CeC 2015 Web-Badge
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The 9th annual Carnival of e-Creativity (CeC 2015) was played out in Shillong, capital city of the magical North East Indian state of Meghalaya, through May 01-02-03, 2015 (a Friday-Saturday-Sunday).

May 01 & 02 in and around the conferencing facilities of the Indian Council for Social Science Research - North East Regional Centre (ICSSR-Nerc), within the beautifully forested campus of North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU).

May 03 in the KJP Assembly Conference Centre Hall; in the heart of town; just a short walk out of Police Bazaar; bang opposite the District Library.

To know more about this series of incidents, please browse through the pages of earlier iterations, via the links to the left of this text.

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:::: Curator's Report ::::

 
  This was absolutely the toughest one of them all, not just for me/us, but possibly also for several others involved. At the same time, it was probably also the most fulfilling, for me at least, on account of having sort of gambled everything, and then, having sort of won.



The Carnival of e-Creativity (CeC) had been through a major shift of venue once before, and so, we sort of knew some of what to expect of it this time; which mainly meant lots of good people would probably think we’d gone loco. And, that in turn meant we could expect to have faith, participation, and also hard-earned provenance in some sense, fall away to a significant degree, just as we had first experienced when CeC & CaC moved and mutated from the heart of Delhi, into being just CeC, up in a semi-hidden little valley of the lower Himalaya, a half-day’s drive out of Delhi. And all of that was obviously again compounded this time by the old and ongoing fact that we do not ever issue any open call for participation, and, we also do not really send out too many invitations either. What we do instead do, is to steadily slog through due diligence to research, discover, and somehow get together absolutely the best possible multi-disciplinary bouquet of participation and content that we can draw in for everybody’s benefit, both individually as well as collectively in symbiosis with each other.

Now, one of several reasons why we actually felt the need to get CeC out of Sattal in the first place, was that it was all beginning to look, and behave, and even significantly repeat itself annually, like some self-indulgent sort of club—or cult—vacation, with little to no forward movement on the experimental creative account. To some of us, that was a route straight to hell, in regard to perhaps the prime general value that had otherwise become emblematic of the Carnival of e-Creativity; i.e. it’s capacity to surprise so very many of us every time, with ever new ideas, new projects, new paradigms, new tools, new experiments, new collaborations,.. and on.

In any case, there were several other serious hurdles to the shift to Shillong this time, amongst which the inescapable Top-3 were probably: (i) for various reasons, we made a very late decision to do CeC 2015 at all, which means the first lot of participant-invitations went out early-January, rather than July the year before, as had almost always earlier been the case, (ii) an immediate result of this was that we had to reschedule the whole circus to a new time of year; early-May as it happened, rather than the usual late-February, and, (iii) aside from being largely an unknown quantity for most people, Shillong, our new venue, adds almost 2 days of travel time altogether, from and to either Delhi or Mumbai, for example.

We had of course put in a pretty fair degree of due diligence to make the transition of venue as successful as possible, in regard to almost every aspect that we could indeed affect. To begin with, for example, I personally moved to North East India on almost a full-time basis shortly after wrapping up CeC 2013 (i.e. the last one up in Sattal). The move did of course hava a lot to do with The Research & Innovation Ashram that we’ve been trying to get going in Guwahati, but it was also quite substantially about migrating CeC, or some appropriate derivative of CeC, as well as several other ongoing works of The AeA, to either Guwahati or Shillong.

And so, we first decided to leap-frog over 2014, without any CeC at all that year, so as to instead suss out and try to connect with various right quarters in the Nort hEast through the period. We even actually went through the motions of studiedly drawing in two separate arts & culture delegations from South Korea, so as to get a bit of a feel of things locally, as well as to put feelers out in every good local direction we could. The first of these delegations (2013) was made up of just 2 curatorial professionals and one representative artist, all of whom we plugged largely into the appropriate governmental and institutional sectors. The second delegation (2014) was made up of 10 artists and 5 curatorial professionals, whom we plugged directly into community.

And so, there were some notional upsides on top of several sure downsides to everything about going in for CeC 2015 in Shillong.

