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Sally Reynolds, creative director
Rama Allen, executive creative director
Steve Kutny/Conrad McLeod/Ben Weaver/Daniel Whitaker, designers
Jack Kalish/Kim Köhler/Richard Lapham/Jeffrey Wang, developers
Rauri Cantelo, director of photography
Desi Gonzalez, executive producer
Oliver Schwartz, production coordinator
Hayley Underwood Norton, senior producer
The Mill, project design and development
Tate Britain, client

“Augmented reality should do just that: augment reality. Untold Stories allows the user to learn about art in a more exploratory way than the typical museum walk-through.” —juror Dan Mall

“A great use of AR with really well-curated content creation that brings art to life. It gets people looking closer at the artwork, and that is the kind of impact we are all trying to achieve in museum spaces.” —juror Phillip Tiongson

Overview: To engage visitors at the Tate Britain in a new way, The Mill, in collaboration with Facebook Creative Shop, created augmented reality (AR) effects to accompany eight paintings at the museum. Comprised of animations and sound derived from or inspired by the artworks, the AR effects reveal the untold stories behind the paintings. After using their smartphones to access Tate Britain’s Virtual Wing, museumgoers can explore the hidden narrative and historical context of each piece.

  • The Mill used Spark AR Studio, Cinema 4D, JavaScript, OpenGL Shading Language, After Effects and Photoshop to create the effects.

  • Untold Stories utilizes Spark AR Studio’s Spark Spots feature, where three or more image-tracking effects are collated into one master effect.

  • The project took three and a half months to produce.

Comments by Kim Köhler, Sally Reynolds and Hayley Underwood Norton, The Mill:
What do you think are the project’s core features? “The narrative of Untold Stories was the foundation for the project. Our learnings from a prototype indicated that a suite of AR effects as part of a location-based experience may be strongest when bound by a narrative journey or thread—a ‘collect-them-all’ type of scenario. The narrative asks the visitor to interact conceptually, to rethink and reflect on what they saw: What did the artwork become? How did it transform? What do the Virtual Wing pieces have in common? We are at the precipice of a new sense: the digital sense, where data-driven and previously hidden context about our world—and each other—becomes a new tool of perception in our environment.”

What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “The in-effect navigation included museum wayfinding and an effect progress bar to keep track of how many effects a user has engaged. Signage near the artworks also indicated to visitors the hidden AR layer. We imagine a time in the near future where minimal to no signage is required, and the opportunity to go beyond a fixed word count next to an artwork creates deeper meaning for viewers.”

What was the response? “There is visible surprise and fascination when these artworks escape their at dimensions, and a lot of mentions of ‘just like in Harry Potter!’ Opening up an experience like this in a museum like Tate Britain unlocks the enormous realm of potential for museums everywhere. Imagine artifacts all around the world hosting interactive versions of themselves that take up zero physical curatorial space and simply compound the existing artifacts. Additionally, one must be in the presence of the artifact to employ this, further invigorating the museum-going experience. What we provided is an interactive version of the placard, an offering of a deeper investigation of the artwork.”


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