The ARt of AR: A Look Back at ReBlink and Forward to the Future of Storytelling

Room B5

A lot of attention is being paid to the use of AR and Mixed Reality to practically help us learn and do new things and go new places more efficiently. But little has been imagined about how can AR change the way we think and feel and dream. This talk will use the example of ReBlink, a highly successful mobile AR exhibition at a major art museum. It will show how the tools and techniques unique to AR, combined with a thoughtful creative vision for the emerging grammer of “native 3D storytelling”, can inspire people of all ages to engage and enjoy a visceral experience with a set of classic paintings they likely would never have otherwise noticed.

Oil painting was once a state-of-the-art technology medium. Now the average person spends an average of only 16 seconds looking at a classic masterwork. Culturally we have radically changed the way we process images. We are the Instagram generation: we are saturated in an endless stream of beautiful pictures. We don’t stop, pause and reflect on just what awe-inspiring cultural and entertainment experiences those oil paintings once were, or consider how important they must have been for telling the stories of their times.

ReBlink began as big idea for a small art project, one that would use AR to focus a modern day lens on ten classic paintings. The exhibition, mounted in July 2017 at the AGO, Canada’s largest art museum, re-mixed the original artists’ visions seamlessly adding alternate, and often 3D reinterpretations of reality for the viewer to grapple with. The exhibition immediately captured imaginations for how its shifting realities became highly compelling new opportunities for engagement, interpretation, entertainment and education. The exhibition has proven a huge hit at the museum with visitors of all ages (it was held over), has travelled to Los Angeles, Mexico City and (soon) Venice, and has garnered media attention from the world over.

Why was it so successful? What techniques were critical in capturing the imaginations of those who experienced it?

This talk will delve into key insights, lessons learned, and a vision for the future of storytelling in Augmented and Mixed Reality that can apply to the creation of any native 3D experience.

Life Track