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16 Nov

Six emerging AR artists to placed on your radar

Open Space at The Photographers’ Gallery has enabled six emerging young artists to experiment with augmented reality

We’re barely glimpsing the vast potential and scope of technology. As recent developments within the metaverse and VR proceed to expand the realms of our experience, artists are finding revolutionary ways to explore the seemingly limitless potential of those recent worlds.

Following a series of workshops held in 2021 for emerging artists focused on working with augmented reality, The Photographers’ Gallery (in partnership with HERVISIONS curator Zaiba Jabbar), has commissioned six recent augmented reality artworks for a project called Open Space.

The six chosen artists, aged between 18 and 24, have been introduced to AR tools and techniques in addition to critical thought regarding AR production. Through a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions with established curators and AR artists, Open Space has supported them within the creation of six recent augmented reality projects, set to debut across the platform over a period of the subsequent six months. 

While the programme launches today, debuting an AR filter created by Nella Piatek, below, we meet the subsequent generation of digital artists featuring in Open Space.

London-based artist Nella Piatek is a self-described “designer, researcher, and cyberwitch” whose work is anxious with anthropological futures and sociotechnical imaginaries.

“The more I engage in conversations in regards to the politics of the metaverse, the more I find AR increasingly intriguing. 

“‘XRiS-00222’ is my first augmented reality work and I believe my starting of working with this recent technology. It felt like a natural evolution that stemmed from my previous research and into cyberwitch-craft, archival practices, and the ‘digital as sanctuary’. The cyberwitch on this work got here into existence as a sister to the cyberwitches present in my other works. The title ‘XRiS-00222’ is a code name for the cyberwitch’s digital capsule, an identification number to be precise.

“As designers, we will never guarantee our work could have a particular effect on our audience. I believe what I try to realize through my work is to open up discussions of what will be possible with existing systems and what alternative routes of viewing familiar technology can exist. I hope that my audience will change into curious and intrigued while interacting with this work and take the time to take heed to the cyberwitch’s story.”

Meitao Qu lives and works between London and Beijing. From costume to architecture, Qu’s work explores the ways during which types of visualisation operate to stimulate our imaginations.

“‘Dreaming of Red Mansions’ is a series of AR filters presented on Twine, loosely inspired by the 17th-century Chinese novel The Story of the Stone. Accompanied by text, the audience is guided through a textureless 3D courtyard house and the filters – displayed via QR codes – act like digital portals into the fictional world. Like virtual dioramas, each filter offers a glimpse right into a room that houses an assemblage of images and objects, with a looped soundscape. Combining audio-visual and text-based elements, I wanted the work to be a playful and affective experience that anyone can engage with, without prior knowledge of the book and its contents.

“I’ve worked with quite a lot of media up to now, but before trying out digital tools, I mostly worked with physical materials as I like being quite hands-on. It was exciting but definitely overwhelming as I used to be never that good with computers, and I discovered the transition from using your hands to a mouse or a pen tool quite frustrating.

“I believe tech has enabled recent ways of constructing and sharing which might be really exciting and perplexing. It has brought ‘art’ out of its old contexts into recent arenas, equivalent to the world of video games. It has also expanded how works will be distributed and experienced, broadening the scope of the audience. But at the identical time, it has created chaotic conditions for the art object as a commodity, as we’ve seen within the exploding marketplace for NFTs. In any case, I believe tech and art are deeply entangled and can proceed to affect each other in ways which might be each freeing and limiting.”

Filmmaker, photographer, and CGI artist Sarah Ejionye is currently studying a BA in Fashion Photography on the London College of Fashion where her work focuses on the lives, culture, and voices of ladies of color in her photographs and movies. Ejionye can be a member of Riot Soup, an art collective that seeks to encourage diversity and representation in the humanities.

‘Afrogenesis’ is an AR world filter which transforms your surroundings right into a sci-fi spaceship environment. In combining elements of a jungle atmosphere, eerie humanoid figures, and spacey ambient sounds, the aim is to create a sense of being transported to a different dimension, an otherworldly pocket of space and time. 

Before working with AR, I mainly worked with analogue photography, video, and had begun to experiment with 3D software – mainly Blender – after my course at uni introduced a recent media unit in second 12 months. From there, I became focused on alternative types of image-making, which eventually drew me to augmented reality. Alongside the visuals, sound artist Dominic Waterfield made the filter feel immersive with unique space-tinged sound effects, and graphic designer Daniella Chukwuezi created a futuristic logo and promotional materials for the project.

The work process was entirely different to what I’m used to. As a photographer, it’s quite structured… you give you an idea, plan ahead of time as much as possible, spend a day or more doing a photoshoot, then spend time editing afterwards. With augmented reality it’s a continuing backwards and forwards. Your idea must take into accounts what is definitely possible with currently available technology, creating something that’s each unique and user friendly. I’’d often find myself making a version, having people test it and receive feedback, then going back and making adjustments. It’s a number of trial and error really. Nevertheless it felt very exciting, and one experience I’d all the time lacked with photography was a way of involvement with the audience. With AR, the viewer is basically experiencing the artwork moderately than simply it.”

Georgia Janes is a Kent-based photographer whose work contemplates the shifting landscape between technology, nature, and art.

“I mainly worked in photography, mixed with design and illustration. I feel most inspired when layering elements of various mediums together, questioning the boundaries between them and seeing how far I can push the ‘rules’ of what photography is.

“‘Garden of Elowan’ is an immersive AR greenhouse, home to a collection of speculative, cyborg-botany-inspired plants. The project imagines a not-so-distant future during which the natural world has fused with digital technology, and life is evolving beyond the physical.

Being a walk-through piece, the work uses each digital screens and the visitor’s direct surroundings to completely come to life, so it becomes a form of bridge between the 2 worlds. It’s an exploration of how we experience virtual and physical space and the role technology plays on this. My fundamental goal with the work was to make people have a look at the natural world around them with a renewed sense of wonder and reflect on the best way technology might impact this in the long run.

“Working with AR helped me construct a more multidimensional perspective of art and the multitude of the way you’ll be able to bring an idea to life. I also found it made me think more concisely about precisely the story I desired to tell and the way.”

Alexis Parinas is a London-based artist whose work is rooted in exploring and archiving Filipino food traditions and rituals in addition to other cultures and stories from Ilocano diaspora within the UK.

“‘Sawsawan’ is an AR world interactive filter that pays homage to the dipping sauce culture integral to Filipino food culture. This interactive filter tells a story of a number of the ingredients utilized in the several sawsawan, from the expansion of specific food plants, to the food’s preparation, and the tasting of the food.

“It takes what Filipino food author Doreen Fernandez calls a ‘galaxy of flavour-adjusters’ to conjure a definite, expansive, and timeless world of color and bloom. The user is invited to savour the sawsawan on their journey from the garden to the galaxy.

“This project forms a component of ‘Boggoong, Britain’, an ongoing personal body of labor rooted in exploring and archiving Filipino food traditions and rituals in addition to other cultures and stories from Ilocano diaspora within the UK. It makes use of private archives, stories, accounts, and memories, recorded and unrecorded histories, and speculations and imaginings of various futurities.”

Visit The Photographers’ Gallery website for information on the Open Space programming. Tune into The Photographers’ Gallery Instagram for a live conversation between Nella Piatek and curator Zaiba Jabbar at 7pm July 4 2022.

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