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Outside In - Augmented Reality Artwork

If you have ever heard of Nottinghamshire, then there is no doubt that you have heard of Sherwood Forest. Home to the legend of Robin Hood, the woodland area is a National Nature Reserve, site of special scientific interest and a protected area of conservation. The ancient woodland is so important to the national heritage, there’s one tree, the major oak (rumoured home of Robin Hood himself), that has been painstakingly preserved with scaffold, stilts, fences and concrete.

Any kid from the local area can recall countless childhood trips into the forest, using sticks as swords, climbing trees and wearing green felt caps bought from the near-by gift shop…and I am no different. In fact, I didn't even need to be outdoors to be dressed in the full paraphernalia.

I was recently commissioned by Inspire Youth Arts to created eight artworks based around the local flora and fauna of Sherwood Forest, each piece further enhanced by an additional Augmented Reality layer when viewed through a smart device. What interested me in this initial stage was the concept of these models transversing multiple artistic planes, from the original physical sculptures, to digital renditions and back to a physical realm through the form of the commissioned prints.

The process began with a series of co-creation workshops with local young people in collaboration with sculpture Phil Neal. From recycled materials, a series of sculptural interpretations of woodland flora were created. The workshops aimed to inspire us to think of our connections to the natural world, and encourage a therapeutic atmosphere where we could share stories, make with our hands and work towards a shared outcome.

With help from Nottingham Universities Mixed Reality Lab, each of the sculptures created by the young people, were painstakingly photographed and scanned to transform them into digital 3D models through the technique of photogrammetry. This gave a virtual version of the sculptures, providing wider possibility for digital manipulation.

With the models created and scanned it was time to turn my attention to the creation of the artworks themselves. Here began the real research and development process for me at the studio. From the manipulation of the 3D models in Blender, I was able to create a series of prints for plotting. Pen plotters are computer controlled machines, which allow you to intricately draw images using a robot arm holding a pen. I love them because they allow me to turn work from the digital realm into tangible pieces of art.

Inspired by studio reference books of Victorian etchings of flora and fauna, further digital animations were created for triggering through a smart device. These animations overlay with the printed artwork, to bringing them bursting to life with movement and sound.

The final work was available to view at Nottinghamshire library galleries.

With Thanks to:

Inspire Youth Arts

Miner to Major

Matt Hudson

Phil Neal

Mixed Reality Lab Adrian Hazzard

The project co-collaborated with over 40 young people from;

Newark Emmaus Trust

Yeoman Park School

St Giles School

Orchard School

A group of home educated young people at The Old Library


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