Reality augmented – now you see it, now you don’t

The world of art is here to test our boundaries, to prevent the reality from boring us to death and to challenge our comfort zones. Art is a living thing reacting and following the trends and innovations of our society and this exhibition has definitely caught up with our lives and the technology of today. (Un)seen Gold Coast is an exhibition that will challenge our traditional conceptions of art and bring the cutting edge trends of the art world to our doorstep. Take your smartphone or tablet, make your way to the Cultural Precinct and visit an art exhibition unlike many, if any, you have seen.

(Un)seen Gold Coast is an off-shoot of a larger mobile 3D augmented reality art show (Un)seen Sculptures and introduces six pieces by Brisbane based artist, Jake Hempson. Through these site-specific works, you are given a glimpse into the new cultural precinct and the stories of the site and the city. Your smartphone or tablet is turned into a portal that enables you to see an exhibition not with your naked eye but through the technology you hold in your hand. Imagine ascending the stairs to the Art Centre not noticing anything you haven’t seen before until you look at it all through your phone and voilà, a large sculpture, a 3D collage of tourist souvenirs, appears to be floating right under the canopy of the entrance. Welcome to a 21st century art exhibition.  The exhibition takes over the whole site of the future cultural precinct; the gallery, the parklands, the lake, even the car park.

Jake Hempson is a Zimbabwean born multi-disciplinary, digital artist and at least in this instance, a sculptor working with a non-tactile medium. He captures objects in the real world and translates and re-interprets them into the digital.

“This object is a pen in the real world,” says Jake.  “I take that pen and turn it into a digital artifact. How does that change in the process? It is not a [physical] pen anymore. It is something else. And that is what I look at through my practice.”

“My exploration of my medium is the transition from the physical to the digital and then how the audience engage with it.” Hempson describes his practice. “I always look at nature. It is my source of inspiration. Even though I am working with [a medium] so removed from nature, I am passionate about the forms and shapes repeated in it. There are mathematical formulas in nature that we are now more aware of. I look at those and they influence how I put things together.”

Working in residence at the Art Centre for this project, Hempson is looking at the site, how it transfers into the future and how the transition blends in with the history of the site and how it is currently used. But not just the sites around the precinct, also the Gold Coast in general, where the city has come from, what it essentially is and where it might be heading.

The artist residency and the looming exhibition has already been a success for the Cultural Precinct.

“This has been a really wonderful coming together of Jake’s medium and us being at the verge of a new way of doing art and culture at the precinct.” Anna Carroll, Director of the Cultural Precinct project describes. “We picked the sites and asked him to respond to them. With some of them, we had an idea of what we were aiming for but the rest of them have just blown us away.  We had no idea just how great they ended up being.”

“The sites that we wanted to explore have real relevance to the cultural precinct process; we start in the current gallery, which represents where we are now and finish the tour at the site of the future. It is great to have Jake imagining how he can interpret that and respond to it.” Carroll continues.

“This is a really joyous way to experience what you can do here above and beyond your imagination. You can hold up your phone and walk to the Chevron Island bridge that will one day be there and have an experience with one of Jake’s works that is literally floating on top of the water.”

This exhibition offers something new to those of us who are used to experiencing art on the wall, to those who haven’t quite gotten our heads around the new cultural precinct and the possibilities it offers, to those who consider technology more their cup of tea than high art in its traditional sense and to those who look for something new and cutting edge to experience on our own cultural playground.

(Un)seen Gold Coast opens on 30 April to coincide with Glow festival and runs until 2 October. If you want more of an insight into the project, Jake Hempson is blogging the whole process, success, failures and all, on his website

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