Technology, Exchange and Flow Writing Workshops at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth University
Department Name: Sch of Art, Design & Architecture


The Follow-on aims to open up the theme of 'exchange and flow' between artists and audience to wide interpretations at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 and through writing workshop activities allow the public to explore the perceptual apparatuses, experiences and associations at play when artworks are publically presented. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is especially interested in hosting the planned activities as the event, known as at the 'People's Biennale' works towards bringing new audiences to engage with contemporary international art. The Follow-on will also partner with Leonardo/International Society for Arts, Science and Technology to encourage new writing from non-academics in India. Writing workshop participants will respond to the theme of 'exchange and flow' in the context of the Biennale and an archive of television media owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation of 1970s material co-produced by artists, space scientists and rural audiences.

The project emerges from the three-year HERA Joint Research Programme project 'Technology Exchange and Flow: Artistic Media Practices and Commercial Application' (TEF). It examined the relationship between artistic media practices and industrial/commercial exploitation of audio-visual media at key moments of technological innovation, such as contemporary gaming and early television. The research highlighted how experimental media practices crossing into mainstream adverts produced proactive viewing. These findings were shared at the exhibition 'Play and Prosume' held at the Vienna Kunsthalle and, following the award of an additional impact grant, at a two-day knowledge transfer event called 'Advertising the Sublime' held in collaboration with two major film and television archives, The Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision and Eye Film Institute, Netherlands. The feedback from audiences at these events impacted the collection and preservation policy of the archives.

Since that event, new postdoctoral research by the CI concerning a body of television material in the archives of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), revealed a similar pattern of exchange and flow between mainstream and experimental media producers, facilitated by new technology (portable video cameras). The CI conducted a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in India to investigate these links and convened a symposium at the previous Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 titled 'Creative Encounters with Science and Technology: Legacies, Imaginaries, Futures', which was supported by the PI. The television material is the product of ISRO's well-documented satellite communications pilot project in the 1970s that aimed to steer the new technology of television to rural under-privileged audiences. In the light of the CI's new research concerning the involvement of creative practitioners in the ISRO project, including filmmakers, some of whom also maintained avant-garde experimental practices the intention of the Follow-on is to share and extend the findings of the TEF project to the two contexts identified in India to bring active co-production with audiences to the fore.

The proposal will articulate collaborative frameworks of 'exchange and flow' consistent with the altruistic concerns of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the ISRO television archive. It will impact on both institutions in the ways they conceptualise and collaborate with audiences in the future. In sharing the results and experiences of TEF and its Knowledge Exchange results this project is expected to have significant local impact as well as scalability and transferability to other contexts.

Planned Impact

Impact is envisaged in three areas - impact for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), impact for the ISRO archive and impact in framing the significance of creativity in international development contexts. The KMB venue itself opens pathways to impact. Firstly, as a prestigious event it should attract key participants from across the subcontinent (including Bangladesh and Pakistan) with capacity to cascade to other relevant contexts. Secondly, with high audience numbers on site (600,000) and a popular social media following, the activities have great potential to reach high audience numbers both through direct interaction, publicity and video/photo records of the activities, which may lead to a range of new initiatives.

More specifically, the pathways to impact for the two contexts have been carefully constructed to interconnect in the following ways. The activities in Kochi will extend research insights from 'Technology, Exchange and Flow' (TEF) in order to foreground the active engagement of audiences stimulated by artistic media practices. By staging activities at a high-profile event with a forward-thinking attitude towards its audiences, it is anticipated that pathways to impact will emerge for the archive of television media currently operating with delimited access for its original audiences or for new audiences. In this sense it is a high-risk and experimental Follow-on project that, by emulating methods of artistic practices, aims to create a shift on one register in order to effect change on another register.

The Follow-on creates this pathway by inviting the original audience-producers of that archive to Kochi and also sharing on video the memories and sensibilities of those in the Ahmedabad area unable to attend in person. It is envisioned that the activity of eliciting memories of television production in which audiences collaborated in multiple ways and documenting these on video will regenerate local interest in the ISRO archive. The forum in Kochi may then produce sufficient visibility with a representative network of partners present to co-construct a plan for its preservation, study and accessibility. By shooting good quality video we keep open the possibility of extending this element into a documentary film should future funding become available.

It is expected that the audience-focused writing workshop activities at the Biennale will considerably inform the frameworks currently employed for evidencing impact by using insights from the TEF research to more fully account for the affective dimensions of the audience experience. The Biennale's first impact report was completed by KPMG in 2017. By using artistic methods to evidence audience experiences - created by the audiences themselves - the Follow-on offers novel and pioneering new techniques for tracing the effects of the Biennale's work more widely. Because TEF looked specifically at exchange between artistic and commercial contexts there may be a particular opportunity to look at business impacts in new ways as a result of the engagement events. In addition, the engagement events will look at how artists use media technology and, through the inclusion of the rural audiences involved in the production of the television archive, will bring reflexive questions to bear on artists' choices with regard to rural audiences and access to technology.

Evidencing the processes of active viewing by audiences at the Biennale has the potential to create new pathways to impact for comparable public organisations in India such as museums and archives. The evaluation event at the writing workshops is intended to articulate transferable insights that will raise awareness of the importance of upholding the availability of creative opportunities within development contexts, particularly concerning social infrastructure technologies.


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Description A community of interest in the methodological approach of popular collaboration was developed in Kochi. The insights were shared with academics in Kochi and the ideas developed in the HERA project of a flowing exchange of knowledge as a way of understanding cultural impact was welcomed by Th eDirector of the New Science gallery Benggaluru.
Exploitation Route The network established in Kochi was indeed extended back to our original partners in EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam and they are now in collaborative dialogue. This strategy of writing workshops also might be taken forward in other projects in which cultural exchange around shared topics with very different ideological and evidential basis might be furthered.
Th findings concerning advertising and the impact of the popular imagination and avant garde practice that were the outcomes of the HERA TEF project (that this follows on from) were also given wider dissemination.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Energy,Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The impact of this project was intended to have a non-academic dimension. Kochi biennale was chosen because it is known as the People's Binnale and it created a resonance that actually produced a document called the 'Kochi Declaration for Audiences" Aside from the enthusiasm for this it is possibly too early to say what the real resonance has been beyond the participants at Kochi but we have been invited to continue to collaborate with them in future editions. The original grant has had impact almost from the start because it had an impact work package as part of it. It also attracted a further HERA award to enhance the impact and this Follow on Funding really extended that to India. For example the changes to policy in the Dutch archives arising from the original grant have been shared with Indian archives.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services