2012 Events
  • Art, Visual Thinking, and Changing Mindsets
    Dominique Lämmli, Professor, Zurich University of the Arts
    Thursday, December 6, 2012, 4 pm, Dasheri (NCBS auditorium)

    One of the most significant current discussions in contemporary art concerns its rapid and fundamental change. The formerly dominant modern/postmodern art concepts, which are based on the idea of linear progress, conquest and novelty, cease to be relevant for art practice. This is due to the fact that these concepts lack the theoretical instruments for detecting phenomena in relevant ways. My talk on "Art, Visual Thinking, and Changing Mindsets" addresses this issue from both practical and philosophical viewpoints. First, I exemplify two key characteristics of art practice: its subject range and its free use of methods. Second, I consider the specific form of thinking used in art practice, namely visual thinking. And third, I discuss how globalisation is changing the mindsets currently prevailing within the arts.

    About the speaker:
    Dominique Lämmli studied fine arts at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), lithography at the School of Visual Arts in New York, philosophy at the University of Zurich, and educational theory and psychological didactics at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). She is a practising artist and has been awarded several art grants and studio residencies in the last twenty years, including a fellowship from the Akademie Schloss Solitude. Her work is online at www.dominiquelaemmli.ch. Her latest monographs include 'In love with planets – thrown over the edge' (Verlag Niggli Zürich, co-produced with Marmalade London). She is currently professor of drawing/painting at ZHdK, and is co-founder/co-director of FOA-FLUX. FOA-FLUX conducts scientific, artistic, and applied projects on art in global and glocal contexts. It interrelates art practice, art theory, phenomenological studies, and interdisciplinary approaches. Current projects include cooperations with partners in Malawi, Bhutan, and Brasil.

  • 'The neurobiology of love and beauty'
    Semir Zeki and Roanne Dods
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 5.30 pm, Dasheri (NCBS auditorium)

    Love, beauty and the search for happiness: can neurobiology shed new light on these eternal themes? Two recent developments in brain science make it possible. The first one is the development of brain imaging techniques that allow us to study neural activity in a way unimaginable even ten years ago. The second development is conceptual: the realisation that one can learn a great deal about the brain by studying its products, such as art, literature and music. Dods' interest in ideas of Love and Beauty relate to the connections between these, sensuality, truth and power. She will be talking from the perspective of movement, body and politics and will be arguing that a more nuanced understanding of Love and Beauty hold the possibility of genuine social change, led by the integrity of artistic process and intelligence.

    In this dialogue, the speakers will discuss the view that the key to a deeper understanding of love and creativity lies in understanding a fundamental brain operation - the formation of concepts by the brain in its quest to acquire knowledge about the world. In this light, they will examine the neural correlates of love, the apparent madness of lovers, and the ideals we project onto our beloved. They will address notions of beauty and compare the neurobiological explanations with the Ideal theory of Plato. They will also discuss how the ephemeral nature of beauty is due in part to the ever-changing criteria in the brain of the observer, and suggest an explanation for the power of some great artworks.


  • 'From print to screen: Literary adaptations in cinema'
    Theodore Baskaran, Film historian
    Tuesday November 20, 2012, 4 pm,  Dasheri (NCBS auditorium)


    As interest in Culture Studies widens, filmic adaptation from literature has been attracting attention. While discussing this encounter, the basic differences between these two media have to be kept in mind.  When a novel is adapted for the screen, the filmmaker can have two approaches.  One is to follow word by word and do a literal adaptation. In such a work, he/she sticks to the literary original closely.  Another is to base the film on the story and create a distinct work of art, using the core characteristics of cinema. The filmmaker uses the camera to interpret the story creatively and thus creates a unique work, utilizing the strong points of the medium of cinema. To achieve this, he/she has to be sensitive to both literature and to cinema. We look at some of the interfaces between literature and cinema in South Indian cinema, along with the various issues raised.


  • 'The World's Quiet Places and Why Physics Needs Them'
    Anil Ananthaswamy, Correspondent, New Scientist, Author, 'The Edge of Physics', Journalism consultant, NCBS
    Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 4 pm, NCBS auditorium


    What do the silent places on Earth have to do with physics? This talk explores how modern cosmology and astroparticle physics need extremely quiet environments that are devoid of noise in order to study the cosmos. We'll take a tour of some of the experiments being done in places like Lake Baikal in Siberia, a deep underground mine in Minnesota, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Karoo in South Africa, the Western Australian outback and even Antarctica. I visited all these places over the past six years as a journalist and I'll share my experiences of how the amazing telescopes and detectors that are sited at these faraway places are making use of the natural quiet of the environment to listen to the faint signals from the distant universe.

