We explore how new video and digital technologies transform the forms, publics and sites of South Asiancinema. From 'indigenous' communities to 'self-made' video professionals, how do new publics and producers challenge our understanding of contemporary media worlds?
This panel proposes that the rapidly appearing and disappearing video and digital technology is fundamentally transforming the forms, publics and sites of South Asia's media consumption and production. Operating within particular cultural frameworks, languages and dialects, these media practices become part of mediating ideas of self, community, aesthetics and belonging. From mobile phones to low-cost CD players, the proliferation of screens is accompanied by a dramatic diversification of technologies for the production of video films, which include state of the art DSLRs to consumer-grade digital video appliances. It has revolutionized the domain of South Asian audio-visual media. Within these cultural and technological transactions, different communities increasingly demand dedicated movies, music videos and documentaries. The creative use of cheap and flexible technologies and ideas of local audiences' taste produces new aesthetic and stylistic conventions, including visual references to identifiers such as religion, costume, material culture and landscape, while language tends to play a prominent role as well. This allows these media to be appropriated and adapted to new cultural worlds, including those of 'indigenous' communities previously excluded from the means of production and representations of popular cinema. This panel invites in-depth historical and immersive ethnographic explorations of contemporary digital video practices and detailed histories of these formats across South Asia.