a [further] study on the genre of painting

an augmented reality installation by Zoltán SZEGEDY-MASZÁK and Márton FERNEZELYI

project for the exhibition GATE(WAY)S: Art and Networked Culture

Related work: Oculus Artificialis Teledioptricus 2.0: Re:mbrandt

Abstract paintings are displayed on the wall of the exhibition room, arranged similarly to shows of historical collections in traditional museums. A special custom-made mixed-reality interface hangs in front of the canvases, which acts as an intelligent video camera. By watching the handmade nonfigurative pictures through the screen of the interface, solid three-dimensional virtual objects can be observed, “floating” in front of the paintings. As the animated virtual objects are augmentations of the live video image, they appear surprisingly realistic, and can be explored as free-standing reliefs. These animated virtual reliefs are modeled after figurative, representational paintings from the historical collections of KUMU Art Museum Tallin.

There is a strong tension between the physical reality of the abstract canvases and the corresponding virtual simulacrums: viewers are confronted with the substantial presence of nonfigurative paintings picturing binary codes, thus making perceptible the computer-generated figurative illusions.

The current installation in the KUMU museum includes six canvases - six gateways to paintings of the historical collection. At the time of the opening four of the paintings were displayed in the current exhibitions, thus visitors of the museum could recognize the figures seen some minutes ago on the other floors of the building.

On the other hand the six paintings - chosen as the result of our correspondence with the curators of KUMU in agreement - represent significant snapshots of Estonian Art as a whole together. Visitors are confronted with the physical limits of the exhibition space and the changing inclusions and exclusions of exhibition display.

(Digital) interactive gateways can help in mapping cultural heritage to the limited spaces of our contemporary culture, with the exception of the sensual experience. By standing in front of a painting visitors can confront with the substantial presence of its physical reality, materials, gestures of the artist, etc., while digital representations can only partially recall these attributes.

Intentionally no reproductions of the paintings are included in the installation, but three dimensional reliefs, animated objects which - sometimes ironically - recall, but definitively not represent the original artworks.

Demo videos @ youtube (shooted @ GATE[WAY]S in Tallin, May 2011):
Part I, part II

High resolution photos (shooted @ GATE[WAY]S in Tallin, May 2011):
directory listing with full resolution and 1000 pixels wide images
(both the individual files and compressed archives are available)