Digital window on the National Arts Festival

With phone and internet you can enter a creative world of augmented reality as artists explore a fresh outlet

Pupils from Clarendon Primary School in East London at the virtual reality installation ‘Here’
Pupils from Clarendon Primary School in East London at the virtual reality installation ‘Here’
Image: Werner Hills

All you need is a mobile phone and internet connectivity and you can see art in your very own world, says Creativate project manager Lauren Fletcher, who is in charge of the digital art packages of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda.

The Invisible Exhibition allows people to step onto a carpet with just a phone in hand to enter into a virtual world of an art display using “augmented reality”.

Augmented reality is advanced technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, therefore providing a combined view.

The app, which can be downloaded on any android or Apple phone, plays music and gives a viewer the opportunity to walk around and explore.

Fletcher said the exhibit was a combination of two Johannesburg-based centres, namely the Centre for the Less Good Idea and The Mixed Reality Workshop.

“They got some of South Africa’s best artists to come together and experiment in the space of 3-D sculpting.

“So they use a programme called Tilt Brush – you put on your VR goggles, you have what's almost like two paint brushes, but they are like VR sticks that you hold in your hand,” Fletcher said.

“And you sculpt in real life – you can walk under and through the sculpture as you are making it. The outcomes of that experimentation were then shown at the fifth season [of the 3D sculpting sessions], and this is part of that season.”

Fletcher said this was another way in which artists could express themselves.

“With the arts there are always so many different ways in which you can express yourself – whether that be traditional mediums, or new mediums.

“This is just a whole new tool for artists to expose and examine. And that's very much what creativity is about – playing with this new medium in this new field, within the overall brackets of the arts.”

Fletcher said it could see a growth in the interest in art.

“It makes artworks quite accessible because you have these artists who could be from around the world who are sending virtual sculptures to Grahamstown [Makhanda] without having to put giant sculptures on the truck.

“It makes certain types of artworks much easier to share, and make things cheaper and easier, logistically,” she added.

The Creativate exhibitions will be on display at the Monument for the duration of the festival.