Multi-coloured sculptures via iPhone

A sculpture that isn't really there - part of Site Gallery's Augmented Reality exhibition.
A sculpture that isn't really there - part of Site Gallery's Augmented Reality exhibition.

A SERIES of huge multi-coloured floating concrete, marble and glass sculptures have been on view at various locations around Sheffield city centre for the past couple of months.

The chances are you have missed them because they are not visible to the naked eye - only to be seen via the camera on an iPhone.

In xyz, a project commissioned by Site Gallery, sculptures generated by Sheffield artist Sarah Staton have been interpreted within virtual space by Chris Hodson, a Birmingham-based sculptor and technical whizz using augmented reality software.

It is thought to be the first project of its kind anywhere in the UK.

A series of markers has been placed in and outside the gallery on Brown Street and around the city which trigger the specially-created virtual readers to become visible on the screen of a smart phone or ipod touch (which Site has been lending out).

Staton created a series of designs via computer, a process she often uses in her work, and then Hodson translated them into virtual 3D and programmed them to be visible at locations where real sculpture might be placed in the city.

Within the gallery itself, pieces of marble, concrete, steel, wood, glass, wool, and cork are laid out, materials that provide inspiration for the virtual sculptures, creating a new sculpture that is in part material and in part virtual and offers a further element of exploration within the ‘xyz’ arena.

“They are raw materials I have collected from different places around the city and then visitors can see the virtual sculptures which emulate the patterns of different materials,” explains Staton.

The artists have been working on the project for several months before unveiling xyz last week.

The show concludes with a special event open to all at Site on Friday evening but the markers will remain in place so that the virtual trail will still be accessible to visitors on Saturday.

“This is a completely experimental project, ” says Staton. “In the future the relationship between technology and art is going to completely change and this is a way of putting Sheffield at the forefront of that. I would definitely be intersted in developing this further.”