Research beyond borders

Immersive, inspired and collaborative – a view from India’s unbox festival

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Laura Bones from the AHRC writes about the Unbox fesitval

In December 2014 I attended the UnBox festival in Delhi. The UnBox festival is an interdisciplinary festival which brings together professionals from many different sectors, to encourage inspiration and collaboration.

3 X 4 workshop. Photo courtesy of Vivek Muthuramalingam

3 X 4 workshop. Photo courtesy of Vivek Muthuramalingam

In February 2014, the AHRC funded 8 UK researchers to go to the UnBox LABS at the National Institute of Design, in Ahmedabad, along with UK and Indian creative practitioners and researchers. This was an immersive 10 day experience where participants were given the opportunity to network and develop joint project ideas. The AHRC funded 4 follow-on projects from the LABS and it was great to see these showcased at the UnBox festival. The workshops and display boards showed how the projects had developed from those initial ideas at the LABS stage.

One project which proved very popular was ‘3×4’. They demonstrated their immersive telematic environment, which merged two 3×4 metre room installations, one at the Southbank centre in London and one in Khoj International Artists Association, Delhi. This gave participants the opportunity to explore and play across the digital space. It was fun to be able to interact with participants in another country through the merged image and to be able to co-create the background images. The installation was deliberately 3×4 metres in size, as this is the plot size provided in some resettlement colonies in India, and the project team wished to see how participants explored the qualities and values built through self-organised communities that are lost in the resettlement process. They will go on to analyse the footage of the interactions and see how people reacted differently to the space.

3 x 4 unbox workshop. Photo courtesy of Vivek Muthuramalingam

3 x 4 unbox workshop. Photo courtesy of Vivek Muthuramalingam

Overall the festival was a great mix of workshops, talks, performances, visits and conversations. It has a really informal atmosphere which allows people the opportunity to talk and explore. I really enjoyed seeing how the AHRC projects had developed since the LABS stage and I attended some great workshops, ranging from topics such as gender discrimination to the Indian Mars mission. I also got to talk to a diverse range of people, from design consultants to local craftspeople.

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