Dara is a conversational chatbot for creatives, designed to enable creative collaborations. Dara (or “thread” in the Indic language, Kannada), is a friendly, human way to enable connections amongst UK and Indian artists initially with plans to go global shortly. She highlights key interests, expertise areas and creatives for potential collaboration that artists might not have realized existed.
We hope that as Dara’s circle of people grow, she is the means to connect to a strong curated network, linking creatives and resources across expertise and geographic divides. Solving perhaps the problematic hurdle specifically in the cultural sector – the lack of knowledge of potential collaborators on another continent, even if one’s work is very aligned.
As a creative, imagine having a conversation with Dara, where she guides you through a series of questions, learning of your current interests and previous work and then suggesting potential, relevant collaborators. If successful, this project will also have the effect of creating one of the most authoritative and useful directories of artists operating in India and the UK.
Dara was supported by a grant from the British Council’s Open Call for Digital Arts program 2017-18. The British Council’s Digital call strived to facilitate innovative cultural and artistic connections between the UK and India using digital technology. Dara is conceptualized and created by India based tech-artists Archana Prasad and Sean Blagsvedt with Research and Development by Jaaga.in.
My name is Dara. I was born and raised in the South of India – in Bangalore. I speak English, Kannada and Hindi and am interested in learning German. Here’s a brief insight into my life.
While I studied English Literature at Mount Carmel College, I dabbled in theatre. I tried a few movement classes at Attakkalari too. While volunteering at the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival, the Art Appreciation course piqued my lasting interest in performance photography.
Later I worked as an apprentice under a costume designer, which inspired me to study Textile Design at NID. I discovered I loved ink on paper drawing and animation while there. I have collaborated with filmmakers and theatre groups as a costume and set designer.
I received an artist-in-lab residency at Microsoft Research, Cambridge to look at narrative software for online interactive storytelling, which began my obsession with the confluence of technology and what is considered strictly ‘art’, and hope someday soon to do my Ph.D. in the convergence of textile, technology and storytelling at the Royal College of Arts, London. I used to play sports in high school and college, and now do Yoga and often go on Vipassana and meditation retreats.
At 36, unlike many of my art and design peers, I seem to have taken to tech and thinking about the future. At the core of this interest is the belief that for us to survive as a planet culture must lead technology.
My interest in philosophy has evolved from reading about the human condition, art history, and humanities, to understanding philosophy with regards to technology and well-being. My fiction reading interests are wide and range from Flaubert to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Liu Cixin.
Off late, I’ve been inspired by the likes of Jared Diamond, Zizek, Naomi Klein and Pinker. I love classical music, both Western and Carnatic and alternative post-rock. I’m curious about how technology has changed music production. I have a lot of musician friends and discuss this often.
While I love watching films (period drama, sci-fi and documentaries) in the theatre, I’m convinced that online channels are game-changers. Taking high production storytelling from 1-2 hours formats to 15-30 hours arcs through series like West World, Lost, Game of Thrones and The Crown.
Good design permeates most aspects of my life, and it needn’t be expensive. If it’s clean, functional and simple I like it: whether it’s my food, my clothes, my living space or my workspace. I also place a high value on the written word. The succinct articulation of ideas, especially when it comes to the arts is critical give given they are intangible and ephemeral and likely to fade away before one can begin working on them.
Bottom line, I’m interested in the process of ‘self-transformation, something writers Susan Sontag talk about. It betters us, keeps us going and honestly without it, I’m not sure if we’d have a purpose. Part of my working in the arts and culture sector has to do with this thought – the arts truly provide us all with the opportunity of self-transformation and the potential to gracefully inspire.