Augmented Reality: Three Ways AR Is Transforming The Arts

Right now there are over 2.5billion smartphone users in the world. Mobile technology is becoming an integral part of our lives, with many of these devices already capable of providing augmented reality (AR) experiences.

AR is already being used by forward thinking brands in the space of retail and marketing, as shown in our article ‘10 Best Uses of Augmented Reality in Marketing’. But did you know AR is being used in the world of the arts?

When we think of the arts, we tend to associate it with visiting an art gallery or taking a trip to a theatre. But when augmented reality and art collide, it opens up new artistic possibilities. This is not just to enhance a visitors experience but also to free the art from the confines of a gallery, subsequently reaching a whole new audience.

Here just a few examples of why AR arts is such an exciting space:


David Bowie is virtual

If you missed the ‘David Bowie Is’ museum exhibition, fortunately the show isn’t over. You can still experience it, but this time virtually! The David Bowie Archive, Sony Music Entertainment, Planeta and the Victoria & Albert Museum have announced that they will release a digital version of the exhibition at the V&A in the near future. This will be as an AR arts experience on smartphones and also in VR. The experience will be filled with audio-visual spaces, showcasing 3D scans of Bowie’s artifacts and iconic work. You might even be able to virtually step into one of his legendary outfits! Furthermore, bringing this exhibition into a virtual space will allow the audience to engage with Bowie’s influential work in a new way and we’re excited to try it!


AR dance experience

We, at Mbryonic have developed ‘0AR’ for AΦE, an Ashford-based dance company that aims to create high-quality productions and experiences that are not bound by a stage. Through augmented reality, this unique experience transforms the way we see and interact with dance.

0AR is inspired by the dance performance Zero Degrees, premiered at Sadler’s Wells back in 2005. This is a collaboration between dancers Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi, sculptor Antony Gormley and composer Nitin Sawhney. It follows Akram and Larbi on a journey to seek the reference point, the source ‘0’ at life’s core. Inspired by their own dual identities, they search for this middle point through polar opposites, becoming/death, light/dark and chaos/order.

In the AR arts experience, 0AR, the audience watch adapted motion-captured performances via an iPad. It reveals virtual dancers moving around as they overlay on the real environment. The dancers additionally change form throughout the narrative, shifting between different states, which the audience explore and interact with. As the audience member’s devices connect to each other wirelessly, their actions have a unique influence on the piece, transforming the work into a communal experience.

The experience will be previewed at the 18th International Dance Biennale in Lyon in September. If you’re unable to attend but still curious to try out the app, luckily you still can. In October 0AR will also be on display at Sadlers Wells Theatre in London. To stay up to date with all our events, and other AR arts experiences we’ve created, follow us on twitter!


MoMAR Gallery

Moreover, museums are transforming into a digital playground through AR arts experiences. For instance, eight Internet artists created their own digital art gallery called “Hello, We’re From The Internet”. Based in The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the artists brought the unique paintings of Jackson Pollock to life. The paintings became virtual art pieces after audiences downloaded and used the MoMAR Gallery App on their smartphones, resulting in graphics, GIFS and interactive games being overplayed above the original artworks. Visuals included a loading progress bar stating “repairing garbage”, psychedelic optical illusions and skeletons climbing paintings to name a few. These digital illustrations were produced as a statement against the elitist nature and exclusivity of the museum, aiming to “democratize physical exhibition spaces, museums and the curation of art within them”. The augmented reality app is additionally available in the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Hopefully we’ve increased your appetite for just some of the creative possibilities of AR in the Arts and Culture space. What’s great is that anyone with a smartphone can engage with the arts in new exciting ways. If you are interested in learning more about this technology then don’t hesitate to get in touch!


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