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Augmented Reality art gallery to open its doors in Birmingham

David Murphy

The UK’s first augmented reality (AR) art and street art gallery will open in Birmingham on 3 February. The Thomas Crown Gallery will be located in Stirchley, the new epicentre of the independent arts scene in the UK’s second city.

Birmingham-born international art dealer, Stephen Howes of Thomas Crown Art, hailed the launch of the gallery, saying: “When truly cutting-edge technologies – including augmented reality – and art collide, ground-breaking possibilities emerge. For the first time in the UK, this truly avant-garde creative phenomenon is showcased in a specialist space.

“It houses some of the country’s most original and lauded graffiti and street artists who have been inspired by revolutions and by ideas that disrupt convention, such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and activist groups.”

As Thomas Crown Art’s tech expert and business analyst Ian Mcleod, explained, each piece of artwork is embedded with blockchain technology. “All our works of art are logged on the Ethereum’s blockchain with a unique ‘smART’ contract,” he said. “This means that all the artwork is authenticated, and all providence issues are solved. This is a major step forward in the art world where forgery is a growing and expensive problem.”

And with augmented reality becoming an everyday experience for many people, Howes added that art is set to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of this digital revolution.

“AR allows artists to add considerably more layers and depth to their works, aside from just simply replacing one section in a painting with another still image, animation, effects and even technical details can be applied relatively easily with several purpose-built apps,” he said. “It doesn’t end there – 3D visualisations can also be used to make the works even more intricate. In the AR world, you can explore and interact with art like never before in history. As such, the new art-tech gallery becomes a transformative artistic playground. Tech is democratising art. The gallery, which is a statement against the elite, symbolises this like nowhere else in the UK.”

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