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Kirstenbosch launches new augmented reality art exhibition

Visitors can view 13 contemporary artworks by internationally-acclaimed artists through an AR technology-mediated experience.

By Farah Khalfe  | September 28, 2021 | Art

Kirstenbosch Natioal Botanical Gardens has launched a new augmented reality art exhibition.

Titled Seeing the Invisible, the innovative exhibit will allow visitors to view 13 contemporary artworks by internationally-acclaimed artists through an AR technology-mediated experience.

Image: @kirstenbosch _nbg/Instagram

The Seeing the Invisible app will use physical locations in Kirstenbosch to augment the real world with the virtual artwork. Kirstenbosch is one of 12 gardens across six countries that are participating in the project. Thus, an artwork from one of the participating artists may appear on your phone among Kirstenbosch’s greenery and fynbos while a visitor to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh will discover the same artwork among giant redwoods.

The exhibit aims to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world while each artwork explores the boundaries between art, technology and nature, and seeks to create a symbiosis.

“Seeing the Invisible was born out of a collaboration during the pandemic with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens that opened our eyes to the incredible opportunities for creating an entirely new kind of contemporary art experience within the setting of a botanical garden,” says a joint statement by Outset Contemporary Art Fund co-founder Candida Gertler OBE and Outset Contemporary Art Fund Israel Director Mirav Katri. “We are thrilled to be partnering with exceptional gardens from across the world on this exhibition. It bridges the physical and digital worlds to create a new ‘phygital’ model, pairing their expert knowledge of their field together with the most cutting-edge technology in contemporary art to develop a new exhibition format beyond the typical museum or gallery space.”

Image: @kirstenbosch _nbg/Instagram
Image: @kirstenbosch _nbg/Instagram

Among the exhibiting artists is Western African sculptor El Anatsui, who is renowned for recycled bottom installations. While viewing her work through the app, they shimmer gently and appear to move through soft wind.

Other artists include Jakob Kudsk Steensen, who’s work revolves around a dried branch of cacti, and looks into the concept of desserts as omens for life rather than death.

The exhibition also includes a translation of Ai Weiwei’s Gilded Cage into AR, - addresses issues such as power structures, habitats, borders, confinement, preservation, and nurturing.

The Seeing the Invisible exhibition runs from 22 September 2021 to August 2022.