CeC 2016 Web-Badge
presented by:
The AeA
The AeA


earlier iterations:

The milestone 10th annual Carnival of e-Creativity (CeC 2016) was played out between the conferencing facilities of the Indian Council for Social Science Research - North East Regional Centre (ICSSR-Nerc), and the Multi-Use Convention Centre, both within the beautifully forested campus of North-Eastern Hill University (Nehu), at the edge of Shillong, capital city of the magical North East Indian state of Meghalaya, through February 26-27-28, 2016 (a Friday-Saturday-Sunday in springtime).

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.

This series of incidents is successfully concluded


:::: Post-Incident Report ::::
April 06, 2016 (i.e. about 5 weeks after the actual incident)

I’ve been a bit later than usual in coming through with this post-incident report on The 10th annual Carnival of e-Creativity, because there has been much to think about. But, I’ll come to that later.

10 years is a long time, by any of many different measures. And The 10th annual Carnival of e-Creativity (CeC 2016) actually came at the 11th year of this annual series of incidents, since we skipped entirely over a year (2014) so as to first do the groundwork that was needed to migrate the whole madness to Shillong.

And then, after bringing 2 Arts & Culture delegations in from South Korea, through Guwahati (Assam) and Shillong (Meghalaya), we actually also played out The 9th CeC in Shillong mid-2015, almost like a first ‘testing of the waters’, that altogether hopefully sort of established some part of our credibility there, and, that also certainly helped us to make a few key local connections too.

By the time we put the incident-catalog to print, almost a month before the actual incident, we were in a position to list in it the incredibly supportive association once again of Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council (Delhi), alongside the very welcome first such associations of Department of Arts & Culture - Government of Meghalaya, and Arduino Karkhana Bangalore.

Pro Helvetia Delhi, helmed by Chandrika Grover, was kindly coming through — as they have also variously done before for CeC — with a very welcome bit of financial support, and also 3 Primary-Participants from Switzerland (one of whom eventually did not make it in on account of a broken ankle).

The Department of Arts & Culture, Government of Meghalaya, helmed by Matsiewdor War Nongbri, was also coming through with a measure of financial support, in addition to hosting Day-3 of the incident (Performances & Exhibits) in the main auditorium of their State Central Library complex, right in the heart of town.

Arduino Karkhana Bangalore, in turn, helmed by Jobin Vijayan, contributed variously, not least amongst which was its coordinating a Coding & Robotics Workshop that connected, mentored, and empowered, 3 separate maker-teams in 3 different cities of India, over the course of some 3 months before CeC 2016, to each experimentally conceive and construct an entirely new Interactive Robotic Paradigm respectively, to be exhibited in public for the very first time within the framework of the incident in Shillong.

And finally, ICSSR-Nerc, helmed by Joshua Thomas, and coordinating with us via Thangboi Paite, kindly came through once again; providing confirmed bookings — at nominal rates — of their conferencing-facility, and also their entire guesthouse, almost 7 months before the actual dates of the incident, end-February 2016.

And so, the first participants to come into Shillong for CeC 2016, almost a week early, were all of the maker-teams of the Arduino Coding & Robotic Workshop, with Jobin Vijayan himself also coming in along with his team-mates Akshat Sharma and Ragin Raj ATK; to all get together on finessing and finalising their respective constructs over those last few days,.. for which Jobin and his team had also brought in almost an entire workshop of tools, as well as the last few special hardware requirements of a couple of the teams.

What it all came down to was that 3 different and brand new Interactive Robotic Paradigms were to be powered up and tested for the very first time.

Abhinav Mishra and Vinay Hasija, from Ahmedabad, had just completed laser-cutting the many lovely parts of a small intra-active family of six-legged BugBots of a sort, in Delhi, before coming into Shillong. They assembled just 2 though. And then, they got stuck into trying to iron out a problem with the locomotion, that had the bots shuffling about, rather than striding.

Akash Sharma, Shivangi Gupta, and Snehal Thomas Jacob, from Mumbai, had put together a large flower on a fat plastic ‘stem’, within which some 20 geared-motors were to be hidden, to actuate the flower-petals and also some leaves and branches, via a system of nylon string-muscles and bicycle brake-cables,… in response to sensors of different sorts; including a shiny touch-grid set into the centre of the flower. However, the forces eventually required to get things moving proved to be pretty massive, which then had the team urgently attempt to somehow reconfigure as much of it all as possible, as soon as possible, with the Arduino Karkhana team pitching in full tilt.

In turn, Jobin and his Arduino Karkhana team had themselves come through with a Robotic-Recorder (musical wind-instrument) running off a small compressor, that could play back music provided to it in the form of a black-and-white grid, read off paper for it by a hacked inkjet-printer. A slight breathiness of the playback in the first tests was addressed in quick order by the addition of a soda-bottle in the air-line, to serve as a compression-tank, and all systems were ‘go’.

