I create engaging learning experiences for art & design students

I discuss design thinking, design process, formulating personal design/research statement focus, game design, poetic & analogical thinking and methods for idea generation. Storyflock is my first venture. Sayobi, a furniture and product design startup, is coming soon!

Poetic & Analogical Thinking

I have written poetry for some time and also written a bit on poetry and poetic thought. I share this experience in the classroom. The capacity to think poetically and analogically can enrich the set of thinking tools that a student can use in a wide-range of fields.

Non-Meaning & Ambiguity

In the complex times that we live in, many times it is difficult to associate a precise meaning with our experience. As practitioners we have to be able to understand and process this state.

Abstraction & Analogy

Abstraction and drawing analogies is very helpful to be able to imagine the unknown. One can gesture towards an experience without specifying it. These abilities can be sharpened with exercises as well as exposure.

Writing Exercises

The poetic can be appreciated only in a limited way theoretically. For an understanding of the poetic frame of mind, one has to write poetry. The poetic is not a sub-set of poetry – but poetry is a reliable point of access.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a methodology that gives designers the potential to solve complex problems insightfully, consistently and constantly. With my background of artistic practice, I create a hybrid mix of artistic and designerly techniques of problem solving.

Process

I help students to understand how they can act in different scenarios to yield different outcomes.

Techniques

I share numerous classical and novel techniques which can help enrich the student’s practice substantially.

Studio Exercises

Synthesizing concepts can be very complex. Practical studio engagement is a core part of my inputs.

Formulating a Personal Research Statement

Students need to be exposed to concrete processes to help them explore and discover their research interests.

Reflection

I create opportunities for students to reflect on their short and long-term interests through reading and writing.

Analysis

Analysing a corpus of data for insights is not a trivial task. Most students are not equipped to perform this task without some specific help.

Write & Iterate

Writing, revision and iteration are valuable form of self-discovery. Through workshops I help students in understanding these skills well.

Methods for Idea Generation

Ideation is assumed to be a spontaneous activity. But it is not. Practitioners need to generate different kinds of ideas everyday. To generate a spark constantly, a method should be followed. I share some such possible methods.

Know Methods

A lot of creative thinking methods have been developed by design thinkers worldwide. Different methods are good in different scenarios. I share many of these methods and help with creating a personal idea-generation toolkit.

Practice

Creative Thinking methods need to practised constantly. The dynamism of the method cannot be captured entirely in its description, a part of the method can only be known experientially. We create such experiences.

Team-Processes

Brainstorming is often done in multi-functional teams. How can contribute to such a team effort effectively?

Design Process

How to conduct a design thinking process iteratively and methodically to solve problems in stages? How to think in versions and balance design effort as well as need for an outcome? How to make a project roadmap?

Experiment

Experimentation is the key to design innovation. Iterative and problem-solving based experimentation leads to new insights.

Discover

Discovering new potential is a passion for me! Discovery-oriented reading, writing and research is one of the key skills that I help cultivating.

Co-learn

The classroom of the future is undeniably biased towards co-learning. Co-learning is one of the only solutions to bridging India’s knowledge gaps.

Interests & Availability

Public Art, Open-source, Writing, Artist-in-residence programs, Reading, Digital Fabrication, Board games, Performance, Digital Publishing, Storytelling, Self-hosting…

 

I am available for the following:

Teaching

I am available for teaching engagements on a visiting or adjunct basis. My interests and capacities are mentioned on this page.

Coaching

I am available for personal or group coaching for cultivating creativity, design thinking ability and building thought-leadership.

Collaboration

I am open to collaborate on exciting projects which offer me something new to learn and experiment! Do reach out.

