'Site Unseen' exhibit offers best of augmented reality work

'Site Unseen' exhibit offers best of augmented reality work

April 13th, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment


• "All Good," various sites, Kristin Anderson, New York.

• "Cuboid," Coolidge Park, Mary Angers, Long Branch, N.J.

• "MLK on MLK," Lindsay Street Hall (west wall), Kevin Bate, Chattanooga.

• "Al," Majestic theater wall (Fourth and Chestnut), Kevin Bate, Chattanooga.

• "35 Degrees," Chattanooga Green (near The Blue Plate), Roberto Bottazzi, London.

• "Stormwater Falls," Main and Broad streets (vacant lot), Matthew Geller, New York.

• "Orange Peels," Coolidge Park, Marek Jacisin, Arlington, Mass.

• "Desktop Public Square," 700 Market St. (vacant lot), Marek Jacisin, Arlington, Mass.

• "It Takes Big Feet to Cross This Street," Georgia Avenue at Martin Luther King Boulevard, Peter Oppenheimer, Seattle.

• "Angle of Descent," Hunter Museum of America Art plaza, Rafe Ropek, Berthoud, Colo.

• "Aluminum Water," Walnut Street Bridge plaza, Tonietta Walters, Lyerly, Ga.


• HUNTER MUSEUM: Among the exhibitions at Hunter Museum of American Art, daily through Sunday, April 22, is "Synchrony: Contemporary Video Work." The video exhibition, created by a mix of emerging and established artists, explores the connections between people and their information screens such as computers, smart phones and televisions. Varying in length from three to 80 minutes, they focus on how society is culturally conditioned to respond to screens and to experience large portions of life through them. Among the pieces is "Fold" by Surabhi Saraf, which, through multiple projections of a repeated act, creates a colorful, mesmerizing, multifaceted and complex view of the mundane activity of folding a piece of fabric.

• AVA GALLERY: "Take Art/Leave Art," a community-based collaborative exhibition, is April 21-28 at the North Shore gallery. The opening reception is 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21.

• CHATTANOOGA STATE: A juried exhibition of work by students in Chattanooga State Community College's Visual Arts Department opens Monday in the C.C. Bond Humanities Building and continues through May 5.

• HARRIS ART CENTER: "New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music," a traveling exhibit that shares the country's story by examining its American music origins, opens Saturday and continues through May 26 at the Calhoun, Ga., venue.

The most recent installations by Public Art Chattanooga may be the best work you've never seen.

But it's not too late to take a look.

"Site Unseen," a collaboration between Public Art Chattanooga and SecondSite and part of HATCH 2012, is an augmented reality outdoor exhibit of 12 3-D sculpture and 2-D model images around downtown and on the North Shore.

In short, with the proper technology, a smart phone or tablet, you can see the images as if they were in the physical realm of the location where you are standing.

"We're very excited about it," said Peggy Townsend of Public Art Chattanooga.

The 12 winning works were chosen from an international juried competition of nearly 40 entries and come from artists in such cities as London, New York, Seattle and Chattanooga.

Taylor McDonald, president and co-founder of SecondSite, said he was delighted at the quality of the entries.

"It's really amazing the different directions that people are thinking in this digital realm," he said. "In that space [using open-source 3-D software], where you're not restricted to the physical, anything can happen."

Townsend said the competition was pulled together quickly for HATCH and may involve a prize in future years.

For the first year, she said, "it was really a nice response. There's somewhat of a learning curve [to the technology], and it may appeal to only a certain kind of artist. We tended to get entries from artists who knew what they were doing."

McDonald said the images were digital mockups of work created in the physical realm or work in progress in the physical realm, or were created wholly on computer programs such as Google Sketchup.

The 12 were selected, he said, not only for their artistic beauty within nature but also for their relevance within the augmented reality space.

Townsend said the exhibit is within Hatch 2012's mission to present the best of history, arts, technology, culture and creative happenings. It unites technology, art and design, she said.

Each of the selected images in the exhibition, she said, initially was assigned a Global Positioning System location.

Now, in order to see the works, smart phone or tablet users can visit any of the sites, check the signage for instructions, scan the QR code and download the application. They'll then be able to hold up the viewer in their device and see the image -- even walking around the 3-D images -- within their physical location.

The technology involved, she said, also will allow viewers to capture the image in a photograph, place themselves in the image or upload images to social media sites such as Facebook.

Townsend said "the thing that made it easy" for Public Art Chattanooga was a grant from the Benwood and Lyndhurst foundations to create a public art app through SecondSite.

As such, not only is the "Site Unseen" exhibition interactive, but the app technology has allowed the organization's more than 100 works of public art throughout Chattanooga to be interactive.

At the site of each piece, smart phone or tablet users can scan QR codes to access input such as sounds, video, graphics or GPS data.

McDonald said the accessible content might include the likes of a video of the artist next to his work or video of the piece being installed.

"It will be bringing that content to your visual experience," he said.

Collaborators believe the now-interactive public art composes the largest collection of augmented sculptures in the world.

"It's thrilling to be part of Chattanooga bringing in cutting-edge technology and playing it in different ways," he said.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.