In 2001, the Foundation supported the creation of the Sarai Interface Zone. Acting as a physical meeting place in Delhi, the Sarai Interface Zone is closely linked to the activities of Sarai’s outreach projects and acts as a dynamic hub for the exhibition, online dissemination and pedagogy of new media culture. The technically equipped space has become an international platform to showcase new works by independent artists and practitioners, workshops, as well as collaborative projects undertaken by Sarai’s Media Lab, which was partly funded by the Foundation in 2000. Since then, Sarai, the New Media Initiative of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, has set up a public access space for the research and practice of digital media in Delhi, one of the first of its kind in the developing world. The Sarai Interface Zone is a continuation of this initiative.
"Imagine: That you are an artist who has worked hard to acquire a range of multimedia skills, on the basis of which you want to experiment with streaming media to express the way you feel about living in a metropolis... That you are a software programmer who wants to show provocative objects of beauty made with code... That you are a woman who wants to create a cyberfeminist community, and that you want to do this with a combination of on-line art projects, discussion lists and face-to-face meetings...
Now imagine that you want to do all this in Delhi, India. You might as well give up trying to realise any one of these ambitions. No city in India can speak of being home to a public space that connects art with technology in an innovative and engaging manner. In Delhi, as elsewhere in India, these two worlds are poles apart, and speak different languages.
There is no interface that connects you to the city. There is no space where one can meet fellow practitioners, show new media work, enter into discussions, and explore the possibilities of creating a hybrid culture. In an increasingly Internet-linked world, artists and practitioners everywhere, including the city of Delhi, are more than ever before aware of the possibilities of creating work that is at the cutting edge of a global new media culture. Yet, without the possibility of engaging with the everyday situations and the lives of people who constitute one's local contexts, it is in some senses meaningless to articulate oneself as a practitioner working in and for an un-situated digital ether. An on-line culture needs an off-line breathing space. It needs an Interface, which connects art practice with people, local movements with global trends, the imagination of a city with visions of the world. The Sarai New Media Initiative, on the basis of the foundation already laid in terms of equipment, infrastructure and processes that have been initiated through the Media Lab, is uniquely positioned to realise this possibility. This will be the creation of the Sarai Interface Zone." (1)