Thursday, June 20, 2024

With FutureFantastic, art goes the AI way

Art shed its staid, sedate demeanour and jumped onto the digital bandwagon a couple of years ago; the rest of the world woke up to that fact sometime during the pandemic and has been making up for lost time since. Suddenly, a whole new cyber world opened up a vista of possibilities for the artistically, AI-inclined.

If you think you have missed that train, there is still a chance you can hop on. This weekend will see Bengaluru host an exhibition where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is virtually (pun intended) the canvas on/ through which art has been rendered. These projects are a part of FutureFantastic, a tech-art festival that uses AI, interactive art and live performances to shine a spotlight on global challenges such as climate change.

So very meta

This AI Tech art festival was conceptualised by BeFantastic in partnership with FutureEverything (UK) as a multi-venue event where artistes have embraced AI in some form or other to tell stories of climate change. It is part of British Council’s India/UK Together, Season of Culture initiative.

“Essentially, we’re trying to explore whether art and technology coming together can become a new and interesting medium for storytelling. And the stories we want to tell are on different aspects of this complex concept called climate change,” says Kamya Ramachandran, Festival Director and Co-Curator of FutureFantastic.

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

While new media arts is an established vertical in the Western art world, most senior artists in India are wary of using technology for art. “However, younger ones are learning some of it in college at a rudimentary level. That is where we come in. Over the last few years, we’ve run workshops where artists can play with technology to create something interesting.”

It is a shift in perspective, not just for an artist who learns to use technology, but also for technologists who apply scientific know-how in art, says Kamya. “This is about blurring these boundaries to work with each other and go to an interesting place of innovation,”

According to Kamya, two purposes are achieved — one, artists are upskilled to be relevant in the digital age, and second, interested people learn from each other. “The peer-learning, knowledge-sharing space is important; since experts in AI have only 2-3 years of experience under their belt, a peer learning community is being built.”

As many as 53 artists, performers and speakers will be presenting their work at FutureFantastic. In keeping with the spirit of collaboration, at least three artists have worked together to create a single piece of work. Digital art students from the IT department, Government of Karnataka, are also a part of the event.

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

With climate change as a theme, there are interactive exhibits on topics such as sustainable lifestyles, cyclones and flooding, and the survival context of climate change.

As it addresses a pressing concern, organisers are looking for venues where the exhibits can go online or be seen in the metaverse, so they can be accessed by a global audience.

Elsewhere in India…

…it’s a little less exhibition-y and a little more live-ly. This live, transmedia performance titled Elsewhere in India, combines game engine technology, AI-generated art and Carnatic-electronic music, to present a one-of-a-kind experience.

Helmed by audio-visual artists Thiruda (Avinash Kumar) and Murthovic (MSR Murthy), the project features their digital human avatars enlisted by ‘an out-of-work cultural cyborg named Meenakshi, to remix extinct heritage, craft and science traditions’.

Elsewhere in India

Elsewhere in India
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

As video game experts and electronic music maestros, Avinash and Murthy realised they could harness their skill set, “to make performances”. “We decided to combine both those worlds — of electronic music and video games — and that led us to Elsewhere in India,” says Avinash, adding the concept evolved out, ”of the work we do in our studio of combining Indian heritage and culture with new media and video games and so on.”

According to Avinash, the project centres around the future of Indian cities, where 50-60 years later, culture is a farce. Three protagonists accompany audiences as they journey into this new world of the future.

Elsewhere in India

Elsewhere in India
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

“On the music front, this project included working with as many as 40 classical, folk and tribal musicians, mostly from the south of India to record music with them and then trying to create our electronic soundtrack using those elements,” says Avinash.

Visually, Elsewhere introduces two types of work. “Since we work with game engines, both Murthy and I sport 3D avatars and the main protagonist is a cyborg called Meenakshi. We chose the idea of a cyborg as a metaphor for a space where you can chill with your ideas.”

A lot of AI-based art has been used for developing visuals for the show apart from game engine visuals. “It’s also a music show and while it has a cinema vibe to it, it’s not linear in the sense of a traditional film. The narrative is more open-ended and subject to the viewer, while at the same time, audiences will be on their feet as at a music festival,” he says.

Avinash adds their eventual goal is to create a much larger show, which would include “live musicians and Bharatanatyam dancers,” though that is still a few months away.

For those a bit perplexed as to what Elsewhere entails, “It’s at the intersection of a cinema/ music/ art experience — a new genre in a sense. Both Murthy and I have our roots in the Indian electronic dance music scene and this show borrows some of the vocabulary of that format, but it also brings in a cinematic situation.”

Elsewhere in India

Elsewhere in India
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Elsewhere In India is produced by Antariksha Studio.

All aboard the AI Express

Two projects supported by the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore are at the festival as a part of the BeFantastic Within Fellowship. The Merge: Embodied Al Bangalore by Berlin-based artist CyberRäuber, is a performative piece that explores the city of Bengaluru. The work involves four human performers who will be followed by a camera around the city and their interactions will be streamed live to the Festival Centre and various locations around the country and the world.

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Where Do I Come From? Where Do I Go? by artists Malavika PC (India), Papia Chakraborty (India) and Asli Dinc (Germany) with supporting artist Pritha Kundu (India), explores the relationship between the performers and the garbage they generate, in an AI-powered art installation.

The FutureFantastic will take place at Bangalore International Centre from March 24 to 26, 2023. Free entry, but registration is required. For more details visit futurefantastic.in, goethe.de/bangalore and social media platforms.

Nothing artificial about this:

The seventh edition of the much-awaited Namu Recommends Vegan Market will be held at the Bangalore International Center (BIC) as part of Future Fantastic. The two-day event will feature over 70 vegan brands from around the country, as well as plant-based milk and cheese brands.

Apart from food products, eco-friendly personal care products and zero-waste everyday essentials that focus on sustainability will be presented from 12 noon to 8pm, on March 25 and 26 at the BIC rooftop.

Elsewhere in India

Elsewhere in India
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

FutureFantastic exhibits

FutureFantastic exhibits
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

#FutureFantastic #art

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles