As individuals, families and communities, we all respond to change differently. We accept or resist it, we sometimes settle for a compromise, evolving to accommodate change.

Although recognized, change is not as often realized.

As we gravitate towards an era where we turn more unmindful and impervious to this condition, it is perhaps imperative to question the equations that structure in our lives.

What is essentially dispensable and what is not.

Immediately after independence, driven by the need to build a strong economy, the Indian government implemented economic policies that promoted industrialization, import substitution and the growth of the public sector through central planning that failed, creating a macro¬economic crisis, curbing the country’s economic growth immensely. This is debatable as many economists argue that the emphasis on building the public sector enabled equitable growth and the building of infrastructure that laid the foundation for economic liberalization 45 years later.

The decades that followed independence were characterized by a pride in Indian goods and a collective desire to contribute towards to the economic development of the young nation. This aspiration was embodied in slogans such as ‘Be Indian, Buy Indian’ a carry over of Gandhi’s call to boycott foreign goods and embrace Swadeshi. Thrift was a virtue and saving an imperative. Middle class families tended to make do with what they had rather than hanker for what they could not afford.

Sixty years after independence the mood is completely different. The year 1991 saw the beginning of a new era of globalization that began with the liberalization of the Indian economy. Economic reforms, disinvestment in the public sector and impetus to foreign direct investment opened the country to foreign trade and privatization of many sectors.

The arrival of global brands, increased investment in telecommunications and easy availability of credit resulted in increased consumerism across the Indian middle classes. The ‘Make Do’ perspective gave way to ‘Must Have’. All these changes lead to the Indian middle class household becoming a platform for technological experimentation. The privacy of the middle class home as well as the public space was invaded by a series of evolving tools and technologies.

Growing up in my grandparents’ home during this period, I was oblivious to not just the fact that we functioned differently but had distinctly different experiences and relationships with technology in spite of subconsciously accepting our differences and establishing a healthy rapport.

From there, I tried to find these instances and the spaces within which our differences manifested. After going round the clock, observing our lives, I started coming across tools… both simple and complex tools that guided both our activities through the day and our lives.

One such space I explored was communication, specifically transmission of sound, the first form of live communication and the tools that enabled it. Something about the way my generation and my grandparents’ generation has been socialized, combined with this new communication technology generated various interesting interactions between individuals, communi¬ties and the tools itself. Interactions that reflected our dispositions, perspectives and practices.

The phenomenal rate of change has prevented us from questioning, comparing, judging and reflecting on even the most elementary activities we engage in.

This compilation is a study and representation of such technology mediated interactions that took place over the past fifty years in the Indian middle class household.

Stories about interactions tell us how these were key in shaping our social and personal lives, redefining our values and constructing “middle class culture”.


Review 1 | 14th July, 2010
  • The Indian middle class : Who are they? Who exactly am I referring to ?
  • Is this based on economic status, social/cultural backgrounds? English speaking?
  • Is there a new Indian middle class?
  • Middle class identities 
  • Questioning the 'the' ness of any categorization.
  • Digital Native/Immigrant theories.
  • Look into 'topic to question' research methodology
  • Narrow down the focus and choose something very specific to extract more concrete & unique findings that can help create a more meaningful output.
  • ITI could be a good resource or starting point. Employees.
  • Could work on the lines of what Victor was doing. Combining the physical instrument of another era with the technology of todays.

The Nationalists used the telegraph and radio to communicate personal messages which was shared and became the content of public news in contrast to what is happening today with the web sharing portals.Looking at the dissolving boundary between the personal and publicly shared.
To do:
Start thinking of final form
Relook audience
Create a more detailed timeline
Could audit a couple of classes 
Jyothsna is taking for the Foundation studies on Middle class identities

The Great Indian Middle Class - Pawan Verma
The craft of research
The continuum viva texts
William Burroughs :Writing
The Naked Lunch
Straight Eight : Film by Ayisha

To come up with and share research questions/directions by the 19th of July
Deliverables for next review:
Create Research collation document
Next review 29th July

Review 2 | 29th July, 2010

First set of lines of inquiry and research questions.

                Personalization of communication technology
                The increasing need to control everything we sense
                How new media constricts us int he name of expansion & accessibility.
                The Private and public boundary
                The increasing need to share the personal
                Messaging : The shift from English to vernacular & how technology enabled this
                Content and style: the shift in the nature of conversation and its impact on language
                The role of emotion in conversation. Face to face conversation.
                The story behind the first phone call experience.

Keeping lines of inquiry in mind initial research done on two families (3 generations, 8 memebers)
Looking at insights and the story behind the first phone call experience.

References to other artists : Ashok Sukumaran
Was also asked to look at gender.

Other ideas to take forward:
Connecting strangers

Deliverables for next meeting:
- Articulate ideas
- Start working on form
- Ideas for the interactive aspect of the project

Dilip Subramaniam : History of Telecommunications in India

Truss, Lynn  Talk to the Hand esp. the chapter on customer service.
Suggested Google searches: sociology of telephones; sociology of mobile phone; sociology of cell phones
Papers recommended:

Next review 17th August 10.45 a.m

Review 3 | 17th August, 2010

Interviews completed
Presented initial set of illustrative visuals stemming from research and insights
General Feedback on visuals: Very interesting set of ideas but it might be moving towards a more conceptual and impersonal feel. Asked to make more use of the research and stories and make it a more personal interaction.

Ideas for structure and Form:
  • An interactive screen where users can dial a 5-digit number to create interactive stories. (These stories stem out of the research and insights) 
  • Pre-recorded messages; Answering machines that throw up pre recorded messages, the messages would build up to a narrative.
  • 3d renders for final form of installation created. Forms emerging  from previously illustrated visuals. 
  •  Asked to visit ITI office and check archives of advertisements or marketing strategies with regard to phones.
  • Consider the use of STDs/PCOs in the 1980s and 1990s and how that has changed.
  • Check how the research feeds into the final output and to document that – even if there is not direct correlation between the two, there needs to be some documentation of how the research led to the final outcome.
  • Go through the diploma project guidelines and grading rubric again to check if you’re on track. 
  • Collate research and make document for future refrencing.
  • Pull out and collate all the stories and insights from research.
  • Relook photographs and audio/video and see what can be used as material for final outcome.

Shu leh chang

Review 4 | September 9th, 2010

Work completed:

  • Research collated and shared on blog.
  • Stories listed and categorized by themes.
  • Five interactive sound pieces created on flash for final sequence.


  • It does not have to be a database/archive of all the stories. A few stories can be chosen and expressed in the final form.
  • Create as much as possible, increase bandwidth, more variety in terms of form, style. Will give more options when I need to choose later
  • Simultaneously think of structure and underlying thread that holds all these pieces together. 
  • What exactly are you triggering? Nostalgia?
  • Incorporate the dark side as well. Harassment, inconveniences etc 


  • Relook the pop artists.
  • Could also look at its representation in popular culture for juxtaposition (e.g. Bollywood)
  • Elements of the phone booth
  • Could possibly create the Indian middle class household in the exhibition space itself

Next review 17th September 3:30 pm