changing the tone of the content we consume, the Ambotti brand proves that there is a universe of ideas hidden in the mind of a woman that has had to break into the industry and into the algorithm. Personally, Malavika’s work has been a rallying cry to support women and independent artists on my social media feed.
Malavika Anupraj and her enthralling visuals are a breath of fresh air in an increasingly chaotic digital space. Her relationship with art and sound is uniquely hers, creating a corner of the internet free, for the most part, from the sounds of the overpopulated digital playground. At the outset, Malavika’s work is that of an incredible artist. Looking deeper, ‘Ambotti’ exists unapologetically in a creative space, emphasising the agency and ability of a woman of colour and her perspective. As an international student, as a woman, as a creative, Malavika’s work finds the structural hindrances and destroys them with its resounding beauty that creates a world within itself.
Her undeniable creativity and the power in the female gaze have drawn her followers, admirers, and often potential employers to her digital playground and digital portfolio.
In the words of the mind behind the magic, “My aim with the work I create is to ensure it’s nothing like anything that exists“…”as original and ‘Ambotti’ as it can be, it will be!“