Symposium: Kochi Biennale

‘Creative Encounters with Science and Technology: Legacies, Imaginaries and Futures’ (18-19 February 2017)

Convened as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 programme.  A two-day research symposium with international participants, which aims to bring forgotten histories of creative mediation to bear on current technological imaginaries and their futures.

Deligates in conversation at seminar at Kochi November 2017

Plenary session at ‘Creative Encounters with Science and Techology’ symposium, Kochi-Muziris Biennale (Left to right: Nicholas Krisman, Sharath Chandra Ram, Agatha Haines, Archit Guha, Jacqui Knight, Hannah Drayson)

Institutional Partners: Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, India; CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India; Transtechnology Research, Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom, with support from Goethe-Zentrum Trivandrum.

Convenors: Dr Joanna Griffin and Dr Muthatha Ramanathan. More information on Facebook page.

Creative Encounters Symposium Programme

Dr Joanna Griffin and Dinaz Kalwachwala speaking about the Indian space programme’s 1970s television experiment at the ‘Creative Encounters with Science and Technology’ symposium, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016.

Biennale Pavilion

Participants from ‘Creative Encounters with Science and Technology’ symposium outside the Pavilion designed by architect Tony Joseph from recycled materials

Concept Note

By focusing on creative encounters, the symposium aims to amplify transdisciplinary negotiations of art and science via tangible technologies and intangible infrastructures, through social domains. As a fresh wave of media ideologies enter India’s state policy, such as in the form of the Smart Cities Mission, the symposium provides a timely pause for reflection on the roots, legacies and consequences of participatory technological infrastructures, in India as well as on the global stage. 

In the context of India, a thread we are interested in opening through the symposium is the cosmopolitan, critical discourse that took place in India through the 1960s to 1980s around the extent to which development technologies, such as television, space technology, farming methods and nuclear power delimited or extended agency. Sources from this time that retrace concerns for intimacy within large-scale infrastructure and its structural blind spots include Johan Galtung’s  ‘Violence, Peace and Peace Research’ (1969), Victor Papanek’s Design for the Real World (1971), Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1977), Ivan Illich’s ‘The De-linking of Peace and Development’ (1980), and Ashis Nandy’s ‘Counter-Statement on Humanistic Temper’ (1981). In addition, the public discourse and activities of key technocrats in India’s media histories, such as Yash Pal and Vikram Sarabhai, forged connections between science, technology, design and the arts. The notion of transdiciplinarity, as used in recent times to describe temporary mobilisations of a range of disciplinary perspectives in order to engage with emerging problems (Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons, 1994, 2001 and 2003), becomes a relevant analytical tool with which to reassess less familiar patterns of creativity within genealogies of art/science encounters.

Setting such discussions within the Kochi-Muziris Biennale draws attention to the performance of science as experience, affect and visuality, which marks artistic practices and intervention. It highlights the intimate contexts in which large-scale technological infrastructures are encountered. The symposium, as intervention, sets out to critically re-examine historical experiences in order to better negotiate future scenarios. 


Zainab Bawa, editorial chief and director at HasGeek Learning ‘The narrative of digital colonialism – and the project to build Indian technology for India’

Dina Boswank, Bauhaus-University Weimar  ‘”Construction for Destruction’: A research study into notions of technology, creativity and participation in India by reenacting the letter publications of G.D. Naidu’ 

Sharath Chandra Ram (Sharathchandra Ramamkrishnan) ‘Biocreation of Informatics’

Nicholas Chrisman and Dennis Dreher ‘Weaving art, design and computer graphics at the Harvard Lab 1967-1982’

Dr Hannah Drayson, Transtechnology Research, University of Plymouth ‘All kinds of magic; instrumental representations of mind-body medicine as a way to make things happen’

Agi Haines, Transtechnology Research and CogNovo, Plymouth University ‘Ideas Exchange in simulating technological scenarios’

Shai Heredia ‘Artists in Action’ (Curated film)

Marialaura Ghidini SILICON PLATEAU—Vol.1 (publication installation)

Archit Guha ‘Steaming Histories of the Present: Situating the Art-Science Movement in India’

Dinaz Kalwachwala (in conversation with Joanna Griffin) ‘Grounding Space Technology in 1970s: The NID – ISRO television experience’

Gavin Keeney, CEPT University  ‘Representation as Research?’

Jacqui Knight  ‘The Ecology of Photographic Practices Towards an Aesthetic of the Posthuman’

Sandeep Mertia  ‘Life-worlds of Data – From Computing Clerks to Androids’

Snehal Nagarsheth  ‘Astronomical Landscapes’

Geetha Narayanan ‘Consciousness by Confluence’

Gautam Sharma  ‘Alternative Imagination of Science and Technology in India: A Historical Perspective’

Eugenia Stamboliev  ‘Performing emotions: Humanoid robots beyond bad acting’

Shruti Tamboli  ‘Taknik and Technology :  Meanings of Makings’

Chandan Gowda  ‘The Pasts of Technology’