:::: CeC 2012,
Curator's Post-Incident Report ::::
.. and some received responses
Okay, I'll say it ~ For me, this was absolutely the toughest iteration of CeC we have ever
seen through, even though Shazeb Shaikh was more deeply involved at the organizing end than
he has ever been before, as Core-Co-Curator; on top of which, it was he who pretty much ran
the actual incident itself through all three days.
Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that there's been just too much going on in my life over
the past year and more, not least amongst which was the time I chose to spend with my mum, in
Guwahati / Assam / Magic North-East India, as she declined and eventually passed on from cancer.
At the same time, there were other issues dragging me personally down too, in the CeC context at
least: For example, nobody worked upon raising any external support, and we therefore had none;
I lost a lot of mindspace and basic earning-power from the time spent with my mum; the PA system
we'd hired from Delhi over the earlier 3 iterations in Sattal suddenly became unviable for us, in
that the operator we had confidence in left his employment; the generator-backup we'd earlier hired
locally also suddenly became unviable for us, for other reasons, and there was no other such generator
to be had nearby; meanwhile, I personally began a shift up to my homemade home in Sattal, after having
shuttled between there and Delhi for the past 10-12 years (and having therefore been neither here nor
there the while); we purchased a small plot of land in Sattal upon which to invent and evolve our first
Research & Innovation Ashram (RIA #001), which spiralled into a bit of a mess in the transfer process
because I chose to put it on a back-burner so as to be in Guwahati instead,... and so on, and on,
Not surprisingly then, we headed into the incident itself with some trepidation, with deep bruises
in our pockets, and even with a few little holes in the big canvas here and there. At another level,
I was also studiedly sort of detached from much of it in very many ways this time, for several reasons.
Luckily enough, on the other hand, Shazeb was now strongly aboard The AeA, as a Term Trustee, and was
also in fact actually seeing through his second CeC as Core-Co-Curator, which meant the both of us
had been continually in collaborative contact with each other for almost two years by now. At the same
time though, it must be said that there were all sorts of mindspace-hogging diversions going on
through the period in Shazeb's life too.
So, what came of it all?
Perhaps surprisingly to some degree, reading from the feedback we've had so far, CeC 2012 apparently
went off very well indeed. In fact, the entity itself seems by now to manifest very firm sign of moving
on to evolving a life of its own, with folks like myself slowly but surely becoming increasingly
redundant to its future,.. which is absolutely brilliant.
Meanwhile, the few little holes that did indeed show up in CeC 2012 luckily didn't show through to
all, and therefore essentially just drew our own focus towards processes that need to be invented,
put into place, or perhaps just refined, so that the whole mad business may go forward robustly and
well into the future, to everybody's advantage.
That's something Shazeb and I, and a few other associates, will be looking into and acting upon as we
go forward. But, I shan't be sharing very much of that here, since it is 'internal affairs' of a sort,
What I will share though is that we made an early mistake in going with a model whereby I autonomously
sussed out and invited Primary-Participants aboard, almost unilaterally and almost independently, as
usual, whilst Shazeb too did so separately, for the first time, with neither one of us stepping into
the others' external communications along such lines, almost all the way, other than to occasionally
consult each other, and generally keep count (for the record, a total of about 100 invitations into
Primary-Participation went out this time).
The net result of this separation, on the downside, is that my own usual small count of eventual
no-shows was joined this time with Shazeb's new count of eventual no-shows, which all added up to
more no-shows of listed Primary-Participants than we have ever had before, or can ever be blasé
about, even though nobody missing was actually missed by anybody at all,.. as usual. LoL
So, here's a sum-up of what eventually happened.
To begin with, this is probably a good time to salute the unseen Co-Curators behind CeC, who so
supportively build up almost the entire global canvas of unaccompanied presentations screened in
each incident, and, who also sometimes help us in sussing out, hunting down, and even winning over
Wilfried Agricola de Cologne has been a primary rock of support for this work of ours in this way
ever since we began, and yet, staggered us nonetheless by sending in the entire 'COFF 2011' catalogue
of global Short-Creative-Videoworks (SCVs) this time.
Ima Pico stepped in again with a small collection carefully curated by her just for CeC 2012, under
the title 'Parallel Visions – Global Art Video'.
On the side, Veronique Sapin kindly shared the brand-new 'Aggression' global video collage, from
FemLink. Carlo Sansolo and Erika Fraenkel specially coordinated a collection for CeC under the title
'La Isle'. And of course, there was a small bouquet of independent short-creative-videoworks that we
always additionally invite in; this time very specially including 'SIN FIN – Performances at The Holy
Centre', composed partly around the inimitable performance delivered by Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes
in CeC 2011, last year.
Altogether, as has come to be something of a norm over the years, every year thus far, what these
incomparable Co-Curators engineered for us all together was again probably the most substantial and also
most massive global collection of properly curated Short-Creative-Videoworks to be screened at any one
place at one time in India every year.
