Artist Lucas Blalock’s ‘Making Memeries’ is the first photography book to be enhanced using augmented reality technology.

Artist Lucas Blalock’s ‘Making Memeries’ is the first photography book to be enhanced using augmented reality technology.

You are either a book person or an iPad kind of person. Ever since the explosion of digital news hit the market, a huge crack split all book lovers – separating the old school with the new school. Yet there’s a new branch sprouting from this rift: Making Memeries is an augmented reality photobook produced by American artist Lucas Blalock, smudging the division and bringing a complete new meaning to experiencing a book.

With full bleed, vivid imagery engulfing the reader’s attention, the tangible book takes the plunge into virtual, through a simple scan of your mobile – bringing each spread to life from the tip of your fingers. Captivating sounds, 3D renderings and life-like animations wash over each page of Making Memeries, re-writing the definition of what to expect from a book.

What inspired your interest in augmented reality?
The project was born out of a commission but it felt like an extension of things I was already working on.

As an artist, what are the most exciting new possibilities that augmented reality opens up for you?
Technology is always complicated as an artist and new freedoms are a mixed bag. There is a grey area that opens up around what is yours and what is the machine’s. This is central to the history of photography and I was curious about how these new possibilities could be contended with. In the end it was sort of a chance to say some of the things I had been saying in a different language.

Lucas Blalock MM-3

You mentioned that everyone today is a lifestyle photographer. Are you celebrating that fact or challenging/subverting it?
It is a condition of thinking about photography now. I can’t really say I am for it – all this lifestyle has a way of covering up some much bleaker contemporary realities that are left unattended – but I am not sure I can say I am subverting it either.Lucas Blalock MM-5

What were the most surprising or poignant reactions to the travelling installation version of Making Memeries?
I have seen some amazing pictures of people realising what they are looking at but unfortunately I haven’t been able to be on the tour. I teach in NY and this keeps me here the majority of the time.

Talk us through one of the augmented reality images you created for the book, what inspired it and what effect you wanted to have on viewers?
The first image is of an anatomical model of human skin photographed pretty straight forwardly. I liked the subject because it is itself a sculpture of a surface. And when it is photographed, the photograph becomes a surface that promises an object.

When we approached this through AR I wanted to bring it back around to be closer to this human body it was initially describing – we made blood move through the veins – but I also wanted to close the gap between the object photographed and the photograph. To do this we 3D scanned the object and laid that scan on top of the picture in the software.

Looking through the software the viewer can look around the object, at its sides and top in a way that would be totally impossible when looking at a photograph. There is something really uncanny about this experience.

Are we all living in our own versions of augmented reality?
Sure. I think culture is bound to do this.

Lucas Blalock’s Making Memeries is published by Self Publish, Be Happy.

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