The latest place to see cutting-edge contemporary art? Your local Apple store. New York’s New Museum has teamed up with the tech giant to create experiential augmented reality artworks by an all-star cast of talent including Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller, and Pipilotti Rist. Any customer can walk into an Apple store, take out their phone, and use an app to explore one of the works, or sign up for a tour to get the full experience with a loaner iPhone.
“The New Museum has always led at the intersection of art and tech, and we could not have asked for a better partner in Apple to support the fantastic visions of these pioneering artists,” said New Museum director Lisa Phillips in a statement. “Augmented reality is a medium ripe for dynamic and visual storytelling that can extend an artist’s practice beyond the studio or the gallery and into the urban fabric.”
Phillips and the museum’s artistic director, Massimiliano Gioni, selected the participating artists with an eye toward practices that lent themselves toward this new technology. The new so-called AR[T] initiative is part of an ongoing creative and educational program series, which also offers free classes where the public can learn the basics to coding their own AR experiences.
Starting August 10, customers can walk into any Apple store worldwide and use the [AR]T Viewer app to see Amass, a new interactive augmented reality piece by Cave that slowly fills the surrounding room with glittering “Ikon Elements” that seem to hang in the air, multiplying as you look around the space. Each time you open the AR experience, it responds to the viewer’s movements, allowing the “Ikon Elements” to populate differently every time.
And at select stores in six cities around the world—San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo—the public can also sign up to go on the [AR]T Walk co-curated with New Museum.
Each artist has adapted their VR creation to fit the surrounding environs of each city, whether that’s artworks floating above Grand Army Plaza in New York’s Central Park or Trafalgar Square in London—and even in a single city, the work will appear slightly different each time, as the background of the real world is constantly in flux.
The [AR]T Walk sessions will last 90 minutes to two hours and be open to ten guests, who will each be temporarily furnished with an iPhone and headphones before being led out into the world to see the AR artworks in the wild. And unlike many AR pieces—think Jeff Koons’s collaboration with Kickstarter—these aren’t just static images superimposed against the world. Each piece must be actively experienced, whether you’re stepping into a portal to Höller’s Through, which envisions a black and white world without perspective, or chasing the shimmering elusive form of Rist’s International Liquid Finger Prayer.
“The [AR]T initiative was conceived as a new form of public art, to be experienced as part of a city’s urban fabric,” Karen Wong, the New Museum’s deputy director, told artnet News. “It was a wonderful experience to work with the Apple team. They always privileged the artist’s vision first and foremost. The artists were intrigued by the possibilities of augmented reality, and ultimately excited to explore and master a new medium. It was a very intense process overall, with a great deal of invention.”
And if you’re inspired to learn more about how AR works, Sarah Rothberg, a New York artist and educator who is a member of the New Museum’s art and tech incubator, NEW INC, has partnered with Apple to create a lesson on the new technology. The 90-minute [AR]T Lab, which will be free at all Apple stores, teaches the basics of creating AR using the programming language Swift. You can also try it from home, using the free Swift Playgrounds app.
And don’t be surprised if you see more AR at the New Museum soon. “A number of artists and designers based at NEW INC have been doing some extraordinary work with AR and mixed reality,” said Wong. “We’re excited to see how artists continue to explore the medium in the years ahead.”
See more images of the artworks from the [AR]T Walks below.
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