Is Augmented Reality The New Normal?

BY Athwifa Saleem / Jul 31 2020 / 10:00 AM

Barcelona-based Amarist Studio founders and designers Clara Campo and Arán Lozano discuss adapting to augmented reality as a new medium during the pandemic, allowing more interaction with artworks from the safety and comfort of viewers’ homes

Is Augmented Reality The New Normal?

For artists and founders of Amarist Studio, Clara Campo and Arán Lozano, the passion for visual arts was instilled in them since childhood, realising early on that creative freedom of expression, the endless possibilities and the immediacy to materialise concepts could only be achieved through visual arts. “For me, art is a form of meditation, of letting thoughts and emotions flow,” expresses Clara. “Artists are philosophers who materialise their reflections in creative expression.”

Co-founders of Amarist Studio, Clara Campo and Arán Lozano

While human interaction and physical contemplation of art will continue to be important, the current situation forces art galleries around the world to find different alternatives to adapt to the new norm of social distancing. Arán and Clara began to realise how from one day to another, their entire work calendar would be altered due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

As the studio mostly worked by combining artisanal production techniques with digital technologies, they already had a base knowledge and took advantage of the weeks of confinement to learn new tools and skills to be able to express themselves through AR technology. “The studio thereby proposed augmented reality objects with which people could interact and create their own message depending on the context of where they were, thereby invited the public to become an artist or to be part of the final concept of the artwork,” expresses Arán.

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“The main reason we transitioned our work to augmented reality was so that we could still keep our creative work on but most importantly, so our public and collectors could still see and interact with our new artworks at home.” Digital exhibitions have widened the audience reach, eliminating the intimidating factor of entering a gallery. In unprecedented times like these, technology has allowed people to access culture while remaining at home, offering a closer and more intimate approach to the artworks. Augmented reality allows people to directly visualise how real sculptures would look in their homes, which may turn some viewers into first-time art collectors.

The COVID-19 health crisis has shown us how fragile the global socio-economic system, that we believed was so stable, can be. The international lockdown, the world geopolitical tensions, the social changes in our daily lives and the fear, anxiety and uncertainty that has overshadowed our lives has sparked inspiration for deep reflection.

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“The conjuncture of social distancing and transition to the virtual world was also very stimulating to start experimenting with what a ‘virtual’ future could look like in the arts, which served as an excuse to shape these reflections into augmented reality digital sculptures,” says Clara, adding, “We believe that virtual art won’t be a substitute for traditional exhibitions; human interaction and the physical experience of contemplation of the arts is irreplaceable and it will continue to be important.”

When you observe the exponential impact of technology in all fields and the digital habits of the new generation, it is clear that virtual consumption of art will only continue to grow. “The future that is already present affects the entire sector: galleries, institutions and artists,” say Clara and Arán.

“Whoever wants to survive will have to accept this reality and adapt as quickly as possible. The world and society are evolving year after year, adapting to change and facing new challenges. If you look at the world with a critical and constructive gaze, it is the greatest source of inspiration, not only for artists but for all social, political and economic actors.” 

Lead image courtesy of Giphy (Alexander McQueen A/W 2006). Images courtesy  Amarist Studios

From the Summer 2020 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Art