Notes from a DigiHum conference in India (the first, arguably!)
Souvik Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The Digital Humanities in India conference is now over. It was very hectic, almost a chaosmos but it was joyful. Not sure I can trust my tired brain to summarise all the presentations or even some of them. Mark Bernstein on many things digital but mostly the need for joy; Barry Atkins teasing my brains about storytelling in videogames, keynoting the excess in the medium and the simultaneous drive by designers to limit the experience; Amlan Dasgupta giving us his notes from the dust heap of the archive and sending me back to my Walter Benjamin; Debaditya bringing Stiegler into the fray of DigiHum through the fault of Epimetheus and issues of surveillance; Abhijit Gupta showing us the complexities of creating a digital catalogue of early Bengali texts and the fascinating pages in layers of old Bengali type mixing Devnagri and Nashtaliq; Moinak Biswas with a visual archive of photos from an abandoned camera factory; Oyndrila Sarkar on bringing the digital in early British-Indian cartography and her accidental but intriguing run-in with the synchronic and diachronic; Simi Malhotra on the Digital Humanities singularity; Saugata Bhaduri on the crosscultural MMO analysis; Mahitosh Mandal's humanist take on the digital humanities; Sue Thomas's extremely popular (with my students) talk on transliteracy; I enjoyed them all. My own contribution was to problematise videogames using Deleuze's concept of the minoritarian. Here's the summary:
To sum up,
Videogames are complex media that are read simplistically
Their main problems are that they tell stories in many tongues and simultaneously
That they are an assemblage rather than A text
However, much we avoid them their narrative manifestations emerge variously
Videogames tell stories … let’s face it and not run away.
I must thank Presidency University for the opportunity (so quickly granted) to start off the Digital Humanities here. Many thanks to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Malabika Sarkar and the Head of English, Professor Shanta Dutta, for their help and support. A huge thank you to my students and to Hanuman da, our departmental saviour for all their help.
The effort wore me out but the positive comments on Facebook give me a lot of encouragement. I hope that this enthusiasm will not die out and that something will come of my efforts. Most of my hopes lie in my students. Nought else.
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino