This Trippy Augmented-Reality Exhibition Just Popped Up at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens

Facebook / Seeing The Invisible

It’s tough to be in Melbourne right now. Seeing other states leap with joy now that they can bar hop and book in at restaurants with newfound freedom just makes us that much more excited for life to return to normal.

But thankfully, the spirit of Melbourne never dies. You might think you’d run out of lockdown activities, but you’re wrong. 

An augmented reality art exhibition has popped up in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s called Seeing the Invisible, and it has premiered simultaneously in 12 botanic gardens around the world — in the US, UK, Canada, Israel, South Africa and Melbourne.

Facebook / Seeing The Invisible

The exhibition was originally created in 2017, by Chinese multidisciplinary artist and activist Ai WeiWei, as a massive physical structure in New York, which has now been translated into augmented reality. The artist invites you to see the world as a prisoner, an extremely impactful experience in AR.

It’s basically an opportunity to see ‘more than meets the eye’ and have a botanic gardens experience that goes beyond the binary. Slightly psychedelic in nature, the augmented reality exhibition allows you to see things that aren’t really there, which is both magical and thought-provoking in nature.

The exhibition comes to life through the Seeing the Invisible app, which you can download here before you get to the gardens.

A gilded cage will appear on your phone screen, which, as you turn around, encapsulates you.

Facebook / Seeing The Invisible

The exhibition features over a dozen pieces by high-profile artists such as Weiwei, Isaac Julien, Sigalit Landau and El Anatsui, as well as some younger artists; JakobKudsk Steensen, Sarah Meyohas and Timur Si-Qin, just to name a few.

Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol also contributed, whose work was also shown in the most recent NGV Triennial as the largest-ever digital artwork to ever be displayed at the NGV… he’s a bit of a trailblazer. 

For his contribution to Seeing the Invisible, Anadol created Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams AR, which uses an AI algorithm trained on 68,986,479 million raw images of nature, which when seen through AR, look slightly warped in an modern-impressionism kind-of-way.

Facebook / Seeing The Invisible

Seeing the Invisible is the perfect inspiration for right now. It reminds us that there are always new and different ways of seeing the world, and that those perspectives can inspire creativity and continue to teach us really powerful lessons. 

Seeing the Invisible is on at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne and Cranbourne gardens until August 2022. 

You can download the app here.

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