Eku is professor for Media Design/Multimedia at the Braunschweig University of Art, Germany. His first trip to India ever led him right away to the jungles of Panna, Madhya Pradesh, where he intended to shoot 360 degree videos with the kids of Janwaar. He spent 10 days in this rural area and made quite some discoveries.
Here is a short Q&A I had with him:
Why did you come to Janwaar? What inspired you?
There are a few reasons, not only one. First of all I’ve an intrinsic motivation to look into different communities and cultures and I am curious for adventures.
I am at a stage in my life where I successfully initiated and accomplished an environmental campaign in Indonesia (#SaveBangkaIsland, which went on for seven years!) and where I am ready to see and learn about other approaches how to tackle change processes and create lasting solutions. I wanted to explore other tools and methods than the ones I used in Indonesia to successfully run a project. And since I know Ulrike for so many years and followed her Janwaar Castle project closely, so I thought I will visit and see. It might help me to proceed on my own way.
And then of course I wanted to share my knowledge with the kids on subjects like sketching, drawing, animation and video.
First gimmick – shot with a 360 degree video camera
What were your first impressions of the village/the people/the kids ?
I received a warm welcome. Everyone was extremely kind and open – an inviting atmosphere.
I knew I would go to a rural area – but the very basic level of the living circumstances in the village were quite challenging and also surprising. I had to adjust and I had to convince myself NOT to run away but to face it and live it through. Quite an experience I’ve to say.
What is your goal during your stay?
The colours and photos of India’s tourism industry which we all see in the West are always so “clean” and beautiful. But I wanted to look behind the scenes – I want to explore and experience the basic lives of India’s rural population. I want to understand their challenges, needs and daily fights and share these learnings with the outside world through short video snippets. To understand what is going on on the grassroots level is key to provide the help which is really needed on the ground.
How is it to “work” with the kids?
For me it turned out as “another” challenge. It’s so different from teaching media design and technology to adults or students on university level – this is what I usually do. I had to let lose of the concept and plots I had in my mind and switch to what we call “found footage”, meaning the kids go out and take videos and then I compile them into a manageable portfolio.
The good thing is that these kids are completely open. They have an “empty” mind, very naive, they have no expectations and they simply do things because they’ve fun doing it. They use technology without any premisses – they use it for what it is. So it was me who had to back down my own expectations, but honestly this took me some time to accept. After a few days I felt comfortable to look at the capabilities we have and from then onwards we were ready with our 360 degree cameras to capture a full sphere of rural life in Janwaar. My concept had changed from “covering” stories to “collecting” what we can get. And I have to say I am really excited to discover where this “found footage” will go …
What was your best/worst experience in India so far?
Best: I love Indian sweets. And I deeply enjoy Madhya Pradesh – it’s still so rough and wild.
Worst: The dirt.