The amazing AI-powered projects of ARVIND SANJEEV

Does anyone here recall the era of analog photography? Think back to print papers, emulsions, labs, darkrooms, and especially the very limited number of shots you could capture on a single roll of film. Feel old yet? Fast forward to the age of digital photography; there’s no longer a skill-related entry barrier, one doesn’t need professional or semi-pro knowledge to become a popular photographer (sounds familiar?) and most importantly that endless capacity of the memory card which in the end left everybody with tens of thousands of never-seen-again pictures on their hard drives. We’re not trying to be nostalgic here, essentialist is far from that, what we’re up to is the distinctive sensation of encountering certain limitations, those elements that were indispensable or challenging to use, and even the personal bond formed with the tools we used. It appears that these factors indeed foster human creativity, wouldn’t you agree?

Forget photography, think ChatGPT and imagine a typewriter that types back. How cool is that! The Ghostwriter, for that’s what the thing is called, is a brought back to life classic Brother typewriter, now integrated with the GPT-3 language model. At its core lies an Arduino, which interprets the user’s prompts and communicates them to a Raspberry Pi, responsible for querying the GPT-3 API. Simply input any prompt using the typewriter and press the return key to receive a response from the AI. By now you should start asking questions, or at least one, why? Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” comes in handy.

Except for being a poetic intervention that provides us with an opportunity to stop for a second, take a moment and contemplate on the creative connection we’re establishing with machines, it is also lets us “mindfully co-create with the AI through a vintage typewriter’s tactile and physical form. The calm meditative interface removes all the digital distractions and takes us on an emotional journey through paper and ink. It allows us to focus purely on the act of co-creation itself by slowing down our interaction with the machine.”

Doesn’t it look like something we could compare to the era of analog photography? The limits that led creators to care more about the process itself and finally the outcomes. Capturing numerous shots of the same subject and selecting just one out of a hundred that works well is simple. But what about approaching it differently: taking a single, carefully considered shot? How does that sound? As the designer and creator of The Ghostwriter Arvind Sanjeev observed:

“Even though I had anticipated that the mental model of the typewriter could encourage people to be more playful, one of my biggest learnings and the main feature of Ghostwriter came as a pleasant surprise. I observed how slowing down technology can allow people to become more mindful and form a much deeper understanding. The Ghostwriter’s slow-typed responses made people meditatively read each word one after the other, bringing out all the quirks and nuances of the AI through its finer details. Fast digital interactions that live on a word editor tend to hide things like this unintentionally. Besides this, ink on paper also made people more deliberate about their thoughts, thus creating opportunities to think, reflect, inspire, and create fresh perspectives.”

You can get to know about the whole process, see how Arvind built the machine and what it led to here. But that was over a year ago! Arvind’s most up-to-date work is SPIN, an AI-powered music synthesizer that allows you to co-create compositions with a language model, MusicGen. It offers a playful opportunity to delve into the intricacies of algorithmic music, prompting you to take your time and examine its unique characteristics. This synthesizer celebrates the fusion of human and machine creativity within the realm of music.

“SPIN breaks down the process of co-composing music with an AI using a tangible interface. Enter the desired mood, genre, sounds and bpm to listen to the music come alive on an LP record. A DVS (Digital Vinyl System) allows you to slow down, zoom in, scratch and listen between the notes. Use it to create new compositions, as a simple sound synthesizer, as a playful scratch tool, or to play relaxing music in the background.”

Working on the artefact of the past, the designer has yet once again made his point here: people expect being served with all things-tailored and this is what is about to come next, within music industry too: hyper-tailoring. Is is good or bad? Who knows, but if we’re Arvind thenm why not take a look at the bright side of it:

“This opens up exciting possibilities for pushing the boundaries of music and creating entirely new micro-genres.”

Fingers crossed.

Arvind is an award-winning designer and artist. His work focuses on future-casting and exploratory prototyping through a fusion of design, art and technology.

He enjoys experimenting with the social and cultural implications of technology using playful interactions and immersive experiences. Through his startup Lumen World, he is exploring a new immersive storytelling platform using Lumen – the world’s first mixed-reality flashlight. His work has been featured in Fast Co, BBC, Techcrunch, Hackaday, Times of India, etc. Read more about the amazing work of his on his website here.