‘Lost water! Remains Scape?’: Transformation Waterscapes in Coimbatore from past to present through digital poetry

Abstract (in English): 

‘Lost water! Remains Scape?’: Transformation Waterscapes in Coimbatore from past to present through digital poetry
The digital poetry ‘Lost water! Remains Scape?’ is written in Tamil by the environmental poet Mohamed Rafiq and in English by Shanmugapriya T, the co-author of this paper. It is created using 2D and 3D environments, and photos in Blender and Adobe Animate software. The 2D and 3D environments reflect the narrative about the ecosystem of waterscapes in the past and the photo animations represent the current situation of the water bodies in Coimbatore, the southern region in South India. This digital poetry is created based on the findings from our AHRC-funded project ‘Digital Innovations in Water Scarcity, Coimbatore, South India’. This interdisciplinary project investigates the changed waterscape in Coimbatore, South India across 150 years by using range of materials and activities including studying historical maps and satellite imagery, and conducting interviews with local farmers, activists and NGOs. This digital poetry is an endeavour to bridge gap between digital literature and digital humanities. The questions we ask in this paper are how can the adoption/integration of digital literary method be an effective agency and actor to represent the environmental objects and disseminate the findings for targeted audiences? How can tools and methods contribute to the digital humanities and digital literature grounded in materials from the global south? The main aim of this paper is to explore the digital literary method as an effective agency to communicate the research findings to the broader public.

Reminiscence is the primary theme of our digital poetry. It will be mediated through text, animations and images. Waterscape is an imperative source and forms a conducive ecological community in every villages of the region Coimbatore. It is a primary source for drinking, irrigation and other economic and cultural activities. However, the forgotten waterscapes due to drought, dereliction and climate change have become conduit of drainage waters, and garbage dumbing areas. The photos that have taken during our field visits depict the current condition of waterbodies among which most of them are in dreadful state. On the other hand, the oral testimonies of the local farmers illustrate a different situation of waterscapes a few decades ago. They narrated how they were blessed to have had a healthy waterscape in the past. They also told us that there were particular flora and fauna that belong to the region had been destroyed and some of the specific species such as Noyyal Otter had gone extinct. The interactive 2D and 3D environment of digital poetry will provide a revisitation to such lost waterscapes created based on the oral testimonies. It will also portray the current condition of waterscapes through photo animation and text narration. This digital poetry will be disseminated to students, scholars, activists and the general public through our academic and NGO partners and local schools and colleges. Feedback and some of the interviews conducted will be made available via the project website.


ELO 2021: Spatiality & environments, May 26 2021

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Milosz Waskiewicz