The best upside we had going for us from the outset was the whole history and background of CeC itself, In Delhi and Sattal, as well as the wonderful nature and setting of Shillong, which we were now working with. And, the most immediate lucky outcome of the new location was that we were in a position to choose to go with 2 separate venues this time, that would individually manifest, (a) an appropriate equivalent of the relatively isolated insider-capsule that was CeC up in Sattal, but including a proper conferencing facility too, through Days 1 & 2, at ICSSR-Nerc, within the large and lovely campus of North East Hill University, at the edge of town, and, (b) something very broadly along the lines of the earliest CeC & CaC situation that it had all begun with, at the India International Centre in Delhi; in the wonderfully calm, amply well-formatted, and perfectly located main hall of the KJP Assembly Conference Centre, which brought Day-3 right into the heart of a culturally vibrant city/town.

Probably the best upside that emerged from it all though, was one of the main things we had gambled upon making a breakthrough on, from the whole shift to Shillong; that is, the great connection we did indeed make with such a fantastic segment of the local creative community, who generously involved themselves with so much of CeC 2015; all the way through from yielding 2-3 local Primary-Participants, as well as a small number of other local creative practitioners, who helped set up venues and installations, and also collaborated and participated in actual performances; all the way to their spending downtime connecting with, jamming with, and jiving with, many of the wonderful participants who had come in from elsewhere. Not to forget that these wonderful new friends of CeC in Shillong even unilaterally brought in the best audio system we have ever used in this series of incidents, just because we’d asked if they could arrange for 2 microphone-stands, to supplement the pretty decent PA system that we already had of our own.

That is the one key thing we had never really managed to make a breakthrough upon through 5 years up in Sattal, where all of the outstanding Primary-Participants who gathered from all over the world to make CeC happen each year respectively, were basically viewed by almost the entire local population as being just another “tour-group”, on some sort of “vacation”. And, whereas we did finally win the involvement of a few local musicians through the last CeC up in Sattal (2013), it was really just too little, too late.

And of course, just for the record here once again, CeC had left Delhi before that, partly because IIC could not let us have their venues for 2 years, on account of some demolition and reconstruction that was due up on their campus, and, also partly because we’d by then realized that what was happening on the inside track, amongst participants themselves, was far more valuable than trying to connect with the relatively insignificant Delhi public that went out of their way to discover what might have been happening.

So, all good, if not excellent, to the degree that we are now very seriously thinking to shoot for The 10th annual Carnival of e-Creativity to be played out up in Shillong next year, running to the old schedule, with announcements and invitations going out first in July, for a CeC 2016 towards the end of February. That is, if we do shoot for it at all, after all.



Meanwhile, here’s a quick wrap of what went down front and centre through The 9th annual Carnival of e-Creativity, in Shillong May 1-2-3, 2015. All sessions through Days 1 and 2 were played out in the main conference room of ICSSR-Nerc, with the screenings-segment of Short-Creative-Videoworks--curated by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne--running simultaneously in an adjoining lecture-room.

Day 1 || Session 1:

Shankar Barua ~ As usual, I went first, trying as always to plough through a few basic ‘formalities’ with regard to opening up the proceedings, including a quick history and overview of the Carnivals of e-Creativity, 2006-2013.

Abhinav Mishra and Vinay Hasija went up next, presenting an incredible shared-portfolio of some of the adventurous creative projects they’ve been doing together ever since they were first thrown together not so long ago as post-graduate students of New Media at the National Institute of Design. This was about experimental technologies, aesthetics, interaction paradigms, and new horizons. They’d also brought along a large plexiglass installation, but it sadly took damage in transit from their base in Ahmedabad, and was therefore never set up in Shillong.

Anpu Varkey, based in Delhi, had been to Shillong before though, and actually had a very large painted cat to show for it on the outer side wall of the District Library, almost directly opposite the other CeC 2015 venue in the heart of town. And of course, her presentation was largely all about such creative shenanigans that she’s been up to all across India over the past few years; funky paintings, big and small, slapped right onto the sides of buildings and the like.

