Sheila writes about her time spent in the labs, the UnBox festival and Bangalore.
Excited hellos over breakfast, though still a little unsure. Is it the jet lag? Might be for some. The hotel has a theme of yellow, while the city slowly steps into the Monday blues probably after an interesting weekend with unseasonal rain. Things are a bit cooler this morning, even though the sun is out.
We walk together to WorkBench, taking in the colours of the flower sellers outside the many temples, the smells of many bakeries making fresh cookies, chirping of birds at a pet shop and the high decibel honking of tone deaf automobile riders. For many, this is a first introduction to India. A bit overwhelming for most, and not as wild (as imagined) for others. The road crossing near WorkBench is our first major hurdle together. We swim through, learning to navigate Indian traffic.
What is this lab? It is fluid, Ben and Babitha tell us. We’re calling it ‘Edges and Contours’. Interesting how sharp lines (edges) can merge together to form a rolling tapestry (contours). This is what the lab is about, as is UnBox, we’re told. Different contour lines, stacked upon one another in no particular order. Makes for smooth surfaces sometimes, and we decide to continue deliberating on the others or take a step back and analyse.
A round of introductions, we try to make it orderly. Vishwanath tells us that life sits between order and disorder, at ‘complexity’, while introducing the idea of decentralised systems. Some speak of these junctions differently, at the cusp of hybridity for Sheila, between landscape alterations for Deepa and for Garima between the two tropical lines. “Diasporas are refractions of identity”, says Akeela about her practice, while Bhaggu (Bhagwati) explains his interest in exploring representation of form vs identity through his illustrations. Problem solving through local sources of inspiration for Irma, while Fletch shows us a video of how we made music using things he found at home. Sean showed us the beauty of everyday through his pictures, and we came back to Ailie speaking about decentralised systems. I meanwhile, continue to physically move on these edges, trying to form a contour with my practice of walking.
Then we all walk to lunch - Bengaluru Oota Company. Multi-course meal, running through traditional Gowda cuisine from Karnataka. Rice, lots of it. Hot, cold, spicy, sweet(s). Topped off with filter coffee. A gustatory experience that came with the usual after effects of rice. The coffee couldn’t help much after that lunch spread. Back at Workbench, we were quickly put out on an interesting experiment to capture sounds. Sounds close, far, loud and boxed. Cameras switched on, to a 10 minute count down. The sound of steps, of trinkets and machines. Of faraway horns and train screeches. The symphony from all the groups didn’t seem out of sync. It felt like a usual Bangalore road.
We take the train this time, to meet Zenrainman - Vishwanath S, at Cubbon Park. Under the canopy of a mango tree, on landscaped lawns, we discuss ‘a million wells’ - an initiative to improve Bangalore’s water security, by making the resource local. Old knowledge is at play, threatening to disrupt this tech filled modern world in India’s Silicon Valley. The communities at the edges (fringes) are helping make the contour whole again.