CAT 2000 Question Paper


One of the criteria by which we judge the vitality of a style of painting is its ability to renew itself- its responsiveness to the changing nature and quality of experience, the degree of conceptual and formal innovation that it exhibits. By this criterion, it would appear that the practice of abstractionism has failed to engage creatively with the radical change in human experience in recent decades. it has, seemingly, been unwilling to re-invent itself in relation to the systems of artistic expression and viewers’ expectations that have developed under the impact of the mass media.

The judgement that abstractionism has slipped into ‘inertia gear’ is gaining endorsement, not only among discerning viewers and practitioners of other art forms, but also among abstract painters themselves. Like their companions elsewhere in the world, abstraction lists in India are asking themselves an overwhelming question today: Does abstractionism have a future? The major- crisis that abstractionists face is that of revitalising their picture surface; few have improvised any solutions beyond the ones that were exhausted by the I 970s. Like all revolutions, whether in politics or in art, abstractionism must now confront its moment of truth: having begun life as a new and radical pictorial approach to experience, it has become an entrenched orthodoxy itself. Indeed, when viewed against a historical situation in which a variety of subversive, interactive and richly hybrid forms are available to the art practitioner, abstractionism assumes the remote and defiant air of an aristocracy that has outlived its age; trammelled by formulaic conventions yet buttressed by a rhetoric of sacred mystery, it seems condemned to being the last citadel of the self-regarding ‘fine art’ tradition, the last hurrah of painting for painting’s sake.

The situation is further complicated in India by the circumstances in which an indigenous abstractionism came into prominence here during the 1960s. From the beginning it was propelled by the dialectic between two motives, one revolutionary and the other conservative-it was inaugurated as an act of emancipation from the dogmas of the nascent Indian nation state, when an’ was officially viewed as an indulgence at worst, and at best, as an instrument for the celebration of the republic’s hopes and aspirations. Having rejected these dogmas, the pioneering abstractionists also went on to reject the various figurative styles associated with the Santiniketan circle and others. In such a situation, abstractionism was a revolutionary move, It led art towards the exploration of the s 3onsc)ous mind, the spiritual quest and the possible expansion of consciousness. Indian painting entered into a phase of self-inquiry, a meditative inner space where cosmic symbols and non-representational images ruled. Often, the transition from figurative idioms to abstractionist ones took place within the same artist.

At the same time, Indian abstractionists have rarely committed themselves wholeheartedly to a nonrepresentational idiom. They have been preoccupied with the fundamentally metaphysical project of aspiring to the mystical- holy without altogether renouncing the symbolic) This has been sustained by a hereditary reluctance to give up the murti, the inviolable iconic form, which explains why abstractionism is marked by the conservative tendency to operate with images from the sacred repertoire of the past. Abstractionism thus entered India as a double-edged device in a complex cultural transaction. ideologically, it served as an internationalist legitimisation the emerging revolutionary local trends. However, on entry; it was conscripted to serve local artistic preoccupations a survey of indigenous abstractionism will show that its most obvious points of affinity with European and American abstract art were with the more mystically oriented of the major sources of abstractionist philosophy and practice, for instance the Kandinsky-Klee school. There have been no takers for Malevich’s Suprematism, which militantly rejected both the artistic forms of the past and the world of appearances, privileging the new- minted geometric symbol as an autonomous sign of the desire for infinity.

Against this backdrop, we can identify three major abstractionist idioms in Indian art. The first develops from a love of the earth, and assumes the form of a celebration of the self’s dissolution in the cosmic panorama; the landscape is no longer a realistic, transcription of the scene, but is transformed into a visionary occasion for contemplating the cycles of decay and regeneration. The second idiom phrases its departures from symbolic and archetypal devices as invitations to heightened planes of awareness. Abstractionism begins with the establishment or dissolution of the motif, which can be drawn from diverse sources, including the hieroglyphic tablet, the Sufi meditation dance or the Tantrie diagram. The third- idiom is based on the lyric play of forms guided by gesture or allied with formal improvisations like the assemblage. Here, sometimes, the line dividing abstract image from patterned design or quasi-random expressive marking may blur. The flux of forms can also be regimented through the poetics of pure colour arrangements, vector-diagrammatic spaces anti gestural design.

In this genealogy, some pure lines of descent follow their logic to the inevitable point of extinction, others engage in cross-fertilisation and yet others undergo mutation to maintain their energy. However, this genealogical survey demonstrates the wave at its crests, those points where the metaphysical and the painterly have been fused in images of abiding potency, ideas sensuously ordained rather than fabricated programmatically to a concept. It is equally possible to enumerate the troughs where the two principles do not come together, thus arriving at a very different account. Uncharitable as it may sound, the history of Indian abstractionism records a series of attempts to avoid the risks of abstraction by resorting to an overt and near-generic symbolism which many Indian abstractionists embrace when they find themselves bereft of the imaginative energy to negotiate the union of metaphysics and painterliness.