Freeman Murray, out of Bangalore, inimitably began his presentation just typing words onto the screen. “Inimitably” even though I’ve seen it done before, because Freeman is Freeman; founder of Jaaga and much else, prophet of the future, lifestyle guide, and start-up guru, fluently riding a powered-unicycle lately, to music.

Harshvardhan Kadam was about inimitable visual arts, all the way from ink brushing the pages of fat paper notebooks all the way up to huge paintings on huge walls, all over the country. And then, there’s his digital work too, including print-series of gods, and heroes, and legend,.. and on.

Day 1 || Session 2:

Soham Sarcar came on after lunch, also representing his associate Snehali Shah, as the Transhuman Collective, that’s lately been up to all sorts of interesting technology-based visual work, ranged from live video-synthesis, through video-mapping, to the spectacular live Lion-in-the-Audience presentation at the international launch of the “Make in India” campaign.

Jaya Ramchandani came to the table from having very recently curated and coordinated the massive “Story of Light” festival in Goa, that—amongst much else—saw some pretty substantial theme-based installations put up across Panjim city for several days, by a range of artists from all over India and the world. And, there were live performances, and also much else, too.

Karan Gurung, North Eastern artist working across several disciplines, and academic researcher into the history of his own language in the region, did a strange thing; he distributed printed copies of some sort of manifesto amongst everybody gathered, and then, carefully read the whole thing through for all to hear. Not surprisingly, even though he did not himself (need to) say so, issue-based performance art is perhaps his best known creative pursuit. In fact, he was at the same time in deep creative collaboration with Harshvardhan Durugadda right through CeC 2015, which was manifested through the course of the incident in 2 separate installations, and one piece of performance art.

Sohan Modak too did what to me was a sort of strange thing, in that, whereas the last time we’d heard him in an iteration of CeC, he’d pretty much given all of us a reasonably solid preliminary introduction to the language of genes—how they could be read, and how they could potentially be written too,—this time, aside from all else he spoke of, he actually also recited some of his own original poetry. Great stuff!

Harsha Vardhan Durugadda, who presented next, was possibly the busiest of Primary-Participants through CeC 2015, along with his creative collaborator Karan Gurung, and their 2 very enthusiastic and very able young artist volunteers, Readyon Stone Nongrum and his younger brother ‘KD’. He was possibly also the most cheerful participant too, carrying an ancestral family heritage of carving gods into granite towards experimental new horizons, with CNC mills, ad hoc assemblage, site-specific installations, and abstracted performance art. And, what came of that in CeC 2015, aside from his presentation alone, was 2 installations, and one performance art piece (together with Karan Gurung, Day 3).

Day 1 || Evening: Jamming in the Committee Room of the ICSSR Guesthouse

Day 2 || Session 1:

Shazeb Shaikh, as Core-Co-Curator of CeC 2015, went first the second day. And, what he presented ranged from his earlier works with book, films, and community, through curatorial works he’s been doing on other projects across-the-board, largely in Mumbai and Goa till then (he moved on to curatorial residency in Switzerland immediately after CeC 2015~:o).

Jobin Vijayan had been soldering and soldiering through almost the entire night before to get a pretty flip robotic guitar fully going for his presentation. But, whilst he’d made a set of 3 modules to, (a) individually pluck all 6 strings, and, (b) individually fret each string anywhere through the first four frets; he’d ended the night by dropping the guitar, which broke one of the modules, and, by also accidentally sticking a thumb and forefinger together with some sort of super glue. LoL! Nonetheless, his presentation carried us all the way through some of his earlier stints as a creative engineer, through his work as MD of Arduino-India, all they way to a robotic guitar that was fully slave to pretty simple text input, across 3 strings and four frets.

Sachin Shetty is one of those extraordinary creative practitioners who somehow seem to be getting  all sorts of good creative work done almost all of the time,.. even though one never seems to actually catch ‘em in the act, except inescapably during live performance of course, in Sachin’s case. But, he’s working across the visual arts all of the time, and he’s also a musician some of the time; out there, walking barefoot in the grass, as though actually up to nothing very much.

