Experiencing AR in art on Facebook vs. Artivive

Visitors experiencing André Wee's A Better Tomorrow at Jam@Siri House.

Visitors experiencing André Wee's A Better Tomorrow at Jam@Siri House.

Stories about augmented reality (AR) transforming museum experiences are plenty. AR, most simply put, adds one or more digital layers on top of a physical, tangible layer. With this, consumer engagement increases, communication can be achieved in a more creative manner (to say the least), and there is potential to add interactivity to traditionally non-interactive art. Moreover, for artists, galleries and experience-providers, the engagement rate can be measured, simply because it is all stored digitally.

mage showing AR artwork engagement rate from 7 March - 22 April 2019.

mage showing AR artwork engagement rate from 7 March - 22 April 2019.

MeshMinds recently exhibited André Wee's A Better Tomorrow series of AR canvases that are the artist's impression of Singapore's sustainable future in 2075. The experience was first launched at ArtScience Museum, from 7 - 17 March and viewed by over 10,000 visitors. Last week (16 - 21 April), the series was featured in a more intimate setting at Jam@Siri House in Dempsey Singapore, as part of BuroLarge's New Frontiers initiative. The image above shows the number of views the AR feature of the artwork received over time. 

No doubt AR has its benefits. What we were curious to study was - out of the several that are out there, which platforms do consumers prefer to experience AR on. Artivive? Facebook? Native apps? Web AR? As the exhibition at Siri House offered us a manageable sample size, we studied how visitors reacted to experiencing André Wee's work on Artivive, an AR application downloadable on the App and Play store, and Facebook, an application familiar to most. 

Exhibition text offering visitors an option between Facebook and Artivive to experience the AR art.

Exhibition text offering visitors an option between Facebook and Artivive to experience the AR art.

Immediately, the feedback observed by just the naked eye was that Artivive loaded the AR content faster than Facebook. As a result, visitors had to wait less; an advantage given the fact that AR and its workings were new to most of them. It captured their interest and intrigue quicker, and using it on their own phones meant there was a higher chance of them sharing the content on their own social platforms, achieving greater outreach. 

Having observed audiences during the March showcase at ArtScience Museum, where interest was lost quickly when they were told to download an app to experience the art, i.e. Artivive. Instead, they preferred to use the iPads provided to view the art. At Jam@Siri House, other than the fact that there was just one available iPad as opposed to more, most visitors seemed to be familiar with Artivive. Perhaps because this audience was more specific - comprising of creative and media professionals, journalists and entrepreneurs informed about trends in art. Upon digging deeper and engaging in conversation with some visitors, we discovered that BuroLarge too had an AR Artivive specific feature on their publication cover and familiarity was a highly probable reason visitors took to Artivive. 

Video illustrating André Wee's A Better Tomorrow series at ArtScience Museum (7 - 17 March). 

Some positive comments were overheard during the course of the 5-day exhibition, including likening what visitors saw to "the future of art galleries". This holds great promise, given what visitors saw was AR in its basic framework; a video overlay onto a still image. As believers in the greater potential of AR through gamification, 3D characterisation, spatial manipulation, face masks and portals, MeshMinds truly believes there is more the world has yet to see. And right now, it looks more likely that Facebook (through Spark, its developer platform), can achieve the above in comparison to Artivive. 

Olivier Bos