Between February 27 and March one, Sattal Estate near Bhimtal in Uttarkhand resonated with the energy of creative persons whose canvas comprises digital technology. In a sense, those gathered at the special event, called the Carnival of e-Creativity (Cec 2009), symbolised the new-age practitioners of creative arts – be in music, dance, art work and much more. This was the first time that CeC, now in its fourth edition, has moved out of Delhi, as it expands its scope and scale. The man behind the “incident”, as he himself calls it, is Shankar Barua, who since last ten years have made it his passion to bring e-creative persons across the world on a common platform, to benefit the community from the collective experience. Barua, CeC director, shares his vision with Deccan Herald’s Utpal Borpujari:
What’s the idea behind organising the CeC?
This is just one of several manifestations of my ongoing work in regard to networking e-Creative practitioners of all description, all over the world. The whole thing is driven by my firm belief that we have now entered what some people call “The Creativity Era”, of humankind creatively empowered by technology – and increasingly so almost right across the board by the day. That, to my mind, is a marvellously-seminal shift forward for innovation-deficient countries such as India to rise up to the largely-unattended challenge of innovating and inventing for our own unique situations and circumstances in the modern era
For the first time, it has moved out of Delhi. Why so?
One aspect of this is that CeC is not entirely just about entertainment, although there is plenty of that too. A good part of the effort is actually about connecting positively to community, so as to possibly inspire and drive a new innovation-culture, by heightening
awareness of the potential new “creative” tools that are constantly now coming to hand to almost everyone these days. However, Delhi today sees almost everyone caught up in the endless pursuit of immediate pleasures above all else, with very little sense of community left over, to begin with. Nobody has the time or the inclination to even consider the possibility of looking creatively towards the future by devising perhaps a better mousetrap, for example. Not surprisingly, as a result, whereas our work with CeC over the past 3-4 years has gained a profound global credibility, it has gained little more than just pretty press in Delhi itself, which in turn has yielded for us very little more than just dull invitations to dull cultural dos.
What has been the experience from the first three editions?
I’d say the primary experience for me so far has been the learning that we are not easily understood in India. Meanwhile, the primary achievement has been that our work has nonetheless gained an outstanding global credibility, outside India.
What are the areas that you are focusing on?
Our focus is very, very broad, and also very generously inclusive in regard to e-Creativity, primarily because everyone is coming down to using pretty much the same creative tools as everyone else today – typically computers – thereby throwing up all sorts of possible new interstices and interconnections. For example, a simple computer game-controller along with
an electro-acoustician’s inputs can easily yield a controller for remote microsurgery. And so, we need to see a lot more of, and connect with, pretty much everything at the cutting-edge.
Why are these areas important in the field of e-creativity?
The possible areas of connection are limitless, since the term e-Creativity references Empowered, Empowering and/or Endlessly Experimental Creative Practices. Speaking very generally however, the most important areas that I have personally twigged over the past few years seem to be several streams of pure engineering, and electroacoustics! The latter because it is the only “creative sector” to have plunged deeply into Do-It-Yourself hardware, software, artificial intelligence, robotics, gestural control, pure signal-processing, and so on.
What kind of participation CeC is attracting?
We draw in direct and indirect participation of some of the most highly respected e-Creative practitioners in the world, especially in regard to electro-acoustics and short-creative-videoworks. Other than that, we also draw in scientists, musicians, designers, animators, architects, filmmakers, and so on. At the cutting edge though, I’d have to say that participation is greater from abroad than from within India.
What future do you see for e-creativity growth in India?
The march of e-Creativity is inevitable, globally. Even kids will increasingly make their own music, movies, websites and so on. Where we come into the picture is merely as a tiny pebble that will hopefully deflect this juggernaut of progress just slightly towards an abundant and “meaningful” innovation culture.
How did you conceive the idea of the festival?
The idea for an e-Creative festival is actually where I began all of this work, some 10 years ago. In fact, we even nearly pulled it off then, until support suddenly dried up from impact of the ASEAN currency meltdown of the time.
Is there any such ‘carnival’ anywhere else, encompassing creativity of various formats
focusing on technology?
There have of course been all sorts of other somewhat-similar festivals around the world over the past 30 years and more, which may be seen to be parallels or predecessors to CeC. Possibly the best known amongst these are Transmediale (Germany) and Ars Electronica (Austris), but word is getting around that CeC is nonetheless unique.
What are the different aspects of e-Creativity that have the widest scope to expand?
For countries such as India, it all comes right down to affecting the basic creative empowerment of individuals that is in any case being wrought by the burgeoning spread of technology. At one level, this is about awareness, and at another level, it is also about just basically tooling-up institutions and communities, for which I have proposed a concept for “Research & Innovation Ashrams”.
Are you collaborating with any other agencies /organisations to take the various
aspects of the event beyond the carnival?
As with so many good people in India, our battle is still very much about just being understood where we live and work. Whereas we have incredible associations in other parts of the world, we have no significant partner, and certainly no supporters at all, within India.