"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten."
Co-founder at The Busride Design Studio, a leading architecture and interior design firm in Mumbai, India, Ayaz Basrai quoted Neil Gaiman, the world-renowned fiction writer when describing his ongoing eight-year-old project, called India Futures Project. The project is a work on speculative fiction, a genre that has amassed mass popularity in recent years. Speculative Fiction has unlimited possibilities and is only limited by our vision. It allows the artist or writer to step outside the safety net of what is considered “contemporary aestheticism” and engage with extremities— forecasting how things can go horribly wrong or wonderfully well in the near or distant future. With Speculative fiction, it is possible to tell many diverse stories of the possible future with various outcomes. As Basrai says “Beautiful speculations are pluralistic bouquets”.
Basrai’s ongoing project seeks to look at SF as a genre that thoroughly incorporates satire, parody, and allegory to the point where they can be also critical and humorous towards their own creations. SF asks an important question: “How can we be better ancestors?”. SF can be seen as a springboard as it visualizes compelling futures, which creates a desire in the viewers or readers to live in that futuristic world, which in turn, urges reality to catch up. The most interesting thing I found about SF is how it creates a yearning or nostalgia for the future which is an ironic feeling as nostalgia is almost always associated with a thing from the past.
To shed more light on this context, and how his ongoing project explores the speculative fiction genre, we interviewed Ayaz Basrai:
Tell us about your project.
The series from the project that we recently released is called The Taj Multiverse. This series explores the many speculative Indian futures possible using the Taj Mahal as a petri-dish, based on our actions or inactions in the present. With recent advances in AI Text-to-image tools like MidJourney, the practice of conceiving possible futures has become increasingly democratized and accessible, and it's a very exciting time to represent all of our shared ideas in shaping our own personal visions of the future.
Describe your creative process and the purpose with which you create.
My process involves a rhizome-inspired futures mapping, to outline some of the moving parts of potential futures, trends, data maps, scientific discoveries, cultural movements, etc. With this map, I try to create adjacencies and using speculative fiction, fake news, and narrow research, try to come up with compelling stories that outline those scenarios. The tools keep changing, I used a lot of photomontage and kit-bashing earlier, now MJ and Dall.E are very powerful to quickly visualize some of these scenarios. I look forward to working now in VR and immersive environments that better use some of my background in space design and architecture as well.
What are some of the things you learned while you have been putting this project together?
We're either in deep waters or completely emancipated. And it's a waiting game. We need a few uncool old people to die out, but meanwhile, working with the next-gen and younger kids through teaching, workshops, and empowering their imaginations, will be key to shaping the next 50 years of our evolution.
What are some of your biggest influences as an artist?
I'm a big fan of quick dirty work, Archigram, and Robert Rauschenberg. I also find myself more interested in the process than the finished artwork.
Who are some artists currently on your radar?
Avinash Kumar, Death Burger,and Kiko Miyares
You can find out more about the works of The Busride Design Studio here.