'Duet' art project seeks to connect strangers from India and UK

'Duet' art project seeks to connect strangers from India and UK

Linking up

'Duet' art project seeks to connect strangers from India and UK

Take conversations beyond the superficial and find what you share in common with a fellow human in a different country.

Quicksand, a design studio based in Bengaluru, New Delhi and Goa, and Invisible Flock, a UK-based interactive arts studio are carrying out a year-long art project, launched in February, titled ‘Duet’ which anonymously connects two strangers from India and the United Kingdom. Participants in the project use the Duet app to get paired with someone in the other country, and answer one new question every day. Through questions about a place which makes you happy, bad advice you may have received and the last thing you made with your own hands, you slowly get a picture of your partner’s world.

The idea behind the project came to Babitha George of Quicksand and Ben Eaton of Invisible Flock during a conversation they had in 2014. “Duet emerged from our conversations around how despite the seemingly ever-connected nature of technology, we seem to be increasingly disconnected and isolated. We thought of using questions as cues, which will make you stop and think about things which you, otherwise, do not. You will be able to get a glimpse of your partner’s life but at the same time, you will also look inward and learn something about your life,” Babitha explained. 

The creators have consciously chosen not to reveal the identity of the participants. “We wanted people to share a relationship which is not dependent on things like one’s name, gender, where they live or what they do. Even without this information, you can learn a lot about a person through their answers,” Babitha explained. They wanted to create a sense of romance and curiosity, in contrast with the experience on social media where everything is fast-paced and posts are directed at a large number of people.

The project takes on three forms — the app, where you connect with strangers, a web platform which visualises the answers, and public art installations in India and in the United Kingdom. Their first art installation has already come up in Leeds, United Kingdom, where LED panels have been put up where public can see some of the answers.

The collaboration is funded by Arts Council England and the British Council as part of their year-long celebration of 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties.