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Augmented Reality in Museums: a new way to see art

February 26, 2011

Student assignment by Elisabetta Cibò

Augmented Reality Example

Augmented reality (AR) is when you view the real world through the lens of a computer camera that has altered the world by adding computer generated affects. Here are some recent examples of the use of that technology, starting with car manufacturers and then moving into museums.

Mini Cooper used  Augmented reality to promote their new line of mini coopers in early 2009. The company bought the back cover of a car magazine and used AR to show off the new models. In that page there was a symbol along with instructions to go to a certain website and to use AR through a simple webcam. After a few steps, people could see the new Mini Cooper in their computer: a 3-D image showing all perspectives, letting them turn it around, like it was a real object in front of them. This is an innovative way of promoting cars with new technology and user initiated experience, and besides it’s a very fun, creative and intelligent way to catch the customers attention.

A very interesting example of using AR in the art world is the exhibition that Sander Veenhof and Mark Skwarek organized for the MoMA in New York from the 9th of October 2010: they decided to take advantage of the Augmented reality to create a virtual exhibition of digital works. By downloading the application called Layar on an iPhone or Android devices, people could view the museum through virtual holograms. They were able to see art works that were not physically present and this included 2-D, 3-D images and animations that were created by the artists: a new way to see the art world with modern technology.

The Getty Museum found a way to show off and explore a piece of art in a museum, without really touching it, but through the AR, just using the internet and a computer’s webcam with a printed out AR symbol. By rotating and swaying the AR symbol, the artwork will spin 360 degrees.

In the future, it would be very interesting and creative to organize an exhibition where people can choose their favorite objects (like a sculpture or any artwork) and “take them home”. Visitors could take pieces of paper that through the symbols represent various artworks, and later log on to the internet to view the masterpieces again in the comfort of their own homes. Viewing the images on the computer will recreate the experience of seeing the artwork without the lines or other people. This would also be a great way to show friends art and encourage them to visit the exhibit and create a personal and interactive gallery.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 8:28 am

    Nota bene – the exhibit in the Moma was a guerrilla art installment, the museum itself didn’t organize it. I was just reading about this in Jim Richardson’s blog, and he reflects about the possible extensions of this technology. One interesting idea he notes is this:
    “And perhaps AR can liberate objects too. The Stedelijk Museum’s head of collections Margriet Schavemaker noted at the 2010 Tate Handheld Conference that objects in a museum collection are permanently removed from their original contexts and placed instead inside a ‘white cube’. But AR has the power to return them. In theory, the collection of the ‘augmented museum’ could be geographically and spatially boundless, with objects appearing at relevant locations in the real-world by using an AR overlay.”
    Nice idea.

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