    About the speaker:

    Anil Ananthaswamy is a science journalist and author. He is a consultant for New Scientist magazine, and has worked with the magazine in various capacities since 2000, including as deputy news editor. He has also written for Discover magazine and is a columnist for PBS Nova's The Nature of Reality blog. He is the author of 'The Edge of Physics', a book that takes readers on a journey to some of Earth's remotest locations, from Siberia to the South Pole, and explains how these regions are crucial to our studies of the universe. 'The Edge of Physics' was voted the best physics book of 2010 by Physics World (UK). Anil is now working on his next popular science book, 'Maladies of the Self', which examines our sense of self through the lens of psychiatric and neurological disorders. At NCBS, Anil conducts the annual science journalism workshop.


  • 'Memories and Emotions in the Human Limbic System'
    Thomas Grunwald, Swiss Epilepsy Center, Zurich and Dept. of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
    October 9, 2012, 5 pm, NCBS auditorium

    The importance of medial temporal lobe structures for declarative memory has been known for a long time. However, it has remained difficult to map declarative memory sub-processes to their physiological substrates. Invasive presurgical evaluations of patients with focal epilepsies can help bridge this gap by recording brain electrical activity during memory processes directly from within the limbic system. Together with lesion studies in epilepsy patients such recordings have shown, that the human hippocampal formation mediates encoding for declarative memory by processing stimulus novelty and relevance.

    To examine how relevance can facilitate memory processes, epileptology now turns to rhetoric and the arts that aim at creating emotional relevance to induce lasting memory entries. It may be a practical problem for orators and actors that emotions and emotional vocalizations are mediated by brain modules the activities of which are actually non-declarative. However, first experiments have shown that it seems possible to comply with an important rule of rhetoric: To create relevance with emotions one must have emotions at ones command.


  • 'A Forgotten Heritage: The Many Dimensions of Prehistoric India'
    Shanti Pappu
    , Archaeologist, Founder/Director, Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, Sharma Children's Museum, Chennai and Pune
    September 14, 2012, 5 pm, NCBS auditorium

    This is a joint project with my colleague Dr Kumar Akhilesh. The prehistoric past of South Asia is a topic often ignored in general discussions of our ancient heritage. India occupies a crucial position in global debates on population dispersals, stone tool technology, past environments and changing patterns of behaviour.  We present an overview of these issues and proceed to discuss our research at the prehistoric site of Attirampakkam, Tamil Nadu. These studies reveal a long and complex history of occupation, the beginnings of which may be now dated to around 1.05 million years, challenging conventional ideas on population dispersals across Eurasia. Attirampakkam is one amongst numerous prehistoric sites in northern Tamil Nadu, each providing unique insights into diverse aspects of past behaviour in relation to changing landscapes. This valuable and fragile heritage is however, rapidly vanishing in the face of infrastructure development amongst other factors. We end by discussing our efforts at developing a culture resource management plan for such sites, and a call to urgently initiate policies for conservation of India’s rich prehistoric past.


  • 'The Mechanism of Disease according to Ayurveda'
    Indudharan Menon, Scholar-in-Residence, NCBS
    September 11, 2012, 4 pm, NCBS auditorium

    The search for causes that lead to disease has played an important role in the development of empirical observation as well as the evolution of scientific methods and logical thinking necessary for understanding causality. This talk will discuss the diverse conceptions regarding pathogenesis that are interwoven in the classical texts of Ayurveda. These works open a veritable window for us to study a whole gamut of ancient views about the causes of disease, ranging from the prehistoric shamanic to the classical reflexive and analytical. I will put into perspective the role of the different views and describe the methods of healing corresponding to each of them. Taking one particular disease as an example, we will look at classical Ayurveda’s distinctive modes of reasoning for investigating pathogenesis (samprapti).
    The second part of the talk will focus on a few of Ayurveda’s fascinating insights into the causes of disease.
    I will conclude with some observations about how certain old notions about illnesses continue to influence the language we use when talking about health and disease.


