Aesthetics and Visual Cultures (M.A.)


“Critical art is an art that aims to produce a new perception of the world, and therefore to create a commitment to its transformation. This schema, very simple in appearance, is actually the conjunction of three processes: first, the production of a sensory form of 'strangeness'; second, the development of an awareness of the reason for that strangeness and third, a mobilization of individuals as a result of that awareness” - Jacques Rancière, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics

Masters students in conversation with Bose Krishnamachari, artist, curator and founder of the Kochi-Muzeris biennale.


The MA in Aesthetics and Visual Cultures enables students to engage with a range of artistic and cultural practices including the visual arts, performance arts, film and video. It enables you to understand the histories and theories of these practices in an Indian as well as international context so that students are equipped to work within the wider field of arts and culture as museum/gallery/festival curators, researchers, policy makers, consultants or entrepreneurs. The unique learning and teaching approaches on this MA combine a sound theoretical understanding of relevant disciplines with active studio practice, as well as internships and projects with art and cultural institutions that will provide students with a deeper and first-hand understanding of the Indian cultural ecology. Rather than following a conventional Art Historical framework, the course is attentive to the requirements and possibilities of our contemporary world, which is in constant flux and needs inter-disciplinary methods, and creative thinking to address social and political issues through artistic or cultural practice.

Artist and Srishti faculty, Narendra Raghunath taking a masterclass on 'Contemporary Art' at Aspinwall.

Students are actively encouraged to undertake individual research and have the opportunity to work on research projects led by SNHD faculty. In 2016-17 our students have been involved with the following projects and institutions in various capacities:

Future Orbits
Festival of Stories
The Institute of Network Cultures: Video Vortex
VisionMix network
The Kochi Biennele
Faculty of Communications and Design, University of Bilkent, Ankara
Department of Film & Visual Arts, University of Winchester


Download the conference report here.

Video technology has radically altered the ways in which we produce, consume and circulate images, influencing the aesthetics and possibilities of moving image cultures, as well as yielding a rich body of scholarship across various disciplines. Given its ease of access and use, video has historically been aligned with media activism and collaborative work, further enabled by digital platforms, that facilitate transnational networks even as they exist within heightened systems of surveillance. Having emerged as the driving force behind the web, social media, and the internet of things, video, as Ina Blom (2016) suggests, is endowed with life-like memory and agency. As witnessed in the recent network crash in America as a result of the hacking of web cameras, video overload can even become a cause for infrastructural vulnerability. While the infrastructures of video in Europe and America may almost be taken for granted, in many parts of the global South, video exists across uneven conditions, and this invites engagements with video history and theory that are attentive to these varied lives and forms of video. Video Vortex XI proposed to place emphasis on these ‘other’ video cultures, which have largely evaded scrutiny under the fiction of video’s universalism.

Video Vortex XI was organized by the School of New Humanities & Design, Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology in collaboration with the University of Bilkent, Ankara, and the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.

Course Structure

  1. Studios: provide an intenssive learning experience through a combination of critical making, writing and reading. They are envisioned as a creative and critical space for experimenting, synthesizing knowledge and practices through immersive engagement, contextual learning, design processes and creative methodologies. The Studio is a core practice space for investigating a particular idea, topic, or project .where students will draw from their theoretical and critical content from the seminars, combining these with practice-based learning for a more enriched understanding and experience.
  2. Seminar-Studios explore different learning potentials offered by the humanities and design. The Seminar is a core learning and investigating space, where text-based scholarship and research practices will be mobilized and reoriented toward an active and experiential engagement with contemporary issues.
  3. Workshops provide a platform for explorations and inquiries through a combination of critical making and analytical inquiry. The two-week workshops in each semester allows students to formulate independent responses to ideas, materials and processes.
  4. Summer Practice or Internship with an organization, a center or a lab at Srishti, or a self-initiated project, is an integral part of learning, and demonstrating students' abilities to work in the field under the guidance of a mentor. Students will engage in a practice during the summer after their first year of the course that may lead to developing their focus area for capstone or dissertation.
  5. Interlude is a one-month student-led interdisciplinary space that encourages engagement with contemporary issues facing change-makers today. Postgraduate students across schools at Srishti will work collaboratively to conceptualize an experiment, idea, or engage with a meme, through critical and creative practices. The work will culminate in a symposium or conference, and exhibition, or public engagement or demonstration.
  6. Dissertation or Capstone Project in the final semester is the synthesis and demonstration of capabilities to see the world in new ways, and study human cultures through its creative practices. This semester will be structured by praxis, dialogue and seminars.

Plenary by Ravi Sundaram, Media Theorist and Professor at CSDS, ‘Video and the Crowds: Publics and Post-publics’. Video Vortex XI.

Learning Approach

The units will be taught as core Studios, Seminar-Studios and Workshops, which draw from the expertise of the faculty teaching in this School and take a practice-based approach. The studio emphasizes the experiential knowledge and design processes. Studios are meant for students to explore and find a research context of a particular interest – a practice or process, an image or scene, a landscape or an artifact. The final project in the second year may be a capstone project or a dissertation.

Workshop on 'Digital Technologies and Art Criticism' with Geert Lovink, Founder, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.

Titchener’s Cage, an interactive Virtual Reality Installation by Nadav Assor. Part of the video exhibition curated by Masters students for Video Vortex XI.

Students in the process of setting up the exhibition for Video Vortex XI.

Capability sets

  • Ability to understand and apply research methods from Art History, Film & Video Studies, Cultural Studies, Oral History, Anthropology & Critical Geography.
  • Ability to critically read, think and write about artistic practices with an informed viewpoint.
  • Ability to investigate the politics of representation, curation, and cultural production.
  • Acquire historical and theoretical understanding of art and culture in it’s varied forms.
  • Ability to integrate theory and practice in meaningful ways
  • Acquire an understanding of the Indian arts and culture ecology by working with art events & film festivals, museums, galleries and other cultural institutes
  • Ability to understand the audiences of art and programming requirements to develop these communities
  • Ability to devise new modes of ‘knowledge production’ through artistic and curatorial practice

Video artist and theorist, Andreas Treske presents his talk , ‘Video Theory: Shiny Things so Bright’ at Video Vortex XI.

Participants listening to Elena Knox’s talk on Gyrated: an interactive Hula Installation.


  • Art/Film Curation
  • Art/Film Criticism & Writing
  • Research and advanced study
  • Arts Management
  • Programmers at Museums, Festivals and Galleries
  • Program Officers for Funding Agencies, CSR Trusts and government agencies overseeing arts and culture grants


For further information, kindly email Rashmi Sawhney at


Disciplinary Intersections

The disciplines that inform this MA are:

Research and Collaboration

Students will have the opportunity to work with the following centers and labs at Srishti School:

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