This post shares about how Availability of local public spaces are needed for any art to work.
For many people FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), FLOSS (Free Libre, Open Source Software) and creative commons is a way to conduct business, viewpoints,ideology,passion and the generation and usage of tools, processes, techniques in this regard what is missed most of the times in the pursuit of that goal are access to large, local and public spaces where such creative pursuits can be displayed.
This realization dawned on me during the on-gong 10 day ‘Ganesh Chaturthi‘ festival (The elephant god) . I had been visiting quite a few pandals (stationery floats) all of them have one theme or the other. The variety of topics has to be seen to be believed, you have theme of anti-terrorism, politics, corruption, science and technology,farming, social messages, current events you name it and some mandal or the other would have done it. Most of that stationery floats have ‘Puppets’ which are either programmed or remotely controlled by way of gears, levers and switches . The presentation is typically an ‘audio-puppet-lightning’ combo and I have been experiencing the same since my childhood.
In one of those outings, I was pleasantly surprised to see two instances/floats which were unique. While one was a play being enacted by real humans on a public stage (haven’t seen anything like this except in Mumbai where they have a floating parade in Feb. ), the other interesting one was an animation which re-tells the story a forgotten Army martyr in one of the India-Pakistan wars/skirmishes. While the history lesson itself was not much interesting to me what really fascinated me were how the young or the old were being pulled into seeing the 10 minute animation. Mind you, this particular peice of animation is being held on a pretty busy cross-road/junction and there are no places to sit, so everybody is standing and enjoying the show. If I look at it from an art critic point of view it wouldn’t win any awards. The animation was as if a 5 year old had drawn a picture and made so many so that an animation could happen. It could be deliberate attempt or the guy/girl doesn’t know any better but that’s not the point. It was seeing an experience which people enjoyed to the hilt.
This whole experience told me that while from a technical perspective we could argue and cajole for more better features and workflow from our softwares and software developers there is a great need to showcase such amateur art in as many public spaces as possible. There is also a crying need of more content made available in the form of images, textures, animations and a whole lot more which is free to be used and reused to express the ideas, feelings and imagination of and for the human condition. This is not present or present woefully short in India as well as all over the world. Couple of more examples to illustrate my point. :-
a. Youtube :- It is supposed to be one of the jewels in the Google Universe with some videos becoming viral enough and getting millions of hits. But till date, it is seen only by a handful of people of the entire population. As of date, it can be seen by people having access to medium budgeted computer with a medium budgeted Internet connection or a high-end expensive phone with an equally expensive net connection. Of late, there have been few niche programs like NDTV’s ‘News Net 3.0’ and their brethen but they cater to the basest of tastes, either funny,cute,horror anything except for which is political or could make one uncomfortable. No kicking anybody anywhere. Of course the reach of such channels and the viewership is also among the elite only as the rest of the crowd/population would see the regular masala bollywood stuff as this is what they only know. Also access to resources like youtube as said before is available with something like 3% of the population. If you stretch it a bit, you could take it to 5-7% but then still its nowhere to make an impact. Within the Youtube ofcourse, you still have the minority of the videos having the major play (the 20/80 thumb rule/thing) but that’s a different story altogether. Accessibility and availability is still a long way.
b. Opengameart.org :- This is an even more niche product/service/site. While I love the idea, the concept, the ideology and even the ongoing process at execution its highly restrictive in its present form. There is still lot of work to be done to get to know people to the site and then find ways to keep them interested in there. They need to find ways of making it more and more useful and popular. One way the team (an individual atm) is perhaps making a torrent of all the commons content currently submitted for public consumption. Something on the lines what wikipedia and its offshoots have done and continue to do so . Of course, something like that means a lot of work and it needs quite a big community to critic, polish and make something like that happen. Of course, at some level its a chicken and egg situation as well for till such creations or initiatives don’t happen lots of potential artists who could use, reuse and contribute to the art pool with their work would not find it and it would be a hit and a miss thing. The other problem of telling it as game art which doesn’t occur to people that almost all digital art could be used in games. Right from kinds of whiteboard, blackboards to types of shoes, everything and almost anything goes. Ideally, a CD containing such art to be used for game and educational, public use non-commercial projects would do wonders and make a virtuous cycle which would repeat itself.
The same issue gets amplified also in every year FTII’s (Film and Telivision Institute) amateur films which win National awards. For years I have been reading the above mentioned work. While national awards is due recognition I do know that they do good work. The final outcome though is viewed through only a few people. It would be good to see these movies. They should create buzz around these movies and show it on national channels as well as in alternative/mainstream media such as youtube and its ilk. There is a small Film Lovers alternative movement but its too niche and too small .
All the above just reinforces the idea that the avenues and gateways are still tighly controlled by the forces that be and the general intelligentsia/populace is either oblivious. indifferent or helpless to do anything about it. My 2 paise stuff.