Now you see the art. Not now.

On a steamy June afternoon, Emma Enderby, chief curator of The Shed, and Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art, walked side by side among their respective bailiwicks on the West Side of Manhattan, tracing the configuration of his first collaborative exhibition.

They were exulting.

“No overnight installation,” Alemani said. “There are no cranes. That is the best.”

Nothing would be decided until just before the inauguration. “We didn’t have to think about engineering or weight loads,” Enderby said. “You can have a quiet day putting them on.”

The exhibition, “The mirror”, which runs from Saturday to August 29, is an exhibition in which all “them”, the sculptures in view, are virtual, they exist only in augmented reality or AR

Using an app developed by Acute Art, a London-based digital art organization, a viewer can point a phone at a QR code displayed on one of the sites, indicating where an artwork is ‘hidden’ virtual. The code activates a specific sculpture to appear on the viewer’s camera screen, superimposed on the surroundings. (Unlike virtual reality, or VR, in which a viewer uses a device, such as glasses, AR does not require full immersion.) Most of the virtual art will be placed in the plaza surrounding the shed, on West 30th Street at 11th Avenue. , complemented by three locations on the nearby High Line.

Acute Art is supervised by the exhibition’s third curator, Daniel Birnbaum, who, due to the pandemic, was only able to be present remotely. “The Looking Glass” is an updated and expanded reprise of another sharp art exhibition, “Unreal City,” which opened on London’s South Bank last year and then, in the face of new lockdown precautions, resurfaced within a month in home. version. A teaser, featuring three of the artists from “The Looking Glass,” was featured last month on Frieze New York at the Shed.

“There is something charming about it being secret or not fully visible,” Birnbaum said in a telephone interview. “It’s a totally invisible show until you start talking about it.”

If “The Mirror” doubles the sensation of Pokémon Go in 2016-2017, the search will be as exciting as the find. While the title of the London iteration alluded to TS Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” in New York, the show gets its name from Lewis Carroll. “In today’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the phone is the new rabbit hole,” Enderby said.

Birnbaum, a respected curator who was director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm for eight years before leaving to direct Acute Art, featured 11 artists, including household names, Olafur Eliasson and KAWS, and art world favorites such as Precious Okoyomon. . , winner of the Frieze Artist Award 2021, Cao Fei, Nina Chanel Abney, Koo Jeong A and Julie Curtiss. Some of his works develop over time and incorporate sound, while others are as immutable as traditional sculptures.

Freed from the pedestals, they can take on new meaning from their unconventional contexts. Abney’s piece, “Imaginary Friend,” is a floating, bearded black man in high-top sneakers and striped socks, reading a book, with a halo around his head. “He’s a Black Jesus, I guess,” Birnbaum said. He noted that it would have a different impact if he appeared at a political rally in Washington rather than on the High Line.

Eliasson, whose “Rainbow” in 2017 was a pioneering work of art in virtual reality, contributed a group of five pieces, to a series collectively titled “Wunderkammer”: a buzzing ladybug, a floating rock, a cloud, a sun and a group of flowers. pushing up through the pavement.

“Very often, these digitized platforms are presented to us as the opposite of reality, but I saw it as an extension of reality,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am a very analog artist, interested in mixing mind and body, and my first thought is, ‘This is taking your body away.’ It seems escapism and open to hedonism. ” On reflection, however, he concluded that since people are tethered to their phones, his goal would be to reach them through the device in ways that are “sensitizing” rather than “numbing.”

“Maybe we can send a message to the phones that the world is amazing,” he said. “As for what I hope to achieve, in what remains of the public space, and the High Line is a good example, there is the potential of the imaginary, the unexpected encounter, the encounter with someone you don’t expect to meet and becoming friends. I think it’s about adding plurality and other stories to the public space. “

Tomás Saraceno, the Berlin-based Argentine artist who worked in Eliasson’s studio early in his career, is even more determined to combine augmented reality with real life. Obsessed with ecological concerns, Saraceno is particularly in love with spiders, and has founded a research organization, Arachnophilia, to study them and the architecture of their webs.

For “The Looking Glass,” he created two virtual spiders. One, which will be in Shed Square, is a recreation of the spectacular Maratus speciosus, known as the Australian coastal peacock spider. The other will be in a secret location in Manhattan. If you submit a photo of a real spider to the Acute Art app, the computer will respond with the location of the other virtual spider, which will also be transportable to your home. “It’s at the center of everything,” Birnbaum said. “He likes the look of the AR spider, but he cares more that you pay attention to real spiders.”

For other artists, the possibilities of augmented reality allow different approaches to their long-standing artistic investigations. Curtiss, a French artist living in Brooklyn, paints and sculpts nude women. “My job has to do with the look, and what I choose to reveal and what I choose to hide,” he said in a telephone interview. Introduced to Birnbaum by Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS, Curtiss was excited by the opportunity to pursue this theme in a way that was previously unavailable to her.

In mid-June, he was still working with Acute Art’s computer coders to develop his piece: a naked woman with long dark hair – one of the characters he has featured in paintings – to be placed in the environment. The model is on his back. “When you try to go around her, she will keep dodging, so you will never be able to see her forehead,” Curtiss said. “And when you get too close, you go through it. That naked woman is exposed and vulnerable, but also, like a wall, she is protected. He is playing with these opposites. “

After the pandemic, Birnbaum suggested, the popularity of virtual performances may accelerate. “Will they be able to do fashion shows again?” he said. “Will people travel? I see this as possibly another model for exhibitions. I imagine that augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality will be part of a global and local future art world. I’d be surprised if the art world doesn’t change a bit after closing. We may get there a little earlier. “

Although Acute Art is not at this time for profit, its financial backers, wealthy Swedish businessman Gerard De Geer and his son Jacob, are aware of the business possibilities. Acute Art has already created virtual pieces for Chanel and BMW, and is exploring ways to publish works in editions. “We haven’t really monetized things,” Birnbaum said. But he admitted that NFT’s unexpected craze and blockchain buyout have sparked conversations among some artists about financial opportunities.

One thing seems certain: virtual and augmented reality are still in their artistic infancy. Acute Art acts as a technology guru, providing computer coders and engineers to bring artists’ virtual creations to life. “There’s a little thing written on the storyboard, then we do a test version, and they come back and say, ‘The texture is too small’ and, ‘It should be more red,'” Birnbaum said. “They get a test app, they can play with it and put it up.”

“My interest is to see what we can do with this technology,” he continued. “Once there was photography and everyone thought it would kill painting. Then came the cinema, the video camera and the Internet. In our own time, AR and VR are the new media. There is a period before it is commercialized in which experimental things can be done. We are there now. “

The entrance Now you see the art. Not now. it was published first in Es de Latino News.

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