Nina Chanel Abney created an augmented reality work in the form of a wise companion.

Justin Kamp
Aug 28, 2020 4:13PM, via Acute Art

Nina Chanel Abney, Imaginary Friend, 2020, augmented reality. Courtesy Nina Chanel Abney and Acute Art.

Nina Chanel Abney has teamed up with extended reality (XR) company Acute Art to launch a new augmented reality (AR) artwork. Imaginary Friend (2020), which debuted today in Washington, D.C. and is available for free on the company’s app, is meant to mark the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as the “Get your knee off our necks” march, scheduled to take place tomorrow.

The AR sculpture tells the story of “a modern day sage” who attempts to give a blessing to a friend, despite that friend’s pessimism, according to a press release. The monumental version of the virtual sculpture will be on view in Chicago, the Grand Canyon, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC in the United States; Paris, London, and Berlin in Europe; and Tokyo in Asia. There will also be a version available on the app that users can place and interact with in their own home.

Abney described the work in a statement:

Inspired by the mythological characters and disincarnate guides whom people turn to in times of trouble, and in collaboration with artists who understand the value of humour in processing grief, trauma, and distress, I created “Imaginary Friend” to offer participants an always-ready companion to mitigate the uncertainty and precarity of today. “Imaginary Friend” asks us to keep at the heart, the value of collective life and public interaction at a moment that threatens to push us further toward alienated being.

Imaginary Friend marks the latest far-reaching collaboration between an artist and Acute Art. In March, the company launched a global exhibition of monumental AR KAWS sculptures, along with a series of small-scale virtual sculptures that could be placed around the home. In May, the company collaborated with Olafur Eliasson to release an AR project, dubbed Wunderkammer (2020).

Further Reading: A Virtual KAWS Exhibition Tests the Market for Augmented Reality Art

Artist Nina Chanel Abney with Imaginary Friend (2020). Photo by Khari Ricks, courtesy Nina Chanel Abney and Acute Art.

Justin Kamp
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