Kalakriti art gallery aims to incorporate virtual reality, augmented reality and AI for a unique experience
The pandemic prompted art galleries across India to enhance the virtual experience of viewing and buying art. Some of them upgraded their websites to host virtual exhibitions. Hyderabad-based Kalakriti art gallery is going a step further to give art lovers a ‘phygital’ (physical and digital) experience, incorporating elements of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
The gallery established in 2002 recently moved to a new address on Road no. 4, Banjara Hills. The multi-level premises intends to become a cultural hub that hosts art events, talks, book readings and cultural performances. The 4000 square feet gallery space on the ground floor can host three exhibitions simultaneously and offer a seamless digital experience.
Currently on view is an exhibition of paintings by the multi-hyphenate artist Muzaffar Ali, titled ‘The Other Side’. At the gallery, scan QR codes to access additional videos delineating the concept of the paintings and their pricing. Those viewing the exhibition remotely (https://terapact.in/kalakriti/), can use a VR headset to walk through the gallery virtually. The layout and display on the virtual gallery is a replica of the real gallery.
Kalakriti owners Prshant and Rekha Lahoti state that the phygital transformation is a work in progress and probably the first of its kind in India. In the pipeline is an app ‘Art Cafe’ where viewers can browse through a vast catalogue and place orders. The website (kalakritiartgallery.com) is also being upgraded.
The couple had been wanting to enhance the digital experience of viewing and buying art for a few years, and the pandemic hastened the transformation: “We all got used to doing things virtually, the time was right,” says Rekha.
With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, the interior design segment witnessed a boom. Paintings, sculptures and installations of master artists are the mainstay of Kalakriti but the gallery is also keen to tap into the segment that looks for curated affordable art as decor or corporate gifting.
While an original artwork by a leading artist might cost a few lakh rupees, the affordable art segment opens up new possibilities — tableware, furniture, furnishings, limited edition prints, coffee table books and fashion accessories. Consider tableware with Jogen Chowdhury’s artwork or a stole with Bose Krishnamachari’s artwork, signed by the respective artists. Further, there are limited edition prints of vintage maps of different Indian cities that can be custom framed. A collection of litho prints and vintage posters are also part of the catalogue.
Some of these collectibles are on display at the gallery; a visitor can scan the QR code to browse the entire catalogue: “Going digital also helps us in not having to display everything on the shelves. Once people walk in, see the quality and get an idea of the digital interface, they are likely to place online orders the next time. The paintings and sculptures in our inventory have RFID (radio frequency identification),” says Prshant.
The soon-to-be launched ‘Art Cafe’ app will also enable users to see how a painting would look in different interior settings: “We are also working on enabling in-built augmented reality so that a user can project a painting on his/her wall at home or office, before making the purchase decision,” says Prshant.
Apart from offering a seamless viewing and buying experience, Prshant says the app and the website will analyse buying patterns and use artificial intelligence to market relevant products, depending on whether one is keen on fine art, decor or corporate gifting.
The technological transformation, say the couple, was made possible by working with multiple collaborators.
The phygital experience might just be the next big thing in India’s art market.