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Pérez Art Museum Miami launches its first-ever augmented reality exhibition
Photo of Felice Grodin’s Terrafish taken during tour with PAMM Teaching Artists, November 22, 2017. Photo by Adrienne Chadwick.

MIAMI, FLA.- Pérez Art Museum Miami launched its first-ever Augmented Reality (AR) exhibition featuring works by Miami-based artist Felice Grodin during Art Week in December. Felice Grodin: Invasive Species is a virtually interactive, digital exhibition of commissioned works that employs the technology of augmented reality (AR), and is accessible to visitors using iOS devices in PAMM’s outdoor areas and in the Padma and Raj Vattikuti Learning Theatre on the museum’s first floor. This AR project is made possible thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Visitors to the museum are able to experience Grodin’s digital artworks, brought to life using the PAMM app, which is powered by Cuseum.

Influenced by geophilosophy—a field of thought shaped by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that analyzes the relationship between physical and mental territories—Grodin draws on her training as an architect to explore the mutable within landscape, architecture, and her urban surroundings. Felice Grodin: Invasive Species interacts with PAMM’s architecture, evolving and transforming the museum’s environment for the duration of the exhibition.

Featuring a total of four digital works, the show launches with two AR site-specific works— Mezzbug and Terrafish (both 2017)—that engage with and virtually enhance the museum’s building In Terrafish, Grodin overlaps PAMM’s hanging gardens on the waterfront terrace with the translucent body of a digital species she created, which is suggestive of nonnative jellyfish found in South Florida waters. By drawing on the destructive impact of invasive species and creating a new digital environment, Grodin highlights the transformative and unstable state of our ecosystem, speculating about a not-so-distant future affected by climate change and overtaken by uncanny creatures.

As part of the ongoing exhibition, PAMM will launch a third digital artwork by Grodin using AR on the PAMM app during the museum’s upcoming Community Night: Tech Takeover in January 2018, and a fourth work will be made available in spring of 2018. Grodin’s work is being produced into digital renderings using Apple’s augmented reality platform called ARKit and can be viewed via the PAMM app, which is powered by Cuseum, through April 2018.

“As a 21st century museum, PAMM seeks to reinforce the idea of the museum as a place for experimentation and a laboratory for ideas,” said PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans. “We are grateful for the support of Knight Foundation in allowing PAMM to experiment and implement this cutting-edge technology meant to enhance, refine, and further our mission: to enable visitors of all ages and backgrounds and to interact with the most progressive visual arts of our time.”

Knight Foundation’s generous grant and mentorship through the development of this project allowed PAMM to explore the use of augmented reality in the museum space and engage in a larger discussion about the intersection of technology and contemporary art. The funding is part of a Knight Foundation initiative to help museums better meet new community demands and use digital tools to thoughtfully involve visitors in compelling experiences and conversations surrounding art.

“People want their art experiences to be personalized, interactive and shareable, just as they expect of everything else in their daily lives,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “Museums need to continue to make this cultural shift, engaging visitors on-site and online with their collections in innovative ways. We hope funding from Knight Foundation can help fuel the process, so that PAMM and other institutions can continue to be vibrant centers of community life.”

“It's been thrilling to collaborate with Pérez Art Museum Miami and Felice Grodin to create an experience leveraging one of the most exciting new technologies,” said Cuseum CEO Brendan Ciecko. “Augmented reality opens up a whole new world for creative, artistic, and educational pursuits – we look forward to the evolution of Felice Grodin: Invasive Species in the weeks and months to come.”

Visitors’ firsthand experience and feedback during Art Week will also be part of the AR exhibition, incorporated into this beta stage of the year-long pilot project which will assist in further refinement. This augmented reality pilot program is one of multiple technology initiatives PAMM has rolled out in 2017, including the hiring of a full-time digital journalist—a first of its kind position—and the recent launch of the PAMM App, which enriches the visitor experience with multimedia content, video, and audio tours.

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