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'UnBox'ing UK-India Creativity

Date: 03/07/2013

The UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in partnership with the Unbox festival, the British Council and the UK’s Science and Innovation Network, has announced additional funding to further develop creative entrepreneurship between the UK and India.

Additional funding has been announced as a follow-up to the Unbox Fellowship Programme where UK researchers undertook short-term Fellowships with hosts in India. Following these fellowship placements of up to 4 weeks, the UK researchers could then bid for follow-up funding during the UnBox festival in New Delhi in February 2013.

The UnBox festival is an annual celebration of creative minds and collaborative research. This year the UnBox festival provided a platform for UK and Indian teams of creative researchers to engage and discover avenues of creative thinking through inter-disciplinary partnership.

Five UK researchers have been awarded funding from AHRC to enable the UK-India partnerships to explore and address further questions that arose from their UnBox Fellowships. The successful projects are:

  • Dr Misha Myers, Senior Lecturer in Theatre, Falmouth University.

    Dr Myers will be joined by Saswat Mahapatra an illustrator and graphic designer, to work with Digital Green (DG). The research will explore the use of computer games as a method of storytelling and learning to engage urban users in the complexities of rural development, agricultural practices and issues facing farmers in India. The realities of farmers’ lives in India remain relatively unknown and misunderstood by most web-connected urban users. Interviews with farmers during the first phase of this project, as part of the UnBox Fellowship, emphasised the need for the game to promote the message that urban users’ own survival is interconnected with that of the small farmer.

  • Dr Padmini Ray Murray, Lecturer in Publishing Studies, University of Stirling.

    Dr Ray Murray will lead Meghdoot: Using new technologies to tell age-old stories. The project is based around a prototype of a game Meghdoot that was developed in the first phase of the Unbox Fellowship. Meghdoot draws on features of Indian culture such as gestural movements from Indian dance in gameplay and is inspired by using narrative structures drawn from Indian mythology, making a conscious choice to move away from Anglo-Saxon linear sequences in the game's design and deploys an aesthetic that is inspired by Indian heritage artefacts but does not resort to usual tropes of the exotic or the oriental. Meghdoot will fall into the increasingly popular category of ‘serious art’ game.

  • Dr Churnjeet Mahn, Lecturer in English Literature, University of Surrey.

    Dr Mahn will be joined by British Council Fellow Ioanna Manoussaki-Adamopoulou a Filmmaker and Researcher and UnBox fellow, Simran Chopra, a New Media Designer from India on A Punjabi Palimpsest: Cultural Memory and Amnesia at the Aam Khas Bagh.  The Grand Trunk Road is a significant and historical highway which runs across the north of India, connecting Afghanistan to Calcutta. Although the exact route of the road has changed, its trajectory and purpose have remained constant i.e. the transmission of knowledge, ideas, religion, tradition and innovation. This project focuses on one important site along the Grand Trunk Road in a location of particular significance for Muslims and Sikhs. This project aims to research the ways in which Sikh and Muslim heritage co-exists in post-Partition Punjab in India.
  • Professor Andrew Burton, Professor of Fine Art, Newcastle University.

    Professor Burton will work with the British Council Fellow Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad a Creative Director and Product Designer alongside the UnBox Fellow Stanzin Losal Shamshu, a Product Designer, to work on Mapping Mapusa Market. This is an exploration into how a local Indian market can be creatively ‘mapped’ or documented.. To create the map of this vibrant cultural accumulation, a range of market users including shoppers, day vendors and market workers will chart their ‘market walk’. Whether transporting goods, scouting for trade or browsing for souvenirs each participant will create a vivid picture of their experience of the market.

    Using specially designed tools for creative production, the project will build up a series of vivid ‘cross-sectional’ views. Organised into a cohesive body of work and uploaded onto a website that also invites contributions from others, the project will explore the market both as a nexus of cultural, commercial and social relationships, a hub for cultural production and an exciting physical place.

  • Dr Emile Devereaux, Lecturer in Digital Art and Culture, Lancaster University.

    Dr Devereaux will work with the British Council Fellow Alexander Jolliffe, Animator and the UnBox Fellow, Radhamohini Prasad, Film maker on the LEGIT: Media for Open Governance project. This will research how media and new technologies might be used to encourage active engagement with open governance in India. At the UnBox festival in New Delhi in January 2013, LEGIT tested explorations on paper using cut-outs of iconic imagery, reassembled and reshaped through collage and drawing. Participants also worked with re-arranging large sculptural boxes covered with icons representing pressing social concerns. These methods combining movement, interaction and drawing helped opinions to manifest and be visualised in storyboard-like forms.

Working closely with communities on-site to develop media work, helps to bring some of the concerns of India's non-Internet audience to the 150 million Internet users. Providing footage to journalists and television media networks, allows community voices to reach those viewers not found online.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: +44 (0)1793 416021 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

Geeny George, RCUK India:geeny.george@rcuk.ac.uk

  • For full details of the Fellow, the host institutions, please go to the UnBox festival website.
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  • For further details on the British Council Fellows please visit the British Council website.

    The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of £739 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. For more information, please visit the British Council homepage. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through the British Council Twitter feed and the British Council blog.
  • The UK Science and Innovation Network has bases in 25 countries with around 100 staff in total. The Network's purpose is wide-ranging, and involves science diplomacy and fostering collaboration in science and innovation. We work with academia, research establishments and businesses in the UK and its international partners. Our work includes gathering information, providing analysis, producing reports and running briefing sessions. We use interactive platforms such as seminars, workshops, conferences, sponsored visits and researcher exchanges to engage the UK and its international partners directly. Further information is available on our BIS Science and Innovation Network website.
  • The AHRC is represented in India by RCUK (Research Councils UK) India, based at the British High Commission, New Delhi. RCUK India was established in 2008 to facilitate research partnerships and enable the best researchers in the UK and India to develop high-quality, high impact collaborations.
  • The University of Surrey is one of the UK's leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life – helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 110 companies employing 2,750 staff. The Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs’ which underlines the university's growing reputation for providing high quality, relevant degrees.
  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University

    Newcastle ranks in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide

    Amongst our peers Newcastle is:

    10th in the UK for student satisfaction

    In the UK's top 12 for research power in Science and Engineering

    93% of Newcastle's students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating (HEFCE 2012)

    Newcastle has a world-class reputation for research excellence and is spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing and Health, Sustainability, and Social Renewal

    Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011

    International students put Newcastle University in world's top 12 (ISB 2011)
  • Founded in 1967, the University of Stirling was the first new university in Scotland for nearly 400 years. Since its foundation, Stirling has embraced its role as an innovative, intellectual and cultural institution with an established reputation for blending arts and science. It is home to leading researchers and scholars, attracted by its unique learning environment, exceptional facilities and student-centred approach.; Stirling has a world-class reputation for its interdisciplinary research, relevant to the social, economic and cultural needs of society, with research strengths in Health and Wellbeing, Culture and Society, Environment, Enterprise and the Economy, and Sport. Stirling's graduates, staff and students are helping to shape the world by making a direct and positive contribution to the development of prosperous, healthy and sustainable communities across the globe.

Featured Image: courtesy of the UnBox Festival

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