It must be said though, that it is actually Wilfried Agricola de Cologne alone who has made it possible
for us to do this all these years, with the others essentially contributing niches and extensions to his
And so, to be brutally honest, it is sad to admit that the independent screenings segment eventually did
not go off quite as smoothly this time as we'd become used to having it do over the years, partly because
the very few local lads we might have trusted some one of to run the screenings for us were all variously
unavailable this time (wedding season, again!), and also partly because Shazeb was perhaps overburdened
with responsibilities, whilst I in turn tried hard to maintain a studied observer-status the while, to the
degree possible, seeing this to be one key part of an overarching process of passing on the baton to
younger generations, and the future in general,.. I hope.
In any case, although obviously undesirable, the few glitches with the segment were all luckily minor,
and actually went almost entirely unnoticed by others.
Coincidentally, we did in fact have one other Trustee of The AeA robustly contributing time, effort and
energy all the way through the entire mix this time, in the excellent person of Nishant Pagare. But, his
usual busy schedule as a line-producer and filmmaker through the year had precluded him from being in on
much of the behind-the-scenes scenes that had bounced between Shazeb and myself meanwhile, which therefore
saw him productively focus mainly upon undertaking a thorough and professional video-documentation of the
entire incident, whilst backing us up on other affairs only as needed.
Both Nishant and Shazeb in fact came in 4-5 days before CeC 2012 itself, which means that one aspect of
their many contributions behind the scenes had to do with some pretty hardcore decision-making we had to
face up to all together, primarily in regard to some key incident-infrastructure that we eventually went
on to purchase, rather than hiring potentially unreliable and iffy local stuff. The big downside to this
was of course a hefty hit to the pocket, but we like to think that the upside to it is that this hopefully
launches an irrevocable qualitative upswing towards the future for CeC in these regards.
Leave us not forget too that this process has also been boosted by LionelBaba Dentan stepping in with an
incredibly kind contribution of a pretty large and quite lovely powered-speaker, to serve for PA back-up
and/or bass-boost, as may be required. We also recognize Ashim Ghosh here, for kindly lending us the large
seamless screen we strung up at the back of the stage.
And now, here's how the whole live side of the circus itself was played out.
Day 1, Session – 1 / MORNING (closed to public)
As always, CeC 2012's first morning session was a notionally closed-door affair, for 'insiders only'
(only notionally closed-door because it has actually been outdoors ever since we moved up
to Sattal). Basically, this is a somewhat informal head-banging session, leading out from breakfast
all together, when Primary-Participants and also insider Guest-Participants all get to know each other as
friends, collaborators, and co-owners of the creative joint endeavour that every CeC is ideally then played
What was different this time was that I spoke a lot less than I've usually done in the past, just so as to
get things going, and then, immediately passed the baton on to Shazeb this time, for him to fly all three
days as captain of the whole mad ship.
One aspect of this shift was of course that, what I could not immediately pass on to Shazeb, or anybody else
handy for that matter, was the awkward and onerous responsibility I was saddled with, for setting up and
handling the whole new sound system, which was something pretty much entirely outside my own personal
experience before that.
And so, it was real good luck that, whereas on the one hand I am probably no more an idiot than the next
idiot on the block, the new sound system itself is substantially idiot-proof. Also luckily enough, we had
since 2009 been driving audio performers towards bringing in their own portable mixers, as necessary, so as
to send no more than a 2-channel/stereo feed to the main mixer. And of course, not surprisingly, with all
sorts of such friendly audio-professionals about, several pitched in to lend a helping hand along the way
through the three days, and I therefore perhaps also personally picked up a bit of useful learning too.
Day 1, Session – 2 / AFTERNOON
Breaking with past precedent straightaway, Shazeb had CeC 2012 open to the public with a presentation
from non-Indian participants for the very first time, the afternoon of Day 1, Friday. For the record, my
own practice before this was always to open with Indian participants first, as CeC is 'hosted' in India.
But, no damage done I'm sure. And, we certainly couldn't have asked for a better flying start anyway.
The inimitable Eugenia Gortchakova and Kornelia Hoffman are amongst those Primary-Participants of CeC
through the years who will always be remembered at least partly for the sheer good cheer they brought to
all of the proceedings, and also to everybody they touched through the course of their visit. I
confidently 'know' this can be said for their presentation too, even though I actually missed it myself,
because, when they eventually dragged me into the hilariously mischievous creative project that they'd
pegged their entire participation and visit to India around (called 'Under a Hat'), a day after CeC 2012
was all over, by when they'd selectively already dragged more than 30 other individuals into similar
involvement, it was absolutely brilliant creative fun for anyone to be touched by in any way at all, to
say the very least.
Freeman Murray followed on with the second public presentation of CeC 2012, bringing to the table some
great insights into his remarkable vision for the near future of distributed small-business incubation,
especially in countries such as India, where he has now lived awhile, in Bengaluru, driving the 'Jaaga'
initiative along with co-founder Archana Prasad, as an unique creator-space that has made a mark, and
real difference, as one of the most important such entities in this country, within just a couple of years
of setting it up,…. as a wild, and wildly malleable, superstructure based upon ordinary pallet-racking!