Highlights of Research

Papers, Reflective Essays and Curation
  • Games ·
  • Labs ·
  • Residency ·
Of Games I & II (2013-14)
[Curation] A series of pioneering game making residencies curated for Khoj, Delhi. The residencies successfully introduced gaming to India's art & design fields.
  • International ·
  • Philosophy ·
  • Series ·
“Source” published as part of the UNPUBLISH series by Banner Repeater, London (2013)
[Publishing] The source is important because everything came from there and everything goes back there. What is the source? Who can access it?
  • Commentary ·
  • Monograph ·
  • Play ·
“play_book: rendering art in a configurable environment” a commentary on Thukral & Tagra’s game projects (2018)
[Publishing] Submitted for publication. The book applies the vocabulary and framework of looking at digital games to Thukral & Tagra's game installation projects.
  • Blockchain ·
  • Book Chapter ·
  • Fiction ·
“All That Happened”, a book chapter for Artists Re-imagining the Blockchain (2017)
[Publishing] A story written with the collective, Surfatial. It narrates the possible experiences that the use of blockchain for content publishing and distribution can open up for us. View PDF.
  • Archive ·
  • Text ·
  • Web Museum ·
Museum of Vestigial Desire (2012-17)
[Publishing] An archive of critical texts I wrote across five years. "The function of a museum is to create a fixed content pool with a uniform type of content".
  • Cultural Festival ·
  • Essay ·
  • Review ·
“Public Loom,” an essay commissioned by the Serendipity Arts Festival (2018)
[Publishing] A study on activist music which accompanied the "People's Music" exhibition curated by Sumangala Damodaran.
  • Collaboration ·
  • International ·
  • Internet Studies ·
Participation in Shadow Search Project (2009)
[Curation] Contribution to a collaborative project that explored the use of "natural-language search algorithms that are able to find people and activities that embody the self-understanding of the kind of art we are seeking without specifically using the word art or a related vocabulary."
  • International ·
  • milestone ·
  • public space ·
Ted India Fellowship (2009)
[Fellowship] In recognition of my work in public urban spaces
  • community activities ·
  • public space ·
  • regional ·
“Mobile Cultural Spaces”, fellowship, OpenSpace Pune (2009)
[Fellowship] Support to do a mobile cultural space project in Bangalore.
  • media ·
  • poetry ·
  • public space ·
“Publicity, Promises & the Public Space in Ahmedabad”, independent fellowship @ Sarai/CSDS (2005)
[Fellowship] A project exploring the links between advertising, seduction and the public space.
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Highlights of Creative Practice

Installations, Exhibitions, Games and Performances
  • International ·
  • Performance ·
  • Toilet ·
NanoResidency (2012)
[Project]NanoResidency (a project at dis-locate in Tokyo, Japan) invited artists to perform in public toilets to respond to the spaces with performances of gestures and sketches. Toilets are seen as outer spaces, and also outer-space. These performances were statements commenting on the insufficient space for art in our cities and also as a radical kind of space-creation.
  • Internet Studies ·
  • Virtual ·
Vacuum Suction (2015)
[Project] A project on the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA)'s Facebook page. A script that can deny its own existence easily is possible. The continuity can be said to exist only in the minds who engage over time and let their mind be influenced and subjected to. It does not exist in any discernible form otherwise. The script exists in the audience's mind only. The audience can become a part of the production anytime. Link: View
  • Homelessness ·
  • Speculation ·
  • Video ·
A Place To Stay (2006)
[Video Project] While thousands in Mumbai, lose their home every month, thousands also search for one. One of these thousands, Prayas is disoriented and frustrated, fearful of what would happen if he doesn’t find a place to stay. His friend offers him his place for the weekend, but for the week he still has to figure something out. He starts exploring Mumbai at night hoping to discover some places where he can sleep safely. As he begins his exploration, he finds friends who guide him to places he could never have imagined as shelters. And Prayas finds a place to stay! Watch video.
  • distortion ·
  • multiple-selves ·
  • Text ·
Another Pattern is Apparent (2011)
[Installation] Another pattern is apparent (and all narratives are fiction) was a video installation working with the fractal nature of text and distortion. In the installation, a wavering body of text was projected onto a sheet of acrylic bent in a zigzag shape. The sheet of acrylic had a vinyl pattern stuck behind it which was obstructing the passage of projection selectively. This led to this ambient interplay of light, shadow and text with varying degrees and opacities of text in the room. View more images.
  • Innovation ·
  • Technology ·
  • Wearable ·
Bhatka Bhatka (2010)
[Object] These are shoes which with the help of a GPS, some java code and a LED and vibrator, helps discovering new and unknown places in the city. It has a button for the wearer to store familiar / known locations and then while walking, it guides the walk towards locations that might be possibly unknown. View more: videos & images.
  • Bamboo ·
  • Festival ·
  • public space ·
Canopy (2009)
[Installation] A publicly installed bamboo structure, which allowed a dual use of public space. It allowed a tea shop to function and created space for children to climb it and grow vegetables and medicinal plants for themselves. I then did music, drawing and craft workshops at the space to seed different imaginative associations of the space in the children's minds. View more images.
  • Commentary ·
  • poetry ·
  • Rat Race ·
Distortion field (2011)
[Digital Game] A warped car-racing game which mimics the act of “dropping out”. It modifies the 2d-arcade car-racing tradition to a situation where the objective is not to win but is to get out of the race. There are detours to go turn away, but the complexities are many - if one slows down, one risks accidents. View more images.
  • Animation ·
  • Assemblage ·
  • Collaboration ·
Phase Shift (2012)
[Installation] A work of analogue animation. Frames describing the motion of a woman jumping out of a window are drawn on currency note-sized paper. A currency counting machine animates these frames. A camera inside a lamp-head captures this motion and displays it on a television. View more images.
  • Digital ·
  • Language ·
  • Philosophy ·
The Decay of Meaning (2011)
[Digital Game]A game-world in which the instrumental analysis of meaning and value in vocabulary becomes an obsession. You can jump and eat words, depending on which word you eat, you speed becomes faster or slower. When the player collides with its other avatar, one of them dies (who is faster?). But then there are three lives. If you eat a lot of words, sometimes there are side-effects. View more images
  • Art Fair ·
  • Critique ·
  • International ·
The Potential (2012)
[Installation] Books shelter desires. Masqueraded with words, empty or full, inscribed or blank - the desires in books leak through sometimes as invitations to do the impossible. The installation offers three invitations: “Money for nothing,” “Instant death” and “Flight.” Each invitation has its own paradox to consider - they are like sinful pleasures: attractive as well as feared. View more images.
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Highlights of Teaching

