The reflection of an augmented city

By Adrian Doyle

There was a time when talking to yourself in public meant that you were crazy. Now when I’m at the lights or on a tram it seems normal. 

That’s because of mobiles and the way people have no boundaries with the lengths that they go to, to stay connected or disconnected, depending on your perspective. I guess it must be good for crazy people now as they can just put an ear plug in and blend in with all the “connected” people. 

As the people walk aimlessly around the city ignoring the beauty, art and culture and causing chaos along the way they often miss the many things that makes Melbourne great. This month one such event celebrates walking around and looking at the phone. 

The Flinders Quarter Augmented Art Walk is back on. Twelve artists have worked to create an artwork on the walls of the city around the Flinders Lane area. It’s pretty cool when you’re looking through your phone and the artworks come to life in an animated and interesting way. And if you have a family or are into treasure hunts then it has been turned into a game. I went on the hunt and found most of the works.They are not always in spaces that you would expect. It is an awesome way to activate the city and give artists an opportunity. I love the idea. 

The only problem I have with it is that the work is printed and not original. This is a major problem that I have with much of the art going up in the city at the moment.  The empty shops and particularly the Metro Tunnel art activations and the art trams all tend to be printed. This takes the art out of context and often ending up as a weird untextured version of an original painting that is awesome. I feel the artists should be given a public canvas and trust with which to create a new and more permanent artwork for the city. The printing seems like a cheaper, easier, and more ephemeral way to activate ugly and troublesome areas.

Although I suspect for Flinders Quarter, the printed versions may be a necessary result of the technology. I did at times have trouble distinguishing which was art and which was advertising. However, as soon as I put the phone up to the artwork that all went away. As the artworks transformed into awesome and interesting sound and digital pieces.

I love this project and think it could be expanded into many formats; creating a second secret city that can only be view though your telephone.

The Flinders Quarter project is well worth getting down to check out. Spend a fun couple of hours finding the artwork and engaging with the city in a new and interesting way •

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