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I Wasn't Ready for India's Newest Cultural Space
But India is ready for the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre.
Sree’s newsletter is produced with Zach Peterson (@zachprague), with the Digimentors Tech Tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob). Many thanks to our sponsor, Armory Square Ventures. The video above is from a walkthrough of “India in Fashion,” a landmark exhibition at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai. You can watch a discussion of its accompanying Rizzoli coffee-table book here.
🗞 @Sree’s Sunday #NYTReadalong: Our readalong guest last week was Brian Stelter, in his first in-depth video interview since he left CNN. You’ll find three years’ worth of archives at this link (we’ve been reading print newspapers out loud on social for 7 years now!). The Readalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
🎯 NEW BROCHURE! Our company, Digimentors, works to increase the digital footprint and impact of companies and nonprofits around the world. We do this via digital and social consulting + training, as well as virtual and hybrid events production. See our updated brochure (would love your feedback). Get in touch (no project too big or too small): email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d rather chat, here’s my Calendly.
HOW DUMB DID I FEEL? Very, very dumb. It was late March and I had arrived in Mumbai with my Digimentors colleagues, Andrew Lih and Neil Parekh, ready for the opening of our latest client project. Having worked on it for eight months remotely, I presumed I understood everything about it and was ready to hit the ground running.
But I felt dumb because I wasn’t ready for what I saw at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre. The scale, the ambition, the execution was of a level I had not seen anywhere before. Think of it as Carnegie Hall meets a world-class museum meets an impossibly large convention center (see their “this is not a car showcase” Porsche video). It’s part of the Jio World Centre in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex, right next to the American Consulate (a few days after we left, Tim Cook was in town to open India’s first Apple Store in Jio World Drive down the road).
The US Consulate Mumbai welcomes the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre to its BKC neighborhood and, a few days later, Tim Cook opens Apple’s first India store down the road — which is also part of Jio World Centre.
I have worked as Chief Digital Officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as a consultant to such exciting new cultural spaces as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, so I am familiar with world-class venues. But Nita M. Ambani and her daughter Isha Ambani Piramal have built something extra special, perfectly suited to their wishes to “bring India to the world and the world to India.” They have defined art in the widest possible way, focusing on visual arts, performance arts and even showcasing India’s tradition of handicrafts (watch videos here and here that show the quality of the breathtakingly beautiful work by the visiting artisans).
Read articles from WSJ’s Kelly Crow (@kellycrowWSJ) and Vogue India’s Avantika Shankar to understand more about what’s been built, but I wanted to do something different this time and focus on videos as it is such a visual space.
Here’s an introduction by CurlyTales, a leading Indian travel and food site:
And here is my walkthrough of the first night of the three-day opening festivities, with Bollywood and Hollywood celebs galore (this has had 205K views already):
And here is my walkthrough of the second night of the three-day opening festivities, which definitely had the feel of an “Indian Met Gala” (135K views):
Let me know how many celebrities you could identify — likely more than me! But I did want to share one of the few selfies I took, with actor Dulquer Salmaan, whose father is a Malayalam-language movie legend, but was a nobody when he met my mother in NYC in 1981.
Thank you for the incredible response to the recent essay that Zach and I wrote about losing our mothers at 18 and 52 respectively. Your comments, notes and stories showed us that we are not alone. 🙏
DIGIMENTORS TECH TIP: Pentax and Leica Go Back to the Future in Glorious Black and White
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
As the icy chill of winter gives way to the warmth and budding flowers of spring, one would think that now would be a great time to grab the smartphone or digital camera, step outside and capture some great colors. Not so fast.
Photography aficionados have long had deep affection for the beautiful tones and grains of high-quality black and white images and two camera makers recently responded to this hunger with two new high-end digital cameras which shoot nothing but monochrome.
The $2,200 Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome from Ricoh Co. Ltd., billed as “the only monochrome-specific digital SLR camera currently on the market,” is based on the current flagship of the company’s APS-C-sensor-size line, the $1,700 Pentax K-3 Mark III. However, instead of a color sensor, the Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome incorporates a 25.7-megapixel monochrome-only sensor.
In the “old days,” film photographers would select black-and-white films based on their imaging characteristics. For example, one might pick Kodak Tri-X film for its high sensitivity, high contrast and medium grain or use the long-discontinued Kodak Plus-X where less contrast, smoother tones and finer grain were needed.
The Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome has multiple monochrome-specific settings, including a “hard” mode for high-contrast imaging and a “soft” mode for “high-key, low-contrast images.”
The Leica M11 Monochrom (no “e”) from Leica Camera squeezes a great deal of technology into a package which fits into a pocket but takes $9,195 (body only) from the user’s wallet. Instead of an APS-C-size sensor like the bigger Pentax unit, the Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder has a larger, professional-size, full-frame Monochrom BSI CMOS sensor which can be set to 60, 36 or 18 megapixels.
The unit has a 2.95-inch rear color display, supports mechanical shutter speeds from 60 minutes to 1/4,000 second and includes 256GB of built-in memory in addition to any memory card of up to 2TB installed by the user. Leica is no newcomer to monochrome digital cameras: The original 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom debuted in 2012.
Note that these cameras aren’t the products of software tricks. Their monochrome sensors can’t capture colors and thus don’t need to interpolate colors down to a monochrome equivalent. Instead, these unique sensors concentrate on adjusting to brightness, maximizing sharpness and capturing subtle changes in contrast.
One can only wonder what legendary still film photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Margaret Bourke-White, or even the night-stalking Weegee (Arthur Fellig) could have done with one of these clever, but pricey black-and-white digital throwbacks.
The teen mental health crisis has so taxed and alarmed school districts across the country that many are entering legal battles against the social media giants they say have helped cause it, including TikTok, Snap, Meta, YouTube and Google.
The mental crisis striking our young people is very real, and we may start seeing some heavy regulations that aim to stem time the time teens spend on social media.