Taking audiences on a tour through an artist's mind

Josh Muir: What's on your mind?

A woman stands in front of Josh Muir's artwork at the Bendigo Art Gallery. She is holding an iPad up to the artwork to trigger an augmented reality experience

What’s on your mind? was a personal and intimate exploration into First Nations artist Josh Muir’s journey of self-discovery, unpacking his experience as a Gunditjmara/Yorta Yorta person in a contemporary world. 

Working closely with Muir, Bendigo Art Gallery, and digital animator Isobel Knowles, we combined augmented reality with an original soundscape and Muir’s own narration to add new dimensions to his artwork.

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Challenge

Muir is a proud Indigenous artist with a broad contemporary visual language; his vivid, geometric and playful aesthetic draws references to images from pop culture and street art.

Bendigo Art Gallery engaged Art Processors to create a visitor experience that would encourage more people—particularly younger audiences—to engage with Muir’s artwork and his key themes of mental health and connection to Country.
 

A group of people are wearing headphones and holding iPads up to Indigenous Artist John Muir's artwork to trigger an augmented reality experience at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Approach

We explored how we could use augmented reality to take viewers on a journey through Muir’s mind, enabling a deeper exploration of his themes and artistic process.

Working with Muir’s artworks and Knowles’s animations, we created a digital experience that allowed visitors to interact with the artworks virtually. We mixed and produced original music to link the rawness of Muir’s narration to his slick artworks. Soundscapes that supported the experience featured environmental sound design that references Country, creating an immersive, memorable experience. 

We designed the AR and soundscape elements alongside Muir and Knowles as they developed their own creative direction for the exhibition. This made the immersive experience an integral part of telling Muir’s personal stories.

Augmented reality and audio experience shown on an iPad with close captions at the Bendigo Art Gallery

 

It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Art Processors. They were culturally sensitive throughout the exhibition development and really captured the essence of Josh’s narrative.

– Shonae Hobson,
   First Nations Curator, Bendigo Art Gallery

AR, soundscape, music and narration were created alongside the final works for the exhibition, making the technology truly integral to the exhibition—the immersive experience reveals hidden subtext to the works and grows the visitor’s engagement with the exhibition.

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A group of people are wearing headphones and holding iPads up to Indigenous Artist John Muir's artwork to trigger an augmented reality experience at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Solution

The final eight-piece exhibition combined audio, animation and graphic design, taking the viewer on an augmented reality journey through the artist’s mind. When visitors held an iPad up to an artwork, the Muir’s work became animated, transitioning into AR images of Country integrated with narration, music and nature sounds. The immersive experience allowed visitors to view the works in a more culturally engaged and dynamic way.

What’s on your mind? is very modern take on First Nations art, but at its core was the same storytelling tradition. The successful collaboration enabled the Gallery to broaden its audience engagement with First Nations art and culture by providing a fun and interactive environment for learning.

A woman stands in front of Josh Muir's artwork at the Bendigo Art Gallery. She is holding an iPad up to the artwork to trigger an augmented reality experience