Through his documentary “New Mumbai’, designer Tobias Revell shares his imagination of creating a sustainable solution to provide electricity to the millions of slum dwellers in the biggest slum of Asia – ‘Dharavi‘ in Mumbai. Mumbai is the financial capital of India, but when one looks closely at this city, you realize the crazy contrast. There’s a luxurious residential tower with swimming pools in balconies, while in the same vicinity you’d find millions of people striving to win their daily bread & butter.

“The project began as a study of synthetic biological technology, its potential application and the stories and narratives that might occur around it. I work by visualizing potential events, places and technologies so I started to compose the images from found material. I developed this story after researching the Dharavi slums and a few others around the world and found the idea of these areas as emerging alternate economic systems to be really fascinating and so decided to tie the two together.

Originally it was presented as a performance and presentation with myself in the role of the ‘expert’ outsider commenting on a slideshow of images and data but I wanted a way to spread the project wider as well as make it more accessible. To this end, I set up and filmed the documentary which was basically the same process as done already but using moving image instead.

I want to bring debate to the accepted hierarchies that we have. We understand the way that technology spreads as going from the rich to the poor down a temporal slope which means that those at the bottom, by the time they access technology, are decades behind. But what if the people who were most in need of the technology and could be the most innovative with it got it first? The Dharavi residents are struggling to support themselves and the mushrooms allow them independence and a sustainable standard of living. We start to see a very specific set of circumstances that couldn’t of occurred at bother time or in another place, cement a unique and resilient community in place and give it strength.” says Tobias Revell.

+ Tobias Revell


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