Mapping Workshop with Anthony Acciavatti

Sat 28 Apr - Sun 29 Apr' 18

Changes of State: Making Instruments in a Monsoonal Landscape - A two-day-long workshop with Anthony Acciavatti, 28th - 30th April, 2018 at Bengal Institute.

This workshop explores the intersections between hands-on making and scientific knowing. While these two worlds are today thought of as completely separate, we will experiment with everyday materials and technologies to investigate the rhythms of the monsoons and the dynamism of soil and water. In particular, we will focus on how physical changes of state (the molecular change from solid, to liquid, to gas) correspond with spatial, political, and social changes. Through lectures, discussions, and experiments, we will individually and collectively sharpen our critical and imaginative faculties when it comes to the dynamism of the monsoons.


We have only 10 seats for this program.

Eligibility: Anyone with a minimum bachelor’s degree or a final-year undergrad studentship from any discipline may apply (subject to selection).
Application deadline
: 25th April, 2018.
Application Form
*Application Fee: 300 BDT (for new applicants only, non-refundable).
*Subscription Charge: 5,000 BDT (3,000 BDT for undergrad students).
*All payments are payable online only. Any credit/debit cards or mobile banking (bKash/Rocket etc.) is accepted through Portwallet.
Contact: Write to [email protected] or call/text/WhatsApp +8801844050599 for more information.
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Schedule and details:

DAY 1: 28th April, Saturday, 10:00 – 16:00 at Bengal Institute premises.

10:00—11:30: Lecture 1: Mapping the River Ganga with a focus on Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River. Drawing from the sciences, art, and architecture, this lecture will explore different techniques of mapping and imaging environmental uncertainty in a monsoonal landscape. In particular, the lecture will focus on Dr. Acciavatti’s process of making his own instruments to measure the rhythms of the monsoons and the choreography of people and soil in the Ganga River basin.

11:30—12:00 Time for questions and discussion about the work presented.

12:00—12:10: Break

12:10—12:40: Lecture 2: Subjectivity of Measure This brief talk will look at a few key examples of the subjectivity of taking measure. From Indian miniatures to the work of Marcel Duchamp, the presentation will foreground how we can begin to rethink what it means to take measure (and image) change over time.

12:40-13:00: Open discussion about the works presented by Dr. Acciavatti.

13:00-14:00: Lunch

14:00—16:00 Experiment 1: Sensing with Materials In this exercise we will collectively explore how a series of common materials like packaging tape and cotton socks can be transformed into instruments to take measure. In consultation with Dr. Acciavatti, groups of 2-3 people will be given a prompt to measure some aspect of soil and water. Each group will have 2 hours to collectively “hallucinate” on how to misuse these materials and create a new “instrument.” Groups are not to share their prompts with other groups (see experiment 2 for reasons why).

DAY 2: 30th April, Monday, 10:00 – 17:00 at Bengal Institute premises

9:30—10:10: Experiment 2: Exchanging Instruments: Groups will exchange instruments with one another, in effect gifting them to another group to figure out what the device is to be used for. In short, each group has 30-minutes to experiment with an instrument from another group and diagram how they imagine this tool is used.

10:10—10:50: Each group will make a 3-5 minute presentation of what they think the instruments are to measure and how they work. We will compare and contrast the intended uses and perceived uses of each instrument—all in an effort to collectively hallucinate on what the devices can do.

10:50—11:00: Break

11:00—12:00: Lecture 3: Transects: A brief lecture by Dr. Acciavatti on the history of the transect from Alexander von Humboldt through Patrick Geddes to the work of Ian McHarg. The lecture will focus on how the transect, both as a mode of drawing and knowing, intersects with the questions and technologies each group is experimenting with throughout the workshop.

12:00—12:30: Discussion and question and answer with Dr. Acciavatti. We will collectively speculate on the ways in which the instruments devised by the groups might be used to draw transects.

12:30—13:00: Experiment 3: From Technology to Transect: Dr. Acciavatti will introduce the final experiment where each group will work toward drawing a transect with their instruments. The goal of this exercise is to experiment with how we engage changes of state and how we go about drawing them in a monsoonal landscape. In short, each group will rethink part-to-whole relationships from the scale of their instruments and soils to the scale of a transect and the monsoons.

13:00-14:00: Lunch

14:00—16:00: Experiment 3: From Technology to Transect (continued): Groups will work for two hours, developing their own transects in consultation with Dr. Acciavatti.

16:00—17:00: Presentations and Discussions: Each group will have 5 minutes to present how and why they went about exploring partto-whole relationships and what hands-on making might have to teach us about scientific knowing and vice-versa.

Map image in graphics © Anthony Acciavatti