My three month sojourn in an Indian art studio

I had the opportunity to participate in swissnex India’s III program with a 3-month internship at the art-duo Pors and Rao’s studio in Bangalore, India.

I joined the company as they were going through a very interesting phase. Pors and Rao were working on new mechatronic artworks for an upcoming exhibition in Hong Kong. In this context I took over the lead for one of the artworks named “Exploding View“. My task was to develop and build a good prototype by the end of the internship. I was given a big responsibility from the very first day, which was highly motivating, but at the same time, pressurising.

After getting familiarized with the project, the first step was to design a basic belt-pulley mechanism and to figure out what kind of motors will be needed. I developed and built a first prototype collaborating with the local manufacturers as well as my coworkers. I did the mechanical design and technical drawing using a CAD software and I did some programming, specifically simulations using Python and programming of the microcontroller using C.

After the proof of concept, I mostly worked on the final mechanical design of the artwork. This turned out to be a very challenging part of the project as everything was very tight and I had to optimize all the mechanical parts and the assembly in order to make everything fit within the small space.

My work during this internship was highly multidisciplinary which I very much appreciated. I was able to apply and improve my knowledge in mechanical, electrical and software engineering. Furthermore, I enjoyed the hands-on tasks while building the prototypes and I could acquire new practical skills like soldering or crimping. Having a good prototype by the end of the 3-months was very ambitious and not every detail was solved by the time my internship was over. However, seeing the progressed state of the artwork was very satisfying, and I was happy with what I was able to achieve.

The team at Pors and Rao was great. Obviously I had to realize that not everything works the same way as back home, especially also while collaborating with local manufacturers. But eventually I got familiar with the work environment and learned for example that it might be necessary to remind people of their tasks and to be flexible in case something doesn’t work out the first time. From the very beginning I felt very comfortable in the team and it was a great pleasure to collaborate with the artist, the lead engineer in Zurich, the interns and the other employees.

Living in Bangalore during the three months was an amazing experience. I needed at least 2 weeks until I felt comfortable in a public space, specifically because I felt observed and I didn’t exactly know how to behave. But eventually I got used to attracting some glances and I started feeling very safe and confident. I would say Bangalore is a smooth start to India as it is well developed and has quite some western influence. Nevertheless, it is still India, meaning that it can be loud, hectic and simply overwhelming sometimes. But the people are very friendly and there is always someone around who can help with translating or giving directions.

To wrap up I can say that these 3 months clearly helped me develop myself both professionally and personally. I can highly recommend this program to anyone who is keen to get to know a new culture and who is also willing to adapt to it.

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ETH Zurich

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