Augmenting Art: A Vibrant Context for Commercialization

I caught up with REAP Professional and professional artist, Amy Ferrari, and REAP Professional Marco Ferrari to speak to them about their experiences with the emerging technologies at the Felt Lab. Amy’s work has been displayed at REAP on several of the technologies in the Felt Lab: from being a background on a GestureTek Cube, to the virtual gallery, and other interactive technologies. But more than just a content feed, Amy’s work has been used as the genesis of new technological development.

“The first thing was the virtual gallery. I started by providing images and content to show what the technology could do,” explained Amy about her early days at the Lab. The initial idea was to creating a virtual gallery experience using gesture controlled technology (a Kinect camera) and a digital display wall comprised of Christie Digital MicroTiles for creating a new business model for the promotion and sale of arts.

This project gives the viewer a gallery experience with the ability to travel through a gallery space by using gesture, and also view the work displayed in a visual space. This included a development to include a video of Amy accompanying the work. “Once we started to investigate the possibilities of the gallery, we thought it would be great to have a video of me [describing the work] in a box,” Amy explained. The viewer can choose paintings and then obtain additional information about them on an accompanying 5 vertical tile Micro Tile box. “As much as it makes me uncomfortable to see myself in a box, the best part is to have this interactive display where a viewer can see my art, and then watch me talk about my art,” elaborated Amy about the usefulness of this technology.

Having the accompanying video with storytelling has allowed the artist to be present at showings where time, budget or location would have otherwise been a barrier to attendance. The artist can now, even from remote locations, assist in the sale of their work.

Asking Marco about his experience with developing concepts with Felt Lab technology, he described using Augmented Reality (AR) as his focus. “We created morphing between the reference pictures and paintings,” described Marco. “We wanted to use strong images that had a lot of colour. At first we started with landscapes because they were relatable.”

Since creating these augmentations, Amy’s work has been used in building augmented galleries, displayed as showcase pieces at tradeshows, and have even been discussed for use in a storyboard as an “art anywhere” module for display in spaces that would normally be barren of art. “I would put it in lobbies and waiting rooms… Anywhere we suffer from boring environments. People put up decorations. These decorations can be meaningful and interesting,” Amy said about the prospect of turning even a public square into an augmented gallery. Here you can read more about the GIROPTIC 360 Virtual Sensor Technology.

This type of content is critical in the commercialization of digital display technology. “It’s the interplay of the content, with the interactivity, and the display technologies that create the powerful and engaging experience,” explains Dr. David Goodwin, one of the founder of REAP. “Where are you going to find compelling, interesting and challenging content that drives a desire to interact? Art is the third piece of the puzzle.”

In the drive to engage people in interactive digital display, Amy’s art was chosen for some particular properties specific to her work. “Amy’s paintings possess a vibrancy of colour, and a definition in form and line. There is something about them that invites interaction. There is a great power of emotion. It was an obvious fit,” stated Dr. Goodwin.

As for a commercial aspect for this type of technological development, Amy would like to see this technology used to develop a new commerce for her work. “I think it will make the original physical paintings even more special, but would bring art to more people and places and have the ability to subscribe to an artist. Or a group of artists,” Amy explained when considering the concept of royalties for a visual artist for the use of their work in public spaces.

In turn, the commercialization of interactive digital display cannot forge forward with the introduction of compelling and challenging content.

NOTE: To view videos of Amy telling the story behind the paintings, download the AURASMA application to your iPad, iPhone or iPod. Start Aurasma. There is a A icon in the centre at the bottom of the Aurasma screen. Touch the A symbol and it brings up a box. Click on the magnifying glass search icon. Type REAP in the search box. Look for our logo and select it. You are presented with the REAP channel page. Please click on the FOLLOW button in top right corner and verify that it switches to “Following”. At the bottom of that page you can see all the auras that we have activated. Click on the centre icon on the bottom of that box to take you back to the Aurasma viewer. Focus on the painting images above and you can see the video of Amy telling the story of the painting.