The inner-north suburb of Prospect has a reputation for street art, but an Adelaide Fringe Festival event is bringing some of its cherished laneway murals to life in a technological take on “daubism”.
The Prospect Art Walk will launch on Thursday and will bring augmented reality to existing street art
Some six artworks have been augmented as part of a larger, multi-venue event involving DJs, live art and music
Adelaide artist Luku Kuku has a large backlog of high profile works in the digital and interactive space
Daubism, a phrase coined in South Australia to describe a new work created from an existing work, was made more prominent by Bridgewater artist Driller Jet Armstrong who controversially added his own flair to legally acquired paintings by Charles Bannon in 1991.
Some six existing murals in Prospect have received a similar treatment, but rather than use a “daub of paint”, local artist Luku Kuku has been using digital technology to animate the murals with augmented reality (AR).
Among other animations, they will witness a Vietnamese grandmother painted in a kitchen window shout at her granddaughter to “get off her phone” and finish her chores.
It is an AR treatment of an existing depiction of a Vietnamese laneway on Sunny’s Shop by Adelaide street artist Marieka Hambledon.
“In retrospect, that’s ironic, given that we will be encouraging everyone to look at their smartphones to see that interaction,” Kuku said.
The