Innovations in Street Murals: Houston’s Street Artists Experiment with Augmented Reality

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A year ago, the smart Houston duo brought t augmented reality experiences to the city’s most popular downtown. Creative technologist Billy Baccum and multidisciplinary artist Alex Ramos, founders of Creative Media Lab Input Output, have launched “Simulation,” Post Houston’s first artist residency.

The creative team transformed part of the POST Houston X atrium into a creative media lab. There, Baccam and Ramos experimented with various types of new technologies to create prototypes and develop artistic experiences through innovations in art.

The show used projection mapping, 3D printing, body tracking, camera vision, augmented reality, LEDs and computer simulation. The Simulation layout used a glass wall as an interface to allow the public to experience the art. Inside, viewers could see a collection of mechanisms, wires, gizmos and gadgets similar to the inner workings of a computer.

From the outside, viewers could explore and interact with the art through a glass wall using body tracking sensors, augmented reality via QR codes, or just plain watching. Various books, films and other memorabilia were scattered throughout the space to demonstrate inspiration regarding the theme of the simulations and their impact on culture.

And this is not the only one example of technological artistry in Houston. North Houston residents who visit the Aldine Branch Library have got more than just books to interact with, as a new mural outside the building has had an augmented reality component, showing more than meets the eye.

The colorful mural outside the library at 11331 Airline Drive says “knowledge” in bold capital letters. And by scanning the QR code next to the mural with a smartphone, visitors have been able to see a vibrant display of inspirational phrases with colorful moving elements such as books, butterflies, birds and ribbons.

The 9-by-40-foot mural was designed by Houston street artist DUAL as part of the North Houston County Public Art Program and was the first such project completed under the program. The program was produced by UP Art Studio earlier this year and provides a public art roadmap to enhance the attractiveness of the area and make it a more attractive place to live.

“The district’s mission is to help maintain the attractiveness of the area, its safety, affordability and sustainability, and so we felt it would be our responsibility to maintain the attractiveness of the area,” said North Houston Borough President Greg Simpson. “We chose this location because this library is in the heart of our neighborhood and gets a lot of traffic.

Simpson said the county’s study recommended a variety of street murals projects they have been planning to implement over the next few years. They started with the mural because they had a willing partner at the Aldine Branch Library, he said, a high-traffic area with a lot of visitors.

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