Aaron Myles Pereira, or simple MYLES, works in a sound equipment studio on the ground floor of an industrial building in Sewri, Mumbai, and Ameya Shinde on the mezzanine floor, as a designer at Studio BigFat. The building is shared by a Chinese catering company and a statue-making facility making figurines of Hindu deities and pop-cultural figures like Lata Mangeshkar, with a noisy metal-working studio outside. These sometimes grating and sometimes harmonised sights and sounds of the city, from those of their industrial building to the galleries of South Mumbai and the animals and bird-songs at the Mumbai Zoo, unite the artists and form the backbone of their audio-visual practices that celebrate the staggering diversity of their city and country.
“I have played the piano since I was three,” MYLES shares, describing his origins as an audio artist, now working across the field as a musician, product engineer and electronic music performer. “After working with a lot of punk and indie bands in Bombay, I went to the Berklee College of Music in the US to study jazz piano and music synthesis,” he tells us. Here, the worlds of images and music collided for the artist when he was introduced to visual synthesisers that could generate dynamic imagery for any audio input. “What I loved about the process was the ability to create a complete story for any composition and take the listener on a journey to an alternate reality,” MYLES explains. After finishing his degree, the artist continued to think of the musical and visual together, for example, creating installations for an architectural studio in Massachusetts, working with proximity sensors to create interactive works with visual and musical triggers. “I love creating such surprising installations for no better reason than because they make people happy,” he shares.
“I don’t want full creative autonomy in my work. This is what I love about working with Ameya; it is very explorative, iterative and spontaneous.”
The other half of the duo, Ameya’s approach to art-making is grounded in more traditional drawing and painting. This perspective was inculcated early on for the designer, having grown up around a father and uncle who were professional signboard painters. After a foundation course in Design, Ameya completed a four year degree in Advertising, Branding and Packaging, focusing on popular applications for his fundamental love of visual art. “I love being able to change my style for each project,” he says about his current work as a designer, “and giving my hundred percent to the process of making. Before each project, I create very abstract moodboards, almost like collages of textures, usually taken from animals, birds and coral, which become the basis of the ultimate images I create.”
Download this special poster by MYLES x Ameya, celebrating the avian diversity in the Indian subcontinent in the form of a digital collage of textured feathers and inspired by the form of a bird’s nest.
MYLES and Ameya meet during breaks for “coffee to show each other ideas, inspirations and references.” The former describes their routine saying, “our work really begins in the evening. We stay in the studio after our day jobs are done, and begin working on our collaborative project.” MYLES works in Max, a visual coding language, where “you can see the flow of data,” on MacBook Pro, a staple in his everyday life and work. “I use the MacBook Pro for everything I do — Illustrator to draw product designs for my day job, Core Audio, a no-brainer software for sound engineering, and Ableton and Max 4 Live for live performances. In contrast, Ameya describes himself as a “bit old school,” warming up with scribbles on paper before getting into the “real action” of illustrating on Procreate on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. He calls the iPad Pro his “Swiss army knife”, a device that is always with him — on the train, in the office and at home — as a portable studio. The process of creation isn’t linear for either artist, who say, working together is like “composing a dance on stage”, in which movements cycle through and repeat without a logical step-by-step plan.
“Sound is very spiritual,” MYLES says, “You can’t see it, you can’t touch it. Yes, I need the technical elements to be able to create but ultimately it is about something else.” The artistic process for the artists is not only about executing a plan with technological prowess, but to find surprises from within their work. In MYLES’ work as a music synthesist, for example, he codes frameworks for ‘aleatoric music’, in which the ultimate musical output is created on the basis of a set of rules left partly to computational chance. “I don’t want full creative autonomy in my work. This is what I love about working with Ameya; it is very explorative, iterative and spontaneous.”
Even from within these exploratory formal frameworks, the artists use their work as a tool for advocacy. “Living in Bombay, it is clear that we are losing our biodiversity every day. Yet, we take it very lightly and forget about our harmful impact on the planet,” Ameya says. The artists, as the 2024 Digital Artists in Residence, want to help us remember the incredible ecological diversity of the country, collecting bird-songs of every state of the country from an online crowd-sourced archive, XenoCanto, and programming it to coordinate with mesmerising visuals of bird plumage. “We hope to make our message of conservation very accessible, and convey it in a way that connects to everyone, even with people who may have tuned out the voices of climate activists,” MYLES says. “This is the power of art, we think. It can move you from within, when you least expect it.”
Aaron Myles Pereira and Ameya Shinde were born in Mumbai in 1997 and 1999 respectively. Their work will be shown at the Digital Residency Hub at India Art Fair 2024.