He's obviously been doing other interesting stuff here too, including launching that small-business
incubation of course, given his background in entrepreneurship. But, what I'm reminded of right now is
that he was to email me his parts-list for the pallet-racking thingamabob, along with a basic SketchUp
wireframe to lend me some idea of how he has used it (must write him, to remind him~;o)
David R. Burns came on after that, and dazzled many amongst us with his unassuming bearing, coupled to
the very funky images and videos he shared, much of them manifesting happy animation marriages of 3D/2D
work, physical computing, and quite extraordinary sound design. And yes, almost all of them arising
individually from sharp conceptual roots and bearings, eventually manifested variously as visual music,
and also even as subtle and quite stylish sociological commentary.
Vicki McConville came through as a bit more of a firebrand, and, why not? There's a pretty wide canvas
of creative practices, paradigms and entities being addressed by this extraordinary lady, from amongst
all of which, she could share perhaps less than many amongst us might have wished to see, on account of
time constraints. But, what did come through nonetheless were tantalizing vignettes into some of her work
with dioramas, films, and much more. And, although unknown to most, what she'd really made sure came
through, also nonetheless, was her very participation itself, which had fallen into doubt after her having
badly hurt a leg in Delhi, where she'd served a fellowship-residency with the Sanskriti Foundation before
coming on up.
The final presentation of the afternoon session of Day 1 came from Arun Mehta, who had of course been a
Primary-Participant of CeC a couple of times before this too. In some ways, his presentation could therefore
be seen as a fortuitous sort of continuum, incrementally offering an ongoing window into the subject of what
Indian technologists like him have been doing to hopefully empower at least some of our motor-challenged
brethren, in at least some few useful ways, to at least some meaningful degree. On the side, he'd
personally also started learning Indian Classical singing from Aparna Panshikar, via Skype, in speaking of
which he once again invited her assistance to demonstrate a very funky Linux-based audio tuner he'd
downloaded from somewhere, which I've really been hoping to see become available for Windows too
Day 1, Session – 3 / EVENING
And so we came to the first evening session, of Performances.
It is by now 'almost' a tradition with CeC that Aparna Panshikar offers up the first audio/music performance
of all, always in some new way or another, even though her basic foundation always remains her Hindustani
This does of course, or at least did originally, have a lot to do with alphabetical order by first names,
but Aparna has by now been a deeply supportive participant in every CeC, all the way through since the
beginning, in 2006. And, she has always launched us off well, whether it be with the traditional recital she
began with the first time, through the invocations she improvised just for CeC on a couple of other
occasions; or whether it be how she actually deigned to perform with me (!) to launch our very
challenging first CeC up in Sattal, in 2009.
By now, she is therefore well known, well loved, and much sought out for experimental performative
collaborations by at least some sorts of musicians and other audio-professionals of the ever-growing
global CeC community (if one may use such a term), .. which means she'll probably
never have to deign to perform with me ever again (!!)
This time then, the first performance equation presented was between Aparna and Jayen Varma, with whom
she has lately begun to perform all over India as the band 'Khayal Groove'; on top of, and quite separate
from, her ongoing classical concerts. And, she was also amongst other old friends she'd performed with
in earlier iterations of CeC itself through the years, and elsewhere, which means almost the entire
evening session therefore segued almost seamlessly through different variations and combinations of
musicians, shifting gears smoothly through different ideas, different experiments and different
soundscapes all the way.
Jayen Varma's music work is of course largely to do with driving the concept of an 'Indian Slap-Bass'
technique, derived from applying some particular South India styles of playing percussion to playing
a bass-guitar instead, with strings damped at the nut using a towelling elastic wristband. With years
of single-mindedly diligent work behind him along these lines, Jayen is not surprisingly now regarded to
be the fastest player in the world using this technique.
And, that was naturally the perfect cue for the always delightfully good-natured and very talented
Bettina Wenzel to step in along the way, for an energetic duet with Jayen, playing out of the playful
assumption that she too is the world's fastest exponent of her own extraordinary style of voice-art,..
with regards to which, she is in fact quite simply incomparable.
Meanwhile, Ansuman Biswas was also back amongst us in CeC once again, after a gap of several years,
through which we'd been enviously tracking him get up to some pretty brilliant and very varied creative
work in the UK and elsewhere, all the while looking forward to when we'd finally manage to win him back.
And it certainly proved super to indeed have him back after all, brilliantly playing a mind-boggling range
of sound-tools ranged from a Hang (Hang 'drum'?) through to bird-whistles, flutes, rubber-balls, even a
violin, and the Lord alone knows what else. Almost everything he used he used in ways most of us had never
ever seen before, or heard before, and it all works so well in his hands that, by the end of the incident,
two days later, he'd been invited to, and actually did, perform with quite a few other participants too.
And this first cumulative performance of the first evening of CeC 2012 itself had much more to come, in
There was Curtis Bahn, back amongst us by extending an India-visit on a fellowship he'd been serving
across the country for several weeks before CeC, not least because he'd been working pretty closely in
some musical matters with Aparna for several years, after their having first met each other as fellow
participants in the first iteration of CeC (and CaC), way back in Delhi, in 2006. Not to forget; he'd
also been variously working elsewhere with both Ansuman and Bettina too.
