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BLOT! is Avinash Kumar and Gaurav Malaker — an electronic arts collective based out of New Delhi. See some of their work on

What does breaking genres say about an artist?

oday, let's look at some of the more obscure side stories of creating (and continuing) an interdisciplinary electronic arts collective. This is a subject of sustained interest for us at BLOT, since this continues to be our playing ground close to seven years after we started in New Delhi.

Having said that, a short debate must include contradictions early on, so it must be said straight away that a discussion on mixed media cannot be had without discussing 'unmixed' media. This discussion is therefore also about genres in electronic arts, and by the end we should hopefully have made a point or two about how the future of the arts is about breaking out of silos and mixing it all up.

Let's backtrack a bit and examine a starting point for this mixing up of disciplines and expressions.

It is definitely possible that genres are created because of the limitations of our minds to absorb a larger spectrum of delights from the universe around us and inside us. Genres are simply schemas that we must create within our own madness to make better sense of the madness outside our skins.

The motivations for strongly practising and promoting cross-genre or genre-mutating activities should, therefore, be seen in light of the above tension. There is perhaps a personal symbolism and relevance to the professional activity of exploring interdisciplinary contexts. This benefit can be seen to hold for both artists and audiences.

First, for the artist, it is the act of trying to do so that brings the value of independence from external structures and impositions on the consciousness. It also brings an inherent flexibility to the artistic practice as it creates multiple touch-points with the ecosystem of stakeholders in the arts.

Second, for the audience: following an artist who is on an interdisciplinary journey can (at its best) be a vicarious and inspired exploration of their own schemata.

All this spun niceness about mixed media practices is subject to criticism, of course. It's fairly possible that all of the above suggested drama over the multiplicity of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, cross-genre collaborative practices is exactly what this fast concluding sentence is: jargon.

Critics of interdisciplinary candy-floss might have some pretty solid arguments against the over-romanticism of such approaches. They might be valid in proposing that mixed media is just another form of media; another peg in the rubric; another choice of expression that should not be confused with the illusion of escaping the natural silos of the mind.

Genres are simply schemas that we must create within our own madness to make better sense of the madness outside our skins in order to absorb a larger spectrum of delights.

urther, critics might continue, that there is a real and definitive value to genre creation in the arts, and in protecting them, so to speak, from the barbarians of mash-up culture. Such as us. This value, if seen as a preservative force for the spirits of artists and audiences, can be the factor that provides identity and longevity to art forms.

Let's take the case of ancient Indian performing arts, such as Bharatanatyam, which we are familiar with because of our continued interactions with the exponent Jayalakshmi Eshwar. In her practice we have come to appreciate the real value of a schema — that it can be passed on through centuries only because of its strict articulation as a genre.

In addition, the genre of Bharatanatyam fulfills a role as a shorthand code to communicate cultural codes to society in a consistent, yet imaginative and relevant manner across generations.

Interestingly (or not), this creates an analogous bed to reflect on our situations as electronic artists. Taking the congruency one step further, there is a commonality of intention between the old and the new, which is the desire to facilitate a deliberate and distinct mood in conjunction with the audience. This is the Rasa embedded in all arts that transcends genres. It brings us to the realisation that genres are only cases for practice that we engage with in order to realize the universal aesthetic and function of media.

A multiplicity of these cases in one's practice is just another way to express that you love being here. That you like making music, visuals and video-games as much as you like doing research, commissions and writing.

On a lighter note, we could also just resign this debate to the open gates of Boredom — a land where, contrary to expectations, live artists and audiences are so bored that they have no choice but hyperactivity in their quest for experiences. Creators can't stop producing, consumers can't stop dancing, marketers can't stop selling and writers can't stop writing.

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