This AI-powered platform connects artworks and cultures

AI powered platform

Bangalore: Microsoft and Bangalore-based The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) has launched a new AI-powered platform for connecting artworks and cultures globally. This AI-powered platform INTERWOVEN was developed as part of Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage initiative.

It is rooted in MAP’s vast collection of South Asian textiles. The initiative leverages technology to empower people and organisations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of art and culture.

Previous projects under the initiative have involved improving accessibility through the Open Access collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the digital restoration of ‘Ancient Olympia’, in collaboration with the Government of Greece.

MAP in Bangalore is the first project under Microsoft’s Al for Culture Heritage initiative in India. However, there have been other projects as well in other parts of the world. This includes improving accessibility through the Open Access collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the digital restoration of ‘Ancient Olympia’, in collaboration with the Government of Greece.

This AI-powered platform INTERWOVEN took over a year to build in collaboration with Microsoft using AI and ML (machine learning). It brings together collections from key institutions and partners across the world alongside MAP’s (including the V&A, London, MET, New York, Rietberg, Zürich and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada) to reveal connections between artworks from different cultures, mediums and time periods.

INTERWOVEN represents these visually and intuitively, encouraging further exploration, discovery and cross-cultural exchange.

“Covid 19 and the lockdown really forced us to reflect on how people interacted with the online space. Right from week 1, we began looking at how we could engage with our online communities,” said Kamini Sawhney, Director – MAP.

“After the pandemic, a primary aspect of our mission is to use the digital realm to connect with people across the country, and the world. We’re rethinking the idea of museums. They cannot be mere repositories of objects. MAP will not just be a collection of objects, but a space for ideas and conversations that are initiated through our collections. INTERWOVEN fits securely within this vision,” added Sawhney. 
 
According to Rohini Srivathsa, Microsoft India’s National Technology Officer, the INTERWOVEN platform is a project that is deeply impactful to society, culture, and heritage.

A screen grab of the nodal network on the INTERWOVEN platform, showing the ‘anchor’ textile with those from around the world that the AI has connected it to.

“The project interweaves technology with art, using AI to find shared histories in artistic traditions from different corners of the globe, particularly pertaining to something as rich and complex as textiles,” said Srivathsa.

“Our approach to AI centres around meaningful innovation and this project beautifully allows art to be more accessible and inclusive for people around the world. We stay committed to using technology to help celebrate and preserve culture as part of our AI for Cultural Heritage initiative,” she added.

The platform works by providing users with two options. The first (Curated Journeys) allows the user to view predefined journeys, created primarily by MAP’s educational and research arm – the MAP Academy.

The second option (Custom Journeys) invites general users to explore the platform to stumble upon meaningful and sometimes even surprising visual connections. It provides a new way to engage with culture and learn more about the history of textiles and fashion and their relationship to global exchange.

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