The bioscope in India served as a moving private cinema, a way to bring an intimate space and experience into the bustling streets. Hand-painted with vibrant colours and designs, bioscopes were commonly found at ‘melas’ (fairs) and popular recreational public spaces as a form of entertainment. Taking inspiration from the historical bioscope, we wanted to see how it fit in a contemporary, expanded cinema context, to rethink what a screen is, what a cinema can be, and how a film is viewed. We also deliberated on what more the conventional bioscope itself could be.
The Harkat bioscope is a film viewing device, a portable cinema, a darkroom/developing box, and possibly a camera. Furthermore, a simple device such as a bioscope takes away the pedestalization and intimidation of other film projection devices, make it a more accessible form for vernacular spaces.
The Harkat Bioscope was presented at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2022 as part of a performative lecture by Harkat Studios titled “Cultural Lexicons Shaping Moving Images“.
images courtesy: International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2022
Film has always been exclusive. This year, Harkat attempted to challenge this with the 16mm Selfie booth. In this installation, we invited participants to experience a part of the film process by bringing the carnival-like environment of a selfie-booth into an artspace. Armed with our 16mm Krasnogorsk and a DIY dark box, we offered visitors the opportunity of being shot on 16mm film, being introduced to the chemical process of hand developing film, and lastly, being able to take home with them their own little piece of “India on Film”.
Muqaddar ka Sikandar
The act of working with celluloid film is not very different from any other craft. This installation, designed by repurposing an old sewing machine, a hand cranked 35mm projector, splicing tools and found footage, positions the participant in the shoes of the maker, the manipulator and the master of this time based media. Apart from making the viewer connect with the medium directly, this install also brings forth a narrative of the manipulative nature of motion pictures, of meaning-making. In a world which is ever-more affected by moving images, this confronts the viewer with its very primal making aspect.