ON Art Fest Hosts Augmented Reality Mural Contest
Earlier this month, the Concrete Canvas Art Festival, a multiday visual art fair where local and international artists gather to paint live murals across the city, kicked off in Hamilton, Ontario.
Typically taking place over one weekend, the Concrete Canvas Art Festival is a self-guided, one-of-a-kind event series that brings people together to celebrate art, music, culture and diversity through mural making and musical performances.
The festival is notably conducted in a similar format to free music festivals, such as Art Basel in Miami, NuitBlanche in Toronto or Under Pressure in Montreal.
However, this year festival organizers tried something new: an augmented reality paint-by-numbers mural. According to Scott McDonald, the co-founder of the festival and the mind behind the paint-by-numbers mural, the opportunity is the very first of its kind.
Hamilton’s new interactive #mural by #streetartist Scott McDonald is now live. Scan the QR code and “paint” the mural on your phone. Upload it. And during the Concrete Canvas #streetart festival he’ll be projecting all the submissions “live” onto the wall. pic.twitter.com/6C1VhHKTzP— Jason Thorne (@JasonThorne_RPP) July 9, 2022
“We've been [looking] everywhere,” McDonald told CBC. “We beta-tested it at the Festival Mural in Montreal and everyone's comments were like, ‘This is amazing and it hasn't been done.’ So we're the creators.”
In anticipation of the annual event, crews pasted a paint-by-numbers stencil of a Peregrine falcon at the top of Hamilton’s Sheraton Hotel. During the Concrete Canvas Art Festival, attendees were invited to point their phone at the wall and “paint” the mural using a QR code.
These paintings could then be submitted to festival officials.
McDonald went on to tell reporters that the idea came to him while he was working on a project with Canadian artist Burnt Toast—who has submitted a mural for Concrete Canvas—at Art Basel in Miami.
“We did some projects with Snapchat with our murals where they kind of brought them to life,” he said. “It just got my mind thinking on what the possibilities were with augmented reality and murals.”
McDonald went on to note that he’s currently working on his next paint-by-numbers mural project. Bigger than what’s happening at Concrete Canvas, the next paint-by-numbers mural will integrate Bluetooth so that people can witness their painting in real time through a projection.
“I want to really showcase what public art can do and how it can resonate with people instead of having it in our galleries, where it's taken away from people,” said McDonald. “We want art to be public and we want to keep growing.”
Today (July 22) and tomorrow (July 23), paintings submitted to the Concrete Canvas mural contest will be projected onto the wall using a 30,000-lumen projector. Festival goers will get to vote on which version they like best, which will then be put on the wall permanently.
Other Unique Murals
In a project headed by Contemporary Art Space & Studio (CASS) and Water Street Tampa, officials commissioned Dutch artist Leon Keer to paint a new mural on the city’s East Cumberland Parking Garage.
Spanning a 100-foot concrete surface and taking up nearly 1,500 square feet in total, the mural depicts a tower of colorful gemstones stacked on top of each other in the order of the rainbow.
“While creating the mural, I looked into the contemporary feel, which reflects on the diversity of the people and businesses going into the new Water Street Tampa neighborhood,” Keer said in a news release. “The mural is focused on the balance and cohesion of diversity reflected here in the city of Tampa.”
Unlike traditional murals, however, tech-savvy viewers can watch the artwork come to life through animation in an augmented reality—with the aid of Keer’s LeonKeer app on their smartphone or tablet.
If downloaded and aimed at the garage wall, it would appear as though the wall isn’t painted at first. Some seconds later, the painted gemstones begin to stack one on top of the other, swaying and then bursting into many smaller pieces outwards from the garage.
Not the first 3D-mural of its kind, Keer reportedly specializes in augmented reality street art and has previously executed commissions in Europe, Mexico, The United Arabic Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and several Asian countries.
Some years prior, in 2018, street artist David Louf—more commonly known as Mr. June—announced the competition of a number of urban projects showcasing his 3D-style murals on various pieces of infrastructure and cityscape.
At the time, Colossal reported that Louf just completed an entire building in Berlin with his signature process: using a laser to sketch the surface’s main lines and then painting abstract overtop. The artist’s website features photos and videos of his work, including a design on the roof of a water tank in Greensboro, North Carolina, that he calls “an ode to the beauty of water.”
Louf says he painted the 45-meter-in-diameter water tank roof in 13 days.