A couple weeks ago, I attended “Seeing the Invisible.” It was an outdoor augmented reality (AR) art event at the botanical gardens near my house. To view the exhibits, I needed a:
special app I downloaded
fully charged phone
strong internet connection
my GPS signal turned on
Armed with my AR toolkit, I followed the map indicated on the app to the exhibits. When I arrived at the exhibit location, my phone received a message “Artwork Established.” Once connected, I scanned the ground to build the AR field. Within seconds, the artwork appeared on my phone in what looked like an empty space.
Signs indicated the exhibit’s location. However, I always knew an exhibit was coming up when I noticed a group of people looking intently at their devices while wandering around somewhat aimlessly. At times, other people walked through my view of the exhibit, which only added another dimension to the artwork.
The exhibits were all different and unique in their own ways. Some were interactive with spaces you could “walk” into and explore. One exhibit shattered apart and the broken pieces started moving. Other exhibits had moving parts and were constantly changing. Some had audio and some didn’t. One exhibit was so large I had to walk back about 50 feet to view the whole thing from my phone.
Here’s one of my favorites with my own embellishment. This particular exhibit was enormous. I could walk around to see it in 3D, plus it had a cool cave to explore.
At the end, I couldn’t decide if I enjoyed it more as an augmented reality event than I would have if I were viewing a tangible, concrete object instead. Then I wondered if I even needed to compare the two. Each type of art offers its own benefits. I really enjoyed the ethereal nature of the AR artwork and the way it blended with, or sometimes enhanced, the background scenery. Yet, at the same time, I would have appreciated being able to sense the weight and presence for some of the artworks.