Wednesday, February 20, 2013

AR(T) Attack

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.” – Harmon

Defenders of street art have always maintained that graffiti creates art where once there was nothing. Graffiti artists covert bare concrete walls into a canvas for self-expression.

The very nature of street art itself goes against what comes to mind when we think of a show in a gallery; white walls, white box, bad wine. Graffiti is an installation in a public space with complete freedom for interpretation. There is no pretension or intimidation in comprehending street art, for the most part, it is what it is. You get it, the artists get it, your cousin gets it. It is art for the masses.

In a way, recent developments in augmented reality have been imitating this passion for creating a layer on a tangible space, only they’re doing it digitally. AR allows us to create a different dimension, one seen with a different kind of lens. After working on a creative project for Bell at the Montreal Jazz Festival I got to wondering what other ways art, specifically street art, and AR could merge to create something bigger than either could have done independently.

Live Graffiti at Montreal Jazz Festival from Merchlar on Vimeo.

First stop, Miami, current North American epicenter for low-brow and graffiti artists. AR was put in action at the Art Basel event in Miami in 2012.  Five murals were digitally augmented with a similar technology to ours- a smartphone recognized the completed piece and expanded on it in a digital layer. One use of this that especially blows my mind was the use of AR with the Shepard Fairey mural that was recently painted over. AR allows visitors, with the proper technology, to view the wall as it once was, preserving an art form that was once limited to days or months to years and years.

Heavy Projects

AR also has the ability to lift this artform to places it has not yet been able to go, simply because the tools do not exist. Not only could artists use tools to sketch and plan their artworks but they can go beyond traditional still paintings. With AR and the right application an artist could create an animation or film at home and attach it to a wall. The art itself could move or launch into a film from which a still was painted. This could be moved to galleries even, where multiple animations or films often compete for space, and give each member of the audience a personal connection to the work.

Interaction with the art itself also soon becomes a possibility, artists can create applications that make their art interactive without actually touching the artwork. Allowing for constant personal experiences and the piece itself stays in one piece. A sculptural installation could be flipped around a room or distorted. Video pieces could have different possibilities for sound, picture. As part of a larger group project multiple people could make changes on an AR level and each piece be shown as an individual's interpretation, the possibilities are truly endless.

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