By now, other Primary-Participants, and some Guest-Participants, were all variously trickling in, till pretty much everybody was in the night before Day-1 of CeC 2016, February 26, taking up every room in the ICSSR-Nerc Guesthouse, on twin-sharing bases and even tighter. Co-curators Damang Syngkon and Avner Pariat moved in too. By the count in the incident-catalog though, we were 5 short, which was actually only just 1 or 2 more late-cancellations than we’d learnt to expect in the normal course over the years; this time, primarily on account of the fact that the catalog was printed almost a month earlier, as it was done in Delhi, and then shipped to Guwahati,.. with enough time hopefully left aside to do it all over again, if necessary.

In the event though, we might indeed have wished to correct and reprint the catalog, even though it was the most expensive we’d ever done, but, the circumstance that prompts this thought here came up just 6 days before CeC 2016; i.e. much too late for us to do so.

Basically, we got word from Shillong February 20, that the office of the Chief Minister of Meghalaya had suddenly taken over the entire State Central Library complex, for some other program, February 22-29!!

There was nothing to be done for it but that, (a) we created a huge shindig about the matter amongst senior bureaucracy and the Chief Minister’s office Sunday, February 21, and, (b) we madly flailed about Shillong itself, long-distance via proxies, to urgently turn up an appropriate alternative venue for Day-3, Sunday, February 28.

Luck favoured us by Tuesday, when we snagged the Multi-Purpose Convocation Hall of North East Hills University (Nehu), within which campus we were all to be in any case, at ICSSR-Nerc. In short, the auditorium for Day-3 was just a short and pleasant walk away from the conferencing-venue for Days-1 & 2, which in turn was directly adjoining the guesthouse we were all housed in.

The only down-sides were that, (i) the dancer participants were sadly denied a proper stage, and, (ii) the whole shebang was now to be played out far from the general public of Shillong, within a vast forested campus, behind walls, right on the edge of town. Not that that second point mattered very much to CeC 2016 itself though, as the incident has always been almost entirely a peer-group conclave, with a distinct inside-track always mattering above all else; almost to the degree that nothing else, and nobody else, really mattered, or matters, through the 3 key days of each instance.

In any case, everybody who’d already arrived by then pitched in through the last day before we got off the ground, to prepare all 3 rooms of the conferencing centre; for the primary head-banging, the screenings, and the exhibits, demonstrations, and networking, respectively. A few pennants were put up on bamboo crosses stuck into the ground outside the main building, with assistance from the Arduino crew. Posters were scattered through the Nehu campus. That seamless old CeC projection-screen, contributed to the whole madness so many years ago by Ashim Ghosh, went up once again. Windows were curtained off and also darkened with translucent black polythene sheeting. Sound-checks and cabling were gone through. Lists were made, and remade. Lunches, beverages and cookies were ordered. And on, till everything gradually morphed through dinner to jamming late into the night in the guesthouse.

And, all through it all, two teams of roboticists struggled to overcome last minute hitches with their weird new constructs, with assistance from the third team, and also anyone and everyone else who could help confuse matters further with barrages of observations, hypotheses, and suggestions.

DAY-1, Friday, February 26, 2016

Damang Syngkon was to chair all four sessions of the conferencing segment of The 10th annual Carnival of e-Creativity, through Days-1 & 2, and came off a real pro at it, right off the bat that first morning, when he welcomed all and opened the proceedings. Affable, and also just as authoritative as necessary, from the outset.

Shankar Barua — that’s me — came up to present first, as Curator, for the 10th time,.. which means he/I didn’t have much to say, since he/I had obviously earlier pretty much said almost everything he/I had wanted to say on such an occasion, on probably several occasions. And of course, also as always, I was almost totally burnt out by then.

Bettina Wenzel followed on from that, to get everything really going for everybody, off a little desk she settled herself at, at the presenter’s position. Although she too didn’t say too much altogether, what she did do, was launch an entire little pocket-concert, adding to her incredible live voice all sorts of extra new sounds and treatments, some with simple electronics, some with an iPad app, and some via a bewildering array of “sound-cards” that she pulled from a little handbag — as with everything else — and waved open and closed near the microphone, to variously play back different little samples and cameos of her own voice-work, recorded earlier.

Eugenia Grotchakova came next, to carry us all through something of the journey of her artwork over the years, in her inimitably charming way, including a deep look into the methodology of some of her most precise large works, all the way through the hilarious semi-anarchy of unpredictable and unexpected results that came of the project she’d been pursuing when she was last in CeC, up in Sattal (2012). And, not least of the fun of it all was seeing several of the people from that CeC featured in the finished work, each upon unexpectedly finding herself/himself crowned with an entirely inappropriate and different hat, respectively!

Suresh Nair was a lot of fun too, what with presenting clips of a live-painting performance he’d done sometime earlier, in synch with live-music, and also views of some of the colossal cement-relief mosaics he’s been doing around the country. All in between seeing through a full-time teaching jag in the Arts Department of Benaras Hindu University.