  • 'Gods and god-makers of the Kullu Valley Pleasure, Power, and Politics in Image-Making'

    Alka Hingorani, Art Historian

    September 4, 2012, 4 pm, NCBS auditorium


    Can a religious object truly be an object of art? The consideration of something as an object of art involves critique and discourse, while religious ardour discourages - if not entirely disallows - such evaluation. A religious object is “perfect” by definition, open to enjoyment through veneration not critical appreciation, it would seem. But the hill-villages of eastern Himachal Pradesh refute this claim, offering a picture of vibrant participation by entire communities of patrons in the creative process of religious image-making. A consideration of this process forms the first part of the presentation. The other attends to the artist, and how his skill and craft as maker of such objects provokes and permits interpretive shifts in his status in the deeply entrenched caste hierarchy of Himachal society. The artist and the art object are the twin loci of our interest.

    About the speaker:

    Alka Hingorani's interests in Indian art lie geographically in the lower Himalayas, and thematically in issues of aesthetics and identity. She has recently completed work on a book of mohras and mohra-makers in Himachal Pradesh, called "Making Faces: Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley" (University of Hawai'i Press, October, 2012). She holds an MA in Photography and a PhD in History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Panel Discussion: 'Women in Science'
    Jyotsna Dhawan, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
    Rohini Godbole, Centre for High Energy Physics, IISc
    Rama Govindarajan, TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Hyderabad
    Shobhana Narasimhan, Theoretical Sciences Unit, JNCASR
    Annamma Spudich, Scholar-in-Residence, NCBS
    August 9, 2012, 4 pm, NCBS auditorium

    The panelists will speak for about 15 minutes each, after which the discussion will be open to the audience and participants. Although the title says "Women in Science", the discussion is relevant to our male colleagues. We share our work environment together, and so here is a forum to discuss how relevant questions of gender are in science today, what are the challenges involved, is there a "glass ceiling" (see http://web.mit.edu/fnl/women/women.html) as far as advancements for women in their scientific trajectory are concerned, if so, why and so on. A productive discussion would be one that is inclusive of men and women (not men vs women) and will contribute greatly towards creating a more conducive scientific environment.


  • Documentary film
    'Marie Curie - Beyond the Myth'

    52 minutes, French with English subtitles Directed by Michel Vuillermet
    August 8, 2012, 4.30 pm, NCBS auditorium
    August 27, 2012, 5.30 pm, NCBS auditorium


  • 'Exhibition: Marie Curie 1867 - 1934'
    August 7 - 25, 2012

    This exhibition marks the International Year of Chemistry (2011) and also commemorates the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie's Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1911). The 12 panels of this exhibition trace the remarkable scientific trajectory of Marie Curie.

    The inauguration of the exhibition will take place on August 7th at 4.45 pm at the NLC (NCBS) auditorium.


  • 'Charles Darwin Versus Himself: Caution Versus Honesty in the Life of a Reluctant Revolutionary'
    David Quammen,
    Travel writer, Contributing Writer for the National Geographic Magazine
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012,
    4 pm, NLC Auditorium


    Charles Darwin was a conflicted man as well as a brilliant and revolutionary scientist.  A close look at the personal life of this very human man leads to insights about certain mysteries in the publication of his greatest work, 'On The Origin of Species.' Quammen will consider how the delicate balance between caution (in his personal disposition) and fierce honesty (in his intellectual life) eventually, but only slowly, brought his theory of evolution to light.

    About the speaker



  • 'Environment, History and Polity in India: A Longer View'
    Mahesh Rangarajan,
    Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi and Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi.
    Thursday, July 12, 2012
    , 5 pm, NLC auditorium


    India is a country where the demands and hopes of a sixth of humanity coalesce and more often collide with wider environmental imperatives. The ecological consequences of economic expansion and demographic growth are in turn occurring in a vibrant democracy set in a continent whose centrality in world politics is again apparent after more than three centuries. It is but inevitable that diverse ecological issues should dominate the public space, provoking a range of responses. The quest for a just or more productive social order cannot be detached from the search for a peace with nature. What is significant is that any idea of the future needs to engage with how we got to where we are. A look at our pasts, contested and complex, yet interwoven  and intricate in pattern and process, can help illumine present day dilemmas. How has human presence over millennia re-natured ecologies and habitats? Can custom and tradition better modern science? Was colonialism a break in sharp terms? Will markets work better than local control? Will the city-country dynamic change things for better or worse? Even if nature's pasts ( and our own) cannot give answers, such enquiry is giving us clues on how to pose questions in more informed and fruitful ways. It is this engagement that makes the inter linkages of environment, polity and history fascinating as well as rich in insight.

