Phulkari is an ongoing project which will culminate towards a multimedia thesis performance during Spring 2018.
Phulkari is an interactive multimedia performance involving wearable electronic textiles, dance, music and visuals. This interdisciplinary project aims to envelop South Asian cultural identity, tradition, and memory within the present digital realm.
The electronic textile, Phulkari, is based on a technique of weaving practiced by women in Punjabi villages -- one that is passed down from mother to daughter and from bride to new village. Inscribed in the practice are processes of cultural change and continuity, the transmission of memory, and nostalgia. Wearable computers, or wearables are electronic devices that are worn under, with or on top of clothing in order to interact with an individual in a seamless manner. Phulkari -- as an instrument is a convergence of tradition, memory and technology, thus it is is intended to be worn for everyday use, as well as during performance and installation settings.
Phulkari is the culmination of ongoing research on the integration of cultural memory into technological mediums. The fieldwork portion, which has been funded by the University of Michigan's Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS) and a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, combined travel in Indian cities examining experimental and electronic artists, and interviews with Punjabi women in India and the diaspora. To these ends, I collaborated with artist collectives and artistic agencies in Calcutta and Mumbai, and spoke with Punjabi women about the individual and social memories they inscribe in textiles. Phulkari, thus, synthesises my work for CWPS into a performance that interrogates how culture, rather than being supplanted by technology, is actually reinscribed and recontextualized through such.