24 hours to put the AR in art

How the creator of Hidden Folks made an app in a day.


AR art made in 24 hours


My_big_lamp defies definition. Digital art, augmented interactivity – whatever you call it, games developer Adriaan de Jongh’s latest venture is a fascinating example of what you can achieve with creativity, a good idea and 24 hours.

Using AR (augmented reality) and a recent iPhone or iPad model running iOS 11, My_big_lamp brings what looks like a doll house visible on your screen with no walls, and a selection of hand drawn objects that grow as you focus on them. But… what is it?

"It’s a map,” explains de Jongh, who co-developed the app but is more familiar for his work on the award-winning hidden-object game Hidden Folks. “It’s a visualisation of which things in this house are of emotional value.” It also represents what a talented developer can do in AR in just a few hours.

The house is a virtual model of a real house that exists in the middle of Amsterdam. It’s the home of Giulia Bierens de Haan, a student at the prestigious Rietveld Academie art school in the Dutch capital.

“I do art residencies at my place from time to time, where I invite an artist or inspiring thinker, like Adriaan, into my house for 24 hours during which we create something together,” says Bierens de Haan. “After the time is up, we open up the house for the public to see what we’ve made.”

De Jongh and Bierens de Haan teamed up to make art. Or rather, ARt: ”Before we started the 24 hours, we didn’t really know what we’d want to make,” says De Jongh.

“We knew we wanted to do something with augmented reality, because that just seemed very cool to us. And we knew we wanted to explore the space of Giulia’s house, and that was basically it.”

The two agree that the time pressure made for a leaner creative process. "You really decrease the decision time,” says de Jongh. “When you’d normally try something for maybe two weeks, now you decide to cut it in a minute.

“In the end, there were three or four critical decision points that shaped this project, where we decided to keep working on something or cut it for the sake of time.”

For example, de Jongh explains, “One of the hardest parts was making the walls. And we literally just decided right then and there, ’Let’s just not make any walls’.”

So can we expect the next Adriaan de Jongh game to be in AR? “At the end of the day, augmented reality is a tool, right? Now I know how to work with it. So whenever I come up with something that will fit that, I will absolutely use it.”

Bierens de Haan sees it in a similar way, but from her art world-viewpoint: ”I think AR is a very valuable medium in the art world. Basically, an artist wants to offer a world to the viewer,” she says.

“Before, it would be through a painting, but now, with AR and with these new tools, you can really create these fantasy worlds.”


    AR art made in 24 hours