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Wollongong City Council

Art and AR tech combine in new Crown St Mall exhibition

Thursday 17 March 2022

Get out your smartphone and step into the world of augmented reality (AR) next time you visit the Crown Street Mall.

From now to the end of June, the exhibition space in the Crown Street Mall will be showcasing a number of experimental, animated artworks, designed and created by 22 students from University of Wollongong (UOW) and TAFE NSW Wollongong. Combining the fundamentals of modern motion design with the innovative possibilities of augmented reality, the student artists created their first animated graphic works for this exciting new exhibition.

Augmented reality is a relatively new technology that uses a device (such as your smartphone) to allow people to interact with the physical world in a new way. This technology is increasingly being used throughout the world to bring city spaces to life.

Artist and UOW student, Ms Stephanie Yin said the inspiration for her artwork came from a song that a friend had produced.

“I listened to it on repeat whilst creating the artwork. The motion of the shapes were made to be in time to the sound of the beats,” Ms Yin said.

“This particular project required many hours watching tutorials on YouTube and countless attempts of trial and error. In fact, the original visual design of my animation looked quite different to what it is now. It’s almost refreshing being able to learn something completely from scratch as I often find that is when you stumble upon visually interesting accidents.

“I am a big supporter of technology to create art. I think that it has opened up so many possibilities that others could only dream of. I think that always being curious and open to learning new things is what drives us as humans.”

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that Council had previously trialled a small, augmented reality installation in the Crown Street Mall last year with the Golden Easter Egg Hunt.

“Following on from the success of last year, we were able to take what we learnt to bring this new, larger exhibition to our community. This exhibition used augmented reality to add layers of animation to each artwork so that when viewed with a smartphone, they appear in the real space around you,” Cr Bradbery said.

“It’s a really creative and challenging mix of art, design and technology and is a testament to the skill of the artists involved. It’s unique for the students to have both designed and animated the artworks themselves and is a rare combination of skill sets.

“This exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for these up-and-coming artists to display their artistic talents in a truly interactive way. These works help bring Crown Street Mall to life and are something that the entire community can enjoy."

ARt at Play Exhibition in the Crown Street Mall

Council worked alongside UOW and TAFE NSW lecturers to incorporate the artworks into student assessments. A special thank you goes to lecturers Wes Wickham (UOW) and Bill O'Donovan (TAFE NSW) who went to great efforts to ensure students worked to the same brief, and to a high standard.

The artworks in the Crown Street Mall take inspiration from avant-garde cinema experiments of the 1920s, as well as pioneering work into early computer graphics from the 1960s.

For artist and TAFE NSW student Mr Chester Lidden, the project was built around the idea of motion.

“As a designer, we spend a lot of time creating static images, logos and whatnot. So I really jumped at the opportunity to create something with motion and weight. That was the core of what I was trying to do. I started with sketches and tried to create rhythm and a sense of changing speeds and of heavy and light objects,” Mr Lidden said.

“Working with AR has been really fun because I knew nothing about it before we started. Will AR be the future of design? Probably not, unless the process of interaction is streamlined but I would definitely like to work more with it as it grows.”

For more information about the exhibition visit the Wollongong CBD website.

How to watch the artworks come to life:

  1. Scan the QR code to download the Eyejack app.
  2. Enable location on your smartphone. Click the ‘ARt at Play’ image and press ‘Launch AR’
  3. Stand on the ‘Stand Here’ spot, hold your smartphone up to the artwork, and watch the artwork come to life through your device.
  4. Stay COVID-Safe. Be mindful of your surroundings and keep 1.5m distance from other participants.