Words in white capital letters say: “They closed around my head and with a golden sword shaved it;” The background is dark blue, reminiscent of an early evening sky. An unidentifiable black shape is in the bottom right corner - it looks like the shadowy silhouette of treetops. The image is a still frame from an artist moving image work by Vishal Kumaraswamy called "your dataset must die" made in 2021.
Vishal Kumaraswamy, your dataset must die, 2021 (still image from video)

Jamie Wyld (videoclub & Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work?

Vishal Kumaraswamy: Hi, my name is Vishal Kumaraswamy I’m a Bangalore based Artist & Filmmaker. Within my practice, I work across AI, text, video, sound and performance and I look for points of convergence between Caste, Race & Technology. My works a by weaving speculative narratives & counter-mythologies in multiple Indian languages around themes of Artificial Intelligence, Gender & Labour.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site (so more people can use it) – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

VK: Within my practice, I am constantly looking for ways to reduce the multiple layers of accessibility barriers that surround contemporary art. I’m grateful to be part of Vital Capacities where notions of accessibility are considered at the outset and not as an afterthought. I’m hoping to learn about the practical ways in which I can make my works, process and thinking accessible and understand ways to make these considerations empathetically and implement them across the multiple forms I work in.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?
VK: For the last 2 years, I’ve been engaged in developing a theoretical and critical framework that draws from social justice principles, critical race theory & anti-caste literature. I’m doing this to investigate if artistic practice can become ‘pedagogical tools’ to communities of colour that are excluded from regular access to critical discourse around contemporary art & technology. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to illustrate how this comes through as I bring in my ongoing experiments with AI based image generation, volumetric filmmaking and sonic narratives.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?

VK: At the moment I am looking at what kind of conversations are happening around data, technology and AI particularly the perceptive notion of these terms in relation to their technological explanations. I’d like to look into how I can translate some of my thoughts around these concerns while also situating it within the context of racialised and casteised experiences. There are multiple intersectional threads to work through, I’m keen to see which of them I can trace and locate.

Visit Vishal’s studio space to learn more about what he’s working on.

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