Artistic Explorations in ARt

The second A(ugmented) R(eality) expert meeting focused on artistic issues, and, consequently, the main talks were given by a curator, an artist, and a art school professor.

Introduced by Jan Misker and hosted by Kwela Hermanns, the keynote speakers were Margriet Schavemaker, Julian Oliver, Frans Vogelaar, Carolien Teunisse, facing a very interested and opinionated audience.


Margriet Schavemaker

ARtours initiator and Head of Collections at Stedelijk Museum, considers AR to be a great tool for museums to 'enter the 21st Century.' One aspect is to bring the collected/donated artworks 'back to their origins', another to make them available in public spaces through the organisation of interactive tours.
AR and Art, are for Margriet, quite connected. She argues that modern art was from the beginning about 'augmenting reality', about adding something, layers of information, more dimensions, or re-contextualization, an argument she exemplifies with the Futurists, the Constructivists, the Situationists as well as Van Gogh and Duchamp.
The technology around AR means smartphones, googles, 3D Games, TV and films, all of which attempt immersion or fusion, ultimately dreaming about a seamless interface or a bionic eye of sorts. What can artists then do with this technology (if they are not resisting it)? Her conclusion from a museum perspective connects with Lev Manovich's The Poetics of Augmented Space (2002 and 2005); and as an enthusiast about the technology, she suggest to 'cherish analog AR(t)' and to 'experiment with the technique.'


Julian Oliver

artist and known for his project Artvertiser, sees the purpose of AR in 'improving reality.' For artists specifically, a 'state of play' is appropriate. He presented several of his projects to make the point, such as Levelhead  - a memory game where you move your character through three, progressively more difficult cubes. The Artvertiser is an exhibition platform for art in urban settings, a technology that reads an existing advertisement or product placement, and re-places it with an artwork (which likely is archival rather then live footage).

Julian's talk was structured around different marker technologies (their pros and cons), fiducial, digital compass, and natural feature or planar image tracking. Since most of these are proprietary softwares, and most of the programming (of vision-based AR) extremely difficult, he proposes to collaborate on an alternative Open Source toolkit for AR. Julian talked about the next steps for independent AR development, which for him is essentially is about sharing code.


Frans Vogelaar

from the Hybrid Space Lab and the KHM, presented projects from both. His focus was on the 'hybrid net', a combination between the internet and the 'internet of things'. Tracing back to the end of the 80s, he gave examples and results of design thinking, part of an architectural practice/brainstorming, where 'the right to broadcast' foresaw youtopia and social networks. Frans presented several, synthetic projects that attempted to design a hybrid - that is digital, virtual and real world. This includes cognitive architecture, idensities, or (real) exhibition spaces where the content will be produced by its visitors.


Carolien Teunisse

ended the presentations, introducing the database Augmented Reality Archive for art works, which she had helped build at V2_. This database, which contains detailed information on several aspects of artworks, will be translated for the web, and published online later this summer.



As a results of the talks, or maybe from the very beginning, the audience presented certain principal concerns on AR: Why (do we want to augment reality)? What defines an AR artist? Is AR even the appropriate terminology?

The AR - Archive connection was felt strongly, since most AR applications draw on archived material for re-usage into and superimposition onto ordinary reality. In this sense, how can media add to the physicality of space (and maybe extend into time?), and how does it improve artistic works?

For some, AR is about taking V(irtual) R(eality) into real life; for others, it is a 'toy' that requires a critical perspective. Some wonder about its social media aspect, in terms of whether AR can be the 'new commons' and how? In any case, there is a considerable difference between commercial and artistic AR, specially in terms of funding and the lack of open source software - something Julian Oliver is working on.




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