Devi Parikh is a multi-talent. She is an Artist, Professor and Research director in AI. As well she is writing blogs and doing podcasts. But as she loves time management, she is doing everything with passion. She had art related hobbies her entire life. Her favourite piece is a series of a combination of part AI, part human analogue art, and part human digital art. She gets her inspiration from many different sources.
NFT Granny: “Dear Devi – thank you so much for taking your precious time. You are a Professor and a Research Director in AI, producing your podcast and many more things. That is impressive. When do you find time to do art with this busy schedule?”
Devi Parikh: ☺ I am a strong believer in making time for the things I enjoy doing! Incidentally, I recently wrote a blog post on “Intrinsic motivation, sparks of joy, and time management” that you’re welcome to check out ☺
How did you first become interested in art, and how did you get started with it yourself?
Devi Parikh: I’ve had art-related hobbies all my life. As a kid growing up in India, I was taking drawing and painting lessons and participated in examinations organized by the state I lived in. I also really enjoyed origami and various arts and crafts – to the point that I’d be “messing around with paper” (as my parents called it) till late at night when I really should be in bed to get enough sleep before school the next morning. ☺ I also picked up Macrame over the pandemic!
Could you tell us more about the story behind your Project “Cushions”?
Devi Parikh: Cushions is a long-form generative art project on Art Blocks.
While it has come a long way since, the core idea behind Cushions started in 2018. Interestingly, even back then, it was a long-form generative art project (before Tyler Hobbs popularized the term in April 2021).
It was set up as a create-your-own interactive art generation tool where a user can set different features and make their own piece. It is still live under the Create Your Own section on http://stateoftheheart.ai. Every piece had to look good, irrespective of what parameters a user picked. Now on Art Blocks, control was handed over not to another person, but to the randomness of a transaction hash!
The motivation behind the project was to explore the intersection of image processing techniques and ideas in generative art.
Which of your artworks are you most proud of?
Devi Parikh: I am quite excited about my Confluence series on Braindrops!
This series is part AI, part human analog art, and part human digital art. Pieces are generated using a neural generative model (AI) trained on my physical sketchbook. Generations are re-rendered in a variety of palettes. Taking the confluence of human and machine a step further, the pieces are interpreted by an AI model.
The motivation behind the series was curiosity:
Curiosity to see how an AI model will consume art in a sketchbook that was not intended to be coherent or have an audience.
Curiosity to see what form the art will take when reproduced by an AI model – which features of the generated art will be recognizable as coming from my sketches, which ones will seem foreign, and which ones will be a confluence.
Curiosity to see what opportunities the generations from the AI model will present to give me my voice back, to make the pieces my own again.
Again, which features from the AI generations will survive, which ones will be removed, and which ones will be a confluence. It was an exercise in exploring how AI tools can enhance human creative expression.
In addition to the concept, I am in love with so many of the pieces in the collection! The formations, the marks, the palettes, the colors.
Is there an artist you would like to work with? Like a collaboration?
Devi Parikh: I am excited about collaborating with artists who work with different media and modalities. For instance, I had a collaboration with beatsbyholly on a project called Synesthesia. I generated animated visual art that moves in sync with music by beatsbyholly. The visual art was generated using an earlier version of the Confluence system – using an AI model trained on my physical sketchbook. The contents of the sketchbook and the music were made independently – whatever expressed the artists best at the time. I like that this series brings together two art forms (visual and music), two media (digital and analog), and two aesthetic sensibilities (human and AI).
We are curious 🙂 Would you be willing to share any plans of upcoming projects?
Devi Parikh: I had two drops in the first week of January this year (BrainDrops and Art Blocks), and I had an earlier drop on fxhash sell out that week too. I’ve since been busy with traveling and participating in #genuary2022. I am yet to take a step back and think about what I want to do next ☺
Who or what are your biggest influences or sources of inspiration?
Devi Parikh: Inspiration tends to be quite distributed for me – some mundane, some exotic; some traditional, some unexpected; some specific, some diffused – colors in rare stones, textures in snake skins, graffiti, wall art, digital illustrations, acrylic pouring, mandalas, ethnic fabrics, looking out the window during a long taxi ride, Indian culture, or feedback from a trusted friend. I maintain an ever-growing list of ideas – ranging from small tweaks to an existing project to entirely new projects or styles. My process involves starting with an idea, prototyping the core of it to see if it feels right, and then iterating, iterating, iterating. The joy and mystery are in seeing where the iterations lead!
I get energy out of creative expression. Some of it through my art – both digital and analog. Some of it through my research in AI. In fact, the two intersect – part of my work is on developing AI that can enhance human creativity – give people new tools for creative expression.
What is your general thought of NFT Art?
Devi Parikh: To be honest, there are so many people with so many strong opinions about this, that I don’t think I have anything particularly insightful to add. I don’t think of my art as NFT Art. It is just (generative) art, like it was before NFTs became so popular in the past year or so. What has changed with NFTs is that I now have opportunities to connect with many more people who are interested in my art (for oner reason or the other). I am grateful for that.
What does a typical day for you look like, and what do you like to do when you’re not busy with NFT Art?
Devi Parikh: My day jobs (professor and AI researcher) keep me quite busy ☺ and I try to sneak in as much art as I can. My days are usually: wake up, shower, attend meetings at work, quick lunch, catch up on pings that came my way while I was in meetings, do some “actual” work, any personal errands, dinner, art/netflix, sleep. I try to have one or two days of the week where I don’t have meetings. On those days I tend to get larger chunks of time to work on art. And of course, weekends are another good time to get chunks of time to work on art if I am not hanging out with friendds ☺ I am a bit of a time management nerd. You can read about my time management system here.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Devi Parikh: Don’t self-select! If you want something, go for it. Let the world say no. In fact, if the world is not saying no to you, maybe you’re not asking for enough ☺
Is there something aside from art or NFTs you collect?
Devi Parikh: I resist collecting them, but I am quite intrigued by stones of various kinds.
- Full Name: Devi Parikh
- Date of Birth: May 4th, 1984
- Current hometown: San Francisco
- Languages she speaks: English, Gujarati, Hindi
- What did you want to be when you were a child: I don’t recall ever wanting to be anything specific ☺
- Education: Ph.D.
- First Job: Engineering internship as a sophomore in college