Acute Art is bringing its ‘Unreal City’ AR exhibition into your home

In response to lockdown measures in London, the AR platform has extended its ‘Unreal City’ exhibition to the global community, available to view from the safety of home

Acute Art Unreal City from home
The ’Unreal City’ exhibition is now available to view from home.
(Image credit: Acute Art)

In recent months, viewing art outdoors became a welcome, and necessary solution to the enforced suspension of in-gallery events. But in December, Acute Art took this one step further, with an exhibition formula that required no gallery, and no physical art. It launched its ‘Unreal City’ outdoor AR exhibition in December, and now, in response to tightened coronavirus restrictions across the UK, has made the show available from inside your home. 

The original concept was arranged as a walking tour. Aptly titled, ‘Unreal City,’ it was sited across 24 locations between Waterloo Bridge and Millenium Bridge on London’s Southbank. The exhibition – now available to view in any conceivable location – features work by Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Alicja Kwade, Koo Jeong A, Marco Brambilla, and new pieces by the likes of Tomás Saraceno, KAWS, Bjarne Melgaard and Darren Bader. 

Users can now transform their homes, or gardens into one big AR exhibition, available to experience until 9 February 2021. As Daniel Birnbaum, artistic director of Acute Art and curator of ‘Unreal City’ said, ‘You can have Nina Chanel Abney’s Imaginary Friend in your sitting room, Bjarne Melgaard’s Devil Man in your kitchen or TAKE by KAWS floating in your bedroom. The world can come to a halt but art doesn’t stand still.’ 

Artist Olafur Eliasson, Caring Northern Light and Lucky Stone. Augmented reality AR art available via the Acute Art App

Olafur Eliasson, Caring Northern Light and Lucky Stone. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Olafur Eliasson and Acute Art)

Alicja Kwade’s, All at Any Time can hover ominously above your kitchen counter. Elsewhere, in another surreal twist, Olafur Eliasson’s Courageous Flowers sees green foliage sprout from the concrete slabs of the Thames Path, or your living room carpet. 

‘In recent years works that involve virtual elements have regularly been included in biennials and museum exhibitions, but usually in ways that obey traditional institutional structures’, Daniel Birnbaum, artistic director at Acute Art and curator of Unreal City explained. ‘Could one instead imagine immersive experiences distributed across geographies in novel ways, connecting locals perceptual nodes in ways that create entirely new exhibition formats? I believe the answer is yes. We will use these technologies to change the structure of the art world and make possible new forms of global exchange for a future in which we will be less keen to jump on a plane.’ 

Olafur Eliasson, Courageous Flowers. Augmented reality. available to view via the Acute Art App

Olafur Eliasson, Courageous Flowers. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Olafur Eliasson and Acute Art)

The large-scale group exhibition seeks to ‘democratise’ art, and take it to locations that would prove physically impossible in the real world, all through the lens of AR. Viewers need only download the Acute Art app, point their phone in the direction of their chosen backdrop, and watch each artwork curiously appear. The project, a collaboration between Acute Art and Dazed Media, is slated as ‘London’s biggest public festival of AR art’, and now one for the global community to enjoy. 

As Jacob De Geer, CEO of Acute Art added at the time of the original launch, ‘In these complicated times our aspiration has gained new relevance and urgency. We are happy that all the artists are joining us in the project. Institutions are closed but art should not be cancelled!’

Unreal City exhibition Acute Art

(Image credit: Acute Art)

Artist Alicja Kwade, All At Any Time (AR) available via the Acute Art App

Alicja Kwade, All At Any Time (AR). Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Alicja Kwade and Acute Art)

Unreal City via the Acute Art App KAWS, Holiday Space. Augmented reality. Courtesy of the artist and Acute Art

KAWS, Holiday Space. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: KAWS and Acute Art)

Alicja Kwade, Kreisel (Inception) (AR); Koo Jeong A, density. Augmented reality. Courtesy of the artists and Acute Art

(Image credit: Alicja Kwade, Kreisel (Inception) (AR); Koo Jeong A, density & Acute Art)

As seen in the exhibition Unreal City - Nina Chanel Abney, Imaginary Friend; Olafur Eliasson, Solar Friend. Augmented reality. Courtesy of the artists and Acute Art app

Nina Chanel Abney, Imaginary Friend; Olafur Eliasson, Solar Friend. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Nina Chanel Abney, Olafur Eliasson & Acute Art)

Koo Jeong A, One Should Stay Away From Anything Worldly. Augmented reality. In the show Unreal City via the Acute Art App

Koo Jeong A, One Should Stay Away From Anything Worldly. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Koo Jeong A & Acute Art)

Olafur Eliasson, Marvelous Rainbow. Augmented reality. Via the Acute Art App for Unreal City exhibition

Olafur Eliasson, Marvelous Rainbow. Augmented reality.

(Image credit: Olafur Eliasson & Acute Art)


‘Unreal City’, available via the Acute Art app until 9 February 2021.

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.