AR is bringing art to life worldwide. This revolutionary format is changing how people experience and create artwork in their homes, museums, and in educational settings. Here is a look at what augmented art is, and the ways it’s materializing today.

What Is Augmented Art?

Augmented art is artwork that blends the digital and real world. There are numerous ways people can augment art, from fully-digital painting to digital augmentations that enliven real-world artwork.

Backing up, there are two main types of AR — marker-based and markerless. All augmented art generally falls into one of these categories. Marker-based augmented art is attached to some physical object, such as a QR code. Markerless augmented art is more of a freely-moveable digital piece that an artist can place on any real-world flat surface.

Augmented art today usually makes use of the popularity of smartphones by displaying AR pieces through mobile apps or websites. The user’s camera scans any physical objects — such as a QR code marker — and records the real-world setting while the phone’s screen displays the digital objects in that real-world setting.

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Exciting Examples of Augmented Art

Augmented art is swiftly changing the art world, as well as museums and educational experiences. Here’s a look at a few of today’s most compelling examples of augmented art.

1. AR-Animated Artwork

AR-animated artwork uses AR to add new layers to physical objects. For example, a user could go into an art gallery and see an abstract painting that looks like a depiction of a pinball machine. If the user scanned the QR code at the bottom of the image, they could go to a website on their phone and actually play the pinball game in the painting in AR.

Augmented art can also animate physical, static objects or pictures through AR. While this is not necessarily interactive, it can add new layers of meaning and depth to the piece or give viewers a better understanding of what the art is depicting.

2. Expanded Museum Experiences

Augmented art can also include AR features that expand museum experiences for guests, adding additional digital content to complement real-world pieces. For example, users could scan QR codes in a contemporary art gallery to see a video interview with the artists or footage of how said artist created the pieces. Many museums around the world are already testing out unique ways of using AR to enhance guest experiences.

For 3D objects, AR could allow viewers to handle and rotate objects to see them from different angles or zoom in on specific features. Museums can even use augmented art to add fun digital experiences for guests, such as an AR photo booth that allows people to turn their selfies into Renaissance portraits.

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3. Arts and STEM Education Experiences

Augmented art also opens up new educational opportunities for arts and STEM courses. In fact, AR-based art can actually be an excellent tool for bridging the gap between these two sides of education. It seamlessly blends the arts with technology, which can be particularly appealing for younger generations who are digital natives.

For example, a teacher could use augmented art to make math more fun for students who struggle with math courses. The novelty of AR art can turn otherwise tedious or confusing math problems into interactive games that leap off students’ homework pages. They can physically interact with the augmented artwork, potentially sparking renewed interest in complex subjects.

4. AR-Physical Artwork

Augmented art can also appear as artwork that lives in both the real and digital worlds. AR-physical hybrid artwork has a physical component as well as a digital component. AR merges the two together, forming the complete picture.

For example, guests might find a physical canvas in a gallery with a background painted on it. Then, they use AR to see the portrait over that background — a digital face that can blink, smile and come to life. This is a fascinating kind of augmented art that hints at the digital future of the art world, including the rise of digital-first artwork.

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5. NFTs and Digital-First Artwork

NFTs — or non-fungible tokens — have transformed the art world over the past few years. These digital-first art pieces are unique digital designs labeled with a special tag that marks them as the original, so a screenshot or replica could be proven fake. NFTs are created from the start for the digital world, but AR can also bring them into the real world.

As the metaverse develops for entertainment and work, more and more people are investing in digital objects, like avatar clothing or artwork for decorating virtual spaces. Augmented art allows people to merge their virtual and physical worlds. Over the years, people could increasingly use AR to display their valuable NFTs in their real-world homes or galleries.

The Future of Art

AR is revolutionizing art, museums, education and entertainment. It allows people to bring artwork and objects to life and interact with them in new ways. These examples of augmented art are already out there in the world today. In the future, augmented art could become the new normal for the art world, blending the digital and physical realms.

April Miller is a senior writer at ReHack Magazine and an editorial contributor at AR Insider. She specializes in VR/AR, IoT, and business technology. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.

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