Augmented reality brings art to gardens



El Anatsui, a sculptor from West Africa, whose iconic installations of recycled bottles gently sparkle as if moved by a gentle wind.

“Art is a parallel harmony with nature,” said 19th-century French artist Paul Cézanne. Over the next year or so, art and nature will not only be in harmony at the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, they will merge, and more.

An augmented reality (AR) art exhibition was launched in the gardens on Wednesday, September 22. Entitled See the invisible, the exhibition opened as one of 12 participating gardens in six countries.

The groundbreaking exhibition allows visitors to Kirstenbosch to view 13 contemporary works of art by internationally renowned artists through a technology-mediated experience. The Seeing the Invisible app will use physical locations in Kirstenbosch and augment the real world with virtual artwork.

The exhibit is being shown simultaneously in 12 other biomes around the world. For example, the tapestry by artist El Anatsui may appear on a phone in the Kirstenbosch concert lawn area while a visitor to Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden will discover the same work among giant sequoias.

“AR technology is the first of its kind to be used in an exhibit in a SANBI botanical garden,” says Sarah Struys, Events and Tourism Manager at Kirstenbosch. “Visitors to Kirstenbosch will be able to experience masterpieces by global artists. You will be able to walk or browse certain rooms and even hear sound effects.

Each work explores the boundaries and connections between art, technology and nature, some with stimulating perspectives.

Among the artists is El Anatsui, a sculptor from West Africa, whose iconic installations of recycled bottles gently glisten as if moved by a gentle wind. It is a first for El Anatsui’s art to be adapted to augmented reality.

Other exhibits include a new work by Sigalit Landau, which offers the viewer countless avenues of investigation, both around and within the hidden coves of a work inspired by the natural formation of a stalagmite from salt.

Also new, Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s work revolves around the organic form of a dried cactus branch, deepening his re-examination of the desert as an omen of life, rather than symbols of death.

In addition, the exhibition includes a meticulous translation of Ai Weiwei’s work. Golden cage in AR, and addresses issues related to power structures, habitats, borders, containment and restrictions, but also care, preservation and education.

See the invisible has been developed in collaboration with botanical gardens around the world. It was initiated by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, with support from the Jerusalem Foundation.

It is co-organized by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring.

“Seeing the Invisible was born out of a collaboration during the pandemic with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, which opened our eyes to the incredible opportunities to create a whole new kind of contemporary art experience in a garden setting. botany ”, indicates a joint statement. by Candida Gertler OBE, co-founder of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund and Mirav Katri, director of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund Israel. “We are delighted to partner with exceptional gardens from around the world for this exhibition. He bridges the physical and digital worlds to create a new “phygital” model, combining their in-depth knowledge of their field with the most advanced technology in contemporary art to develop a new exhibition format beyond the typical space of a museum or gallery. “

Visitors will be able to access the 13 See the invisible works of art in Kirstenbosch via smartphone or tablet via the Seeing the Invisible app. The app is available for free download from Google Play or App Store.

The See the Invisible exhibition is now until August of next year. It opened on Wednesday September 22. It will be held daily in the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens off Rhodes Drive in Newlands.

Entrance to the exhibition is free, but entrance fees to the garden apply; Members of the Botanical Society (BotSoc) with a membership card will have free access to the garden and the exhibition.

  • For more information on the exhibition at Kirstenbosch, visit or Follow #SeeingTheInvisible on social media for more updates.



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