Augmented reality artworks are on display in the National Garden from Saturday

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Projects are only viewable via free mobile app. Visitors are invited to explore the natural surroundings of the National Garden and spot the works of art scattered throughout

An unprecedented experience awaits those who visit the National Garden next Saturday when the “Seeing the Invisible” exhibition opens.

It is an augmented reality visual exhibition-experience at the National Garden that will start on October 22 and at the same time in ten other botanical gardens worldwide.

The works of the exhibition are visible only through the free Seeing the Invisible app, for mobiles and tablets*. Visitors are invited, through the application, to explore the natural environment of the National Garden and locate the works of art scattered within it, with the help of the suggested route displayed on the application’s map.

Thirteen Augmented Reality works by acclaimed international artists are hosted in the Seeing the Invisible exhibition throughout the gardens. In our country, a new work was commissioned to a Greek artist, with the result that the National Garden is the only participating garden presenting the 14th work. The specific work is “Nea Zoi” by Loukia Alavanou.

The participating artists are: Loukia Alavanou, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Ori Gersht, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Daito Manabe, Sarah Meyohas, Mel O’Callaghan, Pamela Rosenkranz, Timur Si-Qin, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Ai Weiwei.

The main theme of the exhibition focuses on man’s relationship with the environment, exploring the boundaries and connections between art, technology and nature. The exhibit adopts models of sustainable practices, hence placing these digital experiences within the botanical gardens, highlighting the importance of protecting the area’s flora and fauna and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, said: “Technology at the service of modern Art, in a wonderful natural environment, in a historical landmark of Athens. The experience is powerful as we navigate the paths and the works “emerge” and “enhance” the rich beauty of the Garden. We want Athens to pioneer and stand out. We want technology to serve beauty and make our lives better.”

“It is a great pleasure and honor to present in Greece the exhibition Seeing The Invisible, an unprecedented experience of viewing contemporary art through technology,” said the Director of Outset Greece, Artemis Stamatiadis. “The exhibition, with its simultaneous presence in ten (10) botanical gardens around the world, touches on critical issues of our time such as environmental awareness, the footprint of technology and the inclusive lifestyle. The coexistence of these works with the unique environment of the National Garden creates the ideal conditions for an interactive experience”.

The exhibition Seeing the Invisible began in 2021 with the initiative of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in collaboration with the Outset Contemporary Art Fund and the support of the Jerusalem Foundation. It is the first augmented reality exhibition implemented in collaboration with botanical gardens worldwide. The period 2022-2023 is presented in the National Garden of Athens and at the same time in ten (10) botanical gardens around the world: the Adelaide Botanic Garden (Australia), the Eden Project (England), Gardens by the Bay (Singapore), the Botanic Gardens of Jerusalem (Israel), Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Historic Spanish Point Campus (USA), Massachusetts Horticultural Society Garden at Elm Bank (USA), Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art (Canada), University of Texas, Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (USA) and Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (South Africa).

The guest experience

The works are “presented” on the paths of the National Garden and in its emblematic points through innovative technology. The works can only be viewed through the free Seeing the Invisible app, which viewers can download to their smartphone or tablet. Visitors follow the exhibition’s suggested route using the app’s GPS map. When the viewer is in close proximity to an exhibit, the app prompts them to scan the designated zone with their device. The physical environment in which the user is located remains the same, but through augmented reality technology the works of the exhibition are displayed in the pre-selected geographical locations.

If they wish, viewers can interact and take photos with the works using the app.

National Garden

The process:

Step 1. Download the free app Seeing the Invisible*, via the App Store or Google Play on your mobile or tablet from the link http://seeingtheinvisible.art/app/

Step 2. Open the installed app. In order for the application to work properly, you will be asked to access the location service (GPS) and the camera of your device.

Step 3. Connect to Wi-Fi or open your device data to display the exhibition map properly. Once it appears, you don’t need to be logged in for the app to work.

Step 4. Follow the information displayed on your device screen and browse the exhibition to discover the works.

*The application requires a mobile phone with at least 4GB of memory, and Apple iOS 11 or Android 9.0 Pie operating system (API 28). It is equally supported on iPads & Tablets that carry the same features.

Visitors to the exhibition are advised to have already downloaded the free app Seeing the Invisible, via Google Play & App Store from the link http://seeingtheinvisible.art/app/, before visiting the garden, and to bring headphones with them.

Theme of the Exhibition
Our planet in a state of emergency: climate change and biodiversity loss. By placing these digital experiences within botanical gardens without disturbing the flora and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum, the exhibition addresses issues related to nature, the environment and sustainability as it explores the boundaries and relationships between art, technology and nature . At once melancholic and hopeful, each artwork offers a unique perspective on these unresolved issues by creating spaces that provoke experiential thoughts and reflections, while urging viewers to immerse themselves in them.

National Garden

As viewers are invited to explore the botanical gardens and locate the artworks scattered throughout, they must use electronic devices to display the digital works and, in many cases, experience the way their own physical presence it affects the work and changes its course by further exploring the interactions between the ‘art object’ and the self. Since the works cannot be experienced online but require the physical presence of viewers in the gardens, they offer a “phygital” experience that combines physical location and digital presence. Thus, the exhibition invites viewers to also reflect on contemporary concepts related to place and non-place, the physical and digital realms.

Exhibition Information
Opening Date: 22 & 23 October 2022 (from 10:30 am to sunset)

Exhibition duration: October 2022 – September 2023

Visiting hours: the opening hours of the National Garden (from sunrise to sunset)

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