NEW MEDIA / DIGITAL CULTURE AT SARAI: An Overview
The Sarai Programme
Sarai (www.sarai.net), a programme of the Centre for the Study
of Developing Societies, Delhi, is South Asia's first public
initiative on urban culture, media and daily life. Established
in 2000, Sarai includes both scholars and practitioners who collaborate
with a wider community in generating critical research insights
and knowledge in the public domain.
The past few years have witnessed the explosive growth of
a new urban media culture in India, transforming the terms of
popular culture and communication as it is lived at the level
of everyday life. Sarai is an effort to understand and creatively
intervene in this rapidly changing media context.
Sarai's interests include new media theory, computers, the
Internet and software cultures, urban cultures and politics,
cinema history, documentary filmmaking, digital arts and critical
cultural practice. Sarai collaborates locally and internationally
with individuals, universities, cultural bodies, and civil society
organisations within the broad framework of a commitment to a
critical public domain.
Our regular public activities include seminars, workshops,
and presentations by visiting media artists and curated film
screenings every Friday. Workshops in the past have included
those on Free Software and Networking, Tactical Media, Interface
Design, Net Cultures, Digital Art Practice, Hindi language and
the New Media, Cinema and Information Politics. Sarai regularly
collaborates with other cultural institutions to organise workshops,
presentations and exhibitions.
The Media Lab at Sarai
The Media Lab is the creative hub of Sarai. It is a space
where all the different energies activated at Sarai find expression
through a range of media practices that are concretized as processes
(of experimentation, collaboration, training, and research),
as discrete media objects (print, graphics, web, multimedia,
sound, digital art, video and photography) and as the setting
for creative encounters between the Sarai community and visiting
practitioners, as well as between different nodes within the
overall design of Sarai. A complete list of productions (new
media, installations, print and sound) undertaken at the Sarai
Media Lab can be found below.
The Sarai Media Lab regularly hosts local and international
artists. On an average we have had 4 residencies each year. Residents
at Sarai can take advantage of both a vibrant and stimulating
space that attracts a wide range of people from students to academics
to media practitioners, and of Sarai's network with other institutions
that share a common interest in Delhi and all across South Asia.
The Cybermohalla Project
The Cybermohalla (Cyber Neighbourhood) Project addresses the
interface between information technology and creativity in the
lives of young people who live in a highly unequal society. It
is a community of young practitioners who share each others'
thoughts, ideas and creative energies in media labs located in
working class areas of Delhi. The young people who come to these
media labs are between the ages of 15 to 23. At the lab, they
work with media forms (photography, animation, sound recordings,
online discussion lists and text) to create cross media works,
texts, collages, posters and wall magazines. Their writings and
images can be seen as a rich database of narrative, comment,
observation, imaginative play and reflection on the contested
circumstances of life in the sprawling urban metropolis of Delhi.
The project has been developed collaboratively by Sarai and Ankur
Society for Alternatives in Education. http://www.sarai.net/community/saraincomm.htm
The Sarai Interface
The Interface Zone brings together various components of Sarai's
engagements with the public, on to accessible platforms. (This
includes people who come for workshops, seminars, screenings
as well as artists/practitioners/theorists who come on short-term
residencies as well as general visitors to Sarai). The Interface
Zone also renders the work of the Archive (collections), the
Media Lab (productions and creative work), and the various research
programs (texts and intellectual/ academic resources) public
in an accessible form.
The virtual interface that is loaded on to the computer in
the Interface Zone is designed to let the visitor to Sarai have
a hands-on feel of the kind of work we do, the issues
that we are interested in and to allow for interaction with us
and with Sarai projects in various stages of development. It
is also a public platform for the sharing of ideas, knowledge
and creativity, a digital bulletin board for posting messages
about issues that people feel strongly for, and an evolving resource
that can be built and sustained by the community that grows around
Sarai. Here, the visitor can browse, read, look at and interact
with multimedia works and web resources that are curated and
Independent Fellowships for Media Practitioners
In an effort to encourage critical cultural research and
practice Sarai supports independent researchers and media practitioners
with modest fellowships. Some of the new media arts projects
that have been awarded include:
Sahibabad Sounds (by Hansa Thapliyal & Vipin Bhatti)
A media project concerned with performative community cultures.
