Art Spaces steps into augmented reality

·3 min read

May 26—An augmented reality project in Terre Haute combines Art Spaces public sculptures with new, digital pieces created by 10 international artists.

InterPlaces, curated by Indiana State University professor Sala Wong, launched Wednesday at the ISU Foundation; it had to move indoors due to rain.

Augmented reality is the term used to describe an enhanced view of real life by overlaying computer-generated content.

The artists involved in the project drew their inspiration from Art Spaces sculptures and created their own, digital art work that is visible through viewers' smart phones. Eight can be accessed through the free app Blippar, and two using a QR code.

"It's unique for us in that we have not yet strayed into the digital world as Art Spaces," said Mary Kramer, Arts Spaces executive director.

Wong, who is from Hong Kong and has lived in many countries, has worked in the digital realm for much of her career.

Art Spaces provided some support to Wong, but she did most of the work and found the artists, who created their own pieces.

Kramer described InterPlaces as an "added reality." The sculpture doesn't change, but when people use their phone app or QR code, "A new experience occurs," she said.

Signs are posted at eight Art Spaces sculptures, and all 10 will be complete by June 5. After June 5, all of the augmented reality works will also be available through the Art Spaces website.

During Wednesday's launch, those who attended could access the augmented reality projects through posters.

"We've never done this before," Kramer said. "It's a really cool way of providing people with new, exciting experiences and seeing a sculpture in a different way ... We like that."

There is another benefit. With the artists having international connections, "Our work is now known more throughout the world," Kramer said.

Wong was one of the participating artists, and she based her work from the downtown sculpture, Urban Flowers, located on South Seventh Street. She frequently walks by it.

In her virtual artwork, flowers come shooting out, almost like fireworks. She views it as a celebration of life and downtown.

Wong hopes it makes people happy and "they forget about all their troubles," she said.

Wong believes it's important for people to visit the actual sculpture for viewers to get the full experience. The virtual world is incorporated into the real world sculpture.

"They co-exist with eachother. They cannot do without eachother," Wong said.

While the pandemic caused isolation, "This project is connecting different artists from around the world," she said.

The artists have "traveled" virtually to Terre Haute to visit sculptures here and they responded by making their own virtual art.

The artistic partnership Genetic Moo based their project on the Our River-Our Future sculpture in front of ISU's College of Health and Human Services. Called "Wave," the augmented reality work features animated waves of villi with accompanying sound.

Art Feinsod created a virtual piece based on the Max Ehrmann at the Crossroads sculpture.

His augmented reality piece includes a poem that he wrote in which the stationary Ehrmann longs for liberation from his seat on the bench at Seventh and Wabash.

It ends on an upbeat note with a virtual yellow bird landing on the sculpture's shoulder. ISU art student Ethan Newport created the digital bird.

Wong hopes that InterPlaces "will be a fun experience and will shed some new light on Terre Haute as a beautiful place with a rich history that can be appreciated by anyone, anywhere in the world."

InterPlaces will continue through May 2023 and has been supported in part by a grant from the University Arts Endowment Committee at ISU.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.