Artwork Jumps to Life on the iPhone, in Real-Time

What if each time you looked at a static picture, painting or even object, it popped into bright and detailed motion, telling a new and unique story. No, I’m not talking about an LSD trip, but the new ARART app which was recently displayed at Sapporo’s ATTIC space. Using iPhones and iPads to detect pre-programed images, viewers were treated to a new system which detects imagery and then overlays the image with an animated image in its place. The exhibition used examples of van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, as well as CDs, LPs and modern artworks.

What makes this system so believable is that the over layed image tracks the artworks frame, or in the case of CDs, it even follows the users hand as the animated disk spins. Further enhancing the effect, some images are interactive, allowing you to touch and effect their motion. In the case of the spinning CD, that meant you could start and stop its spin in real-time. (see below for a free download link for the app)

This technology holds highly interesting potential for the future of augmented reality. Could art museums simply have still images in place of videos? Obviously that technology is here; but what if this was implemented in future editions of Google’s head based Project Glass interface? Could we be walking down the street and see advertisements or the pictures on friends t-shirts jump to life automatically? It seems we could be living in an even more animated world very soon.

Want to test out ARART for yourself? The app is available as a free download in the iTunes store, and though it is only programmed to respond to a limited number of artworks, it is still very interesting to behold. Find out more about the project at


Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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