October 24-26, 2007
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sessions: Abstract


Eternal Gandhi

Ranjit Makkuni, Sacred World Foundation, India

The Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum is one of the world's first digital multimedia museums. Located at the site where Mahatma Gandhi attained martyrdom, it not only preserves the historical events of Gandhiji's life but presents a spectrum of information technology visions inspired by Gandhian thought. The project revives the values by which India obtained freedom; it also redefines those values in order to animate modern products and design.

The project presents a language of physical interface actions derived from classical symbols of the spinning wheel, turning of the prayer wheels, touching symbolic pillars, the act of hands touching sacred objects, collaboratively constructed quilts, sacred chanting in the collective group, the satsanga and the touching and rotating of prayer beads. These tradition-based interactions inspire a rich panorama of tactile interfaces that allow people to access the multimedia imagery and multidimensional mind of Gandhiji.

The technology developed does not 'merely scan' Gandhian images. It extrapolates Gandhian ideals to newer domains of information technology and product design, and at higher levels, the creation of meaning in a globalised world. For example, the Gandhian commitment to hand-based production and its symbiotic relationship with nature is interpreted in the context of modern culture-conscious design.

The contributions of the spectrum of artists, spanning wide geographic boundaries and disciplines, illustrate the universal resonance in Gandhian messages. Computer scientists, modern designers, mosaic makers, craftsmen, artists, and wood carvers offer their work as a dedicated prayer, in remembrance of the Gandhian vision; a collective Likita Japa, the endless remembrance of the Divine through repetition of the written mantra. Each object in the museum, whether a pixel of light, a bit-map on the screen, an animation, a circuit or a handcrafted object is a living prayer. Here lies the reaffirmation of the Gandhian view, a commitment to the dignity of hands, the healing of divides, the leveraging of village creativity and cultural diversity in the face of homogenisation.

Session: Closing Plenary [Plenary]

Keywords: Gandhi, Multimedia, Museum, Ranjit, Makkuni, Sacred World