And so, there was much that was universally magical and also sort of specifically historical to the
CeC continuum that came together on the stage that evening, with Aparna and Bettina sometimes alternating
with each other on vocals, Jayen sometimes stepping in with a bit of percussive bass here and there,
Ansuman sometimes subtly drawing forth all sorts of exquisite aural interjections, cameos, and
accompaniments from his seemingly bottomless bag of tricks,.. and, Curtis sometimes brilliantly deploying
both his ongoing learning in Indian Classical music as a musician, as well as his ongoing explorations
of, and expansions upon, Indian Classical music as an entity to be empowered by technology in beautiful
ways never heard in the works of anyone else before him.
And finally, as if all of that were not enough, Jason Levine stepped in to add a flurry of brilliant
beatboxing to the mix, which surprisingly gave none of us any great clue to the magic he was to unleash
upon us all in solo performance the very next evening.
Altogether, that made for a perfect public ending to a perfectly collaborative and creative first day,
with just 2 days now left for us to get through to Monday (which has always been my own
primary focus through every CeC so far; as being a matter of simply surviving it, or not).
But, there'd been even more CeC 2012 creative mischief afoot than we'd all seen up front.
Sheela Raj had been joined by Curtis and Ansuman in running a creativity workshop with kids at a school
in Naukuchiyataal, the previous day.
And, quietly on one side, Rosalind Malik had got down to painting an upside-down retired boat near our
main venue, that had earlier been addressed with marker-pens through CeC 2011, a year before,.. since when,
the ink had faded far more than enough for Vijay Patni to have kindly had the boat repainted just days
before, so as to serve for a fresh canvas for CeC once again.
At the end of the day though, there was a serious takedown of some good cheer, in that Steve Hilmy slipped
upon loose pebbles whilst walking up the dirt road to our dining zone in the dark, and took a fall that
left him with excruciating pain in a wrist and an ankle, which didn't however stop him from seeing through
almost all of CeC 2012 anyway, including performing himself on the last day; only after all of which did
he finally allow himself to submit to a proper medical diagnosis, that turned up two broken bones in his
wrist, and a badly strained tendon in his ankle.
As such, I wasn't at all surprised to learn sometime later that, aside from being a brilliant electronic
musician, Steve is quite into running rough and tumble 50-mile races and other such iron-man sort of stuff
that would probably kill and entirely consume a person such as myself instantly upon mere first sight.
Day 2, Session – 1 / MORNING
Day 2 dawned bright and sunny, with fair weather holding firm; even warm for the time of year. There was
a slight lethargy in the air though, and, all the way through breakfast and starting up the first session
of the day all together, we did run along a wee bit later than had been scheduled, as we have occasionally
also done before, in earlier iterations.
That had something to do too with the inimitable Sheela Raj having initiated a walk to the Pannataal lake
nearby, along with several participants, who all together cleaned up as much trash there as they could,
To be frank, a wee bit of a delay in a second or third day's start-up is something we're *sometimes* quite
comfortable with by now, at least partly because Primary-Participants traditionally learn to sort of take
over joint-ownership of the whole incident in the course of the first day itself.
At one level, that probably has got not a little to do with the fact that they probably all recognize by
then that we might just bungle things up if left entirely to our own devices in running everything
At another level though, almost everybody on the inside track by then recognizes that, although CeC is
almost entirely open to the general public, the real magic of the whole circus actually happens on the
sidelines through the entire course of each incident for them, largely amongst just themselves/ourselves.
Others may come and go, and are indeed very welcome to do so, but most such do not really matter too much
to those on the inside,.. who altogether add up to a pretty full house all by themselves in any case.
Anyway, we were launched off to another brilliant start to another beautiful new CeC 2012 day soon enough,
with a presentation by Akshat Nauriyal this time, who'd land-marked a super start to a super creative year
for himself in CeC 2011, with a lovely passel of digital video he'd shot of the incident, as a
guest-participant, using a camera he'd bought just before that; from all of which we pulled one of the
best still-image documentations of that particular iteration,… leaving him to comfortably come though all
of a year later, in this iteration this year, as a Primary-Participant, presenting his own video-edit of
what went down last year.
There was good reason for that 'tardiness' on his part though, as he'd filled the intervening period with
launch of his online 'NowDelhi' initiative, focussed upon lesser-known sides of Delhi's culturescape, and
also actively joined Ashaar Farooqui and Samrat Bhardwaj as live drummer with their Teddy Boy Kill,..
amongst much else.
Darcy Gladwin then came on as the perfect follow-on to all of that video / visuals / TV / cinema / music
sort of stuff, to speak of and share some of the experimental films he's been doing out of the upside-down
side of the world; the still-imaging work and music, and; the extraordinary 'Godplex' cinema project that
he's been driving in such an extraordinary manner, via incremental shared-ownership,.. all the way through
to 70% of final completion so far.
The upside-down side of the world continued to hold the floor through the next presentation too, with
Verena Clemencic-Jones coming aboard to speak of her work with the Redkite music therapy program that she
set up at Sydney Children's Hospital, which sees her use vocal and instrumental improvisation activities to
help along child patients and their families. A lucky catch for us actually, since she just happened to be
in India in any case, mugging up a bit of Hindustani Classical music from Aparna, to discover possible new
directions and also generally carry forward her work, both as a therapist and also a musician.
