Biennale offers glimpse of collaborative potential between art, technology

Kochi, Jan 19: The coming-together of creativity and technology has produced unique works of art at the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB). It has also opened up avenues to explore the potential for collaborations between art, design and applied science.

From coir panels to improve acoustics and theatre lighting systems to exciters in benches, augmented reality and digital fabrication, the scrolls, sculptures, audio-visual exhibits and experiential installations at the Biennale are as innovative as they are immersive.

Not only do they showcase the multiplicity of perspectives and ways of seeing at KMB 2016, they reflect the fact that art, technology and design are not the mutually exclusive spheres they are assumed to be, according to KMB co-founder Bose Krishnamachari.

“There are lots of artists who are working with art and technology today. The fields are not separate from each other. Aesthetics and imparting sensibility to design and technology is what art does. Engineers know the ‘how’ of bridge constructing, but are unaware that it is an act of sculpting on a larger scale. That awareness needs to be taught,” Krishnamachari said.

Noting that technology can give wing to artistic expression, Dr. Jayasankar Prasad C., CEO of Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) – KMB’s technology partner – said, “Art meeting technology is a mutually beneficial association that provides a multi-dimensional canvas for artists. With creative intervention, technologies become more aesthetic and create better user experiences.”

To that end, the Kochi Biennale Foundation and KSUM inked a memorandum of understanding geared towards the effective and aesthetic integration of art and technology.

Dr. Prasad observed that the perception of innovation in the science and technology eco-system was set to “undergo a paradigm shift to bring together technology, society and artistic and cultural expressions and facilitate creative thinking”.

For Kishan Parikh and Chaitya Shah – co-founders and COOs of Maker Fest in Ahmedabad, an annual festival of innovation and creativity, the KMB shows that shift is already underway. The duo made their first visit to the Biennale on Wednesday.

“We are amazed at the collaboration happening between art and technology. The Biennale shows how art and technology can benefit and feed off each other. In science learning, you are taught the ‘right way’ of doing things, but the kind of things we have seen here show us that art offers a million and one ways of seeing things,” Parikh said.

Pointing out that sound and video installations are obvious jump-off points for collaboration, Shah said, “It is not only art and design that offer the best scope for partnerships. ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT, the exchange of information on an interconnected network) and virtual reality are also similarly promising avenues to pursue.”

The third edition of the FabLab Asia Network conference (FAN3) – a maker event featuring ‘fabrication labs’ from around the world that concluded in Mattancherry earlier this week –proved as much with a special panel discussion devoted to ‘Art, Design and Digital Fabrication’ and featuring KMB co-founder Riyas Komu.

Shiro Takaki, from Fablab Bohol in the Philippines, said more such discussions were needed. Part of a FAN3 contingent that visited Aspinwall House on Wednesday, he was “awestruck” by the variety of works here. “I thought art was all about paintings and pictures, but what I saw here showed me I have much more to learn,” Takaki said.


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