How can augmented or mixed reality technologies compliment a physical sculpture?
Recent advances in AR/MR technology make it possible to superimpose detailed imagery, or holograms, onto the physical world through the use of specialty headsets like the Magic Leap One and Microsoft Hololens, or even current generation mobile devices like iOS or Android phones.
This technology is still relatively young and most applications are only in beta stage (if that). But it is developing quickly and creating opportunities for exciting new collaborations between physical and digital artists to create new generations of artwork that seamlessly blend the physical with the virtual.
However, with this type of project comes significant hurdles. Some of these are technical. For example, current AR/MR technology is quite good at using static 2D images in the physical environment as “anchors” for digital content like holograms and spatial audio. But what if you need to anchor your digital content to a complex 3D object like a sculpture? What options do you have?
Others are practical. How you show and share work that is part sculpture and part software? What hardware targets are appropriate for the software builds and how many people will have access to them? What types of venues can handle work of this sort?
A mixed reality sculpture project
These are some of the questions and issues I have exploring through a collaboration with the artist Jackie Brown over the past year. While still in the early stage, we are now beginning development of a mixed reality sculpture series. This series will combine physical ceramic objects with an enhanced digital layer developed for and viewable through one or more MR platforms (we are currently experimenting with Android and iOS options such as ARCore, ARKit, and Vuforia).
These interactive works will combine the physical with the virtual, examining our ability to enhance human senses through the use of new technologies. The sculptural forms will appear relatively minimal and static when viewed with the naked eye–even dead and lifeless. However, when viewed through our customized MR application, these forms will come to life as a virtual living system becomes visible on and around them. Our hope is to capture a sense of the complex systems that are lurking all around us but can’t be fully perceived without the use of technology to augment our senses.
We are currently investigating funding sources for development costs, and anticipate the series will be ready to show by the fall of 2020.
More updates to come so stay tuned!