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Giant augmented reality plants!

14 August 2013 by Angela

Augmented reality plants at World Museum

‘Augmented reality’ planting in the atrium at World Museum

Here’s an update from Donna Young, our Curator of Herbarium:

Last summer I was approached by artists, Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer, who were interested in finding out more about William Roscoe and the first Liverpool Botanic Garden.

Many are familiar with Roscoe being an MP, anti-slavery campaigner, writer and art collector. He was also an eminent botanist who founded the gardens in 1803. Thousands of original plants grown in the gardens are preserved as dried pressed specimens and housed in the Botany section of World Museum.

Image of a plant specimin

Roscoea pupurea herbarium sheet. Grown at the gardens in 1823, named in honour of William Roscoe

Tamiko and Will were commissioned by FACT to create their ‘Turning FACT Inside Out’ exhibition (running until August 25th). They create ‘Augmented Reality (AR)’ pieces – that is, a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

This was new to me, and very different from our normal collection enquiries. However, Tamiko and Will were interested in finding out more about our collections, and I was intrigued by the arts/science cross-over. It’s interesting to see our collections being used for purposes other than scientific research. In the past we have had artists visit and consult the collections for inspiration, but this was a unique enquiry.

I spent time discussing the gardens, looking through collections we hold, and seeing how we could help. Later I cross-referenced what was once grown in the gardens with species that are represented in our botanical prints & drawings collection. I sent them images of these, and along with staff from John Moores University, they developed and created their work ‘Biomer Skelters’ (biome + helter-skelter – a crowd sourced, wild growth forest-to-rainforest propagator that connects interior biorhythms to exterior ecosystems).

Two people looking at a plant specimin

Tamiko & Donna Young in collection store at World Museum

The exhibition opened in June and I’ve since had a go at ‘AR’ planting. I was fitted with a device that read my heart rate, and when my mind-body state achieved the perfect pulse, I ‘planted’ Roscoe-inspired exotic vegetation in the streets of Liverpool on the screen of an iPod

On 17 and 24 August at 1.30pm and 4pm, FACT staff will lead Biomer Skelters tours beginning in the FACT Foyer. There will also be a tour at 1.30pm on 31 August at World Museum.

Anyone with a late model Android or iPhone can download a Biomer Skelters viewer to see the three dimensional augmented reality plantings around Liverpool, visit manifestarblog.wordpress.com/biomer-skelters for more information.

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