media, information, the contemporary

What Time Is It? | 14-16 December 2017 – Report

What Time Is It?

Technologies of Life in the Contemporary

14th, 15th and 16th December, 2017
Sarai-CSDS, Delhi and Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi


A detailed report of the conference is available on this LINK.

Conference Programme:


Have we finally entered the End of the End of History? (E-flux, Journal #57 – Sept 2014). Recent media technological transformations have thrown into confusion many existing political and social theories; art, media philosophy, politics, biology; in fact all ideas of life presented in the last century. Are these the jumbled signs of ‘our’ contemporaneity? The idea of the contemporary has been around for a few decades, seen variously as a period, a critical gesture, and a disciplinary frame for literature and art. We believe the time is right to revisit the idea of the contemporary from a different lens, outside the closeted frameworks of a Euro-American debate where contemporaneity appears as a unstable successor to modernity and postmodernity.

In the past decade we have seen the worldwide spread of media and information networks. Since value is now gained from experience, new corporations and political parties deploy strategies of agglomeration using digital media technologies. Growing computational grids inaugurate storage and surveillance technologies that are affecting fields like the environment, finance and law. Machine time disturbs historical continuity and sequence. Genetic engineering and life storage technologies disrupt the idea of the biological life span; media memory and recording technologies have already transformed the lives of mobile phone users in the world. Media-enabled populations in Asia, Africa and Latin America are now part of a new infrastructure of the senses.

Since 2000 digital infrastructures have produced a new generation of art and media practitioners. Like the West, capitalist enterprises in Asia, Africa and Latin America are facing new challenges and opportunities with informational networks. Like everywhere, such transformations have set in motion a sense of indetermination and flux, providing opportunities, shadow zones and critical discourses.

This conference sought to explore experience from the vantage point of these media-informational transformations. We debated art practice, cultural theory, media aesthetics, social theory, forensics, urbanism, and the landscape of the political. Time horizons and its philosophies were a major concern of the conference, as we sought to displace the idea of the contemporary as (just) a ‘present’ without limits.

Conference Convenors: Ravi Sundaram, Ravi Vasudevan (Sarai-CSDS) + Raqs Media Collective (Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta)

Sarai-CSDS was a part of the Leverhulme International Network for Contemporary Studies (LINCS). This conference was supported by the Leverhulme Trust and the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi.