The most memorable artists are always the ones who aren’t afraid to experiment with new mediums. From impressionism to the electric guitar, the way we make art is a reflection of our changing culture. As we move deeper into the digital age, culture is evolving faster than ever. Of all the new technologies available, augmented reality has emerged as one of the most accessible ways artists can transform their work.

Imagine walking into a Jackson Pollack exhibit, pulling out your phone, and being able to virtually interact with the classic paintings. From psychedelic filters and animated gifs to skeletons crawling across the canvas—this is exactly what the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) created in 2018. In their exhibit, “Hello, we’re from the Internet,” museum visitors were able to download the MOMA AR app to explore Pollock paintings in a completely new reality. As more artists get involved, it’s clear that this is just scratching the surface of AR’s potential.

Putting the AR in Art

Artists can often be an afterthought when it comes to cutting-edge technology. Augmented reality is changing this by democratizing access and making it easier than ever for artists and audiences to participate. 

woman looking at art through augmented reality app
Image source: Artivive

Unlike virtual reality, which requires equipment like sensors and a headset, augmented reality can be experienced with a simple app on any smartphone. This creates a bridge between the digital world and the physical environment. Users can choose to experience art in two realities, giving digital natives and more traditional art enthusiasts something to get excited about. 

Museums have taken the lead as test kitchens for augmented reality art experiments like this. The Albertina Museum Vienna created digital experiences for their exhibit “Film Stills” and used the Artivive app to transform their permanent “Monet to Picasso” collection into an immersive experience. By downloading the app, visitors can see digital interpretations of the paintings and learn more about the artist’s history and creative process. 

Musicians and performance artists have also been taking advantage of augmented reality. Coachella premiered the Eminem Augmented app in 2018, which gave the audience customized virtual content like set changes for each song and a towering AR Marshall Mathers that swatted away virtual helicopters. Musicians know that every concert-goer has a smartphone in hand. By letting them experience something unique through their devices, there is real potential to change the modern concert experience. 

AR Industries that Need More Artists

Beyond just expanding their creativity, artists who know how to create in AR have the benefit of new job opportunities. Companies who are experimenting with AR need artists who know how to connect with an audience. From interaction designers to AR storytellers, the demand for artists who have technical skills is on the rise. 

Columbia Online instructor Elly Jessop Nattinger
Elly Jessop Nattinger

Columbia Online instructor, Elly Jessop Nattinger, is one example of how artists can blend their love of creativity with a curiosity for new technology. Elly is a Senior Software Engineer at Google where she develops augmented and virtual reality apps. But it wasn’t a sole focus on technology that got her there. In college, Elly studied computer science, theatre, and dance. It was her love of performance and live theatre, combined with a passion for technology, that led her into experience design at MIT, and eventually AR development at Google.

For any artist who is curious about joining the future of augmented reality, Columbia Online has the courses you need to get started. All our augmented and virtual reality programs are built by creatives for creatives. Using Unity software and Apple’s ARCore and ARKit, it easier than ever for artists to pick up the basics of augmented reality. Artists around the world can now enroll in Elly’s course, Advanced Augmented Reality Apps, or choose between any of our AR/VR courses and professional certificates to launch your future in augmented reality art.

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