With the roses still in bloom, and the reflecting pool capturing fall colour, it’s hard to think that the Royal Botanical Gardens needs more spectacle.
But the new exhibition Seeing the Invisible adds just that.
With an iPhone or iPad or similar Android device, visitors experience via augmented reality, birds, massive flower arrangements, dancers, mazes even a grand piano in concert.
The AR show features the work of 13 international artists and opened simultaneously at 12 gardens in six countries. It is a timed and ticketed event running until November 6. Best to check rbg.ca for full information.
Download the app
Before you go-download the Seeing the Invisible app. It’s essential. Once at RBG the app loads a route through Hendrie Park with all 13 artworks. A bit of fiddling is needed to launch these artworks into their AR splendour, but there are experts roaming the gardens to help with the tech.
In the work called Gilded Cage by Ai Weiwei, one can walk inside a gold cage, open turnstiles, and experience what it’s like being in a cage and viewing the gardens through bars.
Morphecore by Daito Manabe presents a dancing digital figure that can be positioned anywhere as you walk around its virtual location. The dancer, along with the accompanying music was once of my favourites. All the pieces have music or natural sounds, so bringing earbuds or headphones enhances the experience.
In some ways Seeing the Invisible feels like the early steps in a new way to experience art and nature. It’s provocative. It feels absurd to be looking at a phone while immersed in “real” nature. But it also introduces us to international art we’d likely never see. It didn’t have to be packed up and shipped at great expense to institutions while taking a toll on the environment.
Then there’s the sense of unease when dealing with alterations in reality. Do we really need to go anywhere if we can step into a new world via our phones?
Best idea is to see it for yourself. Ready, set, augment.