2014 Events
  • Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams
    BBC Four and Furnace TV
    Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 4pm,Dasheri auditorium

    Documentary presented by Professor Simon Schaffer which charts the amazing and untold story of automata - extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life.
    The film brings the past to life in vivid detail as we see how and why these masterpieces were built. Travelling around Europe, Simon uncovers the history of these machines and shows us some of the most spectacular examples, from an entire working automaton city to a small boy who can be programmed to write and even a device that can play chess. All the machines Simon visits show a level of technical sophistication and ambition that still amazes today.
    As well as the automata, Simon explains in great detail the world in which they were made - the hardship of the workers who built them, their role in global trade and the industrial revolution and the eccentric designers who dreamt them up. Finally, Simon reveals that to us that these long forgotten marriages of art and engineering are actually the ancestors of many of our most loved modern technologies, from recorded music to the cinema and much of the digital world.

    Abstract from BBC Four: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0229pbp

  • Performance of 'Serious Men' by The Madras Players.
    Nikhila Kesavan, director
    Saturday, March 29, 2014 and Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 3 pm, Dasheri auditorium

    About the play
    Serious Men revolves around two brilliant men - Ayyan Mani and Arvind Acharya, each brilliant in a very different way, and to very different ends. While Ayyan is trying to help his wife and son escape the miseries of an unremarkable life in their one-room home in the BDD chawl, Acharya, an eminent astronomer who almost won the Nobel Prize, is busy understanding the universe and discovering alien life. The play is mostly set in the Institute of Theory and Research where Ayyan works as Acharya's personal assistant. A catalyst in the story is Aditya Mani, Ayyan's ten year-old son, who is seemingly a science genius. And, he is playing a secret game with his father that is about to impact many lives.
    Rich with over a dozen quirky characters, and constantly juxtaposing the clever plots of Ayyan and Acharya's consuming pursuit of truth, Serious Men tells an engaging tale from various refreshing perspectives. While on one hand it depicts how politics plays out in the scientific community, on the other, it takes a hard look at class equations in society. As the jacket of the novel fittingly puts it, "Alternately funny and poignant, Serious Men is a savage satire on class, love, relationships, and our veneration of science."

    The cast
    Indrani Krishnaier, Kamala Krish, M Kaushik, Mohamed Yusuf, Radhika Prasidhha, P C Ramakrishna, V Sarvesh Sridhar, Shankar Sundaram, Smrithi Parameswar, Sridhar Chandra, T T Srinath, Sundar Swaminathan, Vatsan Natarajan M.

  • Corruption: a blight on India?
    Laurence Cockcroft, development economist, Co-founder, Transparency International
    Friday, March 7, 2014, 4 pm, Dasheri auditorium

    Many forms of the virus of corruption hold back India's bright future. It was recognized by Nehru as a dangerous threat and has blighted successive governments. Corruption has never been higher up the national agenda and may determine the outcome of the coming national elections. It has a direct impact on the environment and the destruction of India's natural wealth. However the epidemiology of corruption is worldwide and many countries small and large suffer from comparable problems. Political funding, organized crime, corporate misbehavior and petty corruption scams feature across the globe, and are an increasing issue in the European Union and the United States. At this public lecture Laurence Cockcroft will look at corruption in India in a global context, discuss successes in fighting corruption elsewhere and advance some thoughts on the situation in India. Protected by secrecy jurisdictions from Dubai to the Caribbean, the fruits of corruption are squirrelled away and lost to national economies. He will discuss the interface between corruption in India and the international environment and argue that there is much that can be shared in the fight against corruption - and that for India action at the international level (areas such as illicit corporate flows) is crucial.

  • The Visual Culture of Charisma in Tamil Cinema and Politics
    Preminda Jacob, Associate Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, University of Maryland, USA
    Friday, January 10, 2014, 4 pm, Dasheri auditorium

    Political portraiture harnessing the fascination of the film star image has been instrumental to the charismatic power of leaders of the Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu. This movement of ethnic nationalism became entwined historically with the industry of entertainment cinema in the state. The coalescence between cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu was entrenched in the public consciousness through the deployment of identical advertising media, specifically, vibrantly colored, hand painted, banners and cutouts. This form of cinema and political publicity dominated the cityscape Chennai for about five decades, beginning in the 1950s. By turn of the twenty-first century banner and cutout publicity was entirely displaced by newer technologies and new attitudes to city space. However, in this paper I hope to demonstrate that the urban public art of banner and cutout paintings played a pivotal role in visualizing, and thus shaping, the identity politics of Tamil Nationalism, a political movement that has arguably, changed the course of history in Tamil Nadu.