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Information Arts and Information Design Practices

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them” - Ira Glass

“The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.” - Michael Crichton

“Cognitive justice recognises the right of different forms of knowledge to co-exist, but adds that this plurality needs to go beyond tolerance or liberalism to an active recognition of the need for diversity.” - Shiv Visvanathan

Social Design: Students present Period – a co-operative card game designed to be a conversation starter to address taboos related to menstruation and menstruating women. PC Vivek Majumdar


We preserve and transmit culture, language and all historical record, whether myth or real, using the power of narrative. Narrative or stories that are not just the oral and the written, but in art, in dance, music and drama, embracing philosophy, history, politics, the environment and the social sciences.

The Information Arts and Information Design Practices Course at Srishti will explore the idea that all data is narrative. Information is narrative, but with purposefulness. Identity and information environments are intrinsically linked.

Rediscovering Culture: Anubhav’s project Kawaaban De Dhaage traces unknown stories, lives linked to the craft, and the craftspeople who keep this legacy alive. PC: Mahesh Bhat

Stories craft our identity, they heal, inform, challenge and are the stuff of which our lives are made of. While visualization, interpretation and communication of data have been largely the focus of the field of Information arts and design around the world, at Srishti we dig deeper to engage with ethics, conflicts, politics, hidden realities and debates around data and information. How can art, design and technology be used to push the boundaries of information and create points for action? What can traditional practices from different cultures offer to interpretation of contemporary data? Where can art and science meet to activate alternative research? How does one train at a reflective self in relation to the world to be a storyteller who mines diverse data to arrive at deeper truths? These and more questions serve as a guide map to engaging with and creating within this program. This course is an attempt to explore how to dissolve discipline based perceptions of data to engage with real life in its nuanced stories allowing for new discourses to emerge.

Embodied Practice: First year Masters Students of IAIDP and EEC learn to work with the land, fence the area, work with local children and take forward the Mati Eco Club Project started by second year students. PC: Stuti Jiandani

Community Engagement: Students talk to local community members around the Mati Eco Club and Community garden for a long term engagement in reclaiming the urban wasteland around the neighbourhood. PC: Srivi Kalyan

Traditional boundaries of the narrative are constantly broken in the interfaces of the global and the local, the traditional and the contemporary. Access to information is making the physical boundaries of the world we live in permeable. With multiple screens, constant connectivity, social and mass media has taken on a completely new form. The narrative has become all-pervasive, whether it be complex data that is to be effectively disseminated to diverse audiences, using diverse media, or it be used as a tool for research with communities in flux. The information artists and designers of today and the future have the particular challenge to create for a fragile world where politics, economics and ecosystem are placed at the tipping point of culture, ethics and the tradition of the artisan. Successful Information Artists and Designers have to emerge new gestalts of perceiving and understanding information before they respond through art and design for a human need entwined with the environment.

Reviving traditions and Storytelling: Students learn from Dhaatu Founder Anupama Hoskere about the history and revival of puppetry traditions in a hands-on workshop. PC: Prerna Joshi

From a knowledge-based society, the challenge is to move to a wisdom-based society. To this end, we seek to find ways to seamlessly draw from the essence and spirit of the jester, the bard and the wandering minstrels in our modern guises. In that, the Information Arts and Information Design program is about crafting oneself as a storyteller, a behroopiya, whose stories are crafted through the fine lenses of time and space, cultures and contexts, information, knowledge and the extraction of wisdom. The axis of the course revolves around Self & Contemplation, Context Sensitivity and Leadership.

Looking for Untold Stories: Aalhad creates a documentary film on metal music in India and how it has survived for over twenty years. PC: Aalhad Bhake

Key Values

The implications of design lie not so much in their ability to communicate as in the values that inform their conception. At IAIDP, the purpose of building a narrative and using it for communication is embedded in ethics and empathy, responsibility, deep understanding and an essential rooting of oneself in the environment. At IAIDP our work will be defined and informed by the values of:

Empathetic Telling  - Listening through all the senses and being able to unravel other worldviews with reflection and respect, providing cognitive justice
Ethical Engagement - Moving away from the paradigm of problem solving to engaged understanding of contexts and communities to provide collaborative platforms for unraveling narratives and actions
Responsible Dissemination - Understanding that dissemination must also be done with sensitivity and care
Embodied Narration – Being able to bring, mind and body into focused practice to be able to move from a frame of Cartesian duality to oneness and build capacity to experience the world in its multiple realities
Interconnected co-existence – Being able to reflect and bring awareness to our presence in the planet with awareness of all life and our relationships with them.

