Zakaria models the mixed reality goggles.
Zakaria models the mixed reality goggles. 

Zakaria Jaiathe, co-founder of XIBIT, a mixed reality exhibitions start up, speaks to the British Council about the new opportunities for creative expression that technology is opening up. 

As machines become more able to replace methodical human work, human creativity and the ability to innovate will become ever more valuable. However, unleashing creativity is a complex challenge, and new platforms and tools are playing a key role in helping to develop and express creativity. 

Xibit recently held a mixed reality exhibition at the launch of Creative Code, a programme and space at Factory, a co-working space in Berlin, which brings together people from different disciplines to meet, collaborate and make cutting-edge ideas more accessible. The space provides tools and resources that put creativity at the centre of technological and digital innovation. 

Mixed reality exhibitions bridge the gap between the digital and the physical world. Virtual reality completely immerses the audience, leaving them unable to see what is around them, whereas a mixed reality headset allows the wearer to see and interact with digital elements while also remaining aware of the space they are in. 

Sometimes it can be difficult for people to imagine what a mixed reality exhibition is like. However, the technology is now sufficiently developed to show people a mixed exhibition - all they have to do is put on the headset - and that makes it so easy for people to understand the technology, to see its creative potential and to enjoy it.

An exhibition when you want, where you want

Zakaria’s platform, XIBIT, creates exhibitions that can be accessed on demand. The aim is that people will be able to put on the headset and experience an exhibition, no matter where they are. He says they want to bring beauty to people, so that someone sitting in an office is not bound by how it was created, and instead has the opportunity to customise it and experience something new every day. 

Mixed reality exhibitions can make art seem more alive to the public. The majority of 2D art is designed to be admired from afar, but not to be interacted with. Digital art is different because if you touch it, it doesn’t damage the art at all. That’s why many of the exhibitions focus on this new interactive dimension, which can change the way people see art. 

Zakaria thinks that over time, exposure to this kind of art will help people become more creative. He firmly believes that providing people with an opportunity to see  and interact with cutting edge art, they will become more aware of the possibilities of technology and the new ways in which they can create and unleash their own creativity. The platform will also enable the message that the artist wants to convey to reach more people in more places, by bringing the art directly to them. 

Watch video below: An early simulation of what the XIBIT platform will look like 

New avenues for creativity

The platform does not digitalise existing art: it focuses purely on native 3D digital art. This was an active choice, based on the idea of conserving the essence of an artwork - if it was created on wood, or on canvas, that is how the artist intended it to be experienced. By focusing on 3D digital art, XIBIT allows 3D digital artists to exhibit their art the way they created it. 

The community of 3D digital artists is growing, and they come from many different sectors, such as industrial prototyping or the gaming industry. But Zakaria also reaches out to 2D painters and explains to them how to experiment with the technology and see how it feels to paint digitally. He says, ‘It’s interesting, because when we talk to these 2D artists and ask them how they visualise things during the creative process, they will see these things as 3D, the dream they initially had in their head was already 3D.’ 

The creativity in 3D digital art is fascinating because the artist is not bound by physics. They can imagine things that would be impossible in the physical world. Artists can create water that instantaneously transforms into metal: they are not bound to anything or to the material of things. So XIBIT is building a platform for all these kind of artists to share their creativity, and then bringing in  curators who create the exhibition for the final users to enjoy.