Simon Denny Mine exhibition entrance at Mona

Simon Denny: Mine was a technically ambitious exhibition which blended installation and sculpture with augmented reality (AR), visitor interaction and real-time data extraction.

Commissioned by the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), Denny called Mine a “theme park to extraction”, of both the mineral and data kind. Visitors walked around a life-sized version of the classic Australian board game “Squatter” among Denny’s sculptures—giant replicas of machines and products used in mineral mining. A human cage, originally designed for Amazon’s workers, imprisons the critically endangered King Island Brown Thornbill, brought to life via AR.

Utilising and extending the capabilities of The O was essential to bringing Denny’s vision to life. Core to the Mona experience, The O mobile guide replaces wall labels using indoor positioning technology to tell visitors about the artwork on display closest to them. Users can also ‘love’ and ‘hate’ artworks, join a virtual queue for an exhibit and ‘save’ their tour to revisit after they leave the museum.

Mine was the first time The O was integral to an exhibition and not just the supporting act, bringing together artist, curator and exhibition visitors. Its use showed how technology could enhance the visitor experience as well as support an artist’s vision.

Challenge

Denny’s multilayered work required Art Processors to display conceptual finesse and technical muscle. Entering into a nuanced dialogue with Denny, we were able to answer the technical challenges of the project without getting in the way of his vision. Ultimately, we aimed to work with the artist and curators—often across international borders and timezones—to create a seamless technological experience that perfectly complemented the artist’s vision.

Approach

Over two-and-a-half years, we collaborated with Denny and the curators on exhibition design, creative conceptualisation and technology integration for the project. We assembled an in-house, multidisciplinary team including a 3D designer, an extended reality developer, and a creative producer, onboarding talent as needed. Some of the technical facets of the exhibition included adding augmented reality capabilities to The O, training a custom neural network in Facial Expression Recognition (FER), and creating 3D models for AR representation through the visitor’s device.

Solution

Bringing our expertise in extended reality and data analytics, we developed AR and facial recognition for The O. This enabled Denny to fully explore the themes in Mine and create a unique and powerful piece of work. We also mined Mona’s real-time visitor data, finding new ways to show visitors what museums can collect about them—adding another layer of discovery and information to the exhibition.

Impact
448 days Total time visitors have spent in augmented reality
71,185 Total number of selfies taken
162,190 Total number of visitors who have used The O to experience the exhibition