Vävda rum (Woven Places)
Early version of our artwork for Vävda rum
Vävda rum (Woven Places) is Sweden's first national exhibition in augmented reality. The project will display artworks at thousands of locations across Sweden, changing the experience of urban space with interventions ranging from sculptural social networks to hordes of reindeer and water spirits shaped by local climate data.
The exhibition showcases new artworks by ten artists exhibited at over a thousand unique sites all over Sweden. The audience experiences the art through an app on their own smartphones. All artworks are interactive and use the latest technological developments within augmented reality, scalable networking infrastructures, and similar technologies to create an immersive experience beyond anything previously done in this field.
The project is a collaboration with Sveriges Konstföreningar (The National Association of Swedish Art Societies), an umbrella organization gathering all of Sweden’s independent arts organizations. They have rallied hundreds of arts organizations to act as local hosts and place the artworks in their area. This means that even though the project is entirely digital, it still has a solid local presence.
Each artwork is developed for a specific site type, for example, a town square or a bus stop. By having the arts organizations place the art in their local area, we ensure that each piece is correctly contextualized in the urban space. Ulrika Flink, the curator of the exhibition, explains that our aim with the project is to “use the potential of AR technology to create collective experiences in public space, with a focus on what unites and binds us together through joy, experimentation and a reawakening of the familiar.”
The life we live outside the home, regardless of whether we live in the countryside or in the big city, is often described as characterized by increased insecurity and polarization. In recent years, a perception of public space as dangerous and filled with conflict has gained ground. It is a space described as somewhere where we have to overcome different obstacles, from the loss privatization of non-commercial spaces, to austerity-stricken public services, to different types of dangers when we move to and from school, the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the gas station. But isn’t it also precisely here, on the street, on the playground, or in the park that we meet people that are outside of our own social constellations of friendship and family? It is in the public space that we have an opportunity to see each other. How can we, in this ever-changing place, maintain our curiosity, joy, and willingness to rediscover the familiar together with others?
Woven Places wants to invite artists to explore the potential of AR technology to bring together different places, feelings, voices, and shared desires. Streets, parking lots, benches, squares, bus stops, parks, and bike racks are places that we constantly interact with in our daily lives and form strong connections to and deep relationships with a place. Our streets, the air we breathe, and our emotional lives already mix the local, national and global in the same breath. The relational aspects of public space affect how we meet each other in everyday life. It is the simple interplay that unites us, from how we relate to the people we encounter in our everyday lives, to how we behave in our relationships, that create the patterns that make up the social fabric that builds our shared interwoven lives.
Through your own smartphone, new perspectives, new worlds, aesthetic experiences and not least new forms of collaboration are discovered. The aesthetic experience opens up new ways of looking at life and creates a space for the meeting of one's own voice with the voices of others, releasing their transformative power. Our hope is that the artworks in Vävda rum will enable participation for both old and young to fantasize about new common horizons linked by joy and the desire to try see the familiar in new ways.
Ulrika Flink, curator of Vävda rum
Mobile technology and augmented reality constitute exciting new artistic mediums. With Vävda rum, we want to explore what an art form native to these technologies can be. A networked, interactive, augmented reality art. When photography was invented, it was initially used as a mere replacement for painting. It took time for it to mature into its own art form, fully embracing everything that makes photography unique. This exhibition embraces all that makes AR art unique, creating experiences that are only possible with this medium.
In order to achieve this, we created a scalable networking architecture that connects instances of an artwork to each other, allowing visitors' interactions in one location to influence the artwork in another. We are also working closely with all artist to assist them in developing their artworks, as well as act as creative sounding boards for what can be done with these technologies.
Pastelae's artwork, for example, changes shape based on the number of concurrent global viewers, forming a large horde of rowing reindeer that ebbs and flows throughout the day. Oscar Häggström's work tracks how long users spend with his piece and uses this data to alter their experience, creating a gamified interactive piece that encourages you to "not miss your streak." Adam James creates a participatory sculpture that connects two geographical locations, allowing the audience to create an impromptu performance that spans vast distances.
The artists participating in Vävda rum are Lundahl & Seitl, Åsa Cederqvist, James Webb, Space Popular, Eric Magassa, SONG collective, Untold Garden, Oscar Häggström, Pastelae, and Adam James.
Vävda rum opens on May 20th, runs until September 30th, and will be present in all Swedish cities and most towns. The project is funded by Postkodsstiftelsen.