Text by Fiammetta Cesana

With almost a year of co-existing with the virus, we all have experienced a huge acceleration of digital implementation in our daily life. Not only changes occurred in our individual habits – like from going to the office to joining a Zoom meeting with our colleagues or from attending our grandmother’s full kindred Christmas dinner to celebrate festivities with parents through an iPhone’s screen – but they did also come transforming several public events.

In few days we will witness what used to be the frenzy, ultra-trafficked dates of fashion week and instead of queuing, with our invitation on hand, in front of surveilled buildings together with people showing their most eccentric outfits camera’s flashes coming from everywhere, we now just need to submit our credentials on a online platform and enjoy the show from the comfort of our couch. 

And it’s not only fashion appointments which rethought their typical location, moving from physical to digital, but also the art’s ones. More and more museums and galleries in order to make the audience not give up on visits, are proposing virtual exhibitions, with guided tours as well, on their websites. Of course it’s not the same thing. Joining the synergy of people watching a live runway, whether you are in front row or standing, capturing the vibrancy of colors of the fluttering clothes, the music embracing the room. And of course it’s not the same thing watching a concert online, without the emotional intensity of the singing crowd, and neither going around an opera with our mouse instead of physically walking back and forth to truly appreciate the artwork in all its material facets. However, what we want to be positive of is the ability of human beings to not get discouraged by crisis and find new incredible ways to still allow outlets for cultural education and exciting entertainment. Moreover, what we are witnessing now thanks to digital technology is a formidable boost of the democratization of knowledge. 

So, happy and proud of how experts are pledging to keep giving us access to fashion, music and art, today we share with you other great news about a festival that instead of rescheduling its dates took the lockdown’s measures as an opportunity to reinvent (and augment) the whole show. 

The biggest London’s festival of AR (augmented reality) art, Unreal City is now on show…on your phone! Featuring amongst the most currently relevant contemporary artists – including Nina Chanel Abney, Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Alicja Kwade, Koo Jeong A, Marco Brambilla, KAWS, Bjarne Melgaard and Tomás Saraceno – the exhibition is visitable simply by downloading the App of Acute Art. 

Once downloaded you will enter a videocamera, seeing exactly what you’d see opening your phone’s camera, and then by clicking on the different artists’s names you can select their operas and see them appear on the landscape you are pointing the camera at. Half-human-half-animal creatures, a fashion styled spiritual guide, enormous spiders, a bright sun…all of this and more will suddenly show up in front of you like an unexpected art presence you can enjoy in all its perspectives. 

“Back in early December, at a moment when cultural institutions in the UK were closed, Acute Art and Dazed wanted to offer Londoners a free, outdoor international exhibition featuring the work of ten truly significant artists. The beauty of augmented reality means that rather than extending the site specific show by popular demand, we can respond to interest and the new lockdown measures by bringing the exhibition to you. We are making works from Unreal City – the biggest AR art show – available to curate within the safety of your own home wherever you are in the world. You can have Nina Chanel Abney’s ‘Imaginary Friend’ in your sitting room, Bjarne Melgaard’s Devil Man in your kitchen or ‘TAKE’ by KAWS floating in your bedroom. The world can come to a halt but art doesn’t stand still.”

– Daniel Birnbaum, Artistic Director of Acute Art and Curator of Unreal City