ANKIT MONGA AND NIHAR MUDGAL stood in the balcony of their studio in Gurgaon with flip-flops in their hands. Beside them was a set of PVC pipes assembled horizontally on wooden planks. Bending over, Monga and Mudgal began to slap the openings of the pipes with the flip-flops—a deep, bass ringing began to emanate. “It’s really simple,” Monga said, after drumming on the pipes for a few minutes. “We can make so many new things with generally available stuff.”
Mudgal and Monga are the co-founders of Other Logic Experientials (OLE), a company that conducts workshops that are intended to foster creativity among participants. While OLE regularly works with corporates, the duo also holds open events at public locations in Delhi. “With our efforts, we wish to broaden the horizons of interactive design,” said Mudgal. Designing and building unusual musical instruments is one aspect of their work with light, sound and design, a combination they refer to as “LSD”.
Monga, a sound engineer and photographer, and Mudgal, a graduate in advertising and design, have been friends since they were in school. They began to work together in 2003, the year Monga got his first DSLR camera. “While clicking pictures with our new camera, we accidently captured a wave of light from a simple candle in our room,” said Monga. They began to develop techniques of creating shapes with light sources, and also expanded their work into sound and design. The duo recounted that their landlord at the time didn’t take rent from them for three months. “We were just out of college and he gave us a chance. That was really a push,” said Mudgal. “But we needed some money to pay the bills, so I started to pitch our ideas to corporates. That was when MCD kicked us out.” The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, he explained, evicted them on the charge of running a commercial venture in a residential colony.
But this stroke of misfortune didn’t dissuade them. They continued their project even as they kept up regular careers, Mudgal as an advertising professional, Monga as a photographer and filmmaker. While their earlier work focused mainly on photography, they have recently begun to devote greater effort to their work with sound and musical instruments. Among their creations are an LPG cylinder with grooves cut into its bottom surface, which turns into an instrument known as a hank drum, played with the fingers; bamboo sticks strung together to become a slit drum, played with rubber-tipped mallets; and a wind instrument made of PVC pipes, their version of the pan flute. “PVC is a great tool that is easily available and you can make great, creative things using it,” Mudgal said.
Last year, Monga and Mudgal decided to leave behind their main careers to concentrate on OLE, teaming up with Balakrishnan Chandrashekharan, an IT professional, with whom they created a software to enable real time ‘light sketching’, where the path traced by a light source is displayed on a screen. The next sound device they are planning is a PVC tonoscope—a pipe with a bend in it and one mouth enclosed by a membrane, on which a powder or liquid is placed, which reacts with sound that passes through the tube to create intricate shapes. “We can make all sort of figures if we computerise the frequency,” explained Mudgal. Also on the cards is a ‘fire equaliser’—a device in which flames react to sound waves to resemble the display of an equaliser; and a ‘singing pencil’, which turns any surface it is played on into a soundboard. “Anything can be played then, a tea-cup, door, paper or wood,” explained Mudgal.
Although the group continues with their commercial work, they believe the best way to reach out to people with their work is through open events. “We want to spread this do-it-yourself culture. One can create amazing things out of ordinary stuff and can have wonderful experiences,” said Mudgal. “The whole effort is to make just that one moment when you say ‘Wow.’”
Atul Dev is a staff writer at The Caravan.