Augmented Reality: The Invisible Artist

Layar is an augmented reality (AR) platform that draws in information from Twitter, Flickr, Qype, Brightkite and Google to create a location-based tool for your smartphone.

I came across this very cool example of what can be achieved on the Layar platform with the right combination of skills in the artistic as well as the technical fields.

The Invisible Artist is an AR tour guide, able to appear in and around many of London’s wide array of galleries and art museums. The sartorially gifted but invisible artist offers commentary about the buildings’ history and architecture as well as a list of exhibiting artists.

All is not as it seems however, as the Invisible Artist has an agenda, channeled by its creator, artist and Derby University professor John Goto. Goto came up with the concept for The Invisible Artist during a period of frustration after being dropped from a gallery’s books. Ruminating over the politics of the art world, where an artist’s visibility requires the approval of a small group of “gatekeepers”, Goto began sketching the headless figures that would eventually become the 3D models in the Layar application.

The nature of Goto’s frustration fit perfectly with augmented reality’s open space platform because Goto could place his art in any gallery he desired, without permission, and anyone with his Layar app could view it. The result is a subversive Layar satirizing the bureaucracy and lack of diversity of London’s contemporary art scene (note how the list of exhibiting arts contains the same few names at every museum).

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