Some attempts at enriching classroom practice in design schools in India and abroad
  • History ·
  • Industry ·
  • Lecture ·
History of Manufacturing: Work/labour, Debt and Change in the Nature of Time (2019)
[at School of Design, Nirma University] History of Design is a very complex thing. It offers an opportunity to understand the different components of industrial and communication design. How have these components been effected by the growth and changes in the economy and society? What is the scope for learning in this for future entrepreneurs and startups? The industrial revolution was a unique period of high-growth, population shift and growth and changes in the urban environment. This course looks at the repercussions of such an intense time on labour, conditions of work, our indebtedness and the nature of time. These four aspects of our life have been altered in an irreversible way by industrialisation. This course offers a reflective study of these issues.
  • Archiprix ·
  • Campus ·
  • Public Art ·
Hybrid-space Use & The Informal Economy (2017)
[at CEPT University] Workshop brief: Ahmedabad is distinctly fractured. There is one aspect of the city’s life which is very pious and frugal and bases its value on community service and ethics. There is yet another aspect of the city which is speculative, expansive and entrepreneurial. I am not placing a moral value on either. Through the framework of a past project that I had done, I am suggesting that these two can be brought together. There can be a schematic for utility based public structures that incorporate cultural and social functions as well. Doing so will not only create a link between public needs and public imagination but will also attempt a connection between the urge to serve the public and the desire to render a service to the public and charge for it, thereby creating a sustainable node for trading within the community. The creation of such nodes is entrepreneurial at a scale which the voice and sentiment of the street can still be heard and reflected upon. We will identify structures that the public space needs in terms of facilities that might need to be provided. Such structures might need to be provided in the form of services that are sold (chai shops, snack shops) or allowing communities to express or realise a need (play ground, local farm, medicinal plant herbarium). Once such structures are identified, they can be mashed together in di!erent combinations based on aesthetic play, novel placement for neighbourhoods and an imaginative renewal of what has essentially become a dry and functional sprawl of a city. Design professionals might enjoy and find meaningful their participation in a mashup exercise that also critically weighs the value of each new notion of the urban that each mashup proposes. Purely functionalist approaches to crafting our urban neighbourhoods have failed and we need fiction, speculative storytelling and the crafting of dreamworlds in equal measure in order to create a certain fluidity that will put us all at ease.
  • Framework ·
  • Games ·
  • Introduction ·
Game Design: An Introduction (2016)
[At Digital Game Design, National Institute of Design Bangalore] A ten day workshop with the first year students. Some thoughts behind the workshop contents follow. A game is literary form. It is a way of telling stories in an immersive manner. The form of the game and the process to arrive at it are not different from each other. The experience of a playing a game can only be understood by playing it. On being narrated, it will only denote the nature of the metadata of the experience. This reflects the nature of code and rules. Within a rule-based system, players seek liberation. Liberation is towards arriving at a stage where there are no rules. Understanding rule-based systems means to understand that liberation is not possible. The density of rules that exists keeps changing though. The game design process involves designing a game that will yield another game. Narrative extrapolation is a process similar to designing an experiment as a part of a scientific research process. Experiments are the only way of proving something and likewise games are the only way of delivering an experience that need not be imagined any more.
  • brief ·
  • Internet Studies ·
  • Workshop ·
Web Curation (2013)
[at Arts & Humanities, CEPT University] Web Curation is an emerging practice of engaging with web based content in a way that attempts to listen to voices in the pool of noise that the web has become. Seeking out content from this pool of noise means to understand the context from which the content emerges and design strategies around that context. If expression is a sign of a trigger, then unfiltered, untapped content can be accessed most easily and abundantly on the web. It then becomes the responsibility of other co-inhabitants of the eco-system to be able to design flows and channels that tender this expressive content in a navigable form for audiences. The curator, literally the one who cures, is not the gate-keeper in the context of the web, but is the agent who can create envelopes of meaning and frames of enhanced signification and audience. This process will be outlined in the one week workshop.
  • Framework ·
  • Masters ·
  • Workshop ·
New Media Studies (2013)
[New Media Design, National Institute of Design] Workshop brief: As an introduction to theory and philosophical threads in the study of media, its relationship with society and its development across time needs to be understood. Much like the application of design process, the definition of problem-solution has had a primary role in the development of media. This is one set of questions that we bring back and look at, but once we already have the media environment populated by an array of media, how do we interrogate them? Theory offers us one lens to interrogate the past in the language of analysis that delineates a continuity with the specific objective of tracing a link to our present. But the density of dealing with texts the offers another difficulty of wading through them and synthesising a personal vision. Experiencing the construction of a philosophical argument is much more enriching process. We will experience the construction of such arguments in the space of conversation, enactment and group play. Each such experience will be clustered around themes and scripts developed out of a distilled understanding of moments of philosophical clarity in a historical landscape.
  • Analogue ·
  • Animation ·
  • media ·
Computational Aesthetics and Experimental Animation (2012)
[at Arts & Humanities, CEPT University] The workshop introduced the Master's students to different ideas and techniques involved in animation. It discussed some of the following ideas: animism, illusion of motion, memory, screen and interface, generative code, and recording.
  • International ·
  • Introduction ·
  • Public ·
Public Art Workshop @ dis-locate (2011)
[at dis-locate - Tokyo/Japan] An open public art workshop for the community as a part of the dis-locate festival. The workshop discussed methods and contexts for starting a public art practice and let some exercises with the participants.
  • Fiction ·
  • Future ·
  • Science ·
Questioning the future: science-fiction, philosophy and fantasy (2010)
[at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology] The course introduced the second-year students to different traditions of philosophical enquiry into science-fiction literature and cinema. This introduction will then be followed by an exploration of the relation between science and politics in India. This will involve a review of the work and publications of science academies around the country and extrapolate the kind of fictional worlds they can lead us to imagine.
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Views of some collaborators, readers and students

