Augmenting (Sur)Reality

 
Left: Original collage “Mae West's Face which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment” Salvador Dalí, 1934, Art Institute of Chicago. Right: Augmented Realty collage of Dalí’s “Mae West’s Face” by Helen Papagiannis, 2019.

Left: Original collage “Mae West's Face which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment” Salvador Dalí, 1934, Art Institute of Chicago. Right: Augmented Realty collage of Dalí’s “Mae West’s Face” by Helen Papagiannis, 2019.

In honour of what would have been Salvador Dalí’s 115th birthday, I recreated his 1934 collage, “Mae West's Face which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment” in Augmented Reality.

Although he never lived to see AR technology, Dalí and the Surrealists created augmented realities of their own. Dalí’s wildly imaginative collages and paintings have been a great inspiration throughout my creative career. 

In fact, it was my early explorations in analog collage that ultimately led me to AR back in 2005. In many ways, AR is a form of collaging atop of reality and creating new (dream) worlds like the Surrealists did decades prior.

So what better way to celebrate Mr. Dalí’s birthday than with an AR collage? 

I digitally pulled apart the pieces of Dalí’s original collage and reconstructed the work using Adobe’s Project Aero (the software is currently in private beta). 

As seen in my demo videos, you can now walk through this ‘Surrealist Apartment’ at different scales and angles with the power of AR. 

If you’re in Spain then you *really can* walk through “Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment” at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Dalí’s home town of Figueres, in Catalonia.

“Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment” at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, in Catalonia, Spain.

“Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment” at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, in Catalonia, Spain.

In 1974, Dalí began working with Catalan architect and designer Tscar Tusquets to extract individual elements of the original 1934 Mae West collage and to create a physical scene with furnishings. West’s lips became a love seat (Dalí designed a lip couch with French architect Jean-Michel Frank in 1937, which was also inspired by West), her nose a fireplace with chimney, her eyes paintings on the wall, and her hair acting as curtains of the apartment in the form of a large wig.

Much like the Mae West room, the AR diorama I constructed from Dalí’s collage plays with anamorphosis requiring the viewer to be at a specific vantage point to reconstitute the original image.

And much like Surrealism, AR can create an elevated state of wonderment expanding our human imagination into a realm of new possibilities and perspectives. Happy Birthday Mr. Dalí and thank you for your genius.

Read more about the opportunities for Augmented Reality, art, and storytelling in “Augmented Human: How Technology Is Shaping The New Reality” (available in 3 languages).

 
Helen Papagiannis