UnBox 2019 was a weekend of discovery and learning, and allowed for unanswered questions as well as explorations. It brought together emerging and disruptive ideas from those who are pushing boundaries of their own practice. The three day festival had 100 Indian Collaborators and 32 International Collaborators.
With 328 Total Participants, the festival outcomes are both tangible and intangible. Some projects were co-created at the festival and will continue into longer projects. Here are some quick highlights from UnBox Festival 2019:
Discussions and talks
Stories, conversations, and dialogues took centre stage at UnBox Festival this year touching upon relevant topics shaping contemporary thought. Day one was loaded with talks on water resource management at the grassroots, cultures and values of learning in the present age, the importance of consent in the digital space, exploring technology for conservation, the impact of social media on India’s upcoming general elections, as well as exploring the messy futures space from a personal and human perspective. Conversations on the burgeoning city limits and its impact on infrastructure and resources, storytelling traditions that share genealogies and ecological patterns, ethics that may govern the use of AI systems, the impact of technology in the social sector, making a truly inclusive Internet, design-led innovation strategies, the need for intersectionality in design and the use of digital processes in preserving heritage, unfolded and expanded through the three days of the festival.
UnBox 2019 curated a set of workshops conducted by experts from varied practices, for festival attendees to participate and immerse into. While some created intimate spaces to brainstorm and ideate, others got participants down to their hands and knees exploring and making. Taking on multiple tracks and formats, they led participants to experience disability to understand its needs and choices, explored emerging technologies, create a wishlist of a feminist Internet, build unique conspiracies, imagine a world of AR/VR without using it, and discussed the role of technology in craft practices. UnBox also curated workshops that used three-dimensional tensile structures to evaluate the relationships of the human body, and featured the unheard stories of the brave women of Karnataka, explored the future of consent, examined data driven investigation, and making zines.
The festival also hosted a 4-day lab, in partnership with UK-based artists collective – Invisible Flock, that focused on building meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaborations within environmental and socially engaged practices. It brought together artists, designers and writers from India, Uk & Uganda to think about technology beyond its traditional understanding, and instead as a creative medium. Outcomes from the Lab were shared in multiple formats ranging from exhibits to talks and performances.
UnBox Food Lab
UnBox Food Lab explores connections and meaningful interactions between food, its preparation, the act of enjoying it, and the people who consume it. This year the lab manifested in the form of talks, workshops, and communal meals at the festival, with conversations on cultural appropriation in food and the future of urban farming; workshops that investigated the fascinating world of coffee through games, experience traditional fermentation processes, and explore our interconnected food ecosystems. A selection of films explored the challenges of rising food demands, while thematic culinary experiences translated into community meals that served traditional regional recipes and helped reconnect with those that grow our food.
The evenings brought together an eclectic mix of sound and visual artists. A transmedia narrative using improvised electronica and live visual programming, featured Seasonal Affected Beats, Aural Eye and Cursorama came together in Dreamswitch at the UnBox Open House on day one of the festival. UnBox After Dark was a collaborative audio-visual showcase by UnBox residents and guests at Foxtrot, Koramangala. The night combined sounds from Bombay based electronic musicians SPRYK and Echofloat, with visual interpretations from Thiruda and Cursorama from the VJing collective Alt-Q, supported by Romanian collective Aural Eye Visions Studio. The last evening of the festival brought together an indie folk trio with Abhijeet Tambe accompanied by Michael Dias and Kaushik Kumar in The Unwind Collection, at The Humming Tree in Indira Nagar. This was followed by a modern, electronic set that brought together the sound experiments of Nikhil Narendra and Shreyas Dipali.
Installations & Exhibitions
The exhibits at UnBox transformed the space of the festival into a transient gallery with projects and ideas across multiple formats. More than 18 installations and exhibitions were presented that ranged from immersive entertainment with VR film pods to a participatory installation on creating a collective scent. Others included the outcomes of mixing environmental data collection with technology, a curated set of albums that created an archive of stories from India’s countryside, an interactive installation that made visual and acoustic connections between outer space and physical spaces that surround us, and the making of both real and virtual Narkasur effigies. Music came alive through the stories of a curious crow that lit up each time a musical note played, and a transient space within an auto rickshaw that urged all to make their own music.