Augmented Reality, Spook Country & A Future Canvas For Fine Art

As many of you know, I'm the product of two amazing artists: Morris Mitchell and Fran Schroeder. You could say that I was bred to be in the creative world. Both parents went to Ringling School (now College) of Art & Design as students, and subsequently taught as professors there. My father retired after forty-two years. So to say that I've seen an art show or two would be nothing short of an understatement. Most of that time was spent viewing (or as a kid, complaining about viewing) fine art. Having been taken to some of the worlds finest gallery's, countless retrospective and endless local openings. This is the stuff that many see, few internalize and fewer still can afford. With that being said, I've found a kinship with fine art. So much so that my wife still likes to tease me about the first time I walked into the Metropolitan's permanent collection of Van Gogh I began to cry – pussy.

Some of the things that I'm drawn to know are styles of fine art that are digitally motivated, kinetically motivated or environmentally motivated -- such as installation work. While it can be said for most of John Q. public, "I don't know art, but I know what I like," artists just need to except that people will adopt, motivate and ideally embrace work as they see fit. So it should come as no surprise that most fine artwork is typically never seen. Well, this may very well be the future of some digital art.

You hear me talk about books I'm reading and you think of me in a smoking jacket (and nothing more), maybe an ascot, a faithful hound, pipe, orange felt slippery bought off the coast of some small fishing village and a wall of contemporary prose. While I agree that is a fine thought, the fact is I'm mildly insane and can't keep focused for more than, say, five pages in a traditional book before I've drifted off into a sea of unrelated thoughts. However, I've found great success with audio books, of which I've read (listened to – whatever semantics! they still cost too much) countless times. With that being said, my most recent obsession has been that of William Gibson and his uncanny ability to prognosticate not just the possible future, but the alternative interpretation of the present day. With that being said, "Spook Country" has in it's pages the message of augmented reality as a canvas for artists to interpret. This marvelous vision has inspired me to think that not only is this a fantastic and realistic idea, but it's only a matter of time.

As an artist, I'm obsessively looking at this medium as the final frontier. Here, I can make the world around me look, feel and be anything I want it to be. But the devil on my shoulder is that of the professional advertiser that can see the same value in all that untapped canvas, prime for branding.

Realistically, all of this conversation is a few years away, but not like decades. Technology and, more importantly, adoption and usage of new technology is growing faster than at any point in the past. This is good and bad as only a half a dozen years ago, if you found a sound technology, you were more apt to keep and use it religiously. Not now, not ever. Technology from here on out is as disposable as trends. We'll begin to see technology as trendy. "OMG, can you believe he still uses "MySpace?" So with knowing that we're going to be a nation of the BBD (bigger, better, deal), augmented reality allows the playing field to be vastly different. True space does not care how you look at it, or with what app/visual-browser. Trend gone. The context will be how the space is used. Below, you will find an amazing TED presentation regarding replacing advertising with art within the augmented reality space. The same can be said be said for ideas like physical storytelling and artwork --actually allowing your environment to be interpreted within the vision of artists, advertisers, storytellers and simulations. And this is not falling on the shoulders of oversized helmets and wire-strung glasses that will need to be warn constantly. This will be mobile, casual and interpretive from one user to another.

When I use the word infancy, I do so saying that this platform has endless growth possibilities and has not even scratched the surface of its potential.

Currently available dominant augmented reality browsers for your primary smart-phones:
Acrossair
Layar
• Wikitude

Augmented Reality Gaming:
Sekai Camera
GraffitiGeo

Collection of related links on Augmented Reality as it pertains to its use by artists:

  • http://www.laboralcentrodearte.org/ (See English version within the navigation)
  • Clara Boj and Diego Diaz (Murcia, 1975) combine their artistic activity in solitaire with projects in collaboration since year 2000. Its work is mainly centered in the observation of the public space and the diverse transformations (architectonic, technological, functional, social, …) resultants of the incorporation of the new technologies to the space of the routine character, from which they generate facilities that combine physical and virtual qualities to try to generate bows of continuity between the old ones and the new forms of social relation, between old and the new spaces of communication.
  • The Artvertiser is an urban, hand-held Augmented Reality Improved Reality project that re-purposes street advertisements as a surface for exhibiting art.

Julian Oliver - TEDxRotterdam 2010 from TEDxRotterdam on Vimeo.

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