Kartik Pillai is such a taciturn young man, that it is hardly surprising to me that I missed his very brief presentation entirely. But, what he also is, is an extraordinary musician across genres; sometimes doing the sort of cutting edge work in mainstream young Indian music, that will be carrying one his bands all the way over to Berlin to perform this summer, and; at other times diving into deep creative experimentation with naked sounds, and even outright noise.

Sachin Pillai was about visual works, both live as well as recorded, all rooted in clear thinking and considerable technological prowess, to variously manifest a pretty fine aesthetic.

Huzefa Roowala’s creativity story has two sides to it. On the one hand, he’s a successful creative entrepreneur addressing the mass media space down Mumbai way, from a foundation built over more than a decade working variously across the broadcast sector, and then, a break of a year or two to pick up some formal global qualifications. On the other hand, he also involves himself on an ongoing basis with empowering, participating in, and also promoting entirely experimental arts, and arts actions, of all sorts.

Day 2 || Session 2:

Tritha Sinha and Ritika Singh shared with us all just a wee little gist of the wonderful journey they have been taking their ever-evolving music through, in various different avatars, across continents and oceans. Pals since childhood, or adolescence, they come together largely as the band called Space, together with guitarist Mathias Durand and Paul Schnieter (and a bass guitarist I do not know), that tends to perform across India through the cooler months, and then across Europe through the warmer months, with other global divergences and digressions to perform elsewhere in between.

Mathias Durand had been spending the past few months in India, primarily in his extraordinary role as guitarist with Tritha and Ritika (above). But, aside from being just a wonderful human being, he’d been a musician and composer for quite awhile before that already, with formal foundations in western classical piano, guitar, and Hindustani classical music, as well as two album releases, and stints with several other bands, every since he was a schoolboy, in Paris.

Benedict Skhemlang Hynniewta was born and brought up in Shillong itself, where he continues to live today, but spent about 7 years—over 2 tranches—at the eminent Kala Bhavan Fine Arts Department of Visva-Bharati University, in Santiniketan/Bengal, to pick up first a BFA and then an MFA, so as to make a living as an artist in his hometown. Today, he teaches at the Department of Creative and Cultural Studies, and is regarded to be one of the foremost visual artists of his generation in Shillong (primarily painting). His works, both commissioned as well as independent, have been exhibited, awarded, and collected all over the country.

Diya Sarker’s another taciturn type,.. especially when it comes to formal presentation, that is. But, boy-O-boy, that little lady sure takes the visual medium in directions one might otherwise probably not have thought of. And, she seems to do so almost like some sort of game she’s playing, with her own creative self. She also reportedly keeps lots of cats.

Rosalind Malik too makes extraordinary visuals, but perhaps more rooted in more familiar aesthetics; for people like me at least. What she did different this time though, was to coalesce a bunch of her still images into a mobile video continuum that really packed a solid punch into what her work was all about.

Lionel Dentan (DA Saz), being Lionel Dentan, took the opportunity of the last formal presentation slot to very adroitly pull everybody’s leg, collectively. And, it was good with us all, since he was actually to perform live Day 3.

Day 2 || Evening: Jamming in the Committee Room of the ICSSR Guesthouse

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|| That was the end of the formal Presentation sessions, and also the screenings segment, of CeC 2015. The next and last day (Day 3, below) was made up of a series of live performances, played out at the KJP Assembly Conference Centre, in the heart of Shillong. A bamboo installation was situated at the venue by Harshvardham Durugadda. Sound reinforcement was kindly provided by Mr. Barrie, via the supportive intercession of Damang Syngkon ||
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Day 3 || Session 1:

Harshvardhan Durugadda and Karan Gurung got things going outdoors, with a powerful performance art piece addressing local issues close to Karan’s heart. A bamboo framework served for a set hung with multiple intravenous drips, within which a sort of savage brutality was played out, coldly and formally, before a member of the audience was finally presented with a machete, with which to cut the victim free.

Hemant Sreekumar then got proceedings going within the main hall of the venue, with another one of his inimitably hypnotic juggleries of synthesised live audio and video, riding patches in Pure Data and Processing that he’d made purely for just the one occasion, as always.

