The Singh Twins have collaborated with Draw & Code to create an AR-infused exhibition experience.
Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins explored the intertwined history of the Indian textiles industry, the British Empire, enslavement and luxury consumerism. Draw & Code were challenged to create an augmented reality app that helps to explain the full story behind the art.
The Singh Twins have collaborated on animated and augmented reality artworks with Draw & Code before, starting with their celebratory piece to commemorate the City of Liverpool’s 800th birthday back in 2007. This meant that each party was very familiar with how the other works, so it was a pleasure to work on the exhibition from so early in the creative process.
Slaves of Fashion was conceived with unpicking the complex relationship between India and the UK in mind, uncovering hidden details of Europe’s colonial past. Featuring 20 pieces from the internationally renowned twins, Draw & Code were commissioned to use immersive technology to give visitors an understanding of the story and meaning behind each of the pieces and an insight into the twins’ exhaustive creative process.
Draw & Code’s development team created a marker-based AR experience that brought to life the story in the art seen here. The aim was to produce a distributed app that allowed visitors to Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery to tap their finger on the moving AR images to unveil historic information and the meaning behind each facet of the art.
Why did we opt for marker-based AR? The first reason was accessibility – a vast majority of smartphones and tablets can run this style of interactive experience. Secondly, contextual AR such as this offers a more direct connection between the artwork and the app.
The resulting app also allowed visitors to play with assets from the paintings for themselves. An easy-to-use photo-customisation function allowed the placement of these ‘stickers’ on photos taken within the app. There’s also an audio commentary option to help guide visitors around the artwork and to further increase accessibility.
The app was created to leverage the technology that every visitor carries with them. This in itself is a contentious issue with many art venues – should they encourage visitors to use phones in the space? Both the Singh Twins and National Museums Liverpool were willing to experiment and to test this theory out – thankfully it’s been a success!
The app has been popular with gallery-goers at the Slaves of Fashion exhibition with the attendance of the Walker Art Gallery increasing by 53% since its launch. Now the exhibition is moving onto the Wolverhampton Art Gallery with the same digital companion app along for the ride too.