Attention art history buffs! Microsoft and the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore’s new AI-powered platform “Interwoven” is here to take you on an immersive journey. Rooted in MAP’s vast collection of South Asian textiles and developed as part of Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage initiative, Interwoven aims to connect artworks and cultures around the world. “I think it’s a great collaboration between art and technology that looks at how we can use technology to find solutions for art. For long-term support of the arts, we need to target the younger generation who is the future, and to do that, we need to speak the language of the digital native,” Kamini Sawhney, director, MAP, says.

In the works for over a year, the platform brings together collections from key institutions and partners around the world (including the V&A London, MET New York, Rietberg Zürich and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada) alongside MAP to reveal connections between artworks. of different cultures, mediums and eras. Interwoven represents them visually and intuitively, encouraging further exploration and discovery. “You are looking at exchanges that happened centuries ago. India has such a rich textile tradition and our artisans had mastered the most intricate weaving techniques. They produced these exquisite textiles which were sent across the seas due to the historical trade that took place at that time. They have served the global market for centuries and have influenced societies both aesthetically and politically. The platform promotes global cultural exchange, where you connect collections, cultures, institutions and people across the world; you find commonalities and differences. It gives you a deeper understanding of your past and your ancestors, who they were, what did they create, and the relevance of what they created to our lives today. It is a window into your identity, your culture and your social practices. It also gives you clues about your future. In a very polarized world today, we need to use the arts to encourage empathy and a deeper understanding of the world we live in. Kamini shares.


Interwoven works by providing users with two options – The first, Curated Journeys, allows the user to view predefined journeys curated by MAP Academy. The second option, Custom Journeys, invites general users to explore the platform to stumble upon meaningful and sometimes even surprising visual connections. Giving an in-depth example of a tour package, Kamini says, “One of the trips our team has created is for recreation and play in art. We start with a wonderful dari of 1940s MAP which features a beautiful hunting scene on it. And then that leads to an 1830s oil painting from the Smithsonian, which shows a group of Native American Indians from the Choctaw tribe doing the eagle dance to the beat of drums. Then we enter a textile embroidered by one of our sculptures, Mira Mukherjee, the one she made when she was at the beaver workshop in Kolkata. And there, she embroidered a pretty market scene where people circulate on bicycles. Another piece that appears is an 1800s Japanese scroll by Edo master Maruyama Okyo of the Harvard Art Museum. It shows a group of eight Chinese university students drinking. These are the kind of trips you can experience. The nice thing about AI is that every time it’s a different trip, you don’t know what it’s going to put together.

Kamini Sawhney, WFP Director

Previous projects under Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage initiative have involved improving accessibility through the Open Access collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the digital restoration of “Ancient Olympia”, in collaboration with the Greek government. The Bangalore Museum of Art and Photography is the first project of this initiative in India. “Through MAP, we seek to democratize art because we want to make art accessible, inclusive and accessible to the widest audience possible. We also want to transform the museum experience for locals. Art is not about the objects hanging on the walls of the museum, art is about how you live and we want to reconnect that connection that seems to have been broken. Kamini concludes.


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