With that, we came at last to the last offering of the morning session of Day 2, in the performance of
Maria Victoria Munoz, who'd set herself up for this in the insiders'-networking-zone (right alongside the
screenings segment in the nearby Bishop's Cottage), along with her companion Fritsch (spelling??), who had
in turn very efficiently and also very tellingly established the littlest projection-screen that any one of
us had ever seen, in a glass-pane of one of the doors of the room. The net result, altogether, was an
evocative and moving piece of performance art, with Maria going through ritualised motions that variously
focused upon herself, her actions, her setting, and, also drew individuals from the audience variously into
direct involvement with parts here and there, in what altogether amounted to an activist statement on
cotton farming in India and the plight of its farmers.
Day 2, Session – 2 / AFTERNOON
Sharathchandra R., Udit Duseja and Jobin Vijayan opened up the afternoon session of Day 2, perhaps
constrained to some degree by the fact that we obviously just could not allow them to establish an
interactive environment for everybody to walk through,.. on the stage. But, the three of them amounted to
a formidable teaming up of various talents, and, what they were up to therefore did come through anyway,
even though it was pretty dense stuff having to do with using radio frequencies and even available
broadcasts interactively, to evolve various useful paradigms for various different uses and various
The more ad hoc teaming up of Primary-Participant that followed upon this was no less formidable,
and yet, also a lot more accessible to everybody, in having to do once again with music This was the
experimental collaborative performance of Petra Rehwald, on a German hammered-dulcimer called a Hackbrett,
with Curtis Bahn, playing his new expanded electric-sitar, via his every-evolving Max/Msp patch, and
Ansuman Biswas, playing almost anything and everything he could get his hands on, whilst Archan Nair
and Harshvardhan Kadam collaborated to produce projected live-painting alongside.
What's to say of that, other than that you just had to be there to get it?
Which in turn is actually what one can say of every iteration of CeC as a whole, as with even almost
every single part of every iteration of CeC too.
And, as with Lukas Ligeti for example, who came up after this.
Now, some part of what Lukas does in performance has specifically to do with the extraordinary
instrument he uses, as well as the way he has it set up (I can't for the life of me
remember what it is called). But, a good part of what he does in performance is also all about
pure grounding in music, married to completely sound motor skills, towards very clear creative direction
and intent. I freely admit here to having thought for a few moments at the beginning of his performance
that he might actually be a nutter after all, but, as the flurry of his mallets over his instrument
resolved variously into studied complications drawn upon universally recognizable 'norms' of rhythm and
melody, there remained little doubt that we were onto a really good thing here, after all.
Which was therefore just the perfect way to close that afternoon session of Day 2.
Day 2, Session – 3 / EVENING
Here's when the complications began to get a bit more complicated.
First up came Hemant Sreekumar, that man seemingly always at the edge, at least ever since I first met
him, just before the first CeC (and CaC), in 2006, when he was a key coordinator--with a funky haircut--
at the Khoj Workshop and Residency in Delhi, with whom we were negotiating a possible tie-up, that
eventually did not go through after all (My bad? Um, maybe).
Over the years since then, even after he moved on from Khoj, Hemant had been exposed to, and closely
interacted with, all sorts of experimental creative artists from around the world, at the same time
quietly refining his own work and thinking to begin emerging as a significant Indian e-Creative artist
himself. Along the way, he'd also taken off to Germany awhile, to pursue a course of formal study that,
amongst other things, had him begin to delve into pure signal synthesis and processing, primarily using
Pure Data,.. which means his was by now a very nicely twisted creative mind that saw him studiously
conjure up an extraordinary live noisescape for us all in his performance, accompanied by a no less
extraordinary live videoscape of largely monochromatic dits and dots and dashes and swirls and whatnot,
that carefully marched across the screen the while, like deep, dark, secret communications of great
import, which they in fact did seem to indeed be for at least some amongst us.
And, that's hardly surprising, given even just the performer who came up immediately after him.
For, that was Dmitry Morozov, the amazing electronics hardware guru, who'd originally been trained to
actually instead be an art-historian. This was heavyweight stuff, by any measure; an experimental
creative individual who routinely dreams up ever-new analogue audio-circuitry, which he then implements
into fine finished products for electronic musicians right at the cutting edge of what's going on in the
territory all over the world. His own performance-rig was made up of 8 different such devices, subjected
to a rats-nest of patch-cords, all of which he addressed almost clinically through his performance, with
shoulder to the grindstone, nose to the wheel, and nary even the slightest nod of his head all through.
Heavyweight stuff indeed, but pushing right up against the very edge of average human comprehension, to
the degree that I personally made a very special point of buttonholing him for awhile a day after CeC 2012
was done, for a one-on-one to help me at least begin to understand what the hey this is all about.
Luckily for me though, all of this had quite a lot to do with the direction that's been increasingly
travelled lately in the electronic work of Lionel Dentan, who lives half the year here in India, where he
very kindly allows me to sometimes pick his remarkable brain on such matters. And, as it happened, it was
he who performed directly after Dmitry, using two of the modules, along with a couple of other electronic
odds and ends, with all of which he delivered another one of those remarkable performances of 'electronic
music' that marks out, to me, a professional user of such technologies, as opposed to any one of the many
infatuated consumers of such technologies, who have increasingly been sort of defining the whole territory
in the public domain, as something intended to do little more than just make (some) heads nod sympathetically
to patterns and repetitions of unique sounds, from essentially just primal instinct.