Shazeb Arif Shaikh then changed the pace of everything into studied seriousness, presenting an incredible overview of what seems to have been a quite extraordinary iteration of an annual arts festival he’d been doing for some years in Mumbai, but, this time in Switzerland mid-2015, as ‘Blackout Basel’. Shazeb had been a co-curator of CeC too, 2012 to 2015, but this was something else altogether; lots of artists, lots of lovely venues, lots of bits and parts, and altogether a lot of creative fun for quite a good number of creative professionals from all over the world.

And, so to boxed-lunches, for almost all comers.

Bacchus Barua came on right after lunch, if I remember right, as the only Primary-Participant who’d also been one at the very first CeC (& CaC), way back in 2006, at India International Centre, New Delhi. He’d been invited in the first time as a handy representative (being my son~:o) of some of the creative goings-on of his generation at that age, which eventually amounted to his bringing an entire desktop computer onstage, to perform some original music with, along with a couple of his friends. And, this time, although he was now a semi-professional mainstream musician on off-hours from being an economist, in Vancouver, he’d taken the time to learn a bit about the Pure Data software environment, so as to develop and present an entirely new autonomous music composer of a sort, that would ‘compose’ and play an entirely new musical cycle every time it was started up, all within the parameters of his own tastes in music.

Poulomi Desai and Simon Underwood hared off in an entirely different direction then, as full-time arts practitioner, based in London, where they also operate the Usurp arts space. This was partly about some pretty hardcore hardware, ranged from improvised analog instruments, through all sorts of professional kit and circuit-bent electronic audio toys, all the way to electronics built from scratch. But, only just a wee sample of the bewildering array of the entire arsenal they’d brought along was actually revealed, leaving the rest for the performances-segment Day-3.

Julia Roberts-Pares & Rudi Cole were all about dance. Committed, dedicated, fluid, and fast, in perfect concert with each other. It was wonderful to hear of and see how beautifully some of their earlier performances elsewhere had gone. But, it was sad at the same time to remember that the change of venue for Day-3 was an almost complete compromise for the dance-participants in particular. Nonetheless, as with everybody through every hell of every CeC, they were all there for all of us, even going through a few brief cameos from dances in their repertoire.

Sabine Himmeisbach was someone we’d probably invited quite a few times earlier, into previous iterations of CeC, without success up until this time, when we had Pro Helvetia Delhi to thank for making it happen, at last. Boss of the House of Electronic Arts in Basel today, we’d first met when she was with ZKM in Karlsruhe, many years ago, and she’d obviously done lots of other interesting arts administration in-between. Here was something for everybody. How does arts administration work in the experimental sector? Where does it fit in society? What sorts of infrastructure is standing, and what empowerment ongoing? Where are some of the cutting-edges? What is to be expected into the foreseeable future?

 Akash Sharma, Shivangi Gupta, and Snehal Thomas Jacob, finally rounded off the first day of presentations with a deep look into the work they do together as ‘Sound.Codes’, part of which is about pretty complex mapping of the sound-signatures of various special places that they’ve been doing across India, alongside audio-documentation of a remote tribe in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh, and regular weekend meets they put together around the theme of codes and sounds in there home-base, Mumbai. Not to forget; they also shared with us the story of the robotic flower they’d been struggling to get going over the previous few days, which had been retired as a proof-of-concept, so as to be reconfigured into a musical instrument, for the performances-segment Day-3.

Meanwhile, the incredible collection of Short-Creative-Videoworks, curated especially for CeC once again by the inimitable Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, under the CologneOFF banner, was screened in the room right alongside the conference-room all day.

And so to an evening free for folks to spin off in different directions all the way through to the inevitable jamming of various separate groups into the night at the guesthouse; some going the way of music, some the way of robotics, others head-banging other stuff, and a little bit of everything keeping me up in my room till 4am Day-2!

DAY-2, Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shella Raj launched off the second day of presentations in her inimitable style, as a choreographer and group-leader on Movement & Breathing, choosing to have everybody gather in the demo-room, rather than in the conference-room. And there, she pretty much made everybody dance to her direction, guiding all through a sort of interactive sensory adventure with the various structural elements of everybody’s respective bodies. With that done, and everybody now quite relaxed, she then introduced Julia Robert-Pares and Rudi Cole into the centre of the room, to go through the motions of, first; something rapid that they and choreographed themselves, then; the slower fluidity she had modified the choreography into, and finally; that new version along with Surjit Nongmeikapan dancing to an entirely different pace in the centre. This was something we’d see more of Day-3.

Brian Wallang was the first Primary-Participant from Shillong to present this time. Headmaster of the local KC Secondary School, originally started by his mum, he could obviously only share a relatively few peeps into the extraordinary range of creative activities he’s been engaging his students in over the years, that have earned him the reputation of such an extraordinary educator.

However, much of what Brian could not share in his presentation was sort of shared with us all by the absolutely wonderful young choir and solo-singers whom he’d brought along from his school, to perform a few songs, and to also participate in the whole of that and the last day of CeC as a marvellous extension of the family we all together made up. [names?]