Deteriorating Memories: Blurring Fact and Fiction in Home
Movies in India: (by Ayisha Abraham)
Research, combined with work towards a media art project based
on 8mm Home Movies in Bangalore.
Shivaji Nagar Signs (by Raheema B & Namita)
A series of strategies for public interventions in Bangalore
as a response to the communalization and parceling out of public
space, using storytelling, street installations, bioscopes, sound
recordings, graffiti, stickers and photography.
Subsequent Hearing: A project using sounds from the urban
landscape (by Rajivan S.A)
The project aimed to record a set of sound events from the city
space and recompose these events through interplay between the
sound recording and subsequent hearing.
Love -an absence of assignable cause: Research towards
the realization of a media based art project (by Bharti Kher)
A media project to interrogate the delicate politics of status,
gender and caste that lie at the heart of the three-line matrimonial
Typocity: Documentation and Interpretation of the Typographic
forms in Public Signage in Mumbai (by Kurnal Rawat and Vishal
Documentation and analysis of interesting and rare instances
of typography throughout the city of Bombay.
Street Musicians in Mumbai (by Navin Thomas)
A documentation of the lives and music of itinerant street musicians
in Mumbai, with a focus on the impact and response to the music
generated by the Hindi film industry.
Of Urban Localities & Bazaar(s) Photography (by
An investigation of the practice, form and experience of photography
within Delhi Bazaars.
Photographic Documentation of Cinema Halls and Cinema Going
Subcultures in Delhi (by Shahid Datawala)
A collection of photographic records and interpretations of the
exterior and interior ambiences of cinema halls in Delhi.
NEW MEDIA ARTS EVENTS @ SARAI
April 12-20, 2001: Oxygen Project
The project, supported by the Australian Network for Art
and Technology (Adelaide, Australia), involved interactive installations
utilising experimental interfaces, video, sound, contemporary
performance art and Indian Classical dance forms. It was conceived
and explored at the workshop conducted by Monica Narula of Sarai,
Sarah Neville, Australian Dancer and Media Choreographer and
Mari Velonaki, Australian Media and Installation Artist.
September 7-15, 2001: Mouseclicks in the Consciousness
Media Art Interaction the 1980s and 90s in Germany,
by Inke Arns, New Media Artist, Germany.
This workshop on New Media Art Practice was organised in collaboration
with The British Council, India. Contemporary new media art from
the UK was curated by Sarai members and exhibited in the Queen's
Gallery at the British Council, New Delhi and in the Interface
Zone at Sarai. Inke Arns, Curator and Artist, also made a presentation
at Sarai on New Media Art in Germany. This was organised in collaboration
with the Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi.
December 2-5, 2002: @rt.net.uk/now
An Exhibition, Lecture and Workshop Programme, presenting
facets of contemporary Internet Based Art Practice in Britain,
curated by Honor Harger, Curator Webcasting, Tate Modern, London
and Pauline van Mourek Broekman, Editor, Mute: A Journal of New
Media Arts, London. This was organised in collaboration with
the British Council, Delhi.
October 3-4, 2002: Digital Arts, Sustainable Knowledge
by Michael Saup, Professor of Digital Media and Media Art,
ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. This workshop for students was organized
in collaboration with the Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi.
Initialising History, by Peter Callas, New Media Artist, Australia,
The Kiss (sound and video artwork) and Time Lapsed (new media
performance improvisation) by Dylan Volkhardt, Independent Media
Artist, Australia, November, 2002.
conVerge: Where Art and Science Meet, by Amanda McDonald Crowley,
Freelance Cultural Worker, Researcher and Curator, Australia,
Activating the Public: Action Research on Urban Public Space,
presentation by Astra Howard, Independent Artist and Designer,
Australia, March, 2003
Electrosia: electronic music & poetry by Mexican poets &
sound artists, presentation Carla Faesler, Poet and Writer, Mexico,
Home and Away, an audio-visual HTML presentation by Samina Mishra,
artist in residence at Sarai under the Charles Wallace Fellowship,
INTERFACE ZONE INSTALLATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS
Media Art Interaction: The 1980s and 90s in Germany, an exhibition
of new media art curated by Inke Arns.
