In recent years, the advent of tech-based design has pushed the boundaries of art. Groundbreaking virtual reality films like “Carne y Arena” by Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu, artistic media through projection mapping, wearable technology in fashion design and Augmented Reality (AR) have steadily permeated the art world. The merging of these fields opened the door for further exploration.

COVID-19-induced social distancing parameters further challenged artists to rethink the ways in which they showcase their art to an audience that is unable to experience their work in person.

Pharell. Courtesy of Program Labs.

Multidisciplinary artist Luis Vela and curators Isabel Laurent and Marcus Valentino sought to respond to the challenge through Program Labs. Their solution-based creative network facilitates the execution of ideas for other artists and innovates in-house projects such as their interactive hologram exhibit titled SYNTAX.

SYNTAX is an augmented reality exhibit that anyone with an updated Apple device can experience on Safari or Google Chrome web browsers. It features other artists’ work and promotes the idea that people can display and experience art forms wherever they are—live and in person.

This allows for a multi-sensory experience, widening the possibilities for not only the audience to access art but to engage artists that don’t normally get to showcase their work in a gallery be it due to cost or stringent requirements.

“There’s only so much you can do with a print on the wall in a gallery space which may even restrict how close you can get to it. Taking images from 2D to 3D to now another dimension of augmented reality is the next step to offer a greater form of intimacy with the artwork,” Vela explains. “ Soon enough, you might even be able to smell or involve all of the senses incorporated with an art piece.”

“The Album” art. Courtesy of Program Labs.

SYNTAX’s new feature for singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor’s recent project, “The Album,” merges sonics with AR.

“Her album is split into 5 parts, so we decided to create 5 rooms that pop up around you,” Vela says. “You can navigate through them to view the various hologram graphics and experience her mood board from her album.”

This epitomizes the generative way art-tech media can lend itself to enhance other art mediums for their followers.

Laurant differentiates their objectives from that of other art-tech innovations saying, “Frankly, we as a community of Black and Brown artists and entrepreneurs produce magic and that magic is constantly overlooked. With this exhibition, we want to carve out a space for Black and Brown artists, more female representation and underrepresented communities overall. Something that provides them inspiration, light, hope, and energy through art, especially right now, is necessary more than ever.”

You can experience the SYNTAX exhibition here.