Creativity Bytes: A Brief Guide To Augmented Reality Art Exhibits

<p>Read this and sound like an expert. Well, sort of.</p>

Mar 9 2011, 7:24pm

Here’s a quick reference guide that will seek to explain the trends, terms, and movements of the brave new media world of art and technology. So you can skim, digest, and be a pseudo-expert next time you’re cornered at a Speed Show exhibition in your local cybercafe. Because, hey, life is short and art long. This week: Augmented reality art exhibits.

So, what are augmented reality art exhibits?
Exhibitions that utilize overlayed realities as part of the experience, usually taking the form of a mixed reality which blends the physical and augmented environments. These exhibits can take two forms, the commissioned type and the unsanctioned guerrilla attacks which infiltrate galleries or public spaces to showcase AR art. The exhibits can use projection mapping, like in augmented sculptures, or utilize smartphones as a looking glass through which reality is altered.

Where did it come from?
The use of augmented reality in exhibition spaces is an emerging field, just beginning to take form and experiencing an experimental sandbox phase. AR artist Helen Papagiannis merges old techniques with new as she mingles the real with the virtual. While artist Pablo Valbuena has been layering projected realities onto objects with his Augmented Sculpture series since 2007. And then there’s the virtual reality hackers like global cyberartist group Manifest.AR whose members arranged the DIY AR invasion of MoMA last year—their hijacking of the physical realm via virtual technologies may seem entirely newfangled, but they have lineage with cross-disciplinary art groups like Neo-Dadaists Fluxus.

Pablo Valbuena’s Tron-like augmented sculpture.

This week you're really digging…
Sander Veenhof’s Biggâr, the world’s largest interactive AR sculpture which grows one virtual meter a day out into the universe and has been viewed in over 100 countries. It covers the earth with 7,463,185,678 virtual blocks whose color you can change in their entirety using the Layar app on your smartphone.

Nano talk
Helen Papagiannis sees it as a medium in its infancy, likening it to the beginning of film when Georges Méliès was wowing audiences with nothing more than the locomotion of a train, so too do AR exhibits look rudimentary. In June, head to the Venice Biennial 2011, not for any of the actual exhibits, but for Manifest.AR’s construction of a virtual pavilion in the giardini using AR architecture to display augmented artworks.

Describe yourself as…
A pan-dimensional artist.

Augment, projection, real-time, data, reality, spacial, smartphone, mixed, virtual, environment.

The ever expanding augmented reality sculpture Biggâr.

Difficulty level

Age range
From real to virtual.

Mine’s a reality cocktail.

To recap: The future will be projected through the window of engineered glass where the virtual and physical coexist.

Next week: Architectural projection mapping.