Augmented reality exhibition opens at Price Sculpture Forest
Cutting-edge technology is on its way to the natural, idyllic setting of the Price Sculpture Forest.
Cutting-edge technology is on its way to the natural, idyllic setting of the Price Sculpture Forest in Coupeville.
That might sound like a dichotomy, but the merging of these two things is anything but.
From February 25, visitors to the sculpture park can experience a new exhibit in augmented reality via an app.
The technology is also known as AR and consists of a digital element that is superimposed on the real world. Although AR is often equated with VR or virtual reality, no bulky headset is required to view the exhibition – just a smartphone or tablet.
Scott Price, owner of the sculpture park, worked with California start-up XR-Room to develop the AR app last year. Instead of relying on computer-generated images, the AR component is based on real-world sculptures.
“Nobody had done that before,” Price said. “I love that even more because it’s based on something real.”
Visitors can use their personal devices and the park’s free high-speed WiFi to scan a QR code on a sign in the parking lot, prompting them to download the app. Not far from the parking lot is the viewing area for the new exhibition, which consists of an empty circular base. After selecting one of four additional QR codes to scan, an artwork will appear on the device that seems to fit right on the pedestal.
However, the sculpture is not just a 2-D image on a screen. People can walk around the sculpture and look at it from every possible angle.
“It’s very interactive,” Price said. “It’s like you’re really there, but you see it through the app’s augmented reality.”
The app takes photos so people can stand next to what looks like a very real sculpture but is actually empty air.
The sculptures that can be seen with the app are not currently in the park, but in locations across the country. App programmers created the 360-degree view of the sculptures using long, continuous videos of the sculptures shot by the artists under bright lighting and with minimally distracting backgrounds.
While Price isn’t a computer programmer, he provided a lot of feedback on the app’s interface, which went through several iterations before settling on a final release.
He deliberately chose a limited number of sculptures for the AR exhibition and plans to swap them out from time to time.
The non-profit sculpture park received two grants for this project, one from Island County and one from the Coupeville Festival Association.
The new exhibit is a continuation of Price’s embrace of technology. When the park opened in 2020, Price created QR codes for each artwork on display that, when scanned, display a video of the artist.
“It’s a new way of experiencing art and it’s pretty cool to be a part of sharing that with people,” he said.