WHAT IS AR?
Though it is still being developed both as technology and as a medium, AR is becoming a hot item for creators, especially as cell phones become more powerful and more ubiquitous. AR stands for Augmented Reality and is also known as Mixed Reality and Computer Mediated Reality. It is a way to portray and experience reality in new ways, where technology is used to augment or alter a user’s perception of real-world objects and locations. Augmented Reality usually involves a combination of real and virtual (ie computer generated) worlds, some kind of real-time interactivity, and accurate 3-dimensional portrayal of real and computer objects. Note that AR can address several senses: visual, auditory, haptic and other touch sensations and even olfactory.
While AR is related to Virtual Reality (VR), the main difference can be said that Virtual Reality aspires to create whole and entire environments for users to immerse themselves into, interact with and experience, while AR seeks to find interesting blends of the real and virtual. In sense, VR seeks to remove the participant from reality and place them into a virtual experience. AR seeks to add to the users experience of reality. VR often uses specialty equipment to immerse the user into the experience, while many AR experiences are now more and more easily shared through cell phones.
SOME NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF AR IN MEDIA ART AND THINGS TO INSPIRE:
AR is used in various sectors of society, such as Heads Up Display overlays for pilots, or for relaying medical data on a camera feed during a remote operation. AR is also being used in traditional art galleries and museums to provide an enriched experience, whereby using an app on a phone can provide informational overlays when the phone’s camera is pointed at particular exhibition or used in a specific location. However, the potential of AR in artistic work is vast.
Some artists and galleries have used AR to create an added experience to a pre-existing work of art
This is framework used by various artists to create AR overlays of static visual art that animate the artwork, such as a view of the Mona Lisa that allows for the eponymous figure to wink at the viewer.
Sometimes AR is used to create a sort of “hidden” virtual art exhibition within a gallery space, visible when using a particular technology or app on one’s phone to look an otherwise ordinary or even empty room
Quote from ArtNOME:
“MoMAR uses Augmented Reality to overlay art onto existing artwork and frames housed in museums and gallery spaces around the world. Downloading the MoMAR app, visitors hold their phones over specified frames and spaces in order to view alternate artwork, and MoMAR exhibits.”
Locative art can be seen as a sort of AR. This is art that uses the geo-locating capabilities of technologies to encode digital art tied to a specific geographical location, that can only be viewed at that location.
Yesterscape is a project with an associated app for phones that seeks to tie photos taken in a particular location to that location. A person can take photos and encode them to that location and the next time they pass that location, a notification lets them know that there is a photo they can view. Efforts are being made to gain access from government agencies, libraries and other organizations to collections of photographs of specific locations throughout history. The idea is that it may be possible to look through a time tunnel of sorts to see the visual history of a place.
(From AGO website:
“[murmur] is a documentary oral history project that records stories and memories told about specific geographic locations. In each of these locations there is a [murmur] sign with a phone number on it that anyone can call to listen to a story while experiencing being right where the story takes place.”
Games are also using AR technology more and more, allowing for some of the game play to take place in the real world.
Notable commercial games include Pokemon GO and Jurassic World Alive.
There are other games that can be seen more as conceptual art.
Can You See Me Now? By Blast Theory
Blast Theory created several interactive games-as-art-experience, including this one, where players playing online in a virtual representation of a city are playing with actual people running through that city in real life.
Live performances incorporating AR are also becoming possible.
Bastille at New Station
EE promoted the launch of their 5g network in England with a live AR performance event by the band Bastille at New Station in Birmingham.
BASIC TOOLS (APPS AND SOFTWARE THAT ONE CAN DOWNLOAD AND USE)
This software to allow you to “hang” art on your walls
Create a virtual art gallery in your own home:
The Overly app allows for creation of AR experiences using a subscription-based model
This app allows one to leave virtual messages, images and hand-drawn sketches on walls and other parts of a particular location. Tags can be shared with friends and colleagues so that when they go to that location and view it with the app, they can see what you’ve left behind.
This app allows you to draw scenes superimposed upon real-life input from your phone’s camera.
There are other apps that one can explore:
Waazy (allows for insertion of virtual objects in a cell phone camera feed)
uMake (allows for insertion of virtual objects in a cell phone camera feed)
World Brush (allows for insertion of virtual objects in a cell phone camera feed)
Superpaint (allows for insertion of virtual graffiti in a cell phone camera feed)
Inkhunter (allows for one to try out virtual tattoos on one’s person)
And here is a list of even more AR-related apps:
ADVANCED TOOLS (OFTEN INVOLVING SOME KNOWLEDGE OF DESIGN AND/OR CODING/PROGRAMMING)
Abode’s offering for creating AR experiences
RealityKit and RealityComposer
Allows for the creation of AR experiences for Apple devices using SWIFT
Commercial software to create AR experiences
AR.js is a lightweight library for Augmented Reality on the Web, coming with features like Image Tracking, Location-based AR and Marker tracking.
An experimental browser for Android that lets developers create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences using web technologies.
An experimental app for iOS that lets developers create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences using web technologies.
A library of tools for use with WebARonARKit and WebARonARCore
A framework to use in creating AR-oriented apps, including ones that use geolocation.
A tool for adding AR experiences to browsers
Other tools and resources can be found in these articles:
TO LEARN AND EXPLORE MORE
Forbes Magazine shared some of the top picks for AR projects from 2019
Some more examples of locative art.
A museum devoted to Locative Art. Note that they do warn that many projects no longer exist, and that there are broken links even within their catalog. Still, it is interesting to browse to get an idea of the scope of what has been done before.
Some AR-Based games:
AR Social Media
Artists using AR in storytelling
Artists Advancing AR
AR as new medium and art display
Small Stage Digital Dance
"Glasses" Photo by Bram Van Oost.