The man who challenged the British Museum
„Attempt, fail, evolve“ this is how Gurbaksh Singh would describe his work. In a rapid fire Q&A we asked the Chief Innovation Officer 30 questions.
1. Concept or creation?
Both are essential as concept drives innovation, but creation brings ideas to life. A strong concept lays the foundation for innovative solutions, ensuring that the resulting creations effectively accomplish their intended function and resonate with the target audience, enabling meaningful impact and relevance. Creation stems from a concept!
2. Personally speaking, what’s the most important project you’ve ever created?
You always remember a handful of projects, but the best are the ones from where you earn and learn the most. One such viral campaign we did for our Indian superstar Rajni Kant (similar vibe to Chuck Norris) created hype about an impossible stunt “A website which works without the internet!” It became the most viral microsite in the history of India.
Gurbaksh Singh is the Chief Innovation Officer at Dentsu Creative India – a global digital network that works for big brands around the world. He is the maker and creator of “The Unfiltered History Tour”, which is a guerilla tour of the British Museum’s stolen artefacts, produced together with VICE World News. The project became India’s most celebrated work at Cannes Lions to date and was also discussed at this year’s eCommemoration Convention.
3. Can you learn to be creative?
There are no “genes for creativity”. We are all born able to be creative if we are willing to embrace, engage and exercise.
4. What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation means the thoughtful integration of cutting-edge technology with creative problem-solving to develop novel solutions that enhance user experiences, streamline processes, and push the limits of what is technologically possible. It involves continuously exploring emerging technologies, experimenting with new ideas, and implementing inventive approaches that positively impact various users and aspects of everyday life.
5. General reactions towards your “Unfiltered History Tour” in three words.
Jeepers, creepers, wow.
6. The British Museum’s reactions towards the “Unfiltered History Tour” in three words.
What The Fu##.
7. Would you do it again?
Change doesn’t occur overnight!
We need to keep doing it in new innovative forms and mediums as a constant reminder in this busy world.
8. Describe your work in three words!
Attempt, Fail, Evolve!
9. What is the biggest challenge you face in your professional role?
Balancing the need for experimentation and stretching borders with the requirement for feasible solutions can also present a continual challenge. Furthermore, integrating complex technologies into creative projects while addressing potential technical limitations and ensuring that creative innovations remain practical and serve the intended purpose.
10. Going to an actual museum or visiting it virtually?
Nothing beats the in-person experience.
11. Let’s assume the world takes place only in the Metaverse. What would you do there that you wouldn’t in the “real world”?
In the Metaverse, I would relish the freedom to transcend physical limitations, explore fantastical realms, and engage in immersive experiences impossible in reality. I could shape my virtual identity, create art in surreal dimensions, and foster connections beyond geographical frontiers, promoting boundless creativity and unparalleled escapades.
12. Video games or AR-projects?
Hybrid AR video games!
13. Best historical game/AR-project you’ve ever played/experienced?
The Pedestal Project. Fighting racial inequalities using the power of augmented reality:
At this year’s eCommemoration Convention Gurbaksh Singh took part in the panel discussion “Navigating Travel. Innovative Forms of On-, Off-, and De-Boarding.“ He pointed out the challenges and possibilities of making history more accessible through digital media.
14. What does eCommoration mean to you?
eCommoration represents a transformative platform for honouring significant historical milestones and celebrating commemoration achievements.
It fosters global participation, amplifies diverse voices and facilitates meaningful dialogue, ensuring that the lessons and legacies of the past are preserved, understood, and perpetuated for future generations.
Chief Innovation Officer at Dentsu Webchutney
15. The best thing you experienced at eCommemoration Convention 2023?
Apart from the hands-on experience at eCommemoration, the accessibility of interactive panels, live discussions, and digital showcases provided a diverse and enriching experience, cultivating valuable knowledge exchange and global collaboration and connecting with professionals and experts from various fields worldwide.
16. What was the most inspiring part of eCC23?
The most inspiring aspect of eCC23 was the captivating keynote address delivered by a renowned thought leader, which eloquently highlighted the transformative power of emerging technologies in addressing global challenges. Their visionary insights, coupled with compelling examples of real-world impact, instilled a renewed sense of optimism and drive for innovation among attendees.
17. Who from the convention would you want to meet again?
I would love to reconnect with the dynamic panelists, whose thought-provoking presentations left a lasting impression. Their profound commitment to harnessing history for social good, coupled with their practical insights and passion for innovation, truly inspired a sense of purpose and possibility.
18. If you could have one (already existing) memorial in your living room, which one would it be?
However, if I were to choose a memorial, it would be a replica of the plaque left on the lunar module, bearing the inscription “We came in peace for all mankind.” This plaque represents human ingenuity, exploration, and the spirit of historic international cooperation, inspiring a continued pursuit of scientific progress and unity among nations.
Singh is a creative. His crazy passion for zeroes and ones, a perfect ingredient for modern creativity, allows him to push ideas. With over 20 years of expertise, he has been fusing creativity and technology to build cutting-edge brand experiences since its inception.
19. In three sentences: How can modern technology challenge traditional remembrance culture?
Modern technology can challenge traditional remembrance culture by introducing interactive digital platforms and immersive experiences, transforming passive observation into active engagement. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and digital archives offer personalized and dynamic ways to explore history, encouraging deeper emotional connections and promoting diverse, inclusive portrayals for commemoration. However, it may also raise concerns about the authenticity and prompting a reevaluation of the role of technology in shaping and safeguarding cultural heritage.
20. What three skills should modern historians have today?
Technological proficiency, interdisciplinary approach, critical thinking.
21. With what historical figure would you like to chat?
I love to work with him.
23. How can history be made more accessible in one sentence?
Making history more accessible can be achieved by utilizing interactive technologies, engaging storytelling, and inclusive representations to connect diverse audiences with the relevance and richness of the past.
With “The Unfiltered History Tour”, Singh took a big risk. But for him it is important to make clear that history is not set in stone, but that previous interpretations of the past must be challenged anew. Technology plays an important role in this.
24. Should we re-evaluate our perception of history?
Re-evaluating our perception of history is crucial to facilitating a more comprehensive understanding that acknowledges diverse perspectives, promotes inclusivity, and critically examines/ensures a more accurate and nuanced representation of the past.
25. Instagram or X?
26. What can digital history do better than the traditional approach?
Digital history enables widespread accessibility, allowing people around the world to access historical information and resources remotely. It offers interactive engagement through immersive experiences, data analysis and visualization, enabling historians to uncover patterns and insights at a scale and speed not easily achievable with traditional research methods.
27. Which historical figure would you follow on Social Media?
If historical figures were active on social media, I might consider following someone like Leonardo da Vinci for his diverse innovative ideas and vast variety of disciplines.
28. How will future commemoration look like in two sentences?
Future commemoration is likely to integrate a blend of physical and digital experiences, incorporating interactive memorials, virtual reality installations, and immersive storytelling to engage audiences in a more dynamic and personalized manner to create multifaceted and inclusive ways of recollecting.
29. Can history be created?
History is commonly understood as a record of past events and developments. While it is generally not considered to be actively created, the interpretation and recording of contemporary events can shape future historical narratives. I believe deliberate actions and events in the present can lay the groundwork for the historical events of the future.
30. What is your biggest inspiration?
The biggest inspiration for me often stems from the seamless integration of artistic expression and cutting-edge technology, fostering an environment that encourages experimentation, innovation, and the limitless possibilities of combining creativity with tech. This fusion allows me to solve complex problems, create unique experiences, and push the boundaries of what’s achievable in the digital realm, motivating them to explore, experiment and envision the future.