December 8, 2014

A look into UnBox’s three-day excursion into the weird and wonderful

by Amishi Parekh

If you’re a firm believer in the ideology that creativity and truly great ideas emerge at the edges of disciplines – at the spaces were art and science, technology and craft, culture and innovation, touch: The lineup at this year’s UnBox Festival, which kicks off in just a few days, is sure to result in a number of creative collisions. Under the theme, ‘All Together Now’, from music to mixology, space travel to the intricacies of traditional block printing, and an authentic meal of sarson ka saag and makki di roti thrown in, participants should be prepared for a multi-sensory three-day excursion into the weird and wonderful.

Along with his team, Avinash Kumar, co-founder of the Festival, faces the frenetic energy of putting the event together first-hand.

“That frenetic energy is part of the UnBox feeling for us, and we hope everyone who comes in will have a sense of that. I think we have managed to get an amazingly talented pool of people this year, and are fortunate that so many folks are bestowing such faith in UnBox. Often, when the team is tired and low on motivation, it is these wonderful people who have somehow given us so much positive energy, time and resources to help build this festival. More than half the people who come to UnBox are participants – speaking, facilitating, hacking, debating – which truly equips the festival with the ammo to construct new ideas at the festival.”

There will be 13 talks, 25 workshops, nine field trips, seven showcases and eight performances from 12 – 14th December. We picked out a few events not to be missed:

centrestage unbox 2013Centrestage at UnBox 2013

Mangala for All
A workshop on space travel as Anab Jain from the creative studio Superflux breaks down the Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) – India became the first Asian country to enter the Martian gravity in September –with an exploration of Indian Spacecrafts, the Mars Orbiter Mission and what it means for us. Anab Jain, designer and entrepreneur, is founder of Superflux, a multidisciplinary design studio based in London and Ahmedabad. Working at the intersection of design, technology and science, Superflux’s projects span a wide range of themes; from neural prosthetics and augmented vision, to domestic eco-robots, pirate networks and RFID-enabled electronic jewellery.

Medicine Corner Bar
A street medicine-inspired (think herbal) mixology experiment courtesy Global Projects from the Wellcome Collection (UK) accompanied with a showcase by BLOT! who have been commissioned to undertake a research project and exhibition to tell an entertaining and educative story of informal medicine in India.

Canto Ostinato
Gwyneth Wentink, the internationally acclaimed harpist brings to UnBox 2014 Canto Ostinato, a performance with harp, electronica and visuals, based on the ground breaking composition ‘Canto Ostinato’. Wentink (harp),Wouter Snoei (electronica) and Arnout Hulskamp (visuals) respond to each other on stage using their instruments and self-developed software, determining who takes the lead according to the codes of ‘Canto Ostinato’. Wentink will also perform, Gwyneth Wentink + Cymatical – Piece for heart and vibrations (PoHV),a live performance with her and a generative audio-visual software application. The live piece is a synergy of live generated visuals and sounds generated by the player’s heart and the harp being played.

“My experience is that [UnBox] is a beautiful gathering of ideas, creative processes and positive solutions. An event where meeting, sharing and listening is the centrepoint of a great learning and celebrating event. It is extra special to collaborate at a festival like UnBox where we can co-produce certain events and work together in a curatorial way. I am looking forward to it!”

Hendzel and Hunt upcycling live at unbox 2012Hendzel and Hunt upcycling live at UnBox 2012

Innovation in Governance
For those us who have bemoaned the absence of design in India’s public policy, a peek into the process of innovation in governance – what are the biggest stumbling blocks, where do lines get drawn between public accountability and risks associated with innovation, what is the government vocabulary for innovation, who gets included and who gets left out?

Food Labyrinth at unbox 2012Food Labyrinth at UnBox 2012

John Thackara, a regular participant at UnBox adds, “The themes looks terrific, like the fusion between the analog and digital design, the session on informal economy, several sessions on Future Cities. I’m looking forward to people doing crazy things with drones. I’m particularly excited about the workshop with block printers from Rajasthan. UnBox as a whole will be exciting.”

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