Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - #Home.

Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - # Home - Call for Sessions


Session Type: Demonstration of Research Output and Methods

Session Plan

Over the past two years, we have been experimenting with developing self-hosted servers as a way to address ideas around agency, capacity and enablement within internet infrastructures. The outcomes of these processes have developed into three projects that we would like to share through this session.

home_for_a_while was a local area WiFi network that was installed as part of the exhibition real time tactics at IIC, Delhi in December 2019. It was openly accessible within and around the exhibition premises and hosted texts, news articles, how-to manuals, notes and other research developed through conversations around internet shutdowns. Three days into the exhibition, protests erupted in various parts of Delhi against the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The state responded with violence, but also with bandwidth throttling and internet shutdowns localised in neighbourhoods in and around Delhi. The experience of exhibiting home_for_a_while was almost a rehearsal for a process that would then break out of the white cube space and into inquilab network.

inquilab network was an open, portable, community run local area WiFi network that travelled to various public protests in a backpack during the anti-CAA movement of 2019-20 in Delhi, India. inq.net operated independently of the internet. It was designed to enable the sharing of information and resources between everybody in its local proximity. It hosted freely downloadable crowdsourced content like pamphlets, zines, articles, posters, infographics, memes, etc. It eventually found a home in a public park in Hauz Rani, until the pandemic and the hastily executed nationwide lockdown brought the protest movement to a halt in March 2020.

thismightnotbe.online is a self-hosted web server located in our home in Delhi, India. It was developed during the lockdown, and has been online (mostly) since October 2020. It is imagined as a publication platform, a pirate hub, a toolkit, a gathering site. It hosts a collaborative storage drive with books, music, shared lists of PhD programs and artist statement generators, notes on building pre-amplifiers for contact mics, games and workshop notes on language and computation. It also hosts an internet radio station and a museum from Shanghai.

thismightnotbe.online is unstable, precarious and always under construction. Its internal network consists of old laptops and single board computers that share messy tabletops with a happy meal toy, crochet needles and a money plant among other things. You can tell from the sound of its cooling fan that it has visitors, or perhaps just a botnet sniffing around. It heats up during the summer months and goes offline with the occasional power cut. To maintain thismightnotbe.online is to live with it - to share a home; to host friends and colleagues working across geographies and timezones; to inhabit the liminal space between platform and user.

It is curious to us that technical activities that go into enabling seamless communication - talking to people about connecting to an unknown WiFi network, getting the ISP to assign you a static IP address, securing an exposed web server - are often accompanied by faint discomfort, anxiety, clumsy and tentative interactions. Such instances urge us to think about some questions - How do our infrastructures produce conditions on agency, access and enablement? What affordances of scale, capacity and mobility do they allow for? How does communication as a technical activity affect the very desire to communicate itself? We would like to use the session to generate conversations around these ideas.


Session Team

Kaushal Sapre (b. 1990) is an artist based in Delhi, India. He studied physics and chemical engineering before completing his masters in visual art practice in 2017. His work addresses everyday experiences of living within contemporary technical systems, in an effort to think through conceptions of subjecthood, agency and community. His practice often gets articulated through traces of activity within precarious infrastructural arrangements. He is currently - participating in the curatorial fray of Powerlines Cicada Metal Drawl, supported by Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai;  contributing to conversations around the social experience of telecommunication with -out-of-line-; maintaining a web server infrastructure with thismightnotbe.online; facilitating courses around digital media and technology at Ambedkar University Delhi.     

Aasma Tulika (b. 1992) is an artist currently based in Delhi. She is interested in moments that disturb belief systems, and how mechanisms of control operate in such encounters experienced in everyday life. She locates technological infrastructures as sites to unpack the ways in which power embodies and affects narrative making processes. Her practice engages with narratives that circulate on social networks and mass media, to record and draw out experiences of ideological disorientations and slips. She has been a fellow at the Home Workspace Program 2019-20, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, and is currently participating in Capture All: A Sonic Investigation with Liquid Architecture and Sarai. She is a member of the collective -out-of-line-, and collaboratively maintains a home server hosting thismightnotbe.online.

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