Such symbolism falls into a dual trap: it succumbs to the pompous vacuity of pure metaphysics when the burden of intention is passed off as justification; or then it is desiccated by the arid formalism of pure painterliness, with delight in the measure of chance or pattern guiding the execution of a painting. The ensuing conflict of purpose stalls the progress of abstractionism in an impasse. The remarkable Indian abstractionists are precisely those who have overcome this and addressed themselves to the basic elements of their art with a decisive sense of independence from prior models. In their recent work, we see the logic of Indian abstractionism pushed almost to the furthest it can be taken. Beyond such artists stands a lost generation of abstractionists whose work invokes a wistful, delicate beauty but stops there. Abstractionism is not a universal language; it is an art that points up the loss of a shared language of signs in society. And yet, it affirms the possibility of its recovery through the effort of awareness. While its rhetoric has always emphasised a call for new forms of attention, abstractionist practice has tended to fall into a complacent pride in its own incomprehensibility; a complacency fatal in an ethos where vibrant new idioms compete for the viewers’ attention. Indian abstractionists ought to really return to basics, to reformulate and replenish their understanding of the nature of the relationship between the painted image and the world around it. But will they abandon their favourite conceptual habits and formal conventions, if this becomes necessary?

Question 71

Which one of the following, according to the author, is the most important reason for the stalling of abstractionism’s progress in an impasse?

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In a modern computer, electronic and magnetic storage technologies play complementary roles. Electronic memory chips are fast but volatile (their contents are lost when the computer is unplugged). Magnetic tapes and hard disks are slower, but have the advantage that they are non-volatile, so that they can be used to store software and documents even when the power is off.

In laboratories around the world, however, researchers are hoping to achieve the best of both worlds. They are trying to build magnetic memory chips that could be used in place of today’s electronics. These magnetic memories would be nonvolatile; but they would also he faster, would consume less power, and would be able to stand up to hazardous environments more easily. Such chips would have obvious applications in storage cards for digital cameras and music- players; they would enable handheld and laptop computers to boot up more quickly and to operate for longer; they would allow desktop computers to run faster; they would doubtless have military and space-faring advantages too. But although the theory behind them looks solid, there are tricky practical problems and need to be overcome.

Two different approaches, based on different magnetic phenomena, are being pursued. The first, being investigated by Gary Prinz and his colleagues at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.c), exploits the fact that the electrical resistance of some materials changes in the presence of magnetic field— a phenomenon known as magneto- resistance. For some multi-layered materials this effect is particularly powerful and is, accordingly, called “giant” magneto-resistance (GMR). Since 1997, the exploitation of GMR has made cheap multi-gigabyte hard disks commonplace. The magnetic orientations of the magnetised spots on the surface of a spinning disk are detected by measuring the changes they induce in the resistance of a tiny sensor. This technique is so sensitive that it means the spots can be made smaller and packed closer together than was previously possible, thus increasing the capacity and reducing the size and cost of a disk drive. Dr. Prinz and his colleagues are now exploiting the same phenomenon on the surface of memory chips, rather spinning disks. In a conventional memory chip, each binary digit (bit) of data is represented using a capacitor-reservoir of electrical charge that is either empty or fill -to represent a zero or a one. In the NRL’s magnetic design, by contrast, each bit is stored in a magnetic element in the form of a vertical pillar of magnetisable material. A matrix of wires passing above and below the elements allows each to be magnetised, either clockwise or anti-clockwise, to represent zero or one. Another set of wires allows current to pass through any particular element. By measuring an element’s resistance you can determine its magnetic orientation, and hence whether it is storing a zero or a one. Since the elements retain their magnetic orientation even when the power is off, the result is non-volatile memory. Unlike the elements of an electronic memory, a magnetic memory’s elements are not easily disrupted by radiation. And compared with electronic memories, whose capacitors need constant topping up, magnetic memories are simpler and consume less power. The NRL researchers plan to commercialise their device through a company called Non-V olatile Electronics, which recently began work on the necessary processing and fabrication techniques. But it will be some years before the first chips roll off the production line.

Most attention in the field in focused on an alternative approach based on magnetic tunnel-junctions (MTJs), which are being investigated by researchers at chipmakers such as IBM, Motorola, Siemens and Hewlett-Packard. IBM’s research team, led by Stuart Parkin, has already created a 500-element working prototype that operates at 20 times the speed of conventional memory chips and consumes 1% of the power. Each element consists of a sandwich of two layers of magnetisable material separated by a barrier of aluminium oxide just four or five atoms thick. The polarisation of lower magnetisable layer is fixed in one direction, but that of the upper layer can be set (again, by passing a current through a matrix of control wires) either to the left or to the right, to store a zero or a one. The polarisations of the two layers are then either the same or opposite directions.

