What can you achieve with dry roots, stems, twigs and leaves? In the early thirties of the last century Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), a doyen of the Bengal school of Art created a new art form called ‘Katum Kutum’ from such trivia.
Almost eight decades later IIT Kharagpur is exploiting the art form to train ‘green engineers’ – those who know the art of recycling and come up with technologies which would be in sync with nature.
IIT KGP has decided to introduce a course module for first year students named ‘Green Aesthetics’ for one semester.
“First year is the time when we work on creating the base of the students. We want them to condition their mind for green technology and help innovate ways of using recycled material,” said Joy Sen, professor of Architecture and Regional Planning.
“The class will have practices based on ‘Katum Kutum’ where the students will be encouraged to design a space, a vehicle, an engineering device or even furniture and installations with reusable materials around them,” he added.
Tagore, too, took special interest in creating work of art from leftovers in metal and wood workshops.
“The mantra here is recycle, reuse, regenerate and resurrect. We are conditioning them to think in a way that whatever they create, or do, as engineers should complement nature,” remarked Sen.
The course will be developed into a full-fledged one that will be open to both engineers and students of fine arts, visual arts, interior decoration, fashion and product designing.
The institute has already started developing the curriculum for the full-fledged post graduate course in ‘Green Esthetics’ inspired by Katum Kutum. It is also talking to Visva-Bharati (Shantiniketan) and Rabindra Bharati University (Kolkata) for collaboration.
“In Japan electronics waste goes to art schools where it is used to create works of art. Mahenjodaro and Harrapan civilization, too, followed this policy but we lost the tradition midway,” rued the professor.
In order to start a full-fledged course, IIT-KGP is approaching the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India for funds.