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When the artwork is in augmented reality

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We are striding towards a world in which digital is definitively superimposed on physical reality that surrounds us.

This is also demonstrated by the fact that giants of the likes of Facebook, Apple and others are more or less all betting on augmented reality headsets, intended in their intentions to replace the smartphone as a communication tool Basic. At that point, we will see the Google Maps directions projected directly onto the asphalt, while and instructions for assembling a piece of furniture will be digitally displayed inside.

But it will not only be the more practical aspects of our lives that will change: art is also being influenced by augmented reality, which allows us to create digital works integrated into the physical world. One of the most recent examples is Like Beauty in Flames, the installation in Ar (the acronym stands for Augmented Reality) created for the Guggenheim in Bilbao by Jenny Holzer, neo-conceptual artist famous for i truismi, short phrases displayed on Led panels and protagonists of many of his most famous installations.


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While waiting for the Ar viewers to spread, to admire Holzer’s new augmented reality work, simply download an app (available for iOS e per Android) with which to frame the Guggenheim and see the truisms of the American artist who digitally cover the external walls of the museum, written in English, French, Spanish and Basque. The augmented reality projections appear on the facade in a different way depending on the observation point chosen by the visitor, among the 5 arranged around the museum.

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Instead, a digital version of the Led panels characteristic of the conceptual artist’s work, creating a column in augmented reality (on which the truisms appear) that moves, wraps around itself and writhes. Again, the experience is different on each of the 3 floors of the museum, modifying the interaction with the architecture based on the point of view of the beholder.

It’s not over, because Like Beauty in Flames (the title comes from poetry Beauty Dies by the Polish Anna Swirszczynska) is also visible wherever you are in the world: after downloading the app, you can project truisms anywhere through the smartphone camera, making them emerge from the house walls or placing them in the open air (finding them in their place every time you pass by).

These are only the first examples, in some ways still pioneering, of the potential of a technology that is fascinating an increasing number of artists and that’s fast also modifying the traditional experience of visits to the museum. And which, above all, seems to have all the credentials to change once again the way we interact with the environment that surrounds us.


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