Although the aluminum-oxide barrier is an electrical insulator, it is so thin that electrons are able to jump across it via a quantum-mechanical effect called tunnelling. It turns out that such tunnelling is easier when the two magnetic layers are polarised in the same direction than when they are polarised in opposite directions. So, by measuring the current that flows through the sandwich, it is possible to determine the alignment of the topmost layer, and hence whether it is storing a zero or a one.

To build a full-scale memory chip based on MTJs is, however, no easy matter. According to Paulo Freitas, an expert on chip manufacturing at the Technical University of Lisbon, magnetic memory elements will have to become far smaller and more reliable than current prototypes if they are to compete with electronic memory. At the same time, they will have to be sensitive enough to respond when the appropriate wires in the control matrix are switched on, but not so sensitive that they respond when a neighbouring elements is changed. Despite these difficulties, the general consensus is that MTJs are the more promising ideas. Dr. Parkin says his group evaluated the GMR approach and decided not to pursue it, despite the fact that IBM pioneered GMR in hard disks. Dr. Prinz, however, contends that his plan will eventually offer higher storage densities and lower production costs.

Not content with shaking up the multi-billion-dollar market for computer memory, some researchers have even more ambitious plans for magnetic computing. In a paper published last month in Science, Russell Cowburn and Mark Well and of Cambridge University outlined research that could form the basis of a magnetic microprocessor — a chip capable of manipulating (rather than merely storing) information magnetically. In place of conducting wires, a magnetic processor would have rows of magnetic dots, each of which could be polarised in one of two directions. Individual bits of information would travel down the rows as magnetic pulses, changing the orientation of the dots as they went. Dr. Cowbum and Dr. Welland have demonstrated how a logic gate (the basic element of a microprocessor) could work in such a scheme. In their experiment, they fed a signal in at one end of the chain of dots and used a second signal to control whether it propagated along the chain.

It is, admittedly, a long way from a single logic gate to a full microprocessor, but this was true also when the transistor was first invented. Dr. Cowburn, who is now searching for backers to help commercialise the technology, says he believes it will be at least ten years before the first magnetic microprocessor is constructed. But other researchers in the field agree that such a chip, is the next logical step. Dr. Prinz says that once magnetic memory is sorted out “the target is to go after the logic circuits.” Whether all-magnetic computers will ever be able to compete with other contenders that are jostling to knock electronics off its perch — such as optical, biological and quantum computing — remains to be seen. Dr. Cowburn suggests that the future lies with hybrid machines that use different technologies. But computing with magnetism evidently has an attraction all its own.

Question 72

In developing magnetic memory chips to replace the electronic ones, two alternative research paths are being pursued. These are approaches based on:

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Question 73

A binary digit or bit is represented in the magneto-resistance based magnetic chip using:

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Question 74

In magnetic tunnel-junctions (MTJs) tunnelling is easier when:

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Question 75

A major barrier on the way to build a full-scale memory chip based on MTJs is:

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Question 76

In the MTJs approach, it is possible to identify whether the topmost layer of the magnetised memory element is storing a zero or one by:

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Question 77

A magnetic chip that can both store and manipulate information, is being pursued by:

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Question 78

Experimental research currently underway, using rows of magnetic dots, each of which could be polarised in one of the two directions, has led to the demonstration of:

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Question 79

From the passage, which of the following cannot be inferred?

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The story begins as the European pioneers crossed the Alleghenies and started to settle in the Midwest. The land they found was covered with forests. With incredible efforts they felled the trees, pulled the stumps and planted their crops in the rich, loamy soil. When they finally reached the western edge of the place we now call Indiana, the forest stopped and ahead lay a thousand miles of the great grass prairie. The Europeans were puzzled by this new environment. Some even called it the “Great Desert”. It seemed untillable. The earth was often very wet and it was covered with centuries of tangled and matted grasses. With their cast iron plows, the settlers found that the prairie sod could not be cut and the wet earth stuck to their plowshares. Even a team of the best oxen bogged down after a few years of tugging. The iron plow was a useless tool to farm the prairie soil. The pioneers were stymied for nearly two decades. Their western march was hefted and they filled in the eastern regions of the Midwest.

In 1837, a blacksmith in the town of Grand Detour, Illinois, invented a new tool. His name was John Deere and the tool was a plow made of steel. It was sharp enough to cut through matted grasses and smooth enough to cast off the mud. It was a simple too, the “sod buster” that opened the great prairies to agricultural development.

