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Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s Game Developers-in-Residence Expand Digital Experience of African Art

Installation view of the Kota Data Cloud at Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis recently opened Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art, an exhibition exploring the ways that technology can be used to foster a deeper understanding and engagement with art. The exhibition features nearly fifty Kota figures — Central African reliquary sculptures produced between the 17th and 20th centuries — and a new interactive digital tool called the Kota Data Cloud used to identify patterns and groupings among these objects. This immersive digital experience visualizes an extensive database of Kota reliquary guardian figures developed by computer engineer Frederic Cloth. Created specifically for this exhibition by St. Louis-based software design studio Rampant Interactive, the Cloud is the first tool to animate this body of research for the public.

Rampant is also participating in an exhibition-long residency that will unfold in four phases of visitor activities, data collection and analysis, and rapid prototyping. In their first month, Rampant created the Kota Builder, a tool that allows visitors to design their own digital Kota using a combination of characteristics evident in the original objects. Beginning in December, Rampant will 3D print these user-generated Kota, which will later lend themselves to an education program for St. Louis-area teens. Rampant will mark the launch of this new phase by leading a Data & Game Design Roundtable on December 12, at which they will present on the Kota Builder, share data about the user-generated Kota, and preview the 3D printing process.

For more details on the exhibition and residency, visit pulitzerarts.org.