The art industry is brightly evolving, taking inspiration from some of the greatest tech innovation in other sectors. Art digitization is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, considering India’s rich legacy of varied artistic traditions. Interventions such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Blockchain are helping preserve and restore ancient Indian antiquities as well as promote Indian artists across the world.
India is known for its incredible art, dating back to the times of the Buddhist caves of Ajanta. The artistic traditions of the subcontinent continue till date with the digital masterstrokes of modern-day artists. This rich artistic legacy of India has seen several drastic changes down the centuries, still maintaining its penchant for unique cultural fusions.
And yet, fewer people share an attraction for physical art pieces. Most of them barely have any time for walking through picturesque art galleries. But that’s not the last ray of hope.
The Digital Revolution has changed our ways, modernising our lifestyle, transforming our choices and interests. Now, it has penetrated the artistic traditions of India and the world, promoting a wave of Art Digitization like never before.
Indian folk arts like Madhubani art of Mithila have a significant demand in the West due to its aesthetic sensibility and authentic designs. Conventionally these designs were done by hand which is indeed a laborious process, but now these designs can be created by using Computer-aided-designs (CAD).
The campaign for Digital India can provide a platform to the diverse art forms flowing across the country, preventing traditional expertise from dying besides reinstating the supremacy of Indian art. Several museums are also putting their artifacts online, thus augmenting reach while enhancing the viewer’s experience by applying the Virtual Reality (VR) methods.
A Tryst with Ajanta
Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in India’s Aurangabad district. The Caves contain the finest surviving examples of Indian art paintings from ancient times. These paintings are indeed masterpieces of religious Buddhist art down the pages of history.
The Ajanta Cave Paintings are proof that Indian painters had mastered the naturalistic and fluent style to depict the stories of Jataka tales centuries ago. In this light, Sapio Analytics, a Mumbai-based data management company, launched an appreciable initiative for restoring the mysterious Ajanta paintings through Art Digitization. They have used a dataset of reference material to create the AI mannequin, called Ancient AI for this purpose.
This AI involves a deep-learning technique to restore the damaged murals of the Ajanta caves. Simply put, a damaged part of a mural is restored by modifying its pixels through mathematical inference of the neighbouring undamaged part. This technique also utilises the services of artists, photographers and technology experts as well.
Along with the Ajanta paintings, digital artifacts from across the globe including manuscripts from libraries, scientific breakthroughs and literature pieces are also under the process of preservation.
A Panorama of Art
The pandemic has entrenched people’s limitations in visiting museums and galleries, aggrieving the already disheartened artists. In this pessimistic situation, some enthusiastic art-lovers have converted this into a glistening opportunity through Art Digitization. The prestigious Kiran Nadar Museum of Art has launched a 360-degree panoramic exhibition which can be generally accessed by anyone from the comforts of his home.
Thus, VR has quenched the thirst of art lovers, even adding a significant demand for the art products. The 360-degree experience features artist profiles, videos and photos for viewers to engage with in a better way. The thronging digital features equip the user to use the widgets on screen to have a seemingly realistic experience of the museum.
The scrollers enable the user to reach closer to the works on display besides reading information-rich labels. The 3D walkthrough feature is an engaging tour of the whole museum which gives the control of experience to the viewer.
In addition to commercial opportunities, the open VR museums have led to democratization of art as people within lower stratas of society are able to interact with art pieces which were earlier in the clutches of elite classes.
From Currency to Art NFTs
Non-Fungible Tokens is something which deserves the credit of innovating art in the true sense. NFTs use the distributed ledger technology (blockchain) for mining cryptocurrencies, and also in the field of Art Digitization. Here “fungible” describes a commodity whose individual units are all the same. If an artist releases a painting as a limited edition, each edition is unique, making it a non-fungible asset.
The NFT isn’t the art piece itself but rather a proof of ownership stored on a complicated digital database known as Blockchain. Whenever an artist sells an NFT, it becomes an entry in the blockchain ledger. Artwally.com is India’s first Non-Fungible Token marketplace for physical artworks, signed photographs and limited edition artworks.
Artwally is open for all budding artists who wish to archive their work through blockchain in the form of NFTs. Artists will receive digital ownership rights directly in his account. The emerging blockchain technology helps in authentication. The NFT itself is a set of codes which function as a means for verification. This can replace the traditional methods of providing hard copy certificates which could be easily forged.
Coming to the digital currency front, people can use their digital currency wallets to purchase the physical art. The NFT market is ever-expanding. It has the potential of rewarding undiscovered talent, exploring market potential in addition to protecting artist’s efforts.
The Future of Indian Art
Indian art paintings which got fame to the nation during medieval times still have a large untapped market potential. Few years back, our artists were bemoaning the pity situation of artists in India. But now the situation has changed with numerous foundations and galleries coming up with support for budding creators.
Fresh talent is infiltrating the ranks of artist guilds giving ample scope for experiment. Physical art pieces can be converted into NFTs for sale, thus allowing creativity and innovation to merge together. Our traditional skills are revered in the whole world.
The time has come to unlock the gateway of opportunities to allow our art to survive and flourish. Indian art’s way to digitization is a power move in terms of its preservation, restoration and promotion across the world.