International Augmented Reality Exhibition Comes to the Wildflower Center

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Pressroom

Coming to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in March 2023, Seeing the Invisible is the most ambitious and expansive exhibition to date of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology launched at 22 botanical gardens across six countries including Greece, Singapore, South Africa, and the United States. The exhibition features works by more than a dozen international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE RA, and Mohammed Kazem, among others — including several artists’ first work in AR.  

Forging new links between gardens located in diverse biomes around the globe, the exhibition fosters collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences, highlighting the power of art to connect people around the world. Visitors will engage with Seeing the Invisible via an app designed for the exhibition, downloadable to smartphones and tablets.  

We are constantly sensitive to sustainability practices and our environmental impact at the Wildflower Center and this exhibition allows us to bring an innovative and interactive experience to our gardens all while eliminating the carbon footprint of an installation of this caliber,” says Dawn Hewitt, Wildflower Center director of operations. 

The AR nature of the exhibition allows for the creation of expansive, immersive works that engage with existing features of the natural landscape beyond the limitations of what is possible with physical artworks. Many of the works created for the exhibition will address related themes around nature, the environment, and sustainability, exploring the interplay of the physical world with the digital one.  

“We wanted to be thoughtful and intentional about specific places within the gardens where visitors could be immersed in nature and experience the artwork simultaneously,” says Patrick Moran, Wildflower Center exhibitions coordinator. “Some of the artworks include nature sounds and music. For instance, in the Theme Gardens, one of the art pieces incorporates the sounds of birds and that’s in an area where there are naturally lots of birds, so it’s about being fully enveloped in nature and the art without the impact of physical objects.”   

The first exhibition of its kind to be developed as a joint venture among botanical gardens around the world, Seeing the Invisible was initiated by Hannah Rendell, Executive Director at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Candida Gertler, co-founder of Outset Contemporary Art Fund with support of The Jerusalem Foundation’s Innovation Fund. Seeing the Invisible is co-curated by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring. 

Seeing the Invisible was born out of a collaboration during the pandemic with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens that opened our eyes to the incredible opportunities for creating an entirely new kind of contemporary art experience within the setting of a botanical garden,” said Outset Contemporary Art Fund Co-Founder Candida Gertler OBE and Outset Contemporary Art Fund Israel Director Mirav Katri. “We are thrilled to be partnering with exceptional gardens from all across the world on this exhibition bridging the physical and digital worlds to create a new phygital model, opening their expertise up to the most cutting-edge technology in contemporary art to develop a new exciting exhibition format beyond the typical museum or gallery space.” 

Seeing the Invisible is accessible via smartphone and tablet through the Seeing the Invisible app, available for iPhone and Android via the App Store and Google Play. Visitors will use their device as a guide to find and engage with each piece strategically placed throughout the Wildflower Center gardens. 

Seeing the Invisible runs March 4, 2023 – September 10, 2023 at the Wildflower Center and is free with admission. Find more details here, or to schedule interviews, contact Hannah Rendell, [email protected] 

University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

Known as the botanic garden of Texas, The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes as the National Wildflower Research Center is 1982. It was later renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1997. The Center welcomes more than 230,000 people to its gardens annually. It carries out its mission to inspire the conservation of native plants through its research, education, and outreach programs. 

 Jerusalem Botanical Gardens 

The 30-acre Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (JBG) is the largest in Israel and the only one of its kind in the Middle East. JBG boasts Israel’s broadest collection of live plants (over 6,600 species), as well as varieties of plants from around the world. The flora is displayed throughout 6 phyto-geographical sections – Southern Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, South-East and Central Asia and the Mediterranean. An oasis in the middle of a dynamic city, JBG provides guided tours, gardening workshops, lectures, and volunteer opportunities for all ages that aim to foster interest in environmental awareness, sustainability, and biodiversity.