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Nancy Baker Cahill, When augmented reality takes artistic experience beyond the gallery walls

American artist, Nancy Baker Cahill creates conceptual works in augmented reality. Her latest project, “Liberty Bell”, was unveiled simultaneously in six historical sites in the United States and questions the inclusion and place of art in institutions. A truly immersive experience, the project is accessible to everybody from a smartphone, which highlights how technology is increasingly investing in the art world, and opening up new horizons for artists and the public.

When Nancy Baker Cahill began her exchanges with the Art Production Fund to create a new work, to be unveiled on July 4, 2020, she chose to be inspired by a symbol of American independence: the Philadelphia Liberty Bell. After two years of work, her creation, designed for augmented reality, became a conceptualized bell, similar to an animated reel of multicolored threads moving in space. Originally planned for an opening in Philadelphia, the work was actually unveiled at six historic sites in the United States: Boston where “the Boston Tea Party” revolt took place, Fort Tilden on the Rockaway Peninsula, the Washington Monument in Washington, Fort Sumter in Charleston, the Rocky Steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, which was the setting for the bloody Civil Rights March in 1965.

At each site, visitors are invited to download 4th Wall, a public art platform accessible to everyone, and to place their phones in front of the monument. The animated bell then appears in 3D, hovering in the air in front of the buildings.

“Conceived as a freely accessible public exhibition, this floating artifact symbolizes how the very concept of freedom was imperfect from its very beginning and was only accessible to a select group of people and not to others” says Nancy Baker Cahill.

The resounding bell was accompanied by the sound of an increasingly loud chime. Freedom is ringing … but for whom is it ringing?
Coincidentally, the artist is spreading this message during the summer of 2020, marked by “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations in front of many public monuments that raise questions about freedom, rights and responsibilities.

“There is a reason why the application is called 4th Wall. It’s precisely because it breaks down walls. You don’t have to be in a gallery or a museum to access art. You can be wherever you want to be to have a powerful and rich art experience,” says Nancy Baker Cahill.

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