Krisgatha Achmad turned out to be the only Primary-Participant who’d also been one in the first CeC we played out up in Sattal (2009),.. when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong ~ LoL. From a surface view, it might have seemed that he was the same old Krisgatha, once again. But, no; his music had changed; his tools had changed; his editorial work had changed, and; he’s also lately begun to do pretty funky objects and installations.

Ban Casper Mawlong was the second Primary-Participant from Shillong to present, based primarily upon the fact that he’d been the first (and only) person in the state to produce an entire feature-length animation film, telling the tale of an ancient local hero in 3D, with a team of just 3 professionals. And, as he first walked us through his past, then his processes, and, finally his present works and future designs, it was clear that that was just a beginning, of lots more to come.

Gabriel Ghebrezghi, perhaps better known to many as Ghostape, was just a wee bit at sea from being alone for a change in such a situation, rather than with his usual co-conspirator in music, Pol Sinus, who’d had to cancel his participation just a couple of weeks earlier, on account of a broken ankle. But of course, that didn’t stop Ghostape at all, as he talked us through the genesis of his involvement with music, including the almost passively serendipitous manner by which he arrives at the unique tools he uses for it. And, he took the opportunity of the occasion to also essay a little demo-performance too, using just one of his audio-tools, and the given microphone.

Chintan Karla may have seemed an awkward fit for something as awkward as CeC, given that his primary reputation is as a mainstream musician, a sort of Indian rock-star. And, sure enough, he did share some of what that was like with the lot of us, through years on the road playing gig after gig all over the country and the world. But, that was also clearly just one part of him today, with essays in all sorts of directions always ongoing, ranged from studio post-production and gesturally controlled live audio-video performance, through artist-management, event-management, and wildly inventive performance collaborations,.. all the way to launching a Hindi word-game app, that’s being ported across almost every Indian language.

And so, to boxed lunches once again, for almost all comers once again. That is, if I remember the break right.

Abhinav Mishra and Vinay Hasija had been almost invisible to everybody else almost all the way since they had arrived in Shillong, almost a week earlier. As was quite obvious from their joint-presentation, these boys like to play at the edge of technology-based creativity. And so, it was no surprise that they’d been seriously frustrated about the locomotion bug of the BugBots they’d made  as their part of the Arduino Coding & Robotics Workshop that had run directly into CeC 2016. They’d been working at ironing out the bug, and had banged heads about it with the other roboticists, but there was no quick-fix; the bots just had to be re-engineered, perhaps someday. Meanwhile however, the bots worked just fine for the rest of us, aside from that shuffling movement, and interacted very nicely with each other, exchanging signals via coloured LEDs as they sought out, identified, and drew close together.

Hemant Sreekumar, by comparison, is almost altogether about pure coding for the live sound and video works that he’s becoming increasingly well known for performing. Whereas much of it might look and sound like simple audio-video glitch work to some, all of it is actually founded upon a deep and learned aural fascination that seems to have been with him almost all his life in various different ways, but, now mated with a proper cutting-edge coding education and practice, as well as exposure to an enviable array artists over many years, all close up. And, all of it is now veering towards trance states and the hypnotic in his performance works, subtly seeded with sometimes hilarious social commentary.

Surijit Nongmeikapam was the third Primary-Participant from North East India to present. Not from Shillong or Meghalaya as with the first two, but from lovely Manipur, where he has based an extraordinary rise into the global dance world, with the beginnings of a dance-academy that, in turn, sets out to bring global dance to all of Manipur itself. And, as he continuous to train himself across different disciplines, he also performs, serves residencies, and has also sometimes been awarded, around the world, in an extraordinary creative journey that begins and ends at the very home he was born into, deep inside one of the loveliest and least-known places and communities of India.

Mathias Durand’s creative journey as a musician is global too, but quite different. Brought up on classical piano at home in France, he’d moved on to guitar through the whole run of high-school bands, music college, and mainstream bands, before shifting gears to spend almost half his time studying Indian classical music in India every year. And, with that, he now plays full-time with the Tritha Electric band, that conveniently performs through half the year in India, and, half the year in Europe, where Mathias has also begun to compose for film, and create new music festivals.

Paul Schneiter too performs with the Tritha Electric Band, running through pretty much the same half-yearly peregrinations between India and France as the rest of them. But, his stick is percussion. And, his big stick lately has been about setting up and running the most funky analog sound-studio in all of India, alongside artist-management, event-management, and generally driving musicians to go places they perhaps haven’t been before.

Karan Gurung was the fourth and final Primary-Participant from North East India to present, this time from Dimapur, right on the borderline between Assam and Nagaland; while being at the same time ethnically from Nepal. Odd to mention all of that in the normal course, but, that’s what informs much of his creative work; typically site-specific performance art addressing deep issues of the ethnicities, histories, and contemporary geo-politics, that nurture and feed much of what is sad about much of the region today.

Rosalind Malik was luckily amongst us once again, which obviously had us invite her to deliver an ad hoc presentation. And, as it happened, she’d recently just made a pretty amazing little video work featuring a whole lot of her paintings, which, along with a bit of Q&A with the gathering, proved to be as good as anything we might have wished for from her at such short notice.

