Preliminary Discussion-Paper on a proposal for institution of a globally preeminent Academy of Electronic Arts in New Delhi, India
(Friday 13, 2001)
[reproduced on The IDEA as we believe there should be many such institutions]

This paper is composed by Shankar Barua for submission to Mrs. Sheila Dikshit (Chief Minister of the Union Territory of Delhi) and Mr. S. Reghunathan (Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, and Principal Secretary-IT to the Delhi government), in continuum from a brief first meeting he was privileged to have with them in the Chief Ministers office, New Delhi July 12, 2001 (12:15pm).

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Preamble

The dawning of the 21st century has brought with it for humanity a gradual ~but amply perceptible~ passage of the fulcrum in the global Computer, Communications and Information Technology Revolution from just the hands of so called ùTechies, who make hardware and software, into the Public User-Domain.

Within this "Public User-Domain", the wide and continuously growing constituency focused upon with this proposal is the whole range of individuals and organizations involved with Computer-Based Creative Practices (CBCPs) around India and the world.

CBCPs (also referred to as ùelectronic-arts) should here be taken to include the fullest possible range of such activities, whether conceivable presently or not.

(Just a few examples of present day CBCPs would include: imaging, music, desktop & professional publishing, desktop & professional video, film & video special effects, industrial & product design, architecture, web-design & publishing, animation, time-slice, character & object modeling, computer games & other software, virtual reality, etc.)

The rationale for establishment of an Academy of Electronic Arts (AeA) is taken up variously but briefly through the course of this paper.

However, it should be reiterated at the outset here that this is not ùabout Information Technology. It is about the ùusers of Information Technology ~ i.e. increasingly, the general public.

It is also not about education ~ at least not in the conventional sense.

The central focus sought to be presented here is that Computers Empower Individuals ~ especially Creatively. And eventually, creative empowerment is about individuals and communities just being able to express, evolve and enrich themselves and their respective values and cultures over time, in symbiosis with the values and cultures of every other individual and community they touch ~and who they are in turn touched by~ in so doing.

With computers, such creativity will increasingly find expression in everything from education and entertainment through to employment, the arts and even products of everyday use. For example, the average toothbrush today could not have been made without computers, and yet almost any computer could be used to design it, right the way through to a digital file ready for computer-aided machining of a die to mould millions, or for rapid-prototyping of just a single copy.

That is just one sort of new CBCP that many of the children of today will learn to be able to do absolutely intuitively in life. in the normal course. And there will even soon be desktop devices for them to actually be able to independently reproduce end results as real objects in the real world!

Which is why an increasing number of people around the world today hold that humanity has transited beyond the simple Computer Age (since affordability remains the last little barrier to ubiquity), into a dawning Creativity Age.

Against this background, this paper seeks proactive association and assistance of the Government of Delhi in our efforts to establish a globally preeminent Academy of Electronic Arts in New Delhi as soon as conceivably possible, to help launch Delhi into the new millennium at the global vanguard of this wonderful new revolution for humanity.

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Some Touchstone References

1. The first major exhibition of Computer-Based imaging by Indian artists in India happened more than a decade ago in Mumbai. The exhibition traveled to the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, in 1990-91

2. As an example of progress with the electronic arts elsewhere in the world: This year marks the 19th season of EAPS (the Electronic Arts Performance Series) presented by the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy. NY USA). This is a fall and spring series of performances, lectures and screenings featuring pioneering, experimental and emerging artists who explore the boundaries of all forms of electronic art. (This should of course be understood to go quite a ways beyond just simple imaging, and New York has several such events every year.)

3. A similar major event is being developed for the city of Berlin under the title "Transmediale". This annual series of festivals goes firmly digital from 2002

4. A Biennale of Digital Art (imaging only) begins in St. Petersburg from 2002

5.  New Delhi launched a series of Digital Film Festivals, ITC c Digital Talkies 2001

6. Mumbais National Gallery of Modern Art is preparing a major exhibition of Digital Video-Art for 2002. (They also intend to digitize all of their exhibitions, past, present and future, for which ùThe IDEA is presently a model under consideration.)

7. Mumbais annual ùKala Ghoda festival (aimed at developing an art district in that area) has invited inputs for a digital-art basis to the festival in 2002

8. Delhi hosted at least a half dozen significant gallery-based exhibitions of digital-art (mainly imaging) in 2000. This will easily be surpassed in 2001

9. At least a dozen large private computer academies and their franchisees offer unregulated and un-benchmarked courses for various e-arts in Delhi (e.g. imaging, animation, web-design, 3D, special effects, CAD-CAM, etc.)

10. The IDEA [Indian Documentary of Electronics Arts] was launched as the first CD-gazette in India by Shankar Barua in January 2000 ~ currently in production for the 4th edition. This networks, focuses upon and is distributed free to identified electronic artists around India and the world.

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Proposal

1. It is proposed that the Government of the Union Territory of Delhi will initiate establishment of a globally preeminent Academy of Electronic Arts in New Delhi, India, by:

[a] making a land commitment towards the institutional concept
[b] assigning a senior administration official to facilitate and participate in evolving the portfolio
[c] injecting a 3-year seed-capital in cash & kind (e.g. temporary premises)
[d] retaining Mr. Shankar Barua as Advisor/Consultant to the project

2. A group of eminent individuals will be invited to constitute an ùAdvisory Committee that will oversee, facilitate and participate in initial conceptualization and establishment of the institution (note. this is IT-related, but equally connected to culture, education, entertainment, media, community affairs, business and industry. The committee profile should therefore reflect this appropriately.)

3. Primary Contributing Partners to the institution will be sought from the corporate and institutional sectors on the basis of this initial commitment and action

4. The institution will address establishing itself as a critical interface between four constituencies in the general public interest, as follows:

[i] Governments and institutions
[ii] The Information Technology (IT) and other related industrial, technology and business sectors
[iii] The creative technology-user sector
[iv] The general public

5. Intended Functions of the institution over time will include facilitation and representation of Computer Based Creative Practitioners interests, benchmarking and propagating best-practices, digital-archiving of works, and development of "by-products" such as awards, exhibitions, conferences, workshops, festivals, other events, publications, curricula, R&D, etc.

6. The institution will invite membership of Computer-Based Creative Practitioners (e-artists, individuals & organizations), against a nominal fee structure

7. A key component of the institutional agenda will be to keep itself and its members continuously informed of, familiar with, and practicing at the global cutting-edge of CBCPs of the day

8. Association to be sought with select related and complementary institutions around India and the world.

9. Secondary Contributing Partners to be invited to contribute hardware and software produced by them to equip..

[a] several different media-labs where workshops and demos may be held, and where members may do experimental cutting-edge projects against discounted rentals (e.g. video, imaging, music, product design, etc.)

[b] a small workshop, performance and conferencing facility

[c] a digital-archiving facility

[d] a museum of electronic arts where artists may showcase experimental works before the general public. (There could also be a section here mirroring the media-lab screens, allowing visitors to learn by ~virtually~ looking over the shoulders of experts at work)

(Rationale placed before potential contributors here is that they will thus have the privilege of continuous hands-on display, demo and showcasing of their products before a constantly changing constituency of Power Technology-Users, Power Technology-Buyers, and Power Technology Buy-Motivators)

10. Launch of a major annual festival and Awards for e-Creative Excellence, as an income-generating mechanism intended to also place the institution itself in a state of constant evolutionary flux, to attempt staying continuously in the vanguard of evolving CBCPs across a canvas of the next 100 years.

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{end document: preliminary discussion-paper ~ Friday 13, 2001}

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Shankar Barua
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