V. Hui, K. Newman-Bremang, S. Townsend

Ryerson University (CANADA)
Unlike traditional cultural institutions such as museums, art galleries, and performing arts centers, current cultural discourse often exists and is developed in impromptu, unconventional, and temporal environments ranging from the virtual realm of online worlds to the charged dynamics of streets in the urban environment. Two extremes are at play. While established cultural facilities oversee curatorial discretion in permitting visitors to engage material often for a fee within a preordained timeframe (i.e. a theatrical production or exhibition opening), online platforms allow visitors to pore through the incredible amounts of information free of charge and other conventional constraints. Despite these polarities, the cultural activity emergent from street life and the cultural dynamics arising from urban environments has also remained a strong force in a society’s cultural development, from street performers to Speakers’ Corners. This has also been the trend in contemporary art. The rarefied and hallowed world of art galleries and exhibition halls must now compete with a range of enthusiastic, ephemeral, and ever-changing work in settings such as street festivals to more formalized programs such as Nuit Blanche. Though such organizations are exceptionally potent in showcasing to not only the general public, but emerging artists and students, there has been little in the way of ensuring such short-lived events may be properly documented to serve as educational resources for future generations.

This paper outlines the design, development, and prototyping of contemporary mobile computing, via an augmented reality app entitled [AR]t Works, in not only reinforcing the documentation of these contemporary art works, but also in providing a robust and innovative way to understand the projects in the built environment. From guided tours and the layering of multiple temporary works upon a shared specific site in the urban environment, to interviews with installation artists and developmental materials, the framework of the [AR]t Works project serves as an excellent tool in not only preserving the creative works in the urban condition, but also in continuing the development of emergent artists and designers in the future.