And finally, we also quite luckily invited Muriel Laurent, another Guest-Participant, to share with us her creative work too, which turned out to be an absolutely fascinating preoccupation with ‘growing’ artworks; if I were to pin down just one stream that ran through much of it all. And, that ranged all the way from growing metallic jewellery by electroplating stippled gobs of metals onto each other to create jewellery, through to fungoid growths upon esoteric substrates to create independent, though sometimes fleeting, art objects.

And, meanwhile, as with the day before, the incredible collection of Short-Creative-Videoworks, curated especially for CeC once again by the inimitable Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, under the CologneOFF banner, had continued to screen in the room right alongside the conference-room all day.

At last, all of the formal presentations of CeC 2016 were over, and all that really remained for all of us to do was to arm ourselves to somehow survive the next day, of performances and exhibits in the Multi-Purpose Convocation Hall of Nehu; which obviously again meant an evening immediately free for folks to spin off in different directions, before getting down to all of that various jamming into the night. But this time, I was thankfully somehow abed by just 2am the next day.

DAY-3, Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday dawned with everybody fully charged up from the goings on of the 2 days and nights before, which was an excellent circumstance to launch off with, since many of us had to start setting up the auditorium for the day’s program of experimental performances and exhibits, which was to begin about noon. The robots made in the Arduino Coding & Robotics Workshop were given the go-by this time though, with regard to being exhibited, as they had already been presented in any case, and also because exhibiting them would have obliged the makers to miss out on much of the other fun that was due up.

On the other hand, this was a perfect opportunity for Suresh Nair to put up a lovely exhibit of a series of his ink-drawings on paper, in the auditorium-lobby. And, not to forget, the glittering sensor-array from the centre of the robotic flower that had been made by Akash Sharma, Shivangi Gupta, and Snehal Thomas Jacob,.. had been redeployed as a musical instrument, — running through Max/MSP, — that was to be the centrepiece of one the performances due up that afternoon.

So, pennants and posters went up outside the auditorium that morning, along with 2 large flex-prints of creative digital imaging that had survived the “Flexibitions” series we’d shown in Guwahati sometime earlier; one by Shazeb Arif Shaikh, the other by Shankar Barua.

And, inside the auditorium, Chintan Kalra was coming through with all of his experience, expertise, grace, and good cheer, as a music professional, to get audio and video running to the max, for everybody. Underfloor cabling was summarily reversed into the built-in PA system, with the caretaker crew worriedly nibbling their fingernails at the prospect of something irreversible being done to their precious audio-stack, blinking and whirring in the control room. Our own PA system was quickly piped into parallel. 2 projectors and all sorts of audio-mixers and other gee-gaws were strung out partly on-stage, and, largely on several tables set upon the floor around the stage.

By the time Chintan was done with set-up, everybody who was to perform was fully set-up, and also plugged in; all at the same time, at different positions around the stage. And, all that any one of them had to do to launch into performance was to just step up, and switch on.

And, so to boxed lunches once again, for almost all comers once again, but, this time kindly arranged from a reputable Chinese restaurant in town, by Yvonne Syiem. A quite the helter-skelter affair this time though, with everybody moving about on different agenda, at different paces.

Nonetheless, all came together just a wee bit off schedule, and we were off.

Brian Wallang and his KC Secondary School Choir [names?], along with a couple of solo-singers, launched the proceedings with a set of popular songs, in english, that got everything off to a rocking start for everybody. The enthusiasm and engagement of every one of the young singers shone through their faces and voices, and through every one of their movements, as did Brian’s, conducting it all with his back to the audience up-front, off-stage, and also singing along almost all the way, in harmony. By now, all of them were good friends with everybody else in CeC 2016; had sat through many of the presentations, and; had even given everybody's kit a proper once-over before the performances began. This was engagement between generations, as equals of a sort, with eyes all together towards new creative horizons into the future. And, it was good.

Akash Sharma, Shivangi Gupta, and Snehal Thomas Jacob, took over thereafter, with their sensor-array from the FlowerBot; Akash manipulating a laptop, partly doing his own audio thing, and partly also processing the array, played by Thomas. Shivangi also popped in and out, sometimes playing the array alongside Thomas, and sometime moving into other goings-on going on right alongside, as a part of the whole performance.

For, Bettina Wenzel was pumping some of her inimitable voice-work into a microphone at the back, and part-dancing with Suresh Nair, as he worked himself up to addressing a large sheet of flex with a marker pen, which he then quite suddenly did, to produce a pretty spontaneous large tracing of his own shadow, that Shivangi then finished off in a different color, as Suresh retired to winding himself down from his sudden creative exertion, with some more part-dancing with Bettina, while she in turn sang her staggering interjections and embellishments into the weird music that played on around her.

As it turned out, Bettina too was sort of working herself up to something, just as Suresh had been, for she moved directly on to her own solo performance. And, whereas she had set herself up upon a small table on a stair at one corner of the stage, much like the small table she’d deployed for her presentation the first day, this time, Bettina’s pocket-concert played out in full flow, her voice weaving in and out of parallel audio-synthesis and sample-playback in movements that flowed from independent elements through staccato interludes, and also the purely lyrical.

Mathias Durand, in turn, stuck almost completely to the purely lyrical in his solo performance, accompanying his own original french songs with guitar, with Benjamin Davy occasionally injecting a wee bit of wood-flute here and there. ‘Lyrical’ with Mathias can stretch pretty wide, travelling from gentle singing to almost harsh loud exclamations and cries. But, he then went entirely soft and gentle when playing just guitar, as Julia Robert-Pares and Rudi Cole joined him to symbiotically produce an incredible shadow dance, extempore, by the light-path of a projector running evocatively fuzzy and slow-moving visuals from Chintan Kalra.

Krisgatha Achmad was back at CeC after more than half a decade, only slightly caught by surprise this time, to find himself often taken to be a local person by local people, on account of his looks, unlike anywhere else he’d ever been in India before. And, he was now playing music quite different from what we’d heard from him those long years ago. His rig was about the tightest of all the set-ups scattered about; just a laptop, a dj-controller, and an iPad. And it was enough, for talent and experience always talks. No surprise then that he stayed on in Shillong after almost everyone else, to wrap up a couple of club-gigs too, before eventually heading home.

Gabriel Ghebrezghi, or Ghostape, in turn, had set up what looked to be possibly the simplest and most straightforward rig of all; just 3 hardware samplers, all apparently quite exactly the same as each other, which means it could have been any single one of them that we’d seen and heard him use so extraordinarily during his presentation in the conference-segment, just the day before. But, his performance this day was not a simple multiplication by 3; it was more like a multiplication by 5, or 7. LoL

Lionel Dentan meanwhile, in his Da Saz avatar, has only seemed to head towards tightness, simplicity, and straightforwardness, with his rig. He’s done, and moved on from, the whole course of digital synths, and samplers, and controllers, and computers, and programs and apps, and all those sorts of doo-dahs, alongside his ongoing work with string instruments over the years. But, whereas he now generally works out of just a single briefcase at a time in his solo sound-performances and studio work, together with just a compact audio-mixer, what’s inside each one of those briefcases of his, respectively, is a well thought out arsenal of analog synths and addenda, that he then complicates into infinite interrelationships via extravagant rats-nests of patch-cords that he begins each performance with, and then modifies every now and again through the course, while at the same time occasionally hitting touch-sensors set to variable parameters, and also tweaking and twiddling knobs of all sorts all over the place.

Rosalind Malik was painting live alongside Lionel and his briefcase this time, on a canvas laid flat upon the stage, with Shazeb Arif Shaikh — in his Godgamut avatar — shooting and live-processing video of her and her emerging work, projected directly to the screen right over the both of them. An involuntary shadow-dance of a sort obviously also came of it all, but, only just enigmatic cameos of the pairing itself emerged, before the whole performance was eventually done, and the almost-complete painting held up for all to see, before Rosalind properly finished it off backstage during the next performance.

Poulomi Desai’s and Simon Underwood’s was that next performance; just their first stop of what eventually turned out to be a quite extraordinary month-long schedule in India. Almost everybody who could do so had filed past their rig during set-up, at one point looking almost like a reverential queue, but for Poulomi’s irreverential pirate-flag, hung off the table, peeping through between their legs. Not surprising, since their whole rig combined into a crazy riddle of cables and devices and the unlikeliest of objects, ranged from portable mixers and tiny audio-processors, through circuit-bent toys, sensors, and of course, Poulomi’s temporary modification of a  a napkin-holder borrowed from the guesthouse dining-hall, serving as surrogate for the savaged sitar that had been too big to bring along with her, from the UK. So, what came of it all in performance? Well, um, there’s no describing it.

And then, we were up against the only disappointing memory of what we put out from our side for CeC 2016; i.e. the fact that the emergency last-minute change of venue for Day-3, had inescapably meant a deep cut of performance-empowerment for the dancers amongst us.

Not all was lost for them though, as an ample floor-space had been opened up alongside the stage, and simply flood-lit, for their performance. Very, very far from ideal, but, at least serviceable.

And the dancers totally owned the space when they took it over, adjusting themselves a bit for just the hard linoleumed floor alone; Julia Robert-Pares and Rudi Cole carrying through Sheela Raj’s choreography of slow motions for them, with high speed flitting about for Surjit Nongmeikapam, around and between them, at the same time. On the stage meanwhile, now visually off to the side, Mathias Durand, on guitar, and Benjamin Davy, on his wood-flute, improvised music to follow the dance, as Shazeb Arif Shaikh subtly beamed processed live-video to the screen.

It wasn’t quite what anyone of them had been hoping to perform in CeC 2016, but, what did collaterally come of it altogether was a lovely new rendition of the traditional old end-point of every earlier CeC up in Sattal, which had picked up the name ‘Experimental Ecstasy’, from always being a beautiful — if sometimes bewildering — cross-disciplinary meeting in ad hoc and improvised creative performance, of collaborators who’d got together for the first time at each CeC itself, respectively. And, it worked.

