Located at the West End of London are 20 works of art you can’t admire unless you have an augmented reality (AR) mobile application.
Through its consumer initiative Art of London, the non-profit organization Heart of London Business Alliance collaborated with four art-focused groups this year to create an outdoor AR gallery. The gallery showcases art pieces spanning centuries.
The four groups Heart of London Business Alliance collaborated with are the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Sky Arts, and the Royal Academy of Arts.
For viewers to appreciate the art sprawled about the West End, which will all be on display until July 1, they must download a mobile application called Augmented Gallery and scan the numbered images with the Art of London’s sign around them. You can find the app by searching “Art of London AR Gallery,” the official website says.
The images act as the QR code or marker, prompting the artwork to appear. It’s a truly innovative AR art-viewing experience, one that has adapted to the current state of the world and one that will likely persist in the years to come.
What’s the AR Art Event in London All About?
According to its website, this initiative by Heart of London was formed to exhibit “art in every form, 24/7″ proudly. This aim has brought the group to different initiatives in the past, including Scenes in the Square where statues from major films inhabit areas in Leicester Square.
What makes the AR gallery in Art of London different is the level of engagement involved in the experience. Using the Augmented Gallery app, West End passers-by can safely view the pieces and even learn about them through in-app audio commentaries by art curators and comedians, several reports say.
A report by The New York Times says the outdoor gallery “is part of a wider initiative to reposition London’s West End as an arts and culture destination; the normally bustling zone was eerily quiet during the darkest days of the pandemic in the city.”
Everything about the initiative positively encourages art lovers and residents in the area to visit the AR installation. Not only did Art of London ensure the accessibility of the mobile app by making it cost-free, but it also mapped out the trail, leading users from one painting to another.
According to the London Post, users can begin their journey at the National Gallery and end at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, culminating in a nice mile-long stroll.
In a nutshell, Art of London exemplifies the power artists have today to easily showcase their work in public. It’s also telling of augmented reality technology’s power to make this accessible media possible.
How Is AR Shaping the Future of Art?
COVID-19 has drastically hampered the survival and growth of creatives and small businesses relying on gatherings. This holds true for independent creatives in the art field.
More often than not, exhibits are held in enclosed areas. Because of this, artists have fewer means to exhibit their work. And so, compounded by safety protocols discouraging people from visiting indoor public spaces, the problems the art industry faces result in its inability to progress during the pandemic.
However, the Art of London initiative proves there’s a way for creatives to work around the restrictions on gatherings safely. Through AR technology, consumers of art are able to appreciate masterpieces around London differently.
Apart from the new experience, AR technology also introduces new opportunities to the artists themselves. The Augmented Gallery app engages other people’s senses, not limiting their encounter with art to sight.
Particularly for those in the extended reality field, what this means for artists is they can include different forms of media into their work. An artist can use audio commentaries like those in the Art of London. Alternatively, they can animate their paintings to truly bring them to life.
They can also make their art pieces interactive, getting users to actively participate in their work instead of passively consuming it. It’s also possible to gamify these experiences, merging the fields of art and gaming to create an entirely new one.
The pairing of augmented reality with art paves the way for unexplored territory in art creation and consumption to be discovered. Artists can tinker with the endless variations of AR-enabled art, and what they can do right now is learn how to make the best use of this technology.
What Makes Augmented Reality Art Possible Today
Augmented reality is accessible on different kinds of devices, but it’s popularly used on the device we are most familiar with — our phones. Combining the portability of our mobile devices and artificial intelligence capabilities, we can easily view our environment through an AR-powered application and watch as it places digital art where it needs to be.
There are two techniques that enable mobile apps to perform this visual-based AR:
- Marker-based tracking
- Markerless tracking
In the case of Art of London, they made use of marker-based tracking to prompt the paintings to appear. Marker-based tracking uses specific images or markers to signal the application to display an AR asset on the marker’s location.
However, artists can also display their work through markerless tracking, using the environment’s features to prompt their artwork to appear.
The art industry is not the only industry benefiting from AR technology. In fact, the applications of AR are so varied it can be used in other fields. These include healthcare, retail, and even manufacturing.
So explore the possibilities of AR and what it can do for businesses in your specific industry. If you want to know how you can apply AR to your business, check out our blog post on the Top 5 Ways Your Business Can Use Augmented Reality.
For a more in-depth discussion on how augmented reality is shaping the future of art and how AR technology works, check out our blog posts How Will Augmented Reality Change the Future of Art? and How Augmented Reality (AR) Technology Works
The initiative Art of London set up an outdoor gallery at the West End of London displaying several of the most popular, classic paintings from different centuries and decades. But the only way to view these pieces is by using their Augmented Gallery app, which users can find by searching “Art of London AR Gallery” on the app store.
The AR gallery has been available since May 6 this year. But those interested in visiting the outdoor gallery can still drop by the area until July 1.
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