Sachin Shetty followed on from that, projecting exquisitely edited video-clips, that nobody seemed to have seen him either actually shoot or edit, whilst building waves of music the while around it all, live, off a tiny little keyboard-controller plugged into his laptop. And, along the way, Harshvardhan Kadam, Diya Sarker, and Huzefa Roowala, also kicked in with visuals.

Kartik Pillai and Sachin Pillai are brothers, living in different cities, pursuing creative audio and creative visuals respectively. And, they sure come together well too, applying possibly the most extraordinary approaches to be witnessed the whole course. Kartik did audio, using a bunch of guitar stomp-boxes and his computer to process the signal of his grounding the main input cable with his thumb, along with fillers and detail off a micro-keyboard. And, Sachin dived into a simple feedback-loop between a camera and projector, to get a whole woozy visual thing going by twisting the camera about, and intervening his hands, other objects, and also light sources, into its field of view.

Dhruv Sarker wrapped up the first session with a quick overview of what he’s been trying to achieve as a young Indian musician, a drummer, based in Kolkata. And then, he went on to play alongside a couple of tracks from a couple of the bands he’s been playing with, to share some of the sorts of work he does.

Day 3 || Session 2:

Lueit Parasar Hazarika opened up the final session of CeC 2015, playing back just a single experimental track he’d composed, accompanied by an unusual reed-instrument he played alongside live, with Soham Sarcar throwing live video to the screen behind him.

Damang Syngkon (dotara and vocals) and Yvonne Syiem (vocals), together with their bandmates (dotara, percussion and backing-vocals), whose names I criminally do not remember right now, were joined by Benedict Skhemlang Hynniewta, on flute, to render a beautiful set of local Khasi songs, and one powerful percussion piece, all dressed up in full local traditional costumes, with Soham Sarcar throwing audio-reactive video to the screen behind them, even as they finally went on to essay a couple of experimentally collaborative songs together with Tritha Sinha and Ritika Singh.

Lionel Dentan now came on, to hopefully make up for his leg-pulling of the day before. And he sure did do; riding a complex rig of analog modules, festooned with a rats-nest of colourful cables, with which he delivered a pure masterclass in sensitive audio-synthesis and signal processing, whilst Sachin Pillai and Shazeb Shaikh (in their Godgamut avatar) built up an abstract live visual narrative onscreen beside him, focused upon a tiny tabletop set in which they played with fire, forms, and every colour.

Tritha Sinha and Ritika Singh finally took the stage, and immediately rocked it with a couple of their hit songs, along with Mathias Durand on guitar, Dhruv Sarker on drums, and a bit of recorded backing-track adding to the punch here and there. Soham Sarcar threw audio-reactive video to the screen behind them to begin with, before the ladies gave way for Mathias Durand to perform a couple of his extraordinary French songs, with themselves on backing-vocals, Benedict on bamboo flute, Damang on a deep drum, and Harshvardan Kadam projecting live painting onto the screen,.. which altogether, in turn, finally moved on to a last couple of experimental songs led by the ladies, and different combinations of other musicians.

And then, back at the guesthouse later that evening, there was rich chocolate cake, baked especially for us all by Yvonne Syiem, somewhere along the way, to serve as the perfect last creative outcome to be voraciously consumed by all of us in CeC 2015!

Nothing remained beyond that, other than to thank all who had come together to make the magic happen.

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Support & Thanks
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Dr. Joshua Thomas (Director, ICSSR-Nerc), for believing

Mr. Barrie and Damang Syngkon, for providing the PA system Day 3

Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, for supporting the participation of Lionel Dentan (Da Saz)
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Organizers
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The Academy of Electronic Arts (also known as The Academy of Experimental Arts) is a Public Benefit Trust that serves as a learning, sharing, mentoring, networking, benchmarking, empowering and broadly inclusive, but non-educational, institution.
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Incident Director, and Managing Trustee of The AeA: Shankar Barua
Core-Co-Curator, and Term Trustee of The AeA: Shazeb Shaikh

Co-Curator, Short-Creative-Videoworks: Wilfried Agricola de Cologne
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And, as always,
all possible goodwill, association and support
is invited and welcomed from all quarters.

Please reach out to anybody in The AeA to be involved.
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The IDEA (The Indian Documentary of Electronic Arts)