Chintan Kalra had been holding floorspace at the opposite front-corner of the stage almost all day by now, where his two laptops, controllers, and synth, were set up alongside 3 audio-mixers and a signal-splitter running separate video to 2 projectors, with all of which he’d been variously connecting everybody up through the entire course of set-up, and then, the performances, some of which he’d also backed up with live video synthesis and processing.

And now, he had it all to himself, at last, for his own performance. And a good thing that, because he almost used it all too. The main projector beamed a mobile ambience to the main-screen at the back of the stage; the second projector beamed right over Chintan and his rig onto the wall behind him, fed by the camera of one laptop, focused upon Chintan himself, reading his every movement to assign visual effects to the projected result, live. The camera of his second laptop meanwhile read just some of his movements, just some of the time, to control live sound synthesis and processing, in between all of which, he wandered off into feedback-jamming between a microphone and a nearby PA speaker, played a plastic recorder and then a portable-synth for a bit, stepped out for a moment to light up a cigarette, and generally danced for his 2 laptop cameras to yield almost all of the audio and video of a quite extraordinary excursion.

That left just Hemant Sreekumar to blow all of our minds with a performance of his coded audio and video, which he did just fine all the way through to an absolutely hilarious end.

With that, CeC 2016 was suddenly pretty much all over, to all intents and purposes within the scope of this report.

That was that.

All that remained now, was just the thinking about it all that I’d mentioned at the beginning of this report, up top. As I’d also said up top, 10 years is a long time, with much water obviously having flown under many different bridges over the period.

Not to forget too, that I’d personally first actually tried to do a ‘New Media Festival’ about 1997; almost 10 years — in turn — before the first CeC (& CaC), in 2006. That’s a story I’ve told elsewhere.

I’ll try to be brief here, to the degree that I can ever be brief in such matters~;o).

By the time the very first CeC (& CaC) came around 2006, I was also well past the series of 7 CD-gazettes I put together as The IDEA (The Indian Documentary of Electronic Arts ~ http://retiary.org/idea/), which by that time was already entirely mirrored online via the personal server of the amazing electroacoustic composer and pioneer, Laurie Spiegel — whom I am yet to ever meet personally — in New York; right the other side of the world. My periodic thoughts, along the lines of what that was all about, are archived in the editorials I wrote for each one of those gazettes at the time. And, amongst what was also in the open public domain, I’d even predicted, at a C-DAC conference in Pune December 2000, that 3D printing would hit desktops 2001,.. with actual pictures in my presentation that look quite the same as desktop 3D printers today!

On the other hand, by the time of CeC & CaC 2006, with 3D printing still a faraway pie in the sky for most end-users, we still didn’t have even just the concept of smartphones in the Indian public domain, leave aside so much else we take for granted today, such as social media and online shopping. Almost none of us had ever even seen or heard the sorts of works being done, or the sorts of tools being used, by several of the Primary-Participants from other countries. In fact, the good Lawrence Casserly was so intrigued by how intrigued I was by what on earth he did in performance between his controllers and computer, that he actually gifted me two controllers before leaving, and then mentored me into object-oriented programming via email over several months after that. I do hope I made up partially for the hardware gifts by covering his hospitality costs on a subsequent visit, but, I also do like to think I sort of gave him back an intangible gift too, for his mentorship and inspiration, by actually going to the trouble of making a simple guitar, an elementary midi-controller, and a Pure Data patch I do not now remember, all by myself from scratch, just to see whether it could be done by an interested person in an Indian city, and hopefully also to discover why such things were not widely and variously being done all over India in the normal course, in any case, by all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons, and all sorts of results. And then, I performed with the whole rig too, over about a half hour of the next CeC & CaC, in 2007.

CeC & CaC 2008, the last in New Delhi, saw our first robot in performance. That was Ajay Kapur’s incredible MahaDeviBot, from CalArts; a DrumBot, and a very good one at that, with even a nodding brass head. But, after being diverted to make the venue-shift to Sattal 2009, I managed to come through with a DrumBot of my own making too, in CeC 2010. And, whereas all of the solenoid beaters did blow up on stage in the course of an extended ‘drum-solo’, with lovely sparks and smoke, almost everybody present will bear witness that that came only after I’d declared that, ‘The proof of concept is delivered’; in fact, immediately after I said that. LoL

And now, we are at 2016; 10 years plus 1 since this particular saga began. The annual incidents have certainly evolved over the years, but, the Arduino Coding & Robotics Workshop this time particularly punched through a solid edge of the big picture of how much faster than CeC the world is now moving, partly from the number of Primary-Participants who were working on robotic paradigms with Coding and Arduinos at the beginning of CeC 2016, but more importantly, partly also from the additional number of those working with Coding and Arduinos within a month of that, on robotics and also more.

We’ve always said we were focused upon a moving target, which is why we have always stayed away from education. Meanwhile, that moving target is now becoming a blur.

