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Discover 'Invisible' augmented reality art at the National Gallery of Victoria

From a floating human skull to a neon pink warrior, visitors to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia can experience eye-popping digital artworks by leading Australian and international contemporary artists as part of AR.Trail, one of Australia’s largest ever and free augmented reality (AR) exhibitions.

Viewable through the camera of a smart device, AR artworks by Reko Rennie, Ron Mueck, Alicia Kwade, KAWS and more appear in surprising and unexpected locations at NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, as well as other key sites at Fed Square, ACMI and the Koorie Heritage Trust.

Presenting works that explore connections to the environment, the human condition and how people inhabit modern cities, AR.Trail will be live across 22 locations from 22 August 22 to September 30, 2022. Funded through the Victorian Government’s Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, AR arts tour will entice audiences into Melbourne’s cultural corridor and enhance their city experience. The ground-breaking AR technology also provides a new and innovative platform for Australian contemporary artists to present their work.

Highlight works on display at the NGV include Ron Mueck’s never-before-seen Head Space, in which a monumentally sized human skull floats over NGV International’s waterwall entrance. Referencing Mueck’s 2016-17 work Mass, originally commissioned for the 2017 NGV Triennial and acquired by the Felton Bequest, Head Space utilises the AR medium to present the work in a gravity-defying format that would not be possible in real life.

A further 10 works are on display across the NGV’s two venues including KAWS, Marco Brambilla, David Shrigley and Tomás Saraceno inhabiting gallery spaces inside NGV International, in addition to works by Olafur Eliasson, Koo Jeong A, and Precious Okoyomon positioned at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.

Also on display is the first-ever AR presentation of Reko Rennie’s OA Warrior I (pink). An important work in the NGV Collection purchased via the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists in 2020, the work represents the strength and power of a Kamilaroi warrior through vibrantly colourful neon pink lines. The work is viewable outside the Koorie Heritage Trust.

Reko Rennie’s OA Warrior I (pink) and Ron Mueck’s Head Space have been especially commissioned for AR.Trail, alongside a new work by Patricia Piccinini, Shoeform (Sprouting), which will be located at Fed Square.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director of the NGV, said: "During the global pandemic, the NGV developed and presented cutting-edge virtual art experiences so that audiences continued to have access to arts and culture – even during the periods of lockdown. This Australian-first collaboration with Acute Art proudly builds upon NGV’s leading multimedia experience and will allow audiences to discover art in a way never-before possible."

AR.Trail is a collaboration between London-based Acute Art and Melbourne’s NGV, Fed Square, ACMI and the Koorie Heritage Trust. Acute Art is responsible for app technology that enabled the highly successful AR exhibition across New York’s High Line and is now bringing this cutting-edge technology to Australia for the first time. Throughout the development of AR.Trail in Melbourne, Acute Art worked closely with NGV’s Multimedia Department, who created the 3D imagery for NGV Collection works and scanned geolocation sites for all 22 artworks.

The complete list of artists and their work includes:

  1. Nina Chanel Abney, Imaginary Friend
  2. Alicja Kwade, All At Any Time (AR)
  3. KAWS, WATCHING
  4. Tomás Saraceno, Maratus speciosus
  5. Reko Rennie, OA Warrior I (pink)
  6. Patricia Piccinini, Shoeform (Sprouting)
  7. Koo Jeong A, density
  8. Precious Okoyomon, Ultra Light Beams of Love
  9. Olafur Eliasson, Solar Friend and Rare Puffin
  10. Julie Curtiss, Lune and Olafur Eliasson, Uncertain Cloud
  11. Cao Fei, The Eternal Wave AR: Li Nova
  12. Olafur Eliasson, Caring Northern Light
  13. Cao Fei, RMB City
  14. Cao Fei, The Eternal Wave AR: Farewell
  15. Bjarne Melgaard, Octo With Ostrich Egg
  16. Ron Mueck, Head Space
  17. Olafur Eliasson, Lucky Stone
  18. Alicja Kwade, Marsmelone (AR)
  19. David Shrigley, Worm
  20. KAWS, COMPANION 2020
  21. Marco Brambilla, The Four Temperaments AR
  22. Tomás Saraceno, Bagheera kiplingi*

AR.Trail will be on display from August 22 to September 30, 2022 at 22 locations throughout NGV International, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square, ACMI and the Koorie Heritage Trust. 

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