Artificial Intelligence and culture: AI x Archimedean Ahmedabad

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Collaboration with an Artificial Intelligence system:

Tapan Aslot told PA about his project and experience with AI. The Midjourney AI is a very powerful AI system with a massive dataset of images from worldwide. The ability of this system to seamlessly fuse two very different objects or cultures inspired me to combine Ahmedabad’s heritage monuments with Archimedean solids.

There have been some arguments on the internet about this AI’s approach being more inclined toward Western culture, which worried me a little before starting this project, but it turned out to be incorrect. The heritage of Ahmedabad city and the structure of 600 years old Pol Houses have been understood very well by this system. Tapan Aslot wanted to have an earthen and warm feeling for these heritage structures which have come out well.

Pol Houses:

Ahmedabad is the financial capital of the Indian state of Gujarat. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in July 2017. Ahmedabad’s old city, located on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati River, is made up of approximately 600 Pols, some dating back nearly 600 years.

Pol houses are one-of-a-kind structures that evolved in response to climate, local building materials, and people’s social needs over time. They have a very functional design due to the small neighborhood in the urban context to manage efficiently, climate responsiveness: streets, courtyards, and the use of sustainable building materials, rainwater harvesting to solve the scarcity of water in the current situation, and the use of construction and building materials to make it an earthquake resistant structure. These houses also meet the aesthetic criteria because home ornamentation is done logically and is an integral part of the structure.

Archimedean Solids:

The Archimedean solids are a special group of 13 semi-regular polyhedrons in geometry. Archimedes, an ancient Greek philosopher, was the first to describe such solids. However, his works on the subject were lost and were only known through other writers such as Pappus of Alexandria. Renaissance artists rediscovered several Archimedean solids. Plato, who lived about a century before Archimedes, described five regular solids with identical regular polyhedron faces. These solids are now known as Platonic solids.

Inspiration:

Archimedes well-known for his scientific discoveries and inventions, such as the globally famous ‘Eureka’ story to the most famous Archimedes’ Screw (a device for raising water that is still used in crop irrigation and sewage treatment plants today). Archimedes died 2233 years ago; Pol Houses was built 600 years ago. Tapan Aslot wondered how Archimedes would have built these houses if he had to design them, given his aesthetic senses and the city’s history.

Aslot, inspired by heritage monuments like Bhadra Tower, Sidi Saiyyed Masjid, Ahmed Shah’s Mosque, and Teen Darwaja, which have helped put this city on the map.

Prompt/Keywords + Attempts:

Heritage, Archimedean solids, Pol Houses, Damp, and Aesthetic, are some of the keywords I used in my prompts. Even though these may appear disjointed, I achieved what I envisioned after several attempts and observations.

Tapan Aslot’s learnings:

Because it is based on an ever-evolving algorithm, there is always a sweet little surprise with this AI system. The beauty is that you can never generate the same image twice. It may be slightly better than the previous one, but it will never be the same. You should be clear in your thinking if you want to take the lead, but leave room for improvement and surprise for the AI, which is becoming more opinionated daily.

About Tapan Aslot:

Tapan Aslot is a Creative Director from Surat, India. He has been living in Ahmedabad for the past few years. Coming from a design background with a focus on animation and films. He always had a knack for experimenting with different mediums and merging them to create magic. Using AI systems such as Midjourney, Dall-E, and Stable Diffusion, he creates artworks focusing on culture, heritage, architecture, and Indian festivals. He has also produced AI artworks for interior projects, filmmaking, event visual projections, and storyboarding.

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