Dilliwale Kaun? Baharwale Kaun? A photographic exhibition on
a digital platform by Syeda Farhana Zaman.
Initialising History, an exhibition of the video art of Peter
The Wrong City: Paris@Delhi, a multimedia installation by Olga
Traffic Media: Platform no 12, a multimedia installation by Renu
Iyer, Sarai Media Lab.
Traffic Media: Modem Telephone Line Parenthesis, a multimedia
installation by Dylan Volkhardt.
Street Walking, a photo exhibition by Pradip Saha.
28.28N / 77.15 E :: 2001/2002, an inter-media installation by
Raqs Media Collective.
Working Portraits, photographs by Ravi Agarwal
MEDIA LAB PRODUCTIONS: Multimedia Installations and
Art Projects Produced at the Sarai Media Lab
28.28 N / 77.15 E :: 2001/02 (Co Ordinates of Everyday
Life-Delhi 2001/2002), by Raqs Media Collective
Shown at: Documenta11 (Kassel), June - September 2002; City One,
Sarai (Delhi), January 2003; Roomade Gallery (Brussels), March-May
2003; ImageCity, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen,
Locationn: Simultaneity, Time and Emotion, by Raqs
Shown at: Emoção Art.ficial; (Exhibition of Contemporary
International New Media Art); Itau Cultural Centre (Sao Paulo),
N.Dl. Jn (Soundscape of Delhi), by Raqs Media Collective,
with Vipin Bhati + Parvati Sharma
Featured in: Invisible Cities, Queens University, Belfast, October
Global Village Health Manual, v.1, by Raqs Media Collective
with Joy Chatterjee
Exhibited in: Kingdom of Piracy, Ass Electrronica, Linz, September
2002; Dive, FACT, Liverpool, March 2003
A/S/L (Age/Sex/Location), by Raqs Media Collective
Shown at: Geography and the Politics of Mobility; Generali Foundation,
Vienna, January-April 2003; FrauenMuseum, Bonn, Forthcoming,
Before Coming Here, Had You Thought of a Place Like This?,
A collaboration between Sarai Media Lab and the CyberMohalla
Shown at: N5M4, Amsterdam, September 2003; Community Hall, Dakshinpuri,
October 2003; O Museu Temporario, Lisbon, 2004
The Street is My Country, An HTML installation by Syeda
Farhana Zaman, Bangladeshi artist in residence at Sarai, in collaboration
with Joy Chatterjee, shown at Interface Zone, Sarai, Delhi, December
Khoj South Asia Residency Exhibition, New Delhi, January 2002
Traffic Media: Platform no 12, A Flash-based installation
by Renu Iyer
Shown at: Tactical Media Lab, Interface Zone, Sarai, Delhi, September
Traffic Media: Modem Telephone Line Parenthesis, A
multimedia installation by Dylan Volkhardt, Australian artist
in residence at Sarai.
Shown at: Tactical Media Lab, Interface Zone, Sarai, (Delhi),
Regular Sarai Publications
[All Sarai publications are copyleft and are available
for download at:
Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain
Sarai Reader 02: The Cities of Everyday life
Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies
Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media
Galiyon Se/ by lanes: Writings from the Cybermohalla
Deewan-e-Sarai 01: Media Vimarsh://Hindi Janpad
(Media Discourses:// Hindi Public Domain)
Cybermohalla Publication, 2003 - A Book Box with
ten booklets, a CD and postcards
Online Content and Software
Sarai Website, www.sarai.net
OPUS (Online Platform for Unlimited Signification), www.opuscommons.net
29 Rajpur Road
Delhi 110054 (INDIA)