About Solar Project

Origins of Project Solar Eclipse '99:
The project derives its name from a complete solar eclipse that was predicted for the 11th of Aug'99, whereby, the first land mass on the straight line of the eclipse's trajectory was going to connect between Cornwall, UK at the one end and Western India at the other as the eclipse's last land mass. Thereafter, the whole phenomenon was expected to disappear into sunset over the Bay of Bengal.

The Project had been conceived as a shared initiative between UK and India leveraging Dr. Ajanta Sen's (the co-ordinator of this project) background as an independent researcher and analyst of development issues in technology and design, along with Robert Pulley, Dean of Design at Cornwall's Falmouth College of Arts (FCA) and Prof. Ravi Poovaiah, at the Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

This Indo-UK initiative had started off with the avowed intention - exciting and ambitious as it was and continues to be - of being able to create, by the time of the eclipse, a "daisy chain" of communities along the line of the eclipse's trajectory. The intention was to see if we could form a collaborative platform powered by the networking technologies in order to enable these communities to cross-culturally collaborate and creatively work with each other synchronously (online) and asynchronously (offline) over their shared visions, ideas and ethos across the Internet. In the process, it has been our fond hope to be able to create "new art, new audiences and new experiences" through all this collaborative work centred around a set of design- technology initiatives inherent to this new media.

  Framework of Project action:
This experimentation has been carried out so far through a series of 'events' - which are the online-cum-offline sessions that we hold, and which sometimes extend across the course of a whole week during which the participating communities are made to come together on the common platform of the Internet to touch base with each other. Which is why at the end, it is the complexion of these 'events' even more than their technology-achievements that continue to remain significant for us. It is in their carnival-like responses in drawing spontaneous participation from both doers and observers alike during these online events, that has enabled us to draw the singular conclusion that such outwardly joyous expressions could only have come from the native responses of a people labelled the so-called 'technology-illiterates' but who are, in fact, blessed with a mindset that continues to remain uncorrupted and non-intimidated by the power of the machine.

The Solar Project
The Collaborative Events
The Outcome
The Future

Contact details
Potential Partners
The collaborative 'events' to date:
Across two and a half years since the Project's inception, member-communities had interacted, exchanged and worked together collaboratively (with one another) over several shared ideas and interests. This was followed by an intense period of analysis of the findings in the form of several international research papers - almost all of them invited for presentation. The project has received over a hundred international awards. The 'events' held under Project Solar Eclipse'99, all of them considered to have been the first of their kind, had been:
1. Collaborative Murals: (a large mural about Bombay in Cornwall, UK and about Cornwall in Bombay)
2. Interactive Festival: named 'Virtual Holi' played cross-culturally across at least forty-four countries in Western Hemisphere
3. Collaborative Sculptures: (giant-sized installations of the Indian Elephant at Cornwall and a giant Cornish Sailboat in India)
4. Collaborative Sundials: collaboratively developed by children and design students in UK and India
5. Solar Eclipse '99, the actual phenomenon for which the project had collaborated with UK's Arts Council, USA's NASA-Exploratorium, Mumbai's Nehru Centre and the Press Trust of India to 'virtually' present the movement of the eclipse along the trajectory from UK to India and then grab images of the actual eclipse in India for the viewing of the international audiences - all this via the networking technologies.
6. Castles in the Air: an artists' and sculptors' initiatives at building installations and artworks at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai
7. Collaborative Love Stories: an initiative between City Gallery, Leicester, De Montford University, Leicester, UK and India (IIT Bombay and the Godrej Udayachal School, Mumbai).

The Solar Project
The Collaborative Events
The Outcome
The Future

Contact details
Potential Partners
The stages of Project Solar Eclipse:
(a) The proposed project's precursor is its experimental phase carried out between the Fall of 1997 to Dec 1999 and spread across eight internationally participated cross-cultural 'events.' The project's outcome is the artefacts, installations, paintings, crafts works, product design material etc., that were created out of these cross-cultural 'events', in addition to the collaborative space on the Net (www.coloursofindia.net) that had netted in more than 100 awards for the project. The collaborative space continues to invite the attention of hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide.
(b) Additionally between 2000 and the present (2003), the project moved on to its analytical phase and the Project's findings were presented at various stages of its unfolding as keynote addresses, in the form of invited as well as selected international papers at:
(a) Graphica International, UEFS, Feira De Santana, Brasil, Sept 1998 (held once in two years),
(b) at the National Internet Guild's Conference, IITBombay, April 1999 (the only one held so far),
(c) at the ICSID/ICOGRADA/IFI Millennium Design Congress (held once in six years), Sydney, Sept-Oct 1999
(d) at the ACUADS hosted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Oct 1999,
(e) at CADE (Computer Aided Design Education), Falmouth College of Arts (FCA), Falmouth, UK, July 2000,
(f) at The City Gallery in collaboration with De Montford University, Leicester, UK, July 2000, at
(g) at the Workshop on Design of the New Media Technologies, IITB, Dec 2001,
(h) at the International Conference on New Technologies and Methodologies in Arts, Media and Design held at the Rajabhat Institute of Suan Sunanda at Bangkok, Dec 2001 and
(i) at the Design History Society's international conference' entitled 'Situated Knowledges: Consumption, Production and Identity in a Global Context', held at University of Wales, UK, 3rd - 5th Sept. 2002 among others in India.
(j) Our most recent publication has come on invitation from the American refereed journal 'Design Issues' (guest edited by Prof. Martha Scotford) and published by MIT, Cambridge, Massachusettes Press, to present the findings of our experiment. This paper entitled "Across the Web: the Colors of India as a cross-cultural collaborative initiative for learning" is currently in the process of being published by MIT Publication, Cambridge, Mass, USA

The Solar Project
The Collaborative Events
The Outcome
The Future

Contact details
Potential Partners
Looking Ahead:
It is known that this was a project that was being conducted in the way it was for the first time in the world in 1997. Given this precedence of a systematic experimentation of a technology entirely new and scarcely understood when it was first undertaken, we now need quite urgently, to move on into the post-experimentation phase. And build on the findings gathered through its experimentation phase. The problems and the prospects of the project- findings urge us to move on into investigating the following issues into the future:
(i) An imminent need to construct dynamic, collaborative structures built into the Net in a manner that allows schools and institutions, artists and art galleries, craftspeople and crafts guilds and so on to download readily available collaborative tools and start the process of cross-cultural or creative collaborations; and
(ii) the need to understand in some depth the collaborative potentials between apparently divergent target groups such as craftspeople, artists, industrial designers and children and converting the findings into applications for future use.

The Solar Project
The Collaborative Events
The Outcome
The Future

Contact details
Potential Partners
Contact Details:
Dr. Ajanta Sen
International Co-ordinator
Solar Project
C/CSRE 139, Hillside, IIT
Powai Mumbai 400076

Telephone: 091-22-5721601
Fax: 091-22-5721601
email: ajanta(at)coloursofindia.net

  Potential Collaborative Partners:
If you would like to get involved in doing a cross-cultural collaborative event
with people located in diferent parts of the world and belong to either an Institution, School, Art Centre, Art Gallery or a Museum, do get in touch with us.
write to us at:

Collaborative events:
..Solar Projects....Sailboat     Sundial....Indian Elephant .
Space and Structure... Eclipse  
  Love Stories. 
  Colors of India.