(5 Oct 2019) LEAD IN:
There’s one work you can’t see at this year’s Frieze art fair in London, unless you’re looking at a smartphone screen.
The fair has introduced what’s claimed to be its first augmented reality artwork, which can be viewed at specific locations in Regents Park.
Visitors to London’s Regents Park are busily snapping photos of Frieze sculptures. But the artwork being viewed on this smartphone isn’t actually here. It’s digital.
Art studio Acute Art has teamed up with South Korean artist Koo Jeong A to present an augmented reality artwork, among more traditional sculptures.
It’s claimed to be Frieze’s first-ever augmented reality artwork.
AR, as it’s known, mixes digital content with the real world around you using a smart phone camera or special headset.
The technology made a splash during the Pokémon Go craze a few years ago.
“density” looks like a dripping block of ice, suspended in mid-air. To view it, visitors must download an augmented reality app on their smartphone and then get hunting for the works.
“It’s the first time that (an) augmented reality piece enters an art fair. And it’s the first time that it enters the most conventional of venues, a royal park with sculptures,” says Daniel Birnbaum, the director of Acute Art.
“So, it’s of course, you know, maybe it’s a slightly ironic gesture to do it right here. But I think it’s quite beautiful also because if you take a photo of it, it looks 100 percent real. You will not be able to say if the sculpture behind it is the real thing or the ice cube.”
Koo Jeong A’s works are often ephemeral, focusing on seemingly everyday items, which often border on the invisible.
Three editions of the work have been placed around Regents Park.
And, Birnbaum says, the artwork is as easy on the environment as it is on the eye.
“I think it opens great possibilities for art, even maybe for collecting and exhibiting and, you know, it’s interesting that one can do very ambitious things in AR and they will look very convincing,” he says.
“And they have no carbon footprint, they have no shipping costs, they have no insurance value, or I don’t know what we would, you know, maybe the sign itself then. And, you know, in our era I think this is quite important.”
Art critic Estelle Lovatt is impressed.
“You admire all the beautiful three-dimensional works, then you see a little plaque and it says; ‘Scan your smartphone here,’ and you do. And then all of a sudden, whoosh. And there’s this huge, looks like an ice cube, standing in front of you and it’s floating, it’s levitating. It’s like magic,” she says.
Lovatt says, as many people view the worlds through their smartphones, augmented reality art could encourage more people to take an interest in it.
“We are so used to seeing the world through a backlit screen and taking it almost second hand, that if this is the way that people today can enjoy, in inverted commas, sculpture, by the fact that it doesn’t actually exist, then maybe that’s a step to getting them to actually appreciate sculptures in the round,” she says.
Frieze Sculpture Park runs till Sunday 6 October.
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