Augmented Reality Street Art using NodeBox

john's Avatar


27 Jul, 2020 08:00 AM

I recently tried a fun augmented reality experiment using NodeBox and a service for artists called Artivive:

You can try it for free with three pieces. You simply upload a still image and a MP4 animation (both easily made in NodeBox). Artivive adds them to its cloud. Then, whenever anyone in the world scans your still image using their free app, they will see your animation in place of the still image. You can post your image in a gallery or public place or hand them out on cards. Users can hold the cards in their hands and move them around; the animation will follow the image making it seem to come alive. The result is nothing less than magical.

I made three posters with a barcode allowing people to quickly load the free app onto their phone and stapled the posters to some telephone poles in my neighborhood. Anyone with the app can point their phone to the black and white poster to see it erupt in full color. Pretty cool!

See attached movies.

I haven't had any takers yet (as far as I can tell). Passersby are too busy or distracted to stop, download a strange app onto their phone, and point it at one of my posters. It would work much better in an exhibition where everyone already has the app, or maybe in a park where there is more traffic and more people with leisure time (less likely during the current pandemic).

I am excited by the possibilities of this technology. I've long sought a way to share my NodeBox animations in a tangible, person-to-person way. I imagined a gallery showing with dozens of iPads bolted to walls playing loops, but this is not practical for ordinary artists. There are companies selling generative art animations designed to play on high-end monitors, but these are expensive and not worth the investment for most people. I want something you could sell or hand out at a street fair or other casual situation.

AR could be one solution. You can print your images as attractive cards or posters - maybe even a deck of cards. Imagine Tarot cards which come to life. Or board games with pieces that move when examined through a phone app. Art shows with AR art are already happening around the world. One art teacher in Korea has her students using NodeBox to make colorful transparent animations that hover above hand-drawn cards.

Artivive is a pioneer in this area, but I suspect Apple and other tech titans will soon be making AR more mainstream. And it's a perfect fit for NodeBox!

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