That's exactly what Jason Levine also manifested to me, in his performance right after Lionel. A 'cool
customer' is probably the term to reference here. And, a pretty awesome customer I'd say too.
Jason had just one special advance requirement from us ~ a bit of space and time to set up and test his
rig. Beyond that, he seemed to be entirely open to almost anything else that we might perhaps have liked
to throw at him, or been constrained to throw at him,.. such as, for example, a pole right in the middle
of the path of his projection stream!!
And then, when finally in performance as the last public offering of Day 2, CeC 2012, young Jason blew
out an electric and most excellently bubbling broth of live-beatboxing, triggering and tearing through
projected video artefacts in realtime with his vocals, whilst manipulating them all over himself and the
screen backdrop at the same time, with some pretty stylishly stylised dance moves.
Last public performance of the evening of Day 2 was of course all very well, but, everything taken all
together had pretty much set the inspirational cat amongst the creative pigeons that almost everybody in
CeC becomes through the duration every year; which, in the event, gave rise to an extended audio-visual
live jam in the outdoors of the participants' dining zone, that eventually stretched deep into the early
hours of the next morning, with Dhanya Pilo, Vinny Bhagat, and Shazeb pumping out live visuals to go with
live singing, music—both instrumental as well as digital—, and even a bit of general hip-swinging, from
Parvati Tampi, Ansuman Biswas, Tritha Sinha, Ritika Singh, Archan Nair, Abhinay Khoparzi, and Sachin
As for me: I was tucked well into bed way before they were done. After all, I was now one more full day
closer to Monday, wasn't I?
Day 3, Session – 1 / MORNING
Now, here's a bit about why eventual no-shows of listed Primary-Participants have never really mattered
to any iteration of CeC, or not often even been really noticed or remarked upon by folks who did/do
indeed show up.
It's about how CeC has been slowly and very surely growing an absolutely fascinating global constituency,
or public, of its own, which by now sees a pretty brilliant bunch of deeply interested folks variously
join us in the madness from distant corners of this country, and even elsewhere.
This is something I cannot quite explain, since it is certainly not something we have been
premeditatedly and proactively pushing to happen. It has more to do with what is spoken of these days
as 'organic growth', networking outwards across the globe via one-on-one word of mouth.
That's one reason why we have never had need to issue open calls for participation, even in bringing
together the variegated, brilliant, and always quite substantial bouquets of Primary-Participants that
come together to create each incident.
That's also one reason why it is increasingly the case that many of the good people who come in to be
amongst us as Guest-Participants in CeC are themselves often variously of a class with the scheduled
presenters and performers themselves,.. which has collectively and increasingly therefore manifested a
perfect sort of resource pool for CeC every year, that can be dipped into whenever time permits, to invite
aboard otherwise unlisted presentations and performances, on almost an ad hoc basis. And, not surprisingly,
this has also seen us increasingly follow up on some individual guest-participants to have them be back
amongst us in later iterations of the incident as properly scheduled participants.
And so, there was a bit of that, mixed in with what was already scheduled in any case, all as usual,
this lovely morning of Day 3 of CeC 2012.
First off was Natalia Ivanova, bringing dance training from Russia as well as India to bear upon delivering
a slightly startling performance that almost seamlessly then segued into live collaboration with her
colleague Irina Kunsuk, who gallantly sang at least one old Russian folk song on the way to coming
around eventually to a presentation of some of her experimental contemporary music work, which sees
western piano coming variously into lovely concert with different forms of Indian music.
And, luckily enough, a performance of one emerging new form of Indian music followed right after this,
presenting a role reversal of sorts, in the body of Tritha Sinha unilaterally extending her own Indian
Classical training into new domains, in carefully premeditated concert with Ritika Singh's more global
vocals, and also Ansuman Biswas's ad hoc pure improvisation. There was formalism here, as well as
iconoclasm of a sort, with virtuosity on the part of all three collaborators stitching it all together
Altogether, another very tough pair of acts to follow, by any measure, which made tough young Dhanya
Pilo just the perfect follow-on; presenting and speaking of her recent film work in residency with the
Gati Dance Forum in Delhi, her increasing professional activity as a live video-jockey, and even, on the
side, the story of how she'd recently been through her first real boat crash (not her fault~;o), but,
nothing of the story of how she seemed to have recently shaved the hair off almost half her head. For
the record here, since we've somehow strayed into the subject, the first time Dhanya participated in
CeC (and CaC), several years earlier in Delhi, the ends of the hairs at the back of her head were…
Curtis Bahn took over from there, to speak of the fellowship he had been serving all over India up
until just before CeC 2012, which saw him closely accompanying his Indian music guru, Ustad Shahid Parvez
Khan, on a hectic tour-schedule over several weeks, that saw Curtis actually handling tanpura on stage
for the maestro's concerts, on which account he also probably pioneered first use through a full formal
concert of an iPhone tanpura app, when, on one occasion, the actual tanpuras that came to hand were
unacceptable. But of course, the essential meat of his presentation was a pretty intimate insider view
of the hoary olde 'guru-shishya' tradition of Indian Classical music, whereby knowledge is directly
transmitted from teacher to student via extended close contact, almost like from loving parent to
adoring child, in a nonetheless rigorous regimen of round-the clock close discipline, repetitive
exercises, demanding musical challenges, and even phrase-by-phrase exposures intended for instant
emulation of individual elements from different ragas,.. in an never-ending process of learning.
