In 2012, David Halbstein, from the 3DDD department, and Susan Lakin, from SPAS, began an experimental collaboration in a class titled “The Collaborative Composite Image”.  The idea was to bring students of different disciplines together to work as a team to create blended images; pushing the boundaries of conventional visual language and exploring new ways of expressing ideas.

One project we did in this class was called “The MAG Project”.

We reached out to the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, whose collection spans over 50 centuries of art from around the world.  Our students were treated to a curator-led tour of the permanent collection, after which they each teamed up with a student from another discipline, selected a painting to work with, and began to address the parameters of this project.

Inspired by the aesthetic, historic, or narrative issues addressed by their selected work, our artists created short animations triggered by the work within the frames.  Using any combination of photography, video, 2D and 3D imaging methods, the students “deconstructed” these paintings and brought them to life in new ways.

We then used our modified flavor of “Aurasma”, an augmented reality platform, to complete the projects.  A user downloads our application (“The Collaborative Composite Image” from either the Apple Store or the Android Market), and installs it on their device. They then point their device camera at one of the original paintings which acts as a “trigger” to overlay our students’ work on top of the painting – bringing the painting to life before their eyes.

We had our first critique on-site at the Memorial Art Gallery, and it was very well received.

 “What we’re trying to move beyond is the idea that people come to a museum and sort of walk through and gaze at the paintings – which is great – but we’re also looking to deepen their engagement.  For us, augmented reality was a very new thing – we didn’t really know very much about it but we were very open to the idea of seeing if this could potentially be something that could be a way of exciting people’s imaginations beyond the more passive experience and to get them to consider the art in new ways”   -Marjorie Searl, Chief Curator, Memorial Art Gallery

The project was the subject of a talk at the SIGGRAPH convention in Anaheim, California in August, 2013, and most recently a demonstration at SIGGRAPH Asia in Hong Kong, in November 2013.


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