"This is a very precious and important space..."
I have been coming here (to Sarai) off an on, and there is a generosity here, a spirit of generosity, that is as important to the enterprise of resistance, as anything else. This is a very precious and important space, because, while we fight the big fight on the borders of our world, we must always remember that what we are fighting for is our gentleness, our happiness and our ability to love.. so thank you for that.
Arundhati Roy, speaking at the Crisis/Media Workshop at Sarai, March 6, 2003
"An attempt to go beyond the academy to understand the challenges of the new media..."
Sarai began as an attempt to go beyond the academy in trying to understand and respond to the challenges of the new media, particularly the internet and other computer based media. The program seeks to bring together media professionals, academics, and community activists to explore the possibilities of exploiting the new media for furthering democratic politics in urban spaces. It also seeks to produce and support "solid academic research" on media history and to undertake archiving projects to collect materials in this area. Finally, it has an outreach program for taking new media to slum dwellers in Delhi. Sarai...is led by younger members of the faculty of CSDS and they have attracted a large number of young researchers and activists to the Centre.
Social Science Research Capacity in South Asia : A Report
Partha Chatterjee et al. , Social Science Research Council, New York, 2002
"A Unique Blend of People and Disciplines"
"Sarai is a unique blend of people and disciplines...With a public access space full of terminals and a cafe, Sarai neither has the feel of an isolated research facility, nor does it have the claustrophobic agenda of many new media arts institutions, and nor does it equal an IT company...The atmosphere..is one of an exceptionally high intellectual lvel, the air filled with lively debates."
Geert Lovink. 'At the Opening of Sarai : Delhi, February 2001
Dark Fiber MIT Press, 2002
"...This is really a Sarai..."
This is really a Sarai’. The Sarai of New media. There could be no better word to describe a new media space. ‘Sarai’ is a free, autonomous space where travellers stop by, interact with each other and move on. The space is in a constant state of motion, there is no stasis here. Its nature and temperament is like that of the new media. So, Sarai is the new space of the new media. It is a necessary space for those who work with media and really want to do something innovative. And people, there is no fee! It is a must for the students of journalism.
The space beams with optimism and is committed to remap the media, which is only possible by redefining the notion of public domain. So, this public domain is full of young people who are open to new ideas and proposals. If you have an idea for reading the old or new media and do not know what to do with it, go to sarai. Or simply e-mail one of the sarai members.
Prof. Sudheesh Pachauri. Media Critic and popular Hindi Columnist .
Quoted from his Sunday column in Rashtriya Sahara, 4th March, 2001
" A Space for Debate, Dialogue, Refuge, Production of Work and Generation of Ideas"
"In establishing a small Sarai, a space for debate, dialogue, refuge, production of work and generation of ideas, the team of artists, activists, filmmakers, theorists and thinkers behind Sarai have taken on a huge task. The friendly and ebullient team may not be able to provide new media access to all the people in Delhi, but they will certainly influence public debates, raise awareness of work being done in this area and provide access to a significant number of communities who may not otherwise have had this opportunity."
A New Sarai: New Media in Delhi, by Amanda McDonald Crowley in Real Time Arts
"The Collective Enthusiasm of the Sarai People has been a Really Great Experience"
"Sarai, India's first public access space in new media is an independent yet closely linked program of the well established (1964) Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi. CSDS generously provided space for Sarai in their building. A collaborative effort transformed this raw, ground floor space into a cool and tasteful setting for a public media lab, offices, library and a cafe. Most Sarai projects are deeply rooted in local culture...Through its research program, Sarai intends to create a visual and aural archive of urban life - most of which will be accessible on-line... Sarai's new media initiative, true to its name, is focused on a public domain for media research and practice... The collective enthusiasm of the Sarai people has been a really great experience. They not only discuss outreach and interdisciplinary approaches, they really practice it."
Nina Czegledy, director, Inter Society for the Electronic Arts 2002,
Report on Sarai - in the Journal Year 01 http://www.year01.com/issue8/sarai.html
"The Model of the Artist Intellectual"
"For me they (Sarai) represents the model of the artist intellectual. Their productions are really quite plural. They are filmmakers, editors of books, they write open source programs that can be shared by different people. They are urbanists in terms of their interest in all forms of life within the urban domain. This idea of collectives and community, this shared horizon that we've seen is a model of Documenta 11."
Okwui Enwezor, artistic director Documenta 11, in an interview with Tom Griffin, in Art Press 280, June 2002
"Raises the Bar for all Future Practical and Theoretical Work Dealing with Digital Authorship."
"One great new media project that I did see at Documenta was OPUS (software and accompanying theoretical package) ...Unveiled in Kassel, OPUS is definitely the most interesting new media project I have encountered in quite a while. It is a sophisticated, both theoretically and technically, system for multi-user cultural authorship in a digital network environment. Do take a look at the site and check their new concept of "Rescension" (in OPUS Manual) that offers a very interesting way to address the difficult issues of authorship in our "remix" culture. OPUS raises the bar for all future practical and theoretical work dealing with digital authorship."
Lev Manovich, in a review of OPUS, produced at the Sarai Media Lab in "Welcome to the Multiplex", posted on Nettime, July 1, 2002
"...We need to consider works such as these within the context of a three way relation or what we might call a socio-technical-ethical assemblage"
It is important then to locate 'Location(n)' itself - not within the nation or even place 'India' nor as manifestation of as aesthetic that might be generalised through the direction - 'Indian new media art' - as such. To do either would be to presume the operation of an aesthetics grounded only in a politics of identity, manifesting some essential quality or basis of otherness.
Rather we need to consider works such as these within the context of a three way relation or what we might call a socio-technical-ethical assemblage that pays attention to first, the specific time zone relation the Indian IT economy holds to globally networked information flows.
Second, the asynchronous development of electronic cultures within India. These, Ravi Sundaram has argued, work via a model of recyclying, producing an alternative experience of the now or modernity, outside of both national/state regulation and irreducible to western, global sensibilities such as postmodernism (Sundaram, 1999).
Third, we need to consider the cultural work done by groups and organizations such as Raqs Media Collective and the Sarai New Media Initiative to produce an alternatively positioned public domain through the global deployment of new media technologies against standardisation - such as the standardisation of time. This three way relation at once situates the new media art work coming out of Dehli... and catapults it onto the global arena, making time-ontological, durational, historical times - the arena of conflict and contestation.
While I am not claiming that work such as 'location n'... (carries) the weight and force of political transformation, I do want to suggest that their differential interventions into the speeds of electronic life provide us with a resource for what Appardurai has called: 'self-imagining as an everyday social project' (Appardurai, 1997: 4).
Anna Munster, in a review of Location(n), an inter media installation produced at the Sarai Media Lab in "Travelling at the speed of life: world time and global politics in new media ", paper presented at the Australian and New Zealand Art Association Conference, 2002 and posted on Fibreculture, 16 December 2002
"The Sarai Website : Theoretical, Innovative and Brilliant"
"Sarai is a Delhi-based new media initiative that provides a space for research, practice and conversation about contemporary media and urban landscapes. The site is theoretical, innovative and brilliant."
Blurb on Sarai Website in the Website of the Asia Society