Create Art with Augmented Reality

By Gracielle Higino | A spotlight on a Sprint for Internet Health project

Image courtesy of Pablo and Rodrigo

Imagine to have access to works of art while walking home when every art gallery in your city is closed. Imagine being able to know the illustrations of an artist that you would probably never see, just pointing your cellphone to a marker glued on your bus stop. Cool, isn’t it? This is how Jandig wants to democratize the access to artworks, and give us a chance to “customize” our cities with their markers that work as windows to digital art.

I interviewed Pablo (@pablodiegosds) and Rodrigo (@sayadiguin) to learn more about Jandig and how you can contribute to their work.

Jandig is a free software that helps people to create, share and expose art in augmented reality. We encourage people that create digital content to use augmented reality (AR) as a new media and people that never created art to play around and mix with the content available. We bring this new media art to the reach of a mainstream public that often takes interest in new technologies but not in art and new media art.

We want people creating augmented reality content easily and to spread this knowledge and enable new forms of expression. We’re using the hardware of our mobile phones in a new way to interact and share human feelings and art.

We are developers that work and study together in Brasília — Brazil, and by 2018 we met Heloíse and VJ pixel. VJ pixel had been working with Jandig for some time, did some experiments app development in 2011, but started gathering ideas and experiences for some years and one day finally got looking for some developers to bring it to life again.

Usually, developers are known for being all about numbers and code. But this project involving art and real people really motivated us and seemed like a good way of fusing our knowledge of code with the human side of the art that we really enjoy.

We talked about it for some time and got some ideas on how to bring it to people more easily, using new web technologies.

The artwork, markers, and GIFs that we have now were made by friends and local artists that discovered us and were interested in contributing. Then, we defined a common style for the markers, a flat black and white image so that we could use it on stamps, stickers and low-cost materials, even though that is not obligatory. Our goal is to enable people to be free to publish content on the app, without the need for us to manually include each artwork on the app code.

This way, artists can use the platform to publish their animated digital work and expose it in different ways: t-shirts, stickers, stamps and many others. With only a smartphone, they can explore some AR and present their work in some really interesting ways.

Besides the usual technical and coding problems in the daily life of a developer. It is really challenging to understand artists and curators, trace their profiles, reach and meet their needs with technology. Each art is unique, they want to experiment, to present, to show and explore new things, so it is not easy for us to discover and create the features to enable these experimentations.

When we (developers) think that we are solving the problem with using GIFs on AR, some artist shows up wanting to use a video, then another shows up wanting to do 3D objects, the other wants to merge multiple markers as a big one. It is not easy to prioritize these needs and understand the context and how they want to use that feature.

We are trying to go in baby steps, gathering experience and understanding what the target audience needs and how can we help them accomplish it.

We have space for a lot of different skills. We are usually thinking of three roles inside Jandig:

  • As an Artist, you can mainly contribute to new GIFs and markers, the content part. Which I guess require some photo or video editing knowledge in any software you like or already know.
  • As a developer, you can help with coding, we use mainly JavaScript for the Augmented Reality libraries and Django to deliver a Progressive Web App. Also, each browser has its unique quirks, each platform has its restrictions, so any knowledge on web technologies, Android and IOS can help too.
  • But besides this development part, you can contribute as a curator, organizing some exhibit, sticking some markers around, talking with people so any social skill will help you with this.

We are really open for contributions, coding, making new content, organizing exhibits are really great ways of contributing to Jandig. But even if you don’t feel like you have the skills to do that, we really appreciate new ideas, testing, translations and even discussions on the future of Augmented reality.

You can find us on:

Talk to us, join our community, say what you think about Jandig, what you want to see implemented, what would you like to do in augmented reality, maybe you have something in mind that nobody has thought of.

It was really awesome to meet and exchange experiences with people from all around the world, especially our mentor, who is super enthusiastic about Augmented Reality. Each had a unique point of view and idea of what our project is and what it could be, giving us a lot of insights on how to evolve as a whole.

We thought we knew how to make a project open, but we really learned a lot and got great examples to follow. When you think about an open project, “not restricting” isn’t the same as “inviting” people to contribute, you have plan pathways for people to discover and evolve with you and the project.

After the program, we got our first outside contributor for the project, some stars on the repository and a lot of people watching our work from other communities. Our work inside open leaders sure helped with that, it made us more transparent and for sure more engaged with the open-source community.

Join us wherever you are during the month of May at Mozilla’s Sprint for Internet Health to work on many amazing open projects! Join a diverse network of scientists, educators, artists, engineers and others in person and online to hack and build projects for a health Internet.

This post by Gracielle Higino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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