Indian AR Artists Breaking The Traditional Boundaries Of Art

(L) Boomranng Studio; Yash Pradhan (R)
(L) Boomranng Studio; Yash Pradhan (R)(L) @boomranng; @yashpradhan (R)

For the uninitiated, AR, or Augmented Reality is an offshoot of extended reality (XR) and uses the combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects, as explained by Zach Mortice at Redshift. It is meant to be an immersive experience of the real world in conjunction with technology that we have at our fingertips. As opposed to virtual reality (VR) which is expensive, and requires gear to operate, AR is relatively less expensive and much easier to use. AR intersects illusion with reality and adds layers of form or motion to already existing pieces of the real world when you point your phone at it.

As with any new medium of innovation, AR is slowly changing the art space. By bringing art out from inside stuffy galleries and taking away the snooty, highbrow element, AR opens doors to everyone. By changing the experience of art from a lecture between artist and audience to a collaboration between them, AR is making art accessible to more people than ever before. As a consequence, AR art has involved increasingly educational, identity-driven, and activist messaging. AR artists like Susi Vetter (@susivetter) and Matthew Rey Treece are well versed in creating immersive art that brings about childlike wonder and excitement, the likes of which we have not seen in the recent past.

In India, the pandemic has greatly influenced the massive push of AR and VR art that we have been seeing lately, especially with the addition of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), to enhance the visual and audio experience of the content that we consume. Here are 3 Indian AR artists contributing to the industry.

I. Yash Pradhan

27-year-old Yash Pradhan has been doodling professionally for about five years now and has also ventured into creating works of augmented reality art. His virtual exhibition ‘FORESIGHT’ was created as an Instagram filter in 2020 and mimicked the layout of a traditional brick-and-mortar art gallery. However, Pradhan’s 3D gallery featured artwork that was completely interactive, making it completely different from a traditional gallery experience.

In addition to his solo exhibition, he has also created AR filters on Instagram for brands like Adidas and Saavn. He is also the mastermind behind Prateek Kuhad’s filter for his song Kasoor, which was viewed over several millions of times.

Find out more about Yash Pradhan here.

II. Priya Shakti
Less of an artist and more of a movement, the comic-book character Priya was created as the new Indian ‘superhero’ who challenged outdated patriarchal norms through her skills of persuasion. Priya appealed to the youth of the country, especially after watching the cultural shift that happened in India in 2012 towards women’s safety. Her voice became a powerful one at the time and continued to the #MeToo movement in 2016 and beyond. She became a symbol of solidarity to many women as a survivor of rape, created by Ram Devineni, and his team of strong writers and artists.

They took Priya Shakti to the AR space with their murals all over Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai, and when you pointed your phone camera at them, were able to read parts of the comic, as well as take a picture with Priya. Using iconography inspired by the Hindu goddess Durga, they were able to bring Priya Shakti to a much larger audience than they would have had the comics only been available online.

Find out more about them here.

III. Boomranng Studio

Founded by Sonal Vasave and Makarand Narkar, Mumbai-based Boomranng Studio is not just another design studio. Incorporating everything from illustration and animation to AR, they define themselves as ‘cosmic-punk’ with a healthy dose of inspiration for mythology and magical reality.

Their work is the perfect intersection of futuristic sci-fi with desi pop art. Lately, they have collaborated with ad agency Please See Us to create a launch video for a chocolate bar and have been involved in collaborations with Nike and Moonshine Meadery.

Check out their work here.

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