    About the speaker

    Prof Mahesh Rangarajan is Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Professor of Modern Indian History at the Dept of HIstory, University of Delhi. A Rhodes Scholar, he studied at Hindu College, University of Delhi and at Balliol and Nuffield Colleges, Oxford University. He has taught at Cornell, Jadavpur Universities and been a Guest Faculty at NCBS. His work is on environmental history, most recently on nature and nationalism, and since some time now on the colonial period, especially on forestry and wildlife history. His most recent books including the co-edited works, India's Environmental History, Volumes I and II ( 2012) and Environmental History as if Nature Existed ( 2010). HIs works include India's wildlife History (2001) and the forthcoming, Nature and Nation. He was a founding member of the teams than set up two peer reviewed journals, Environment and History in 1996 and Conservation and Society, 2003. Prof Rangarajan has also been a political commentator on both print media and television. He was Chair of the Elephant Task Force, 2010 and a member of the Forest Advisory Committee, 2008-12.


  • Passion for Baroque concert
    May 11, 2012, 7 pm at the amphitheatre, NCBS
    May 12, 2012, 6 pm, Memorial Church, Whitefield
    May 13, 2012, 6 pm, St John's Church.


  •  'Imprinted: What images did do, do and should not do - looking at the power of images in society'
    Bess Frimodig, Artist, PhD candidate at the University of the West of England, Bristol
    April 13, 2012, 5 pm, LH1


    Prints were the receptacles of knowledge, far flung places and illuminations of new thinking systems. Even the terminology of thought in new philosophies borrowed its specificity from the continuously inventing forms of printmaking such as etching by acid on copper. Early print shops were set up in monasteries and ran as money-making shops (if not printing money, making money out of the various prints from indulgences to herbal diagrammes!) and through the cloistered doors ship builders, explorers and doctors would enter and gather. The print as a form in its collective environment enabled a dialogue between the I, the Idea and the Social. Zeitgeist plays a role in the use and purpose of the artist's print's image and becomes part of how society‚ imagines and debates with itself through the creative rather than the advertised. Now print, in art, advertisements and points of knowledge, is everywhere and images flood our daily lives. What do these images do to us, for us, or even against us?


  • Documentary Film Show and Discussion
    ‘Bom – AKA One Day Ahead of Democracy’
    117 minutes, English (subtitled)
    Director: Amlan Datta
    March 30, 2012, 4pm, LH1

    Malana, a remote village in the Himalayas, isolated from outside civilization for thousands of years has been fostering a divine existence in harmony with nature and a unique model of democracy of consensus. The hidden treasure of their governance has been trust and they have been selecting not electing!
    They have also been producing some of the best quality hashish. In the seventies came some white men who taught them how to rub the crème and drew them into hashish trade. Malana crème became world famous.
    The rule of our modern day democracy has to be established, so Malana becomes a part of Indian electorate. In name of development the curse of modern world starts destroying their traditional culture and social practices. A united community gets divided and goes to vote for the Indian general elections.

    - http://www.ucfilms.in/subject/culture/bom/


  • ‘Classical Ayurveda's Vision of Human Life Cycle - Observing Life Processes in Pre Modern Times’
    Indudharan Menon, Visiting Scholar, NCBS
    March 5, 5.30 – 6-30 pm, Ground Hall Lecture Hall (LH1)

    Knowledge of life cycles interested different disciplines in ancient India and there were a number of theories and speculations on the subject. The lecture will present Ayurveda’s descriptions of human life cycle from a medical point of view. While Ayurvedic texts emphasize that the views they presents are based on rigorous empirical observations, they have also incorporated concepts from other disciplines and diverse socio-religious contexts. Specifically the lecture will focus on the how natural cycles are used to explain human life processes and the role of time and timing in procedures of healing.


