By Mark Brown
First there was Pokémon Go. Now lovers of contemporary art can join the fun by tracking down shimmering, thought-provoking sculptures in a London park.
Frieze London art fair has installed its first augmented reality artwork. “No shipping, no installation costs,” said its director, Victoria Siddall. “It is interesting for us to be able to test the boundaries of what sculpture can be.”
From Tuesday, visitors to Regent’s Park will be able to track down large hovering ice slabs that are artworks by the South Korean artist Koo Jeong A. They are only visible on mobile phones through an app.
Daniel Birnbaum, the director of Acute Art, which commissioned the artist, said three editions of the work had been placed around the park. “It looks just as realistic as the sculpture next to it. If you take a photo of it or you send it your friends, they will not be able to tell whether it is real or virtual,” he said.
The work, titled density, is both entertaining and philosophically interesting, he said. “I like the fact that we are introducing this object, this entity, into the most conventional and classical of environments – a royal park with statues.”
Acute Art is like a contemporary version of the 1960s organisation Experiments in Art and Technology, which encouraged collaborations between artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage and engineers.
“Their mission,” said Birnbaum, “was to see what happens if the most important artists of the era get access to new technological tools to make things they would not have been able to”.
Acute Art gives artists access to virtual and augmented reality, an area still in “the stone age”, he added, but things are changing fast.
The augmented reality artwork was announced before the Frieze London and Frieze Masters art fairs in Regent’s Park in the first week of October.
The 2019 edition will be the most global fair yet, Siddall said. “We have galleries from 35 countries from all over the world, we are welcoming new galleries from the Philippines, from Latin America, from Asia, and really it feels like a celebration of London and how welcoming and international a city it is.”