Consider the question: What object would you like archaeologists 1,000 years from now to remember our present day culture by?
As part of our first Google Arts & Culture Lab experiment in India, we are delighted to collaborate with Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and the British Museum in London to unveil Future Relics, an interactive installation that takes participants on a shared journey, connecting past with present whilst looking to the future. Created as part of the landmark exhibition India and the World: A History in Nine Stories, the Future Relics project will blend ancient craft and modern technology to build relics for the future.
Responding directly to India and the World’s exploration of pots as story-telling objects, Future Relics invites audiences to contribute an object that represents our lives today — perhaps an aluminium pressure cooker, a ceiling fan, a mobile phone or an exam paper? Visitors’ contributions will provide the future generations glimpses into the lives and stories of people who lived in the present day, just as the artefacts of the museum give a glimpse of those who lived and ruled in the first cities of India.
As visitors navigate the museum and stumble upon the Future Relics installation, they will be asked to write in Hindi, English or Marathi, using our Google handwriting tool, an object they would want archaeologists to remember 1,000 years from. Google Translate will then group similar words together, transcending language and drawing thematic connections across the three languages. Each group of similar words will create a digital vase on which the handwritten words will be printed. Each new, unique word will birth a new vase. As vases appear and grow, a live visualisation will create a growing landscape of vases.
From thousands of contributions, a collection of artifacts will be 3D printed using clay, and gifted to the museum as a relic for future generations to uncover.
Conceived as a new attraction for the landmark exhibition which also marks the commemoration of 70 years of Indian Independence, visitors to the museum will also explore connections and comparisons between India and the rest of the world, covering a period of over a million years though 200 historical artifacts from more than 25 institutions. The Indian objects within each section are positioned within a global context and will help visitors serve to explore the connections.
We hope that visitors will enjoy interacting with Future Relics and becoming a part of a time capsule, as we craft new bridges between tech and culture whilst giving audiences a new perspective of archeology in the digital age. All art lovers and cultural enthusiasts can discover the unseen cultural treasures and the first of its kind interactive installation from November 11th at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.
There is more coming up, so stay tuned!
By Freya Murray, Program Manager and Creative Lead, Google Cultural Institute Lab