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Bioscope (2022 onwards)

Bioscopewallah……bioscopewallah ayah….aao, dekho,nayi purani filme sirf ek rupiya.

(Bioscopewallah……bioscopewallah is here… come, watch new old films in just one rupee.)


The throw-back cry from the 1960s and 1970s of Indian street vendors trying to lure children and adults to the magic of movies in a box still reverberates in the serpentine bylanes of India, mingled with the smell of moss and decay. 

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A considerable proportion of film exhibitions in India occur in itinerant form and in makeshift and often temporary establishments, pertaining to the class and caste divide. Traveling showmen - familiarly known as Bioscopewallahs put together many of these exhibitions and in doing so transform the quotidian streets into theatrical spaces, exhibiting moving images through a combination of vintage and obsolete projection equipment and collaged film scraps. The bioscopewallahs install their projectors in large wooden boxes fashioned with viewfinders for individualized collective viewing, and cart them from streets to localities to villages, halting at the clink of coins in the palms of children running towards the loud chants and songs they sing as they wheel the bioscope around. With a deliberate aesthetic of fragmenting perspectives, such Bioscopewallahs call for a 'living-time museum' rather than a cultural establishment that combines a kind of mechanical poetry, an embodied synchronization between the rhythms of man and machine.


There is not a battle between old and new media. Rather, as the vintage apparatus of the peripatetic showman whirrs and hums; it contains within it shards of both the past and the future. It binds other media forms in shared affinities with the cinema. It conflates the media of pre-capitalism with the media of late-capitalism. Its work renders speculations on the death of film in the age of digital media either supremely outdated or supremely premature. This project therefore follows the Bioscope in history as it weaves in and out of private and public, official and nonofficial, commercial and artisanal worlds over the span of more than a century.

This project is an attempt to hold on to the ingrained presence of these traveling cinemas, the experience of watching films in the interstices of everyday life with an organic unity of communal experiences. It is an attempt to protect its simple values as passed down to me in oral accounts by a generation that witnessed its decline. 

The traditional bioscope functioned through a reel of images that were cranked fast enough by hand to create the illusion of a moving film. Without disembodying the illusory experience of viewing a film created by still images, the bespoke digitized bioscope would be controlled by a hand crank and the films would be animated frame by frame. Relative to the speed and direction the viewer turns the hand crank, forward or in reverse, the film will unfold/fold. The Bioscope demands its audience to engage with speed and chronology in order to actually see moving images. Here, the act of seeing is subjectively constructed through each frame and view. 

By enabling a frame by frame viewing of (digital or digitized) films through the turn of the hand crank, the viewer becomes active and can speed-up time, stop time, reanimate time, as well as reverse in time. The Bioscope treats the movie not as a fixed narrative, but as one that is subjectively constructed through each frame and each view, engaging us to notice the discreet relationships which manifest personal meaning.


Curatorial Methadology

The curatorial methadology of the Bioscope takes inspiration from the working and poetic mechanisms of the apparatus that hums to life the images that create films, the visual pleasure interrupted and then resumed by the Bioscopewallah’s tasks of hand-cranking and reloading the film, and the “performance” of man and machine that binds all this together. With a deliberate aesthetic of fragmenting perspectives, such interactions call for a 'living-time museum' rather than a cultural establishment that combines a kind of mechanical poetry, an embodied synchronization between the rhythms of man and machine.


The films in the Bioscope that are viewed through the viewfinders, present multiple perceptions of time, memory and perspective as it unfolds. The act of cranking the Bioscope becomes an integral part of the viewing experience, allowing viewers to actively engage with the films and participate in the creation of their own visual narrative - a non-sequential storytelling. Each turn of the crank induces this movement of the images, transforming static images into time-conscious constructions. Artists such as Mochu, Debashish Paul and Sangram Mukhopadyay have previously shown their films in the apparatus.



The Bioscope holds a fully functional analog gramophone at the top which has been a curatorial site of platforming sound artists alongside visual artists. The gramophone has a separate crank which breaks the rhythm and synchronization of sound with film, creating a new experience and a new piece of work each time it’s viewed. Experiencing a bioscope in action involves paying attention to the detailed movement and vision that exists between real and projected worlds. The lines between past, present, and future become malleable, and the continuity of time is disrupted by the ever-changing cinematic encounter. Two 78 rpm shellac records were pressed of digital sound tracks by Aliyah Hussain and Sangram Mukhopadyay for the Bioscope.


Mochu Painted Diagram of a Future Voyage (Who believes the lens?) 

5 mins loop. Silent film. 2013

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Sangram Mukhopadyay and Kinnari Saraiya যত উপর, वैसा नीचे / जैसा ऊपर, তত নিচে  

15 mins 41 seconds. 2021

Saraiya Kinnari, যত উপর, वैसा नीचे 1.png

Soundtracks (printed on 78 rpm records):

Koh-I-Noor, from the EP Sultana's Dream, Aliyah Hussain

4 minutes, 2022 edit, first released on Sacred Tapes in 2015

Sangram Mukhopadyay and Kinnari Saraiya যত উপর, वैसा नीचे / जैसा ऊपर, তত নিচে  

3 minutes 40 seconds. 2021



Software Engineer: Terry Saraiya-Tran 
Hardware Engineer: Harsh Saraiya-Tran
Concept: Rupal Saraiya


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