The event at IIT Madras also saw the release of ‘MemoryBytes,’ the first AR-based mobile app capturing the history and life of the transnational Anglo-Indian community across 500 years.
New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras is organizing an international conference on ‘Memory in a Digital Age’ from August 23 to 25. This conference is being conducted in hybrid mode, featuring over 160 speakers from the UK, USA, Israel, Poland and Australia as well as from across India. The conference features plenary talks by Dr Rebekah Vince (Queen Mary, University London), Dr Vishnu Sreekumar (Memory and Neurodynamics Lab, IIIT Hyderabad), and Dr Anupama Mallik (CEO, Vizara Technologies).
The conference was inaugurated by Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Minister for Finance and Human Resources Management, Government of Tamil Nadu, in the presence of Professor V Kamakoti, Conference Faculty Coordinators Dr Avishek Parui and Dr Merin Simi Raj besides Professor Jyotirmaya Tripathy, Head, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras.
The event at IIT Madras also saw the release of ‘MemoryBytes,’ the first AR-based mobile app capturing the history and life of the transnational Anglo-Indian community across 500 years. The app will provide an interactive, animated, and augmented experience of photographs, maps, and archival documents during the physical-cum-digital exhibition held during the conference at the ICSR building of IIT Madras.
Addressing the inaugural event, Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Minister for Finance and Human Resources Management, Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “We are in the age of universal memory and so much common information is available to anybody, anytime. It has greatly enhanced the intellectual capabilities of the common people. Now, we live in the age of infinite external memory. However, there are issues in engines of storage and retrieval. Conferences such as these are very important since universalization of memory has still not translated to universal access.”
Further, Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, who also launched the ‘MemoryBytes’ app and the Conference Book, said, “Tamil Nadu is within the top three states where we have instituted a computer in every MLAs’ desk. Every single debate, bill and budget will be made available so that MLAs can extract it in real time and contribute to the debate so that they do not have to rely on their internal memory.”
Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan added, “I am happy to note that an Institute with such strong technical grounding has such an interdisciplinary Humanities department and that this department has such a strong Centre for Memory Studies researching on the interface of culture, history, heritage, and technology.”
This conference will be followed by the creation of ‘Campus Chronotopes,’ the first VR-based 360-degree stereoscopic video capturing the dynamic life and human-nature interfaces in the IIT Madras campus through omnidirectional cameras. It will feature an AR-based physical and digital exhibit at the IIT Madras campus featuring the history and journey of Anglo-Indian communities, directly exemplifying the experience of memory in a digital age.
Welcoming the participants from India and abroad, Professor V Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Memory in the digital age is very important. How do we store and maintain the formats when we have so many digital formats. There are different varieties of storage and this software must be compatible with many platforms. As the data keeps growing, we are looking at different ways on how to store data. I am sure there are many efforts being taken in this direction. The other aspect is this conference will feature many AR and VR-related developments. You (participants) can experience them, learn from history and learn from the past. Surely, we will be investing quite a bit in research and funding.”
The aim of the conference is to offer a historical, cultural, literary, and scientific study of memory and its evolution in a digital age with all its experiential and qualitative complexities. In essence, the conference will engage with an understanding of the future of memory.
Highlighting the key outcomes expected from this conference, Dr Avishek Parui, Conference Coordinator and Faculty, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and Principal Investigator, Centre for Memory Studies IIT Madras, said, “This conference exhibits the rich output and outreach of our Centre for Memory Studies in terms of international collaborations and world-class research at the interface of humanities, heritage, and technology. The conference has managed to attract over 160 major memory studies scholars from across the world and is a huge boost to our ongoing research in the field. The creation of MemoryBytes, the first App on Anglo-Indian experiences, will offer an innovative and original intervention on how history and memory may be re-constructed and re-lived in the digital world today, especially in Indian historical and cultural contexts.”
Further, Dr Merin Simi Raj, Conference Coordinator and Faculty, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and co-Principal Investigator, Centre for Memory Studies IIT Madras, said, “This conference follows from our first international conference on memory studies in 2019 on the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre which created an AR-animated mural artwork of that major event in Indian history. We are now examining ways in which similar AR-animated re-creation of Indian history and heritage may be conducted through research in humanities and technology and this conference is a major step in that direction. The MemoryBytes App offers a digital rendition of Anglo-Indian histories and our Centre will embark on two major projects called Campus Chronotope and Re-membering Mamallapuram which will scale up our research on organisational memory, heritage, and technology in the times to come.”
This conference will showcase the research done at the Centre for Memory Studies. IIT Madras, while also promoting adaptive, dynamic and authentic learning experiences through portable XR tools/products accessible for students, researchers and the general public.
Following this conference, the Centre for Memory Studies aims to embark on a major project titled ‘Re-membering Mamallapuram,’ which will offer an AR/VR-enabled re-creation and study of the famous trade town in all its historical significance, contributing to the Centre’s efforts to study and re-present Indian history and heritage through the theories of memory and technology.