400-year-old masters have been rejuvenated – thanks to Augmented Reality.
How can the Old Masters be brought to more people?
While the paintings of impressionists or modern works like a Warhol quickly become accessible to the viewer, European painters of the 14th to 18th centuries work with symbols, mythological figures and allegories that often seem strange to us in the 21st century. To appreciate the Old Masters, you need a trained eye and a lot of background knowledge. The traditional auction house Christie's, for example, trains its Old Master specialists for up to seven years, while contemporary experts only need three years.
How Old Masters can be brought into the present is a question that also concerns the Princely Collections. As passionate art collectors, the Princes of Liechtenstein have acquired over 1700 paintings and sculptures from the early Renaissance to Austrian Romanticism over the past 400 years. This has resulted in a private collection with works from five centuries, which are regularly presented in international special exhibitions.
These paintings are not accessible at first sight. How can we give the viewer a key to discover the beauty of these works and understand the stories they tell? How do you modernize Old Masters?
The answer to this question is modernity per se: technology. Artificial intelligence, speech recognition programs and other inventions are in the process of radically changing the way we work and live. Augmented Reality is one of them. When the border between the screen and the world behind it becomes blurred, we find ourselves in what is known as "Augmented Reality". It is created when we can use a digital device to perceive the world in a new way and also interact with this alternative reality. Probably the best known application of Augmented Reality is the Pokémon-Go application.
Bob Sumner, deputy director of the Disney Research Studios and professor at ETH Zurich, discussed the influence of Augmented Reality on creativity and art at his talk at TEDxZurich. Inspired by his ideas, LGT and the Princely Collections teamed up with ETH Zurich – with the aim of making the art collection of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein accessible to a younger audience and to interested parties with less art expertise by means of Augmented Reality.
Eight experts from the ETH Game Technology Center worked intensively on an Augmented Reality app. They involved specialists from various fields, including software engineers and digital artists. Also closely involved in the project were art experts from the Princely Collections and LGT as sponsor and client.
The new MAG/NET app conveys art in a new way. The focus is still on the art experience – but it is enriched by a playful component, the communication of exciting content and the discovery of the beauty of small details like a bird tied to a thread. The result is an innovative app that offers a fresh look behind the artworks of the Princely Collections.
The Old Masters have arrived in the modern age.
LGT is strongly committed to the promotion of art and culture in the spirit of its owner family. For example, it sponsors the Princely Collections and supports numerous special exhibitions around the world.