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Victoria University uses AR to bring art to reality

The Victoria University Hive Lab worked with the local artist Steven Tran to transform his work to life through augmented reality (AR) technology. The new AR art will be showcased at Footscray Community Arts. Featuring abstract and eye-catching sketches and paintings, the range of works by Tran promotes authenticity and exposure in the new show BOLDER.

Tran collaborated with the multiple award-winning technology design and development firm VU Hive Lab to expand the sensory experience of his work. The studio is housed at the Footscray Nicholson Campus of VU.

VU Hive Lab product manager Kati Elizabeth remarked about the collaboration with Steven, saying that it is a direct one for the development of the Bolder AR application. For the past few months, Steven and the VU team have met up regularly for the purpose of collaboration, with the artist offering insight into how his creative output can be brought to life in the best possible way.

Elizabeth said that due to Tran being so enthusiastic and curious as a collaborator, the VU Hive Lab mixed reality (MR) developer Ben Monoghan said that it is one of the best projects that he has ever participated in. The show expands upon BOLD, which was Tran’s first solo show last year. It makes use of many intriguing patterns and mangled showcases that take viewers to a different level of reality.

According to Tran, all the imaginary artwork he is making is inspired by his life. He expressed that his mind was awash in colour when he was dreaming, and exclaimed that the AR technology is furthering the notion of his dreams manifesting in reality. Tran described the AR collaboration experience as an enjoyable one.

He elaborated further, saying that audiences will get glimpses of the fantastical and abstract world that he has created for his art, through the AR exhibition.

The use of digital simulation technology to superimpose digital objects, sounds, and different sensory elements within real-world environments is referred to as augmented reality (AR). It differs from virtual reality, which attempts to build a highly advanced and surreal virtual domain. AR technology fundamentally augments one’s real-world environment surroundings, adding an additional aspect to reality.

Guests can use the AR application to construct towers with three-dimensional cubes that are fashioned from the art pieces made by Tran, by using the iPads provided at the gallery. When the iPad is shaken, the tower disintegrates into more compact shards that spread out across the exhibition area. On the gallery floor, the 3D holograms can be nudged onto Tran’s moving “Spooky Staircase” offering.

Tran has also collaborated with the VU Hive Lab group to create Cube Crush, which is a bespoke game accessible from the BOLDER app. In this game, users collect cubes and clear levels one by one. The BOLDER app is the latest in a long line of inventive ventures by VU.

BOLDER by Steven Tran is on display at Footscray Community Arts until October 30, 2022.

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