Umashankar Manthravadi (Bangalore)

The Earcheologist & His Manmade Cave

The Archeological Survey of India has never identified any ancient structure in the nation as a theatre, despite the fact that performance traditions in the region go back to the Kama Sutra. Mathravadi shares his 20-year quest to decode the acoustic properties of Ranigumpha –an elaborate man-made structure in the Khandagiri Mountains of India. Using his own developed software, he studies the unique effects of this mysterious place, establishing that it was in fact, an auditorium.

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Umashankar Manthravadi, The Earcheologist & His Man Made Cave, 2016. Lecture Performance documentation FIELD MEETING: Thinking Practice, November 12th at Asia Society. Photo: Renata Carciofolo.


Umashankar Manthravadi has been an audio hobbyist for over 40 years, a professional sound recordist for 30 and a consultant to an ethnomusicology archive. He has also practiced as a journalist, filmmaker, and poet. As part of the artist collective Umashankar and the Earchaeologists—comprised of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Nida Ghouse and Umashankar Manthravadi—he investigates “acoustic archaeology,” looking at how sound can influence our understanding of ancient and contemporary sites. The project, supported by the British Council, will be manifested through an audio essay, building up to a multifaceted project. The collective was commissioned for a site-specific performance during Art Dubai 2015.
Umashankar Manthravadi, model of Ranigumpha with the missing platform, designed in CaTT-acoustic. Courtesy of artist.