Facebook Launches an Augmented Reality ‘Virtual Wing’ Exhibit at the Tate Museum
Some of the paintings in the Tate Museum will soon come “alive” virtually thanks to a partnership with Facebook to launch a “virtual wing” project at the museum this summer. Some eight paintings at the museum will digitally be brought alive via AR and smartphones.
The digital arts program has been implemented through Facebook’s Spark AR development platform by an internal development team that worked on the project in collaboration with The Mill development studio and Tate Museum.
Facebook has been exploring ways of implementing its Spark AR mobile augmented reality camera platform in everyday uses ever since it was unveiled during the 2017 F8 Developer’s Conference.
Many of the uses have been Facebook-centric but the social media giant has also been looking for ways of deploying the AR platform in the lives of everyday uses to help them expand their horizons. It is in this context that Facebook is partnering with Tate Museum to help people connect with art in entirely new and immersive way.
The Virtual Wing: Powered By Spark AR aims to reveal stories behind some of the works of art. The information is delivered in AR and requires a smartphone to view.
Visitors to Tate Museum will use their Instagram camera (For both Android and iOS) to scan the select works in the museum and activate the AR-powered features in the artwork. On scanning, users will get a welcome message as well along with a map of the exhibit. In portrait art pieces in the museum, the portrait will come to life while in the other paintings exhibited, the landscape will literally grow out of the frame when viewed via the Instagram camera.
The Spark AR-powered exhibit is not purely entertainment. The creators deliberately picked eight paintings that had a compelling and moving backstory and this is vividly retold through the augmented reality experience. The experience is meant to transform the work art so to help visitors to connect with it and also learn the profound stories behind the artwork.
To develop the augmented reality experience, Facebook worked with Tate, The Mill along with Facebook’s Creative Shop to re-frame each of the selected art pieces at the museum through the use of the Spark AR platform. This augmented reality rendering enabled visitors to the museum’s ‘Virtual Wing’ to view each of the art pieces in context, with more depth as well as with a richer background than ever before. With AR layered rendering, visitors only have to use their Instagram camera to scan the Tate Instagram name tag and the activate the augmented reality experience.
Upon activation, the visitors are greeted with a welcome message along with a map that will help them in navigating their through the eight AR-enhanced paintings.
The paintings that have been selected for the augmented reality treatment include the following:-
A Youth Relating Tales of Ladies by Simeon Solomon
This piece of art serves as a prelude to the queer visual culture was common in the late 19th century. Three years after completing a piece, the painter, Simeon Solomon, was arrested for homosexuality. The piece easily lends itself to the ambiguity. You can view it through an Instagram camera to see a few “visitors” from a bygone era who seem to be totally out of place in our time.
The Cholmondeley Ladies by an Unknown Artist
The Spark AR effect will bring the inscription in the painting back to life while emphasizing the symmetry via a series of kaleidoscopic vignettes which will portray two girls right from their birth to the marriage on the same day all the way to the delivery of their two babies.
Fishing upon the Blythe-Sand, Tide Setting In by Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rumor has it that Turner had seven cats and that he might have even have put this painting to use as an impromptu cat flap. The canvas had been torn into five pieces but later repaired. When you view this piece via the Tate’s Spark AR-powered experience, the canvas of the painting will appear as if it is tearing apart through lone tabby jumps.
Self-Portrait by Gwen John
The Spark AR effect enables the user to watch as Gwen John completes her self portrait. John was a bi-sexual woman in an industry that was largely male-dominated. Her work was largely overshadowed by her famous lover Rodin and her brother Augustus.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent
Sargent was a strong believer in the golden hour, those moments of inspiration when the lighting provides the perfect moment to capture the scene. With Facebook’s Spark AR effect, the viewer is able to track the passage of time as well as its effect on the scene while the lantern flickers, the flowers are wilting and dying and the light fades to black.
Farm at Watendlath by Dora Carrington
In this art piece, extensive and voluptuous mountains are juxtaposed with two small female forms that are in the foreground. Spark AR-effect via your Instagram camera renders this in an unconventional animation effect where the relative scales in the painting are switched to create a really compelling roles reversal.
Amateurs of Tye-Wig Music (‘Musicians of the Old School’) by Edward Francis Burney
The painting harps on theme musical rivalry and the Spark AR-effect will create a visual cacophony where lamp is swinging wildly, a cheeky parrot is stealing a wig, kids are playing pretend instruments , dogs are barking and much more.
Head of a Man by John Simpson
Move your Instagram camera from left to right and see the lighting and the gaze change on Ira Frederick Aldridge(?), supposedly the image of the first black actor to play Shakespeare in Britain who moved from the US to London in 1865, from the dramatic to a more downcast.
The AR exhibit will rely on the immense computing power of modern smartphones to create a very profound immersive experience for viewers to help them connect with the paintings in a more meaningful way.