Meanwhile, Sheela Raj was getting her 'heArtlight collective' of the moment together, out in the
open behind the main venue-tent, involving conceptually choreographed dance by Parvati Tampi and Maria
Ivanova, into which Blanche Martin too was joined in after a bit, entirely improvisationally all to the
tunes of Ansuman Biswas, Petra Rehwald, and that lovely young lady named Ilke, who played the
silver flute,.. and also took time off later to have a gander at my own battered old silver-flute, so
as to quite confidently, and also a bit commiseratingly I'm sure, inform me that it was a complete
And, with all of us so diverted, everything was perfectly set up for us to all to fall into the
absolutely gargantuan hole that lunch for the participants that day was eventually delayed by more
than an hour, which meant about the equivalent of losing 1-2 entire slots that might otherwise have
been given over to ad hoc experimental performative collaboration/s later in the day, as has sort of
become a tradition we've been seeing through towards the end of almost every CeC so far.
O well. Pasta had never been so expensive in all of my experiences before that. And, all I can really
say in the matter is that almost all of would gladly have done without, if we could have just had that
precious hour back.
Day 3, Session – 2 / AFTERNOON
But of course, many dark clouds do indeed have silver linings, regardless of how thin they might be in
size, relative to whole heavy mass of the dark cloud itself.
What that meant in this case was that Maida Withers suddenly had extra time to comfortably experiment
with the relatively complex set-up for her dance performance, whilst Steve Hilmy set up to provide her
live audio and video, and Anthony Gongora addressed aspects of general stage-direction, coordination,
and overall presentation. In fact, there was even time enough for them to run pretty much through a
full rehearsal, peripherally offering bystanders such as myself a really useful view into creative
teamwork, leadership, innovation, and even sheer creative grit.
Remember, we knew by the end of the first day in this report, above, that Steve Hilmy had broken his
wrist in two places that first evening,.. and also hurt his ankle in some way. But, what I have just
heard, not 10 minutes ago right now, is that Steve's ankle has just been re-diagnosed as having also
been broken in the same accident, for which reason he'll now be pretty much off his feet for the next
But, none of that come through in the performance itself, which, after screening of some of Maida's
Dance Construction Company videos to begin with, saw Steve artfully marshal his live audio and video
streams around Maida's evocative dancing and recitation, as she weaved in and out of the projection-path,
to yield a flurry of cameos that had peculiar emotions jumping about within at least some of us.
And then, by the very lucky circumstance that 'The Circus' had hired themselves a small bus from Delhi
so as to drive up and be amongst us as Guest-Participants in CeC, along with young Nikhil Kaul, we'd
piled onto them to present a brief impromptu performance after Maida and company, for which I luckily
had quite a bit of my son Bacchus's old kit lying about in my wee little homemade home nearby, along
with almost all of my own kit, which altogether added up to exactly just enough to provide the boys
with; an old African drum for Anshul Lal to play; a Chinese strat-clone for Arsh Sharma; a miniature
Chinese strat-clone for Nikhil; a lovely lefty Westbury bass for Abhinav Choudhary; along with a couple
of effects boxes for whoever wished to use them, and of course; a microphone for Abhishek Bhatia. All
very well of course, but for the fact that The Circus is by now regarded to be one of most exciting bands
to be lately emerging from India, which means they're probably really used to having roadies set up for
them,.. which in turn meant that, in the event, they all took to the stage and stuck up together
immediately without first tuning up the guitars to each other!
Talk about hilarious!! The boys were obviously good enough at what they respectively do to wing a pretty
good jam all together anyway, after batting startled eyelids at each other for no more than just a few
moments at the beginning, upon realizing what had happened. But, what winging it actually meant in this
case was that the three guitarists were each separately restricted to just an improvisational chord and
some few notes, in one key, within which to pitch properly with each other.
Boy! I'll wager they didn't get as much of a laugh from it as did some of the rest of us, who'd caught
on to what had happened, and what was happening as a result of that.
LoL ~ even though they made it work for themselves and all of us listeners almost all the way through
that single jam they were therefore restricted to!!
After all, laughter is always good medicine for you / me / us / and, also the lads themselves.
Anyway, everything got serious once again with Lukas Ligeti taking the stage to explain aspects of his
tools and his performance of the previous day, leading everyone also generally a bit through some of
the polyrhythmic explorations and equations he's been essaying with African rhythms and melodies.
And yes, Ansuman Biswas also then returned to the stage awhile, to present an overview of some of his
creative projects, which go far beyond just the musical virtuosity that everyone amongst us had had
the chance to variously witness over all three days of CeC 2012; ranging through peculiar hermitages,
magic-carpet flights, intense conceptual jiggery-pokery, heart-monitoring sensors, exalted artistic
commissions and interventions, and an always outstanding articulation of extraordinary ideas.
