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Tech & Science Augmented reality takes Darwin art off the walls and into the streets

11:55  11 september  2019
11:55  11 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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As a delivery van zips down a laneway in Darwin's CBD, a giant turtle and two jellyfish appear to be swimming overhead.

Elsewhere, two enormous snakes look like they're floating in mid-air, twisting and turning around each other's body, as city workers capture the extraordinary scene with their cameras.

The creatures, of course, are not real; they're augmented reality experiences created as part of this year's Darwin Street Art Festival.

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The festival began in 2017, at a time when dozens of inner-city retail outlets, offices and cafes were closing their doors because of a dramatic economic downturn.

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Three years on, dozens of multi-storey murals now adorn the walls of buildings, transforming previously derelict alleyways into colourful enclaves of public art.

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The incorporation of augmented reality [AR] in this year's event has created an entirely new experience for the many visitors wandering along the laneways.

Augmented reality takes Darwin art off the walls and into the streets © ABC NEWS Darwin Street Art Festival app By downloading a free app, viewers can use their phone or tablet as a magic window that converts three of the festival's murals into three-dimensional animations.

"You can point your phone at [the murals] and they will just come to life," the festival's creative producer David Collins said.

"There are all these joyful noises and surprises coming out of kids and adults as they give [augmented reality] a go."

The technology creates a powerful experience for viewers, according to street artist Polly Johnstone, whose giant mural of a girl reading a book has been animated into an AR experience.

"People are blown away," Ms Johnstone said.

"There's people up and down this lane all day taking photos."

One of those passers-by was Wendy Bury.

"It's eye-catching and very interesting," she said after trying AR for the first time.

Tourist Sue Logie was also impressed with the immersive adaptation of the murals.

"A static display is fantastic in itself, but this is an added dimension. It's really good."

Local and international street artists will continue painting murals in Austin Lane and West Lane until the festival concludes on September 15.

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