The AR-t Walk (Augmented Reality Walk), launched in the NSW country town this year to encourage connectedness, after the council’s Youth Services recognised that young people felt disconnected from the city and older generations. Local young artists were engaged to provide works and discuss the themes of tolerance, inclusion, diversity and togetherness.
Start Beyond – which specialises in building AR and virtual reality experiences – partnered with the Aussie Govt to build the specialty app to facilitate the current 10 art works. They also donated $25,000 in services and to provide free subscription and maintenance to the program through to early 2024. The art will be changed over every three months to keep the trail fresh for locals, and to give more youths the opportunity to showcase their talents.
How effective has the program been so far?
One of the artists involved in the program is 16-year-old Marley Mclean who has his artwork being displayed at a popular playground in Orange. Marley, an active member of the Orange City Council Youth Action Council, says that the program has been a big self esteem booster.
Marley said: “I have always been surrounded by my culture as my dad is an Aboriginal Archeologist and grows Aboriginal bush tucker, but I didn’t get into creating Aboriginal art until year 7. When I was asked to be involved, I decided to do a piece inspired by Pangea. I have had such good feedback. A lot of people have said I should put myself out there with more art and it’s been so good for my self esteem, although I was so out of my comfort zone.”
“It also makes a big difference, there is all sorts of art on display, not just Aboriginal. It’s helping lots of different groups feel seen. Also doing it through AR makes it so much easier to display, we don’t have to spend money on building a gallery or anything and it’s so realistic.”
“You also have these features that you can’t have in real life like voiceovers explaining the art when you scan the code, more info on artists and you can change it over for the next show.”
What were the executives’ thoughts on the program?
NSW Minister for the Arts, Aboriginal Affairs and Regional Youth Ben Franklin has expressed his strong support for the innovative technology. “I had the opportunity to see to AR-t Walk in Orange last week and it was brilliant. This program connects young people to their community, promotes indigenous culture and places art in the heart of the town.”
“Most importantly it is supporting and promoting the brilliant work of aspiring young artists. I commend everyone involved for creating this wonderful initiative,” Mr Franklin concluded.
Katrina Hausia, Youth Development Officer at Orange City Council said the program has made a difference, “It is amazing to see the way that art can change the tune of young people.”
“I have worked with Marley since he was 12 and through this program have seen great progress in not just how they respect others, but how they think of themselves. The artwork he produced was insightful, it took us a long time to get it from him, but it was worth it. The growth in confidence and pride is truly heartwarming. Not to mention how beautiful it is to see these pieces of art projected on some of Orange’s most beloved buildings,” Hausia said.
Start Beyond’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Angus Stevens says that the tech allows arts and sciences to go beyond your typical classroom, and adds an unmatched dimension to regional towns across Australia. Angus Stevens, said: “Start Beyond is so proud to be the team who created the app to allow these kids to proudly display their artwork.”
“Not only are we able to show the work in a sustainable way through AR, but we are able to allow these young artists to personally tell the audience their stories. The app is built in a way that new artwork can be uploaded and changed in intervals to allow more kids to show off their talents. I can’t wait to see more art showcased across the country in this way.”
The Unlock Orange app can be downloaded to your smartphone, and used to scan the various QR codes around the city which will reveal artwork and the story behind it.