Language, cognitive justice and diversity: Prerna Joshi works on art and design interventions to revive Kumaoni language and bring it back into everyday usage. PC: Prerna Joshi

Social design in Education: Namrata works on an entrepreneurship program for young people using scrap as part of her project with the organisation Going to School in India. PC: Namrata Sehgal

Course Structure

  • Disciplinary Studies
  • Trans-disciplinary Projects
  • Theory and Understanding Units
  • Practice
  • Self-Directed Inquiry/Research
  • Knowledge Enhancement (Ability or Skills)

Community Based Research: Akshay Mittal bonds with thelawalas of Pushkar in order to understand their lives, work and challenges.

Reflective & Contemplative Education: Ira Singh shares her narrative on introducing the subject of death to children. PC: Mahesh Bhat

Learning Approaches

  • We participate in integrated multidisciplinary learning
  • We explore hands on ways of crafting, design and development for traditional and digital platforms
  • We strengthen our learning with critical perspectives and purposefulness
  • We research into communities and contexts using participatory approaches
  • We build multiple modes of expression for engagement in diverse disciplines
  • We use narrative structures and technologies to create communication
  • We look at more embodied approaches to investigate, interpret, engage with and translate narratives.
  • We thrive in lively debates, dialogue, sensitive and ethical questioning on a range of issues
  • We encourage independent and self motivated learning

Niyati’s work with Piramal Swasthya as a designer was about bringing art and design interventions to systems thinking and communication design for pregnant mothers in rural Andhra pradesh. PC: Niyati Shah

Social Design: Gayatri’s work on EcoFemme, eco-friendly sanitary napkins as part of her internship included systems design and working with community. PC: Gayatri Chudekar

Technology based solutions: Kedar explored conceptualising an Information Communication Framework for the BMTC Public Bus Service. PC: Kedar Talwadker

Finding ways to share the intangible through Participatory Research: Asad captures the craftsmanship of Dhokra metal craftsmen and through an illustrated graphic novel shares the intimate stories of how their lives, ecosystems around them are entwined with their craft. PC: Asad Ullah Shareef

Sreya mind maps and thinks through systems for Broadsheet’s newsletter, where she interned. PC: Sreya Majumdar

Capability Sets

This course will enable students in their:

  • Capability to inform and communicate through narrative
  • Capability to interact and work with communities, contexts and limitations and sensitively negotiate boundaries
  • Capability to transact meaning with audiences and build context-sensitive practices
  • Capability to perceive gestalts, navigate complexity and negotiate intelligences  through transdisciplinary engagement.
  • Capability for leadership as action in art, design and/or technology praxis
  • Capability for responsible creativity that emerges from social, ecological, ethical and learning design
  • Capability to emerge transdisciplinary practice with reflections on interdependence and co-existence
  • Capability to strategically work with emergent systems and chaos

Listen to our students...

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The above mentioned capability sets could lead to opportunities such as:

  • You can work as curators in museums and galleries.
  • You can work with publishing houses, design studios, to create awareness campaigns, environmental films and documentaries.
  • You can design teaching and learning aids that foster environmental sensitivity.
  • You can work at NGOs/ organizations that work with social and ecological concerns.
  • You can continue your art/ design practice, be an entrepreneur or a design consultant with a strong environmental ethic.
  • You can work in zoological parks and aquaria.
  • You can pursue your research and continue to do a PhD.
  • Develop your own projects and apply for grants.
  • Some jobs profiles could be
    Design Strategist, Project Manager – Community Programme Services, Entrepreneur- Visual Designer. Artist. Arts Manager, Design consultant, Educator, Social justice Coordinator, Multicultural program coordinator, Cultural Design Practitioner, Creative Director, Program Manager, Creative and Cultural Researcher, Storyteller, Systems designer/ Consultant, Design Consultant, Educational designer, Eco-artist/ Eco –Designer

Creating new narratives: Vrushali plays with a Channapatna toy to make up an innovative story.

Studio visit and week-long printmaking workshop with Ramen Kastha at Studio Gravura, Kolkata. PC: Neeraja Durga.

Ethics of Engagement: Sunaina questions how designers should engage with community and focuses on three key principles – Recognize, Respect, Receive as she engages with a community of bamboo craftspeople from Magadi Village near Bangalore. PC: Sunaina Agarwal

Disciplinary Intersections

The program is informed by the following learning disciplines: