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Apple Transforms Central Park Into an Augmented Reality Gallery

Words appeared in the sky, the color of clouds, and then faded into a jumble of letters in the background. It was an ephemeral poem, with lines like “Catch the falling knife” visible for a few seconds through the portal of an iPhone pointed at the skyline above Central Park.

This is a piece by the poet and performance artist John Giorno, called “Now at the Dawn of My Life,” that’s part of a new initiative by Apple called [AR]T — a curation of augmented reality art, featured in a series of guided walks. Apple worked with the New Museum to select the artists: Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg, Hans Berg, Cao Fei, Carsten Höller, Pipilotti Rist and Mr. Giorno. Each created an augmented reality work that’s been choreographed into the landscape of the tour, playing with the canvas of public space.

“The New Museum has always led at the intersection of art and tech and we could not have asked for a better partner in Apple to support the fantastic visions of these pioneering artists,” Lisa Phillips, director of the New Museum, said in a statement. Augmented reality can extend an artist’s practice into the urban space, she added.

The walking tours will be free and open to the public starting on Saturday, and in addition to New York, will be offered in San Francisco, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Each starts from an Apple Store and features the same set of works. The pieces are only accessible at specific locations on the walk, making them installations of a sort, in an open-air, virtually accessible exhibit. The initiative also includes a piece by Mr. Cave, “Amass,” that will be on view in every Apple store, as well as a lab for those interested in learning more about augmented reality and working with it.

In New York, the walk begins at the Apple Store at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street and heads straight into the park. Viewers are provided with headphones and an iPhone (the art on the walks won’t appear on just any old phone, and can’t be accessed outside of the tours). Along the way, in specific places, works appear onscreen against the backdrop of your surroundings.

In Mr. Giorno’s, the path in front of you becomes a rainbow. In Ms. Djurberg and Mr. Berg’s, a small hollow appears in the bark of a tree, and your phone becomes a window into a narrative virtual world.

Many feature interactive elements. Mr. Cave’s piece involves choosing the characteristics of a virtual creature that walks along with you, bouncing and twirling on the screen. Ms. Fei created an intricate factory-scape that allows you to virtually move boxes that are on an assembly line.

[AR]T Walking Tours

Starting Aug. 10 at Apple stores in New York, at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, and five other cities;


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