Tate Britain & Facebook

Tate Britain selected a number of artworks in the existing collection for us to explore their hidden narrative - the Untold Stories behind these paintings and the artists behind them. Specifically, the untold stories that bear relevance to the contemporary audience - social and cultural challenges that the artist and subject faced at the time - and how that translates to the contemporary viewer.

The Mill have been collaborating with Facebook on AR effects from the beginnings of the platform 2 years ago. As such, our artists have a wealth of experience and knowledge of working in Spark AR, figuring out what we can push, and what experiences work best in AR. This location-based project is an exciting extension of the AR offerings through Spark AR and publishing with Instagram. 

After receiving Tate Britain’s selection of artworks, we set about researching the historical context around each piece and the biographies of the artists in question. Harnessing the knowledge we learned and taking the gallery descriptions of each piece, we set about designing and animating interactive visuals that spoke to each piece’s hidden narrative. It was our motive to ensure that this additional layer simply provides further context, rather than imply new meaning. 

The outcome? Eight interactive artworks that may be brought to life via Instagram in Tate Britain. Known as the Tate Virtual Wing, this is the beginning of more AR activations to come for the museum. Our ambition is to engage the viewer to have a deeper curiosity, understanding, and memory of the artwork and the artist. A wholly more interactive experience of a visit to the Tate. 

Spark AR provides the tools to create AR effects, and Instagram an accessible platform for creators to reach their desired community. We have seen and will continue to see rapid growth in both the applications and technology driving augmented reality due to its relatively democratized access (smartphone users), its non-destructive nature, and more importantly, the ability to breathe life into inanimate objects or environments. There is palpable magic in AR. This is one of a few AR platforms encouraging users to take the reins - Spark AR provides the technology, creators bring the content. 

The impact AR is having on both traditional and contemporary art forms is huge, delightful, magical. It is a new medium. Naturally, whenever a new medium is introduced to the world, there is bound to be a reception of both apprehension and enthusiasm. While applying AR to existing traditional art forms, creators have a responsibility to ensure they preserve the intentions of the original artist. However, when creating a new artwork using the medium, the world around us is our oyster. 

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Production: The Mill
Executive Creative Director: Rama Allen
Executive Producer: Desi Gonzalez
Creative Director: Sally Reynolds
Developers: Kim Kohler, Jack Kalish, Jeffrey Wang, Richard Lapham
Designers: Conrad McLeod, Steve Kutny, Ben Weaver, Daniel Whitaker
Senior Producer: Hayley Underwood Norton
Production Coordinator: Oliver Schwartz
Videographer: Rauri Cantelo