Commissioned for Collusion 2019
How will emerging technologies alter our relationship to material consumption – for better or worse? Above the Surface is an augmented reality (AR) artwork by Above&Below that reimagines how we might desire – and consume – objects in the future.
Audiences enter a space in which they experience 3D-printed physical objects on a sculptural table through AR viewers. The 5-minute-long audio-visual experience creates digital overlays over the objects, altering perception.
Above the Surface tells the story of the overproduction of objects, asking whether this may be the future of sustainable consumption and addressing our vulnerability to external digital forces. The piece reflects on how emergent technologies might benefit the whole of society, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Above the Surface is the culmination of year-long research by Above&Below, supported by Collusion. This included 3D printing their own Mixed Reality headset with a sensor that reads hand gestures and movement, experimenting with digital and physical materials, and collaboration with augmented reality technologists from Cambridge Consultants to create digital overlays.
Emerging artists Daria Jelonek and Perry-James Sugden – both graduates of the Royal College of Art – are the founders of Above&Below, an arts collective that creates work exploring interactive and speculative design processes. Their work is multidisciplinary, combining research, hands-on experimentation, and storytelling.