Day 3, Session – 3 / EVENING
That brought us to the last session of CeC 2012, the evening of Day 3.
This was live performance built around a complex one-time set-up of the stage, with Archan Nair,
Abhinay Khoparzi, and Sachin Shetty taking over one side of the stage, while Vinny Bhagat and Ashhar
Farooqui took over the other; altogether deploying a total of some 6-7 laptops, at least one iPad, and
2 projectors, while Shazeb, ably assisted by Kirti Poonia, set himself up peripherally amongst the
audience, juggling little vials of exotic elixirs like some mad scientist, in preparation for delivery
of the newest media-entry into multimedia, variously along the way through the performance.
Unlike such 'mass' jams that had been played out in earlier iterations of CeC over the years, always
as a final segment of 'Experimental Ecstasy', there was a certain logic put into place from the
beginning this time, in regard to how the baton would be passed around amongst the musicians, so that
the total soundscape would not become too dense, or just go totally out of control.
If I remember right, Vinny was feeding both projectors, one shooting onto the stage-backdrop, and
the other shooting up onto the white cloth ceiling. But, I could be wrong, because Archan might have
been feeding one too, since he's primarily a visual professional. What I do know for sure though is
that Archan was essentially taking up the opportunity to bring forth his explorations into live
electronic music, with at least one very nice controller plugged into some very funky software in
his laptop. Abhinay and Sachin, if I remember right were playing right off their keyboards, although
I'd hardly be surprised to learn that Abhinay had his lovely homemade monome too somewhere within
the mess of hardware on the table he was sharing.
My impression is that Vinny too tends to work mainly via just his keyboard, and sometimes a few
raw sensors, generally running two laptops simultaneously, for audio and video respectively; mainly
because a lot of his live work has to do with live coding / patching in environments such as
Meanwhile, as we have learnt to expect over time, Ashhar incomparably again took the opportunity
to stray outside his mainstream music work, experimentally launching subtle vocals into the mix here
and there, whilst meticulously twiddling a couple of micro-controllers plugged into his laptop, as well
as an analog micro-synth, I think.
And so, there were clear movements and shifts to everything that resulted, with the music running
between abstractions, clean rhythms, straightforward melodies, extraordinary diversions, revelatory
expansions, and so on.
Altogether, there was that which was familiar, and there was also that which was new, as always
with so much of what we all get to see, hear and share in every CeC.
But of course, young Shazeb Shaikh, Core-Co-Curator of CeC 2012, and experimental creative
practitioners extraordinaire in so many different ways, had a huge surprise due up for all of us
I was at the main mixer when his new media offering into live multimedia performance in at least
India hit me, like the gossamer caress of the dupatta of some lovely young lady flitting by.
But, needless to say, as always, you just had to be there to get it.
March 30, 2012
:: Some received responses to CeC 2012 ::
thank you ___, cec gets better and better!
looking forward to cec13.
what a great head rush!
was really inspiring
she had an amazing time at cec.
Thank you very much for organizing an amazing event at Sattal. I had a great time, learned a lot,
and met some really amazing people!
Has been an incredible experience - CeC 2012, so much inspiration, love, creativity, ideas, ahhh..
mind is buzzing with ideas.
Thank you ___, ___ and all the beautiful souls who came to CeC. Was Truly awe-inspiring!
meeting and interacting with great minds is always a positive experience, especially in such a pristine
setting and The Carnival of e Creativity has something for every curious mind.
how brilliant! CeC has a way of throwing us together around the globe!
A big thank you ... for pulling off another super inspirational CeC
wanna go back again!
Had a super fantastic trip at CeC2012. Had a wonderful visual audio performance, and met some insanely
talented minds, beautiful souls.. such a lovely platform to share energies.. refreshed!
was pretty much perfect, and memorable.
thank you for all the inspiration that CeC is!
What an amazing experience...full of ideas and inspirations..thanks to all of you for this adventure
in the hills :) was fantastic!
I was super inspired again this yea all thanks to you guys!
lovely experience! thanx cec...looking fwd to next time !!
Kudos to organizers.. ___ and also to the amazing participants!..a fantastic space for creative
commons..was a great learning experience!
It was extraordinary meeting everyone at CeC 2012. Loved the place, the food, the weather and the
people. Thank you ___ and all others who helped make it possible.
Had a great time !!
Thanks so much for the deep experience
thank you so much for having us all over. its been a real pleasure! and an honour to share such
wonderful spaces with so much talent
we all appreciated the excellent festival, food, and new friends.
feel completely new after this experience
yes it was really great.....
was really inspiring
as a random visitor to the event, it was fantastic to see and experience this independent forum
where there was such creative freedom to express oneself..great energy and vibe..coming out of an
urban mechanical lifestyle,i felt a liberation that i never actually sought..
thanks for organizing this great event and a big hi to all the awesome people who i met..
It was such a great adventure for us to be there and finally meet you all.
It was delightful meeting you all.
Almost overwhelming even. I look forward to next year with an enthusiasm you wouldn't believe.