En plein air; In plain sight (AR)

computer-generated 3-dimensional form, presented in location-specific AR

Category: Climate & weather / Technology & surveillance


LORNE SCULPTURE BIENNALE (LSB) 2018 www.lornesculpture.com


Collaboration by Seol Park (1981 Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in New York)

John Kelly (1965 Bristol, UK; lives and works in Ireland)

Project supported by Kerry Gardner AM and Andrew Myer AM with assistance from the LSB Founders and Benefactors

"More than 40 works of art are on display in the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, including one piece that doesn't actually exist. This is a transformation of the Lorne foreshore like never before: art that can only be seen with an app...augmented reality Antarctic iceberg sitting in the water off Lorne is a collaboration between artists Seol Park and John Kelly, challenging the traditional definition of sculpture."
ABC TV Channel 2 News (aired Saturday, March 17, 2018)

"... is sure to redefine the way many perceive sculpting. Though they joke that the piece is Pokemon Go! for the art-loving public, Park clarifies that the value of En plein air; In plain sight is in more than just the application of modern technology." 
- The 8 Percent (full text)

Additional coverage (selection): Arts ReviewArt AlmagnacSBS,  Newslocker, Eyeline, StormSG

En plein air; In plain sight is the first augmented reality (AR) project presented at the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. The artists, Seol Park and John Kelly have collaborated on variations of this AR installation at the Miami Art Week in December 2015, and during the Skibbereen Arts Festival in Ireland in 2016. While Kelly is a traditional painter in terms of technique, he is iconoclastic in spirit. Seol Park is a curator and AR specialist who founded Spark Art Management/SPARK+ in 2013, producing innovative exhibits and alternative art programs in collaboration with leading artists.


This work lifts a particular image of an iceberg from Kelly’s painting, First berg (2013), which he made in Antarctica while a recipient of an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship. While there, he made paintings on-site as a direct response to the landscape. Prior to departure, Kelly wrote of his practice, ‘The work will all be done ‘en plein air’ with a field easel and oil paint on linen, using what I call a ‘look and put’ method, where I attempt to bring back a record of my visual response to the landscapes without embellishment’. The painting Seol Park utilises for this work is illustrated in the book Beyond Woop Woop, published for an exhibition of the same name at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery exhibition in 2015 in association with the Dark Mofo Festival, Hobart 2015.


Seol Park has now repurposed Kelly’s imagery via the technology of augmented reality and GPS, therebyturning Kelly’s icebergs into a type of Duchamp-style ‘ready-made’. She then places the iceberg adrift on the ocean as seen from the Lorne foreshore, which serves as an alternative gallery space that is activated by the viewer once he or she looks into their smart device.


When asked for a brief summary of the work, Park and Kelly proffer a simple explanation, ‘En plein air; In plain sight (AR) is Pokemon Go! for the art-loving public’. Of their collaborative practice, the artists comment further, ‘artists undertake great effort to capture plein-air views of the nature, but when it comes to the moment of presentation, we unquestioningly resort to conventional ways of locking the artworks inside the white cell of a walled gallery. The en-plein-air spirit that was alive at the point of creation becomes lost at the point of interior presentation. En plein air; In plain sight brings the subject matter back outdoors and allows the viewer a chance to experience the subject in a real-world chosen site. This work furthers the themes of humorous displacement and monumentality that often surface in John Kelly’s oeuvre’.

- Lara Nicholls (Chief Curator, 2018 Lorne Sculpture Biennale / Curator, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra)

First Berg (2013) by John Kelly