Leading the change through the arts – Two admirable projects by Ayesha M Ali


Leading the change through the arts – Two admirable projects by Ayesha M Ali

We are living in a fast-moving world. Beginning with the industrial revolution and the advent of the internet age, human society has quickly progresse

“Reflections” by Hussain Jamil at Dastaangoi
As the Light Turns

We are living in a fast-moving world. Beginning with the industrial revolution and the advent of the internet age, human society has quickly progressed to heights unimaginable just a century back. What followed next is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and data sciences, which are well placed to put all past revolutions to shame. Due to that, the world can expect to see newer advancements in the future, but as is widely talked about, we also face the fear of losing the environment that humankind has loved throughout its existence. A Pakistani digital artist and designer, Ayesha M Ali, has featured these ideas in her latest two separate projects i.e. Plutchik/Senti(m)ent and Dark Skies Gaze Back, which delve deeper into the domain of AI and conceptual- interdisciplinary art and she has truly done justice to the cause.



Plutchik/Senti(m)ent Project


The first project to talk about today is called Plutchik/Senti(m)ent, lead by Befantastic, a TechArt platform based in Bangalore, India, through its international fellowship program called CoLab. The initiative was also supported by prestigious institutions like British Council, Goethe-Institut, Islington Mill Gallery, UK, and Max Mullen Bhavan Bangalore. Ayesha M Ali was one of the 20 artists selected from around the world and the only Pakistani artist to collaborate on this project with her Creative Art Direction, 3D modeling, costume design, visual concept design, and artwork execution.



The experimental project was based on Robert Plutchik’s model of eight emotions, with AI-driven bots reacting to human presence and their expression of different emotions. The Senti(m)ent bot absorbed and processed all the visual input, which was then visualized through Plutchik’s emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anticipation, Anger, Shock, Fear, Trust, and Disgust with an interplay of cyborg aesthetics.



The results were in the form of graphic art, which was developed by Ayesha M Ali through conceptualization and amalgamation of 3D Modelling in software and manual modes of costume construction. She designed these costumes using data sets provided by her team members and she created a virtual fashion exhibit, featuring human-like robots depicting the idea of emotions.



Although robots as the popular understanding go are not inclined to feel emotions but this project also provides an interesting interpretation of how the future robots would behave. Ayesha worked with international creatives like Marcel Top, who took care of data collection and creative coding, and Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, who was in charge of sound synchronization. The Plutchik/Senti(m)ent Project was originally exhibited online through the Befantastic platform, but owing to its effectiveness in delivering an important message, it was later picked up by other online platforms as well.



For the future of AI, this project can be a great step in visualizing human emotions in graphic form even more accurately. Moreover, the accuracy with which AI is now capable of absorbing and responding to human input can serve as the basis for many new applications, to help us in many different ways.



Dark Skies Gaze Back



For those who follow international movements related to environment preservation, the term “Dark Skies” is sure to ring a bell. The project is, as many would have guessed, aimed at raising awareness about the rapidly deteriorating environment due to light pollution, threatening clear night skies which not just beautify our landscapes, but are also an indicator of the health of our overall ecosystem. The project is put forward by Ayesha M Ali and Rayan Khan, through their collective platform “Cosmic Tribe”, and uses facial jewelry, costume designs, and a mix of digital and lighting techniques.



The digital art labeled Dark Skies Gaze Back, were exhibited from April 19 to May 7, 2021, at IVS Gallery in Karachi. The exhibits were met with praise from art enthusiasts and Dark Sky activists alike, as this was an amazing way of using arts to deliver an important message. Rayan Khan, who played a research and fact-finding role, is also an ambassador of International Astronomical Union Dark Skies, while his firm, Cosmic Tribe, aims to create awareness about astronomy and light pollution in Pakistan with an in-depth focus on STEAM education and Dark Skies awareness.



It is important to know that Dark Skies are not only important for their aesthetics, but also directly transform into monetary benefit through Astro-Tourism and Eco-Tourism, both of which rely on a clean environment. For all of us, it is important to be aware of the message of this movement, which talks about the benefits of a pollution-free environment for human health and can also help in boosting the tourism industry in our region. Dark Skies is one of those projects which is ahead of its time and perfectly captures the essence of awareness about important topics such as light pollution, a term less heard of. Because of the impact of visuals and art of sustainable fashion, Ayesha’s creations were appreciated by the international circle of astronomy and space science enthusiasts including the International Dark-Sky Union (IDU) and the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA) which represents Cosmic Tribe, Co-Founded by Ayesha. She represented this project at Museum of Wild and Newfangled Art (mowna) Biennale which is still going on till Sep’2021 so you guys can check that out. Her work “Shared Space-Cosmic Collision” is also part of the New Media art show hosted by Mowna Biennale, NewYork.



Ayesha M Ali



Let’s now talk about the person who played an amazing role in bringing about both these projects, Ayesha M Ali. A highly skilled digital artist and costume designer, she has made it a habit to deliver meaningful work, which not just justifies her skill, but is also aimed at bringing a positive change for society. She is on top of the game in the digital arts domain, with her work being published in popular magazines and publications like WOMANISTAN, Fashion Times, SPOTLIGHT, and VICTOR Magazine, Dubai. She has also been the recipient of the Zahoor-ul Akhlaq Award and Sharmeen Ariff Award, both of which are prestigious accolades in the field of arts.



To conclude, we can only say that Ayesha M Ali is among the artists we can be proud of. She is making it big in digital arts, garnering accolades and bringing a good name for the country, and not failing to use the recognition for the right causes. We wish her all the best for all the future projects and hope that she continues to give back to society by raising awareness as she has always done. We also hope that the world is ready to reap all the benefits to be brought by AI and its many applications, with dark skies gazing back at us.

To check out her works, you can visit Oshii Brownie Studio, which she has founded. 

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