I worked with Prayas at Khoj when creating the first playable section from our sprawling narrative project, called Somewhere. And then later at SIDE in Jaipur, where we collaborated on a short experimental game called Menagerie.

It is in dialogues with him, and in subsequent interactions that I was able to create a framework for a form of literary reading of game processes, which has become a central thesis of our subsequent work.

Prayas' writings (especially from the Museum of Vestigial Desire) continue to remain a lasting inspiration, and I find his texts a perspicacious revision of ideas about Memory, Computation, Language and History.
Dhruv Jani
Game Designer, Oleomingus
Closure been quite significant to me, especially over this past month.

It's been something I find myself going back to over and over again.

It's really beautiful.
Rishika Anchalia
Internet Reader
Prayas mentored us during interactive art project at NID. discussions with Prayas were challenging my monotonous patterns of thinking which resulted in developing multiple and more interesting ways to see, think and articulate.

Discussing ideas with Prayas has always been interesting for me as he presents a very unique world developed through his own body of work.
Bhargav Padhiyar
M.Des. (New Media Design) Student, at National Institute of Design, India

Exersises & Insights

I will be sharing regular learning insights, design exercises and stories here starting next month.

Contact
Mail or call?
+91 9825406 131

About

Prayas Abhinav is an artist, teacher and entrepreneur. He has been professionally active for the last 10+ years. At present, he is working on a startup called Storyflock.in that has interests in e-learning, applied research and novel forms of content development. He has worked in the last few years on numerous pieces of speculative fiction, software, games, interactive installations, public interventions and curatorial projects (see practice). He has written extensively on poetic thought as a form of lingual communication (see interest in poetic thought). He contributed to research and projects at northeastwestsouth (n.e.w.s) (Amsterdam, NL). He has conducted workshops at Centre for Environmental Planning Technology (CEPT) (Ahmedabad), Dutch Art Institute (Arnhem, NL), MICA (Ahmedabad) and National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad & Bangalore). In the past, he led the Centre for Experimental Media Arts (CEMA) at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore (see teaching). He is the initiator and the Director of the Museum of Vestigial Desire.

He has developed his research and practice with the support of fellowships by Sarai/CSDS, Openspace Pune, the Center for Experimental Media Arts (CEMA), TED and Lucid (see research). He has been in residencies at Khoj (India), Coded Cultures (Austria) and dis-locate (Japan). He has shared his work at festivals including Transmediale, 48c, Futuresonic, ISEA and Wintercamp.

He lives with his family (wife, son and dogs) in Ahmedabad (India).

My CV.