What would you say if you could communicate to your favourite lifeless artist? Why did you select that shade of blue? Did you truly have to slash off your earlobe? Now admirers of one particular of India’s most prominent artists M F Husain, who died in 2011, will need surprise no extra following a museum has brought him back again to daily life (well, type of).
The Museum of Artwork and Images in Bangalore (MAP), south India’s initial key personal art museum, has utilised artificial intelligence computer software to make a “conversational electronic persona” of the Bombay Progressive painter. Systems this sort of as facial recognition, speech synthesis and language processing dependent on deep finding out networks allow for a a few-dimensional hologram of Husain to reply to thoughts in serious time.
Developed in partnership with Accenture Labs, the exploration and growth arm of the global consulting organization Accenture, Husain’s “electronic twin” can focus on topics relating to his life and get the job done and is even able of quippy comebacks. When requested by a visitor in a promotional video why his voice sounded peculiar, the hologram responded that he was “approximately 100 years outdated immediately after all”.
This digital seance is one particular of a lot of electronic ventures that MAP, which is positioned in the “Silicon Valley of India”, has organised ahead of its bodily opening. Just after plans to start its 42,000-sq. ft room were being derailed by the pandemic, the museum in its place resolved to go forward with a electronic opening in November that consisted of a six-working day programme of guided selection excursions, are living-streamed performances and talks featuring notable South Asian cultural figures which includes the artist Jitish Kallat and the artwork historian B N Goswamy.
Touted by its founder-trustee Abhishek Poddar as a “museum of the future”, MAP will commit a sizeable portion of its programme to the confluence of art and technological innovation, including a 40-ft interactive, multi-contact MicroTile wall that displays all the museum’s operates on view in genuine time, holographic tables that display 3D version of functions and virtual treasure hunts by means of the assortment.
Technological innovation on this scale is practically unheard of inside of India’s museum landscape, which is mostly outlined by small concentrations of customer engagement or outreach and antiquated programming.
“MAP appears to redefine what an Indian museum can be,” Poddar states. “We have a 1,000-odd federal government museums but typically talking, apart from some shining examples, they are subpar. A region like India could do with so significantly much more. We need to excite and have interaction with people if they are likely to step through our doors and technology is a major element of that.”
Poddar has donated the bulk of his assortment to form most of the MAP’s 18,000 works of art and artefacts that explain to the story of Indian lifestyle stretching from the 12th century to now. It is made up of sections on pictures, folks art, textiles and style and design as well as modern and 20th-century artwork, including operates by major South Asian Modernists this sort of as Tyeb Mehta.
First capital for the museum came from the sale of some of Poddar and his wife’s selection, which was auctioned for around £3.4m Christie’s India in 2016, just before raising resources from non-public buyers such as the Tata Have faith in and the billionaire biopharmaceutical entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. Poddar says he was adamant to not request government aid to make certain the museum could be as agile and adaptable as probable. He hopes MAP’s reducing-edge concepts will produce a knock-on outcome on other museums in the nation and assistance revitalise a sluggish sector. “What can 1 small museum do? We can give a catalyst. India’s airports are unrecognisable to what they were a ten years in the past, all for the reason that a handful of renovated and the rest required to pull up their socks,” Poddar states.
MAP has a unique target on street artwork and, according to its inventive director Kamini Sawhney, it is one particular of the only museums in India with common culture as a central part of the selection. She provides that the museum’s programme will also characteristic Indian classical dance and functionality. “Collapsing the hierarchies concerning artwork varieties is essential to ensuring we are an expansive establishment that addresses all avenues of creative imagination,” Sawhney claims.
The museum hopes to open its doorways later on this year. Right up until then, website visitors can encounter the AI artist, as perfectly as substantially of MAP’s selection and programme through its web site.