In recent art world news, the technology augmented reality (the cousin of virtual reality) has been making headlines in the media these days. Simply defined, augmented reality (AR) technology superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world hence providing a composite view.  It has been widely reported that AR technology promises to transform how we learn and interact with the real world and now this includes the art world.

Many already know that art has been a relative latecomer to the digital revolution in recent years. People become accustomed to associating the value of art to seeing such art in person.  As such, art galleries and museums still rely on special exhibitions for a significant share of their revenue.

ArtFinder, a London-based e-commerce start-up, has built an IMDb-type searchable digital catalog containing hundreds of thousands of artworks in the form of paintings, sculptures, and art-related media.  The site also includes “essays on artists, artworks and artistic movements, making it a useful (and free) reference resource for art discovery, while social features open up new opportunities for enjoying art.  It allows you to virtually collect and share your favourite artworks, and as users build up a profile that reflects their particular tastes, the system also generates further recommendations of what they might like.”

ArtFinder’s co-founder Chris Thorpe believes that “this element of recommendations, when combined with geo-location, adds a crucial element of serendipity to art discovery and keeps that physical connection to the real world which is so crucial to connecting emotionally with a piece of artwork.”

Artivive, a Viennese start-up recently founded in 2017, offers an easy to use AR tool that allows artists to create new dimensions of art by linking classical with digital art.  Artivive’s AR tool also enables museums an innovative way for visitors to interact with exhibits in which the visitors use their smartphones or tablets to experience the layer of AR.  Artivive aims to become the “go-to solution for artists, galleries and creators and change the way art is created and consumed while building a community and movement around augmented reality art.”

Artivive’s CEO Codin Popescu believes that the “experiential element will always be central to how people enjoy and relate to artworks.” Specifically, Popescu believes that the key is “to use immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality to seamlessly add digital elements to those existing and well-loved experiences, making them richer and more accessible in the process.”

Prior to AR tools such as the type offered by Artivive, for artists to create in AR they had to develop their own isolated solutions, which required resources and technical skills, but today with the latest AR technology artists can take visitors on a journey in time and enhance art with illustrations or discuss how such art was made.  For museums, galleries and other art institutions, AR technology offers a new and innovative way for visitors to interact with exhibits.

It has been frequently reported that the art business needs to find ways of engaging the next generation of buyers.  AR technology may be just what the art business needs as it has certainly transformed how we experience art today.

For further information on the application of this dynamic, innovative technology to art, see “Augmented Reality Will Reinvent How We Experience Art,” recently published online by Forbes on June 20, 2018.