AR exhibition to explore ‘parallel realities’ via Fortnite collaboration

Artist Kaws during a photocall at Serpentine North for his first major solo exhibition in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Artist Kaws during a photocall at Serpentine North for his first major solo exhibition in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
PA Wire

Brooklyn-based artist Kaws has launched an exhibition in London exploring “parallel realities” through a collaboration with popular video game Fortnite.

All the paintings and sculptures on display at Serpentine North will exist as augmented reality (AR) works on the Acute Art app, through which people can view the works in the surroundings of their own home.

A virtual recreation of the show will also launch at 3pm on Tuesday in Fortnite, allowing players of the online game to explore the Serpentine’s grounds and interact with Kaws’ artworks through their online avatar.

A visitor photographs artwork by Kaws (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Titled New Fiction, it is the first major solo exhibition of work by the graffiti artist and designer to take place in London, and features sculptures that exist across “physical, virtual and augmented realities”.

Since the 1990s, Kaws, real name Brian Donnelly, has created street art, graphic and product design, paintings, murals and large-scale sculptures, and collaborated with fashion brands including Nike, Dior and Uniqlo.

He said: “This is an incredibly exciting project for me. I always like exploring new mediums for my art.

“I became interested in working with AR when I realised the quality that can be achieved now. Then came the invitation to work with Fortnite.

Kaws: New Fiction in Fortnite (Epic Games/PA)

“Now all these things come together in a complex exhibition that takes place in parallel realities. I want to thank the incredible teams at Fortnite, Acute Art and Serpentine.”

The exhibition is the latest in the Serpentine’s series of technology-inspired projects, which began with a collaboration with Korean boyband BTS in 2020.

Daniel Birnbaum, artistic director of Acute Art and curator of New Fiction, said: “This project will reach a larger and more diverse audience than any other exhibition I have curated.

“It marks the beginning of a new chapter of art, living in parallel worlds and reaching local and global audiences simultaneously. I am thrilled to be involved in this unique collaboration. We have entered a new era!”

A visitor uses the augmented reality application on their tablet to view the work (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Serpentine’s artistic director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and chief executive Bettina Korek said in a joint statement: “We are thrilled to work with such an incredible group of collaborators on this unique project that tests how Serpentine can enter the multiverse.

“This innovative exhibition builds on other exciting ventures bridging art and pop culture, and follows Connect, special activations initiated with the K-Pop group BTS in 2020.

“This multi-dimensional project, accessible through virtual and physical portals, demonstrates the remarkable synergies between gaming, space and sensorial experience.”

– Kaws: New Fiction runs at Serpentine North until February 27 2022.

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