MAP and Accenture Labs have collaborated to present India’s first conversational digital persona of the celebrated artist, M. F. Husain. A unique digital experience created to engage audiences of all ages, Husain’s persona gives a glimpse into the life and work of one of India’s most compelling artists. Viewers can simply ask Husain’s digital twin a question regarding his early life, family or career to receive a simulated response from him. While Husain’s voice has been digitally created using speech synthesis softwares, the questions and answers have been prepared through extensive research on the artist. The experience is available as a 3D hologram at the Museum’s physical space which opened in February 2023 and is also available on web and mobile platforms.
MAP Labs is a unique initiative to promote, build, and support cutting-edge technology solutions that enable greater visibility, outreach and enhance the impact of art & culture globally. Through partnerships with technology companies, startups, and educational institutions, MAP Labs aims to develop new ideas and is a platform for companies to experiment with new technology-enabled experiences for the sector.
The digital person of Husain which will engage in realistic conversations with visitors has been created by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a human-centred design. The AI was created using techniques including face superimposition and speech synthesis. Both are based on generative AI models and deep learning. A variety of technologies, such as natural language understanding and processing, along with emotion detection tech, ensures lifelike interactions. The digital persona echoes a real person in all ways – expressive, proactive, adaptive and responsive.
The creation of Husain’s persona has been made possible through a close collaboration between MAP Labs and Accenture Labs. The project has come about through Accenture’s Tech4Good initiative which seeks to find unique solutions for global challenges, using the latest disruptive technologies.
The questions are largely based on the artist’s life, his childhood and adult experiences, and his expansive practice and career. The answers to these questions were prepared through extensive research on the artist by the team at MAP and are purely based on the interviews in print and television that the artist gave. Background research was carried out by exploring the many essays and publications that have been written by critics and scholars on the artist.
The voice in the simulation closely resembles the voice of the artist, M.F. Husain; however, it has been digitally created using speech synthesis softwares. Various video interviews of Husain were fed in the software which was then trained to emulate the artist’s voice as closely as possible. Thus, the final output that you hear from the persona is similar to Husain’s real voice.
M.F. Husain – celebrated as one of India’s greatest modernists – is credited with popularising Indian art and bringing it to the international stage. There are few artists who have commanded the attention, the debate and awe that Husain has, over the course of his career. Born in Pandharpur to a middle-class Muslim family, Husain’s journey as an artist was multi-faceted and rich in experience. He painted a diverse range of subjects and themes throughout his artistic career, from Mother Teresa to horses to the British Raj. He also drew on the rich imagery of India’s mythology to create a whole body of work that, unfortunately , saw a barrage of criticism from certain sections of society forcing the artist to live his later years in self-exile in Dubai and London, and later in Qatar where he received his citizenship.
Husain’s contribution to Indian art and the journey of Indian modernism is unparalleled. He constantly experimented with different mediums and art forms looking for inspiration in the most unexpected places. Fleeting memories from his childhood and his adult life turn into significant motifs in his paintings, and it is this constant quest, both seeking and referencing his cultural roots that made Husain the most celebrated artist of our times. It is, thus, fitting for MAP to showcase one of the most interesting and influential artists in the history of Indian art as its first interactive digital persona.