• Barry Ng

UK’s first AR Gallery to bring brand new art experience

The use of augmented reality (AR) has been expanding and it does have a stake in the art industry. Some art tech startups have already adopted AR in their products or services, and now the use of AR has extended to art gallery that the Thomas Crown Gallery officially opened in Birmingham on 3 February is the first gallery to bring AR and street art together in the UK.

Founding the Thomas Crown Gallery

Born and raised in Birmingham, international art dealer Stephen Howes founded the Thomas Crown Gallery with pride and he believes ground-breaking possibilities emerge when truly cutting-edge technologies – including augmented reality – and art collide, saying “for the first time in the UK, this truly avant-garde creative phenomenon is showcased in a specialist space.”

Embedding Art Tech into the Gallery

Wide use of art tech elements is the key reason for the gallery being special and innovative. Howes emphasised, “it houses some of the country’s most original and lauded graffiti and street artists who have been inspired by revolutions and by ideas that disrupt convention, such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and activist groups.”

​AR aside, blockchain technology can be found in the gallery. “All our works of art are logged on the Ethereum’s blockchain with a unique ‘smART’ contract. This means that all the artwork is authenticated, and all providence issues are solved. This is a major step forward in the art world where forgery is a growing and expensive problem,” Thomas Crown Art’s Tech expert and business analyst Ian Mcleod noted.

AR making an impact to the art world

Howes is optimistic with the development of AR in the art world. “Mobile technology is now part of our everyday, with more and more of our smartphones offering augmented reality experiences. Art is set to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of this digital revolution,” said Howes.

AR may even create more rooms for artists to express their ideas. “AR allows artists to add considerably more layers and depth to their works, aside from just simply replacing one section in a painting with another still image, animation, effects and even technical details can be applied relatively easily with several purpose-built apps,” Howes commented. “In the AR world, you can explore and interact with art like never before in history. As such, the new art-tech gallery becomes a transformative artistic playground.”

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