In any case, even though we did get our best measure ever of external financial support this time, it is very, very far from being enough to drive such a complex entity again to any meaningful leading edge of experimental creativity,… as is.

Experimental creativity is everywhere. Innovation is an ubiquitous buzzword. Creative empowerment is increasingly accessible to all. Coding, controllers, sensors, actuators, are all now commonplace tools. Communities are growing up around esoteric creative practices. Esoteric creative practices are themselves ballooning across domains.

Entities such as Hemant Sreekumar’s ‘Disquiet’ series of sound & noise programs, and Shazeb Arif Shaikh’s ‘Blackout Festival’ of experimental creativity, which can both be said to have sort of collaterally spun out from — or alongside — their respective involvements with CeC itself, have both flown well beyond it in so many ways by now, even though they obviously cannot ever be quite the same thing. All to the good too, and, actually just representative of so much else that is now happening across the creative spectrum in India and the world.

It is probably time to move on. From being an annual series of incidents, with random other activities, to being instead a constant — and constantly evolving — state of being; a special place, hopefully someday in many different places.

I’m not 100% percent committed to this as yet, mainly because this is finally not a baby I can — or should — carry alone. In fact, if I did have to, that would itself stand proof that nobody else wants it, or needs it.

Basically, my thinking has (again) been veering towards planting everything of the history, the archives, the global goodwill and credibility, and hopefully also the ongoing works into the future, of The AeA, down once and for all, as ‘bricks & mortar’, probably on the quarter-acre plot of land my little family owns in the hidden little village of Petunia, set amidst reviving reserve forest, within a short walk of a lovely corner of the main Sattal Lake, well-hidden from the tourist trap on the other side; all just over a ridge from where I presently live in my homemade little home in the burgeoning Bhimtal valley, with pretty much a mountain-metropolis mushrooming up out of the ground all around me. This is in the hilly Kumaon region of the Uttarakhand State of India.

Anything we might do along any such lines would hopefully be an appropriate interpretation of the general gist of the old ‘Research & Innovation Ashram’ concept-paper I first put out 2007, not least because that requires a much larger plot of land, with a quite handsome budget, but, also obviously because almost 10 years have passed on that too.

Today, folks might identify that concept with the currently viral concept and spread of ‘maker-spaces’ of all sorts. And, that wouldn’t be too far off, in some ways.

To my mind, in fact, what would ideally be completely common with that old concept would essentially be precisely just that matter of creating and maintaining a pretty funky live-in maker-space of sorts, for good people to sort of isolate themselves into, by turns over relatively extended periods of time, in lovely environs, to work upon good creative works of all sorts, including evolving the place itself collaterally through the course of their stay respectively, for both themselves and others into the future.

However, to repeat myself, this is not something that I can — or should — do alone, with just my little family behind me. Also again; for me/us to have to do so would only make the point that nobody else wants it, or needs it,.. in which case it would make far more sense for us to just take aboard a partner who will put up and run a nice little hotel upon the plot. And, I’d then hopefully also be able to get back a bit of the personal creative life that’s been diverted to this madness all these years.

It should be enough that we contribute the land, along with everything of these works of The AeA and myself, including archives, plus lots of tools. The rest should surely be up to the rest of the world, if it is worth it for the world.

Perhaps KickStarter or some such essay?

Or, should we just forget about the whole thing as something done with in good time, put CeC nicely to sleep, sell the plot of land in Petunia, blow it all upon ourselves, and move on?

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind having such a budget to put to an artwork of my own.

This report would not be complete without expressing our humble thanks to those who made CeC 2016 happen as it did: Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council, Arduino Karkhana Bangalore, Department of Arts & Culture (Government of Meghalaya), Poonam Barua, Chandrika Grover, Damang Syngkon,  Avner Pariat, Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, Jobin Vijayan, Matsiewdor War, ICSSR-Nerc, Joshua Thomas, Thangboi Paite, Chintan Kalra, Bacchus Barua, Shazeb Shaikh, Brian Wallang, Julius Basaiawmoit, ,.. and others I do not remember right now.

Shankar Barua
Managing Trustee ~ The AeA
B - 5&6 / 4563, Vasant Kunj
New Delhi - 110 070




CeC is an extraordinary annual public incident that is all about Presentations, Performances, Exhibits and Screenings, involving direct and indirect participation of Experimental Creative Practitioners of all description from around India and the world, spread over 3 days of intense public creative interaction,.. with each and every Primary-Participant expected to experimentally bring something creatively *new* to the table.

note: we pronounce CeC as "Sek"

The 10th CeC was co-presented by:

Department of Arts & Culture
Government of Meghalaya






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.

Incident Director, and Managing Trustee of The AeA: Shankar Barua
Curator for Short-Creative-Videoworks: Wilfried Agricola de Cologne

local assistance:
Damang Syngkon, Avner Pariat, Joydeep Das, Julius Basaiawmoit, Shazeb Shaikh, Bacchus Barua, Chintan Kalra

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.

The IDEA (The Indian Documentary of Electronic Arts)