Uninvited and unsolicited, these surreal figures become digital trespassers into the de Young Museum sculpture garden in San Francisco, California. Although they are visible only to some, they are affixed to the site with remarkable fidelity; reflection maps generated from 360-degree images captured on-site help to create uncannily realistic scenes, which were recorded in real-time from an iPad app built using iOS ARKit and Unity.
Skinned in a reflective, shiny silver, the figures are akin to many of the existing outdoor pieces and initially feel like an extension of the collection — whimsical sculptures that have come to life digitally.
But their behavior feels intentional and intelligent; as they evaluate Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Sphere Within a Sphere and Zhan Wang’s Artificial Rock, or try to find a comfortable perch on a bench, they become set apart from the art and begin to feel more like visitors from another dimension, here to see the sights of ours.
The project was prefaced with a range of experiments trying to imagine Archan Nair's organic lifeforms in digital space overlapping physical space, in a way that makes them feel like they belong.