by Urvi KothariSep 04, 2022
EyeMyth New Media Arts Festival, the arts festival at the frontline of the Indian new media art-scape, came back with its first online edition in March 2022. The festival, which is on till March 30, stands unique at the intersection of Indian and global art, culture and technology. It explores present and future cases of immersive storytelling and new media. This year, EyeMyth brings together young creative professionals, artists and performers from India, South Asia and the global media arts space. EyeMyth was created in the Indian digital subculture scene in 2011, originating as a celebration of visual music at the UnBox Festival in New Delhi. Today the festival has expanded its horizons to examine progressive media and the evolution of digital culture.
Curator Tejas Nair talks to STIR about the excitement that fills this year’s programme. He says, “The 2022 edition of the festival brings together creative professionals from around the world to create an environment of learning, skill building and showcasing with prime examples from Indie gaming and creative industries at large. The festival is entirely online this year and completely free to attend. We feel that in many ways the indie media arts scene has followed in the footsteps of the independent music and film scene here in India. Over the last two decades the creative industries have seen a big shift and brought a lot of opportunities for artists and creatives. This is now also spilling over into the fringe areas of creative tech, Gaming, XR and other exciting new forms. As a festival we try to bring these stories to our audience.”
The offering of this experience for free opens up access to a wider audience than ever before, as does the digitising of the festival. While curating work online comes with logistical challenges and infrastructural limitations it also has the inarguable advantage of access across borders. Nair says, “The general landscape for funding when it comes to independent media arts is quite bleak in India and that’s always been a challenge to overcome. Doing physical events at scale are also fairly expensive to pull off. The ability to engage with a wider audience and bring international partners together virtually has been great for us. Artists and creatives across the globe have had to pivot, rethink and redesign their work and process a fair bit through the pandemic, so the curation focuses on bringing to light some of these journeys.”
EyeMyth Festival is media inclusive, as well as being content and context inclusive. The curatorial themes considered include mental health, Indo-futurism and social justice. The festival holds space for reviewing and appreciating small format works like GIFs, which has been a recurring theme across all editions of EyeMyth. FIG is a GIF competition which invites artists to create GIFs and showcase them during the festival. Nair says, “We launched FIG as a concept back in 2019 at a previous edition of EyeMyth in Mumbai. GIFs have become quite popular through meme culture and the ability to post or share them across most social media platforms. In a lot of ways, it could be looked at as the antithesis of cutting-edge media. It’s fairly low resolution and very short loops made of still frames. These limitations however don’t stop it from being a great medium to express one's creativity. Our open call for the exhibit this year focused on “The Loss of Time” and we have got some incredible submissions and are quite excited to showcase these in the coming days.” The festival also discusses NFTs, decentralised art, digital heritage and speculative futures. The curation includes Massive Mixer, which is a virtual conference, Indie Game Arena which includes talks and workshops and others. With a curatorial positioning which develops depth and expands its purview year by year, EyeMyth has grown into a festival which supports the subculture of art, a much-needed space in India. While doing this, EyeMyth also bravely takes on the mantle of holding space for conversation about emergent ideas and trends which form the foundation of contemporary culture.
Nair continues to share his experience with the EyeMyth team over the years. He says, “I have had the opportunity to work with the wonderful team at Unbox for many years now. Over this time, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about putting together a festival program and building partnerships to widen the festival network. This year our research leading up to curation was structured around a set of themes (listed below) that helped us look for artists and experts within those sectors that have been working on some amazing projects.”
EyeMyth 2022 is set to end on an exciting note, hosting its on-site events at the very end of the festival programme. Nair tells us, “Currently, the only physical event as part of EyeMyth 2022 is the official afterparty that takes place at antiSOCIAL in Mumbai on April 2. The afterparty will feature a set of screenings, the FIG exhibit, pop up stores, exclusive EyeMyth merchandise and the night closes off with four amazing AV performances featuring some of the finest local talent.”