Sauk Country, Wisconsin is the part of that prairie where I have a home. It is named after the Sauk Indians. In 1673 Father Marquette was the first European to lay his eyes upon their land. He found a village laid out in regular patterns on a plain beside the Wisconsin River. He called the place Prairie du Sac) The village was surrounded by fields that had provided maize, beans and squash for the Sauk people for generations reaching back into the unrecorded time.

When the European settlers arrived at the Sauk prairie in 1837, the government forced the native Sank people west of the Mississippi River. The settlers came with John Deere’s new invention and used the tool to open the area to a new kind of agriculture. They ignored the traditional ways of the Sank Indians and used their sod-busting tool for planting wheat. Initially, the soil was generous and the nurturing thrived. However each year the soil lost more of its nurturing power. It was only thirty years after the Europeans arrived with their new technology that the land was depleted, Wheat farming became uneconomic and tens of thousands of farmers left Wisconsin seeking new land with sod to bust.

It took the Europeans and their new technology just one generation to make their homeland into a desert. The Sank Indians who knew how to sustain themselves on the Sauk prairie land were banished to another kind of desert called a reservation. And they even forgot about the techniques and tools that had sustained them on the prairie for generations unrecorded. And that is how it was that three deserts were created — Wisconsin, the reservation and the memories of a people. A century later, the land of the Sauks is now populated by the children of a second wave of European tanners who learned to replenish the soil through the regenerative powers of dairying, ground cover crops and animal manures. These third and fourth generation farmers and townspeople do not realise, however, that a new settler is coming soon with an invention as powerful as John Deere’s plow.

The new technology is called ‘bereavement counselling’. It is a tool forged at the great state university, an innovative technique to meet the needs of those experiencing the death of a loved one, tool that an “process” the grief of the people who now live on the Prairie of the Sauk. As one can imagine the final days of the village of the Sauk Indians before the arrival of the settlers with John Deere’s plow, one can also imagine these final days before the arrival of the first bereavement counsellor at Prairie du Sac) In these final days, the farmers arid the townspeople mourn at the death of a mother, brother, son or friend. The bereaved is joined by neighbours and kin. They meet grief together in lamentation, prayer and song. They call upon the words of the clergy and surround themselves in community.

It is in these ways that they grieve and then go on with life. Through their mourning they are assured of the bonds between them and renewed in the knowledge that this death is a part of the Prairie of the Sauk. Their grief is common property, an anguish from which the community draws strength and gives the bereaved the courage to move ahead.

It is into this prairie community that the bereavement counsellor arrives with the new grief technology. The counsellor calls the invention a service and assures the prairie folk of its effectiveness and superiority by invoking the name of the great university while displaying a diploma and certificate. At first, we can imagine that the local people will be puzzled by the bereavement counsellor’s claim, However, the counsellor will tell a few of them that the new technique is merely o assist the bereaved’s community at the time of death. To some other prairie folk who are isolated or forgotten, the counsellor will approach the Country Board and advocate the right to treatment for these unfortunate souls. This right will be guaranteed by the Board’s decision to reimburse those too poor tc pay for counselling services. There will be others, schooled to believe in the innovative new tools certified by universities and medical centres, who will seek out the bereavement counsellor by force of habit. And one of these people will tell a bereaved neighbour who is unschooled that unless his grief is processed by a counsellor, he will probably have major psychological problems in later life. Several people will begin to use the bereavement counsellor because, since the Country Board now taxes them to insure access to the technology, they will feel that to fail to be counselled is to waste their money, and to be denied a benefit, or even a right.

Finally, one day, the aged father of a Sauk woman will die. And the next door neighbour will not drop by because he doesn’t want to interrupt the bereavement counsellor. The woman’s kin will stay home because they will have learned that only the bereavement counsellor knows how to process grief the proper way. The local clergy will seek technical assistance from the bereavement counsellor to learn the connect form of service to deal with guilt and grief. And the grieving daughter will know that it is the bereavement counsellor who really cares for her because only the bereavement counsellor comes when death visits this family on the Prairie of the Sauk.

It will be only one generation between the bereavement counsellor arrives and the community of mourners disappears. The counsellor’s new tool will cut through the social fabric, throwing aside kinship, care, neighbourly obligations and communality ways cc coming together and going on. Like John Deere’s plow, the tools of bereavement counselling will create a desert we a community once flourished, And finally, even the bereavement counsellor will see the impossibility of restoring hope in clients once they are genuinely alone with nothing but a service for consolation. In the inevitable failure of the service, the bereavement counsellor will find the deserts even in herself.

Question 80

Which one of the following best describes the approach of the author?

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