With its recently opened “Grand Avenue Augmented” installation, the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID) wants to show Downtown Angelenos how augmented reality (AR) could change their lives in the future.
“AR is a really exciting technology for cities because it exists at the intersection of the digital and physical realms,” said DCBID Executive Director Nick Griffin. “It enables cities to enhance their spaces with new layers of content and information, providing new opportunities for engagement and new dimensions of experience.”
Occupying five blocks of Grand Avenue from Temple to 5th Street, as well as select blocks from Hope and 2nd Street, “Grand Avenue Augmented” has brought 40 new AR installations to DTLA that are both free and accessible for any modern mobile phone.
This “augmented city” will include original artwork, virtual performances, interactive holograms and immersive 360-degree environments, demonstrating how cities can use AR technology to improve the lives of visitors and residents in hubs around the world. downtown.
“Attendees of ‘Grand Avenue Augmented’ will encounter larger-than-life animated works of art by local artists, be transported to normally inaccessible places like the helipad atop the US Bank Tower, behind the stage of the LA opera house or in a penthouse at (Gehry’s The Grand),” Griffin described. “There’s a real range of things…from a virtual brass band in the plaza to Colburn School, a really spatial audio experience cool with the LA Master Chorale at Disney Concert Hall, giant banners at the Music Center that become media screens when you point your phone at them… to artwork at MOCA, The Broad, and really cool immersive environments at Cal Plaza .
“Grand Avenue Augmented,” which runs until June 2023, is the inaugural program for the DTLAugmented channel of the AR publishing platform Hoverlay. Griffin explained that DCBID chose Hoverlay as the platform for the installation due to its user accessibility for audiences and creators.
“The back-end is very user-friendly, so you don’t have to be very technical to build for the platform,” Griffin said. “But on the front, it’s even simpler. You just need to download the app and you can explore Downtown in a very intuitive way and find all these activations… We want it to be accessible.
Highlights of the “Grand Avenue Augmented” experience include “Flight of Angels” by Daniel and Anna Leighton, a 3D animation of angels floating through space that uses AI to allow users to submit their own angels by grabbing photos of loved ones that will generate a tribute angel; “Earth Seen from Above” by Meredith Monk and LA Master Chorale, a spatial audio experience where omnidirectional sound is played as guests navigate the courtyard maze of Disney Hall; and Kilograph’s “Rewilding Nature”, a 3D animation that covers the central courtyard of One Cal Plaza with tall grass, wildflowers and small forest creatures in a message of sustainability.
“(The activations are) truly a showcase of Grand Avenue’s world-class arts and culture and beautiful architecture and public spaces,” Griffin said. “It’s also a showcase for the work of emerging artists as well as more established artists, and a platform to exhibit the work of artists working in a new emerging medium.”
Griffin explained that DCBID launched “Grand Avenue Augmented” to demonstrate that AR can play a key role in the future of DTLA’s arts, culture, and business environments by enabling attendees to experience places, architecture, and downtown public spaces from a new angle.
“What we’ve found is that what’s really magical about augmented reality is when it’s associated with a real place and when you experience it there, as opposed to virtual reality, which takes you to a kind of separate fantasy world,” he said. . “What we love about augmented reality for cities is that it’s really rooted in the real place, and the magic happens when you experience that place in this totally new way with layers of new content, meaning and experience superimposed on that physical place. That’s when it gets really magical and that’s what we really think will be one of the most important uses of AR in the future: improve cities and physical places in this way.”
For Griffin, the integration of AR technology into DTLA is only just beginning to scratch the surface of its potential. Looking to the future, he expressed hope that DCBID will be able to use augmented reality in places like their development tours which show where new properties are being built as well as for retail promotions for vacant businesses and living spaces for potential tenants.
“Downtown has always been a place of innovation and creativity,” Griffin explained. “It’s something we’re proud of. It’s really in our DNA, and this technology takes that to a whole new level…literally allowing us to layer and integrate digital content and physical realm information in a way that truly transforms the DTLA experience. .
“We are also excited about the opportunity to nurture and grow the creative community of downtown artists, technologists and entrepreneurs working in this medium and to continue to collaborate with our unparalleled collection of arts organizations and culture, local businesses and property owners as we explore new ways to promote downtown and attract visitors, new residents and new businesses.
“One of the really important things about this project is that it was a pretty unprecedented partnership with over two dozen cultural institutions, owners and businesses, and featuring the work of over of 30 artists and creators. So when you look at it on this scale, it’s really the whole community coming together in this very dynamic partnership to reshape what you might imagine downtown.
Grand Avenue Augmented by DCBID
WHERE: Grand Avenue from Temple to 5th Street, and some blocks from Hope and 2nd Street
WHEN: Installation will continue until June 2023
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