  • ‘Chronic disease mortality in India - preliminary results from the Indian Million Death Study’
    Prabhat Jha
    , University of Toronto Chair in Disease Control Director, Centre for Global Health Research, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto
    February 28, 2012, 4-30 – 5-30 pm, LH1


    Of the 9 million or so annual deaths in India, about 2 million occur in children below age 5, and about 4 million occur in productive middle ages of 30-69 years.  Child mortality declines have continued, in part due to expanded interventions to counter childhood deaths.  However, relatively little attention has been paid to the causes and control of premature adult mortality.  The Million Death Study (MDS), led by the Registrar General of India in collaboration with the Centre for Global Health Research, University of Toronto provides the first ever national data on the causes of death based on household interviews in all parts of India. This seminar will present the new results from the MDS on cancer and vascular disease mortality, in the context of achievable reductions in premature deaths Passion for Baroque concert in India. The wide variation in cause-specific disease rates in India point not only to avoidability of deaths, but also to the importance of further research of the underlying environmental and genetic determinants of disease.

  • 'Religion through the lens of archaeology, inscriptions and art'
    Upinder Singh, Professor of History, University of Delhi
    February 16, 4 - 5pm, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

    We usually look at ancient Indian religions through texts. But archaeology, inscriptions and art often give us startling information about religious ideas and practices that texts are completely silent about. This illustrated lecture will bring out this point through a discussion of Nagarjunakonda in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. This magnificent site, permanently submerged in the waters of the Nagarjunasagar dam in the 1950s, was rich in remains ranging from the stone age to the medieval period, but came to be best known as the site of Vijayapuri, capital of the Ikshvaku dynasty which ruled this part of South India during the 3rd and 4th centuries. We will see how material remains from this site tell us all kinds of interesting things about ancient Buddhism – about queens and other patrons, the worship of relics, and the everyday lives of monks. The lecture will emphasize that art is an invaluable source not only for art history but also for history.


  • 'Politics and violence: the view from ancient India'
    Upinder Singh, Professor of History, University of Delhi
    February 15, 4 - 5 pm, Lecture Theatre, NCBS.

    Should we associate ancient India with Ashoka, Buddhism, dharma and ahimsa? Or should we associate it with ruthless Kautilyan political strategies and power hungry kings who incessantly waged bloody wars? Like all human history, ancient Indian history too was marked by violence of many kinds, and it is therefore not surprising that intellectuals of that age thought deeply about this problem, both in general terms as well as in specific relation to punishment, hunting and war. This lecture will focus on ideas about war, and will explore three very different sources -- the inscriptions of the famous emperor Ashoka; an authoritative political text called the Nitisara; and a very influential poetic work by Kalidasa -- the Raghuvamsha. The aim is to explore the ways in which an emperor, a political theorist and a poet grappled with the problems of war and violence.


  • 'Art and Science - blurring boundaries'
    Irene Hediger
    , Co-director of the Swiss Artists-in-Lab (artistsinlabs.ch) programme, Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS), Zurich University of the Arts, and Curator of the travelling exhibition 'Think Art - Act Science' (thinkartactscience.com)
    January 24, 2012, 5 - 6 pm, LH 1


    Initiated in 2003, the Swiss artists-in-labs program provides a framework for artists to investigate relations between contemporary art practice, science, and society through long-term interactions with scientific research. In the form of a nationally and internationally functioning exchange program, it enables artists and scientists to detect the thematic correlations and differences between their fields of work and to benefit from the constructive dynamics of mutual inspiration. The intention of the program is to generate a free flow of ideas and expertise that is based on an equal partnership, the inspiring nature of curiosity, and the shared goal of learning from each other’s field of knowledge and point of view.

    The process of the “hybrid laboratory space” collaborations will be subject of this talk, giving insights into process based practices and developments by the artists-in-labs program and the Indo-Swiss artists-in-labs project.


  • ‘What is life? Life Explained? The question of life for 21st century scientists’
    Michel Morange, Director of the Institute of History and Philosophy of Science and Techniques (Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique, University of Paris, Ecole Normale Superieure), Paris.
    January 23, 2012, 2 - 3 pm, LH1

    The place of the question “What is Life?” in biology is controversial. Some biologists consider that it has no place, whereas others consider that it is central. At the end of the 1960s, the question partially disappeared from the writings of biologists. It seemed that the question had been solved through the progresses accomplished in molecular biology, by the discovery of the genetic information present in all organisms.
    Forty years later, the question has reemerged, in part from the evidence that knowledge of genetic information is not sufficient to understand “What is life?”. The question has changed. Most extant biologists consider that the basic principles of life have been discovered. What remains to be explained is the complex path that led to the emergence of the first organisms: the question of life has become a question of history.
    In addition, the question of life is now clearly distinguished from the question of the emergence of cognitive abilities and consciousness.