One of the most interesting aspects of the AI art explosion across the world is the fact that involves the amalgamtion of multiple creative facets. While having an eye for aesthetic detail is important, being able to use communication, language and writing to bring what's inside your head to life through the power of whatever AI art platform your using is equally important. An AI art piece is only as intricate and as dynamic as the prompt you give it.
For Prateek Arora, a digital creator, screenwriter and VP of Development At BANG BANG Mediacorp, this sublime amalgamation of skillsets appears to come to him almost effortlessly. While by his own admission he's still very much an explorer in the space, he has an incredible knack for creating fleshed out dystopian, sci-fi tinged worlds that both look alien and also astonishingly familiar. His imagery is a creative form of world building and an artistic representation of both Indian culture and our innate urge to dive into worlds that could exist in some form in the not-so-distant future.
Take a peek into the mind of Prateek Arora.
Your work amalgamates science fiction, fantasy, and horror but often juxtaposes them within South Asian settings that are instantly recognizable. Do you see yourself using your art as inspiration for a potential screenplay or pilot that expands on and fleshes out the stories that your imagery portrays? Is India ready for a homegrown sci-fi horror epic?
That’s actually the dream and the mission! I’m strongly inclined towards science fiction and horror, and we don’t really get enough of either on screen in India, I think. There are no Indian equivalents to Star Wars/ Marvel/ Stephen King’s body of work, in terms of cultural impact, and as such no multi-generational affinity towards these genres. So I guess I’m trying to 'culture hack' in a way by using AI imaging tools to create mood-boards for Indian sci-fi and horror movies that I wish existed.
My hope is to use the content I’m putting out there to catalyse an increase in creative output in these genres here in India, and in the process incubate characters, stories, and worlds that I can develop further into streaming shows, movies and games.
What inspires your prompts when it comes to AI art? Are there any particular works of fiction or any specific creatives that you follow that have shaped you as an artist?
I’m deeply inspired by Indian architecture and cities. There is something powerful in the way there are layers upon layers of history always jostling for space in our cities, sometimes quite literally. For example – I grew up in New Delhi, where you’ll find amazing Brutalist architecture (which looks super sci-fi) near a 500-year-old fort, and sandwiched between the two, maybe a bustling market that is always changing and adapting to its surroundings; almost like a living organism. I try to capture some of these contrasts in what I create. When I was still living there I used to do a lot of street photography with a similar intent, so now that shows up in how I craft prompts as well.
People from across the world have begun to experiment with AI art platforms like Midjourney. Do you have any advice for people who are just dipping their toes into AI-generated art? What’s something that would’ve helped you when you were just starting out?
Just experiment non-stop! It’s early still in the overall development of this scene and the technology is going to evolve rapidly so in my opinion it’s best to have a fluid and iterative process.
Are there any improvements to AI art platforms that you’d like to see going forward? What would make your life easier as a creator?
There’s a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon and already this past year the technology has gotten exponentially better. Personally, I’m very excited for the advent of text-to-video! I think it will make mainstream entertainment a lot more interesting, since it may eventually allow creators to achieve 'blockbuster quality' visuals, while still being able to be authentic and talk to more specific, curated audiences.
AI in artistic spaces is a bit of a polarizing subject right now. While some see it as a revolution of sorts and a way to further democratize the creation of art, there are individuals from the community who see it as lacking a certain ‘human’ touch. By now I think we know that the answer is far more complicated and nuanced than that. There are a lot of creators who don’t even see what they do as ‘art’ per se but something entirely new. Could you talk a little about your thoughts on the space and how it’s evolved over time both in real-time as well as in the minds of public?
I think it’s such a new paradigm that using existing notions to define it is almost impossible and I definitely don’t think I can be the arbiter of what art is and isn’t. It’s highly subjective, I think, and every creator will have their own take. For me personally, it’s an extension of narrative development and worldbuilding. As a screenwriter operating in genres that are relatively under-explored in India, it’s always been a challenge to pitch – this was honestly one of the reasons I began experimenting with AI imaging in the first place.
These programs are going to change the game completely. It feels surreal to be able to communicate ideas at such a high level of fidelity and specificity. I feel lucky to be born in a time when technology like this exists. It makes me look forward to waking up in the morning! There’s a better chance that someone will just 'get' what I’m going for now, and it’s only going to better from this point out. I’m excited for the future. I think we are about to witness a Cambrian Explosion of creativity and cultural production in India because we have these uniquely rich layers of culture to work with and a powerful new technology to bring all of it to life!
You can follow Prateek Arora here.