An Interactive Public Artwork with Augmented Reality and Projection-Mapping

WE THRIVE is an interactive public artwork that highlights the dynamic spaces that exist in and around us all. This project weaves together layers of creative work. It will feature 3D microscope imagery of Victorian fungus and mycelium, contemporary Yorta Yorta shields that reflect a connection to country, interactive AR (Augmented Reality) animation, projection-mapped computer-generated imagery, and an evocative audio soundtrack. This project involves the award-winning art-tech duo PluginHUMAN (Justin Dwyer and Betty Sargeant), the award-winning Yorta Yorta artist Lorraine Brigdale, Indian tech-artist Akshat Nauriyal and the emerging audio artist Meri Leeworthy.

Mock-up of microscope and creative topographic contours with projection mapped video art imagery. This represents an early draft of PluginHUMAN’s contribution to the artwork.

This project invites audiences to draw deeper connections between themselves and their environment. Through this work we hope to initiate discussion, action and change, encouraging symbiotic relationships between the human form and the natural forces that surround us.

WE THRIVE will be a 3D public artwork by day; featuring sculptural elements that emphasise layers of country and interactive AR animation. At night this work will be a projection-mapped light experience. The projection-mapped moving imagery will gently animate the artwork’s 3D form, bringing it alive for audiences.

ARTWORK DETAILS

WE THRIVE draws together diverse environmental and cultural perspectives. PluginHUMAN bring to this project their long-standing practice of photo-microscopy. The bottom layer of the artwork will display a collection of their microscope imagery revealing intricate detail of local fungus and mycelium. Overlayed onto this imagery will be creative responses to topographic lines showing contours of Victorian land and seascapes. These visual elements will help audiences experience hidden qualities of nature, qualities that are inaccessible without the use of specialist digital equipment.

PluginHUMAN will also make circular ‘posts’ (20cm diameter) of different heights. These will be fixed to the artwork in order to emphasise specific visual lines. PluginHUMAN will work closely with Lorraine Brigdale to form and position these 3D elements so that they highlight insightful aspects of the artwork’s underlying narratives.

Lorraine Brigdale’s long-term arts practice is a creative response to landscape, environment and history. The WE THRIVE project will feature images of her contemporary ‘shields’. Her shields reflect the strength and resilience of Australian First Nations peoples. According to Lorraine, a shield is something that is used in battle, but it’s not designed to harm another person, it’s designed for protection. This traditional male item and symbol is being reimagined by Lorraine and will be used here to show how shields can be a strong protective symbol that can enable culture and nature to thrive.

Lorraine’s first shield images were created using a wooden stamp which she designed and had created by Indian craftspeople whilst she was living and working in India. She will use natural ochre pigments to form the shield imagery. This project allows Lorraine to further develop a key thread of her recent arts practice – the symbolic and cultural nature of shields. It also allows her to consider her ancestry including some Indian heritage that’s connected to her proud Yorta Yorta identity.

Indian tech-artist Akshat Nauriyal will bring to this project both digital and physical interactive audience experiences. Akshat will create a series of abstract visual icons that represent futuristic micro-organisms. These icons will operate similarly to QR codes and they will be layered within Betty’s microscope images. When scanned by your phone, the icons will come alive – audiences will experience animated 3D imagery that will emerge from the surface of the artwork. These AR elements represent the chaotic, unexpected and wild energetic flow of Akshat’s home city of Delhi. This aspect of the work also highlights deep resonating connections between the Indian and Australian artists involved in this project – a connection that reflects the complex interweaving of these two cultures over time.

The final artwork design will feature layers of dynamic creative works. These layers will be digitally compiled by Betty Sargeant from PluginHUMAN, she will create the final digital canvas in conversation with the full creative team. This working process will enable the artists to work remotely. This collaboration will be fed by regular video chats, enabling the sharing of stories and discussion on artistic perspectives. The artwork will be printed and fitted onto backing boards. This means that the artists are not required to be present during the installation process (ideally they would be). This project has been designed to be Covid Safe and has been planned so that it can be created and delievered even in Covid lockdown restrictions.

THE PROJECTION-MAPPING

Each of the visual elements that are created for this project will be reimagined by Justin Dwyer (of PluginHUMAN) and formed into a video artwork. Justin will create a computer program that will generatively animate all of the project imagery. His abstract generatively animated imagery will be projection-mapped onto the artwork at night, further igniting the project’s multi-faceted form. This video artwork will begin by subtly moving the artwork’s static imagery, so that it gently shifts and comes alive for audiences. The experience will then deepen, bringing to light the power of computer processing and the random nature of computer-generated imagery. This abstract video artwork will highlight the ways that Justin experiences the digital form as a dominant part of his lived environment. It emphasises his hybrid experience involving dynamic digital, human and environmental factors.

Meri Leeworthy will create an audio soundscape that reflects the connection between dynamic internal and external spaces. This soundscape will feature electronic music and field recordings. The audio will highlight the intricate connection between history, identity, body and our natural environment.

INSTALLATION DETAILS

It is expected that this will be a large-scale artwork that snakes across a laneway or public precinct. This will allow audiences to experience the artwork’s 3D sculptural elements (that emphasise layers of country), as well as interact with the AR elements. At night this work will be a projection-mapped light experience. The projection-mapped moving imagery will gently animate the artwork’s 3D form, bringing it alive for audiences. This artwork can be installed in an outdoor environment (ie in a laneway or small precinct) and may be a stand-alone installation or the backdrop to small related cultural rituals, performances and discussions.