Partager l'article

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.

Nancy baker Cahill work 4th app

For Nancy, technology is a vehicle for inclusion through its ability to provoke dialogue in different communities and enable a new approach to art when, from the street to the smartphone, place and work merge at the click of a button. Augmented reality makes it possible to experience the museum
outdoors, as a virtual tour at your fingertips:

“When I saw that it was possible to geolocate works of art, I realized that there was infinite potential for creating artistic conversations in situ, which is often the essence of public art installations: to broaden and democratize access to art from institutions to a wide audience.”

Freeing the work of art from the constraints of the physical medium, being able to elevate urban. spaces through the virtual, democratizing art: augmented reality is interfering more and more in the art world.

Nancy Baker Cahill already has a long artistic career behind her devoted to this medium, which other artists are now interested in. In 2019, the New Museum in New York and Apple collaborated to launch [AR]T: a selection of seven major contemporary artists – Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller and Pipilotti Rist – produced works in augmented reality that were then distributed in Apple Stores in six major cities around the world. Most of these well-known artists were using this technology for the first time. Some galleries have specialized in this medium, such as the Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn in the United States or the Thomas Crown Art Gallery in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and exhibit artists using augmented reality. Should we fear that the use of augmented reality in art will accentuate the distance between the real world and the one observed through the smartphone?

According to Nancy Baker Cahill, ” Smartphones already function largely as visual prostheses. Today, along with tablets, they are the most accessible tools for immersive art experiences.”

Although augmented reality – like virtual reality – explicitly transports the viewer “outside” the real world, it can be an invitation to interact with others through the immersive experience.

Nancy baker Cahill work 4th app


Born in 1970, Nancy Baker Cahill is an American, multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. She is known for her work at the intersection of fine art, social justice and emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Nancy Baker Cahill uses the internet as a tool for subversion, resistance and community dialogue, as well as a vehicle for inclusion to expand the appreciation of public art. As a TEDx speaker, Nancy Baker Cahill received the “Impact-Maker to Watch” award in Los Angeles, and was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the Art Faces of the Year. Nancy serves on many boards, including the Fulcrum Arts Advisory, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and Kaleidoscope’s Activist Lens Grant.

4th Wall

4th Wall is a digital platform for public art in augmented reality, accessible to all, that explores resistance and inclusive creative expression. Created in 2018 by Nancy Baker Cahill, who is its artistic director, the application invites users physically present in different parts of the world to view her work by locating, scaling, and recording four original Augmented Reality drawings by the artist. The application also hosts geolocalized exhibitions through the public art platform “Coordinates.”

Nancy baker Cahill work 4th app