Bana Ba Dinaledi: Telling African Stories using Generative AI Art.
It’s the year 2043, All the Sangomas have left the planet earth to be multi planetary beings. Different beings would come to the consultation under the stars, It was believed that Sangomas were able to interpret high intelligence from the stars to heal troubled souls, That’s why the Sangomas were referred to as Bana Ba Dinaledi (Translated as Children of the Stars).
Bana Ba Dinaledi is a virtual world art collection inspired by my sister’s spiritual journey, seeing how she transitioned over the years has been a fantastic journey in that I had to unlearn what I understood about African Spirituality. Bana Ba Dinaledi was created by Midjourney AI, Unity Game Engine for Metaverse.
How was Bana Ba Dinaledi made?
Text to Image Generation: We used an AI art software tool called Mid journey to create concept art for Sangoma on a Hoverboard and we also used Mid journey to create 50 artworks that are hosted in the virtual worlds. Mid-journey converts text or prompts to images or beautiful art. We used the following prompts to create our art, please try them:
Creation of Virtual worlds: The artworks created by our prompts are displayed in 10 virtual worlds that anyone can access through the browser. We build these virtual worlds using Unity Game Engine which allows the use of real-time 3D rendering. The visitors of our virtual worlds can hop to another world through the famous flying Siyaya Taxi. In real life Toyota Siyaya Taxi is the best portal of reality for most black people from the township, they take us from our township reality to the city or suburban reality that’s why we used it in our project as a portal. The magic happens when you combine AI with AR/VR.
Generative AI Art will be a fundamental tool in conceptualising and telling untold African stories. It can not only be used for concept art but it can be as well used for bringing virtual worlds to life. Tools such as the BariumAI and AI Material Designer can be used by world builders to create unique materials from a text prompt. We plan to do more experiments with AI and immersive media in the future. Bana Ba Dinaledi collection is now available on the metaverse platform called Monaverse, here are the links to explore it for yourself:
Start here: monaverse.com/spaces/the-year-2043
Creative Process, Other Projects and the Community
I have been working in immersive media for almost 5 years, My interest is in using Augmented and virtual reality to build experiences or solutions that solve African problems and also tell authentic stories through this immersive media. I worked on:
Sisanda App Universe is a virtual science lab that allows learners to use augmented reality to perform science experiment on their smartphone or tablet. It has various science experiments and they get projected in front of learners so they can be able to dissect, mix and manipulate. We currently piloting the Sisanda App universe in 5 Schools. More about Sisanda App Universe >>> www.sisanda.com
HaMmabongi Chesa Nyama is the first Chesa Nyama in the Metaverse. It is made up of Spaza/Kota Joint, Apostle Church and the Chesa Nyama. Here Avatars can drift the Gusheshe while others observe the flying quantum. Here is a preview of Mogodu Monday at HaMmabongi >>> Mogodu Monday Kwa HaMmabongi Mix by Bandros
Baku/Ziyanda is a fashion showroom to showcase the zero-waste fashion line by Khumo Morojele. More about it >>> twyg.co.za
My creative process always begins with what am I curious about, I like experimenting by putting different ideas together and seeing what comes out. I usually start on a blank canvas and list all the things I will need to get the project done, I then collaborate with my team to assist in building the project together. This process is hardly linear, many changes happen along the way until we can finalize the project. Once the project is done, I tend to share it within the community of AR/VR creators to stress test and understand and fix the bugs. We are part of the two communities that are focused heavenly in immersive media technology. These communities are Whatsapp and Discord-based. I’m part of the following communities We Are VR Jozi and the Metaverse Crew. We are able to exchange knowledge, help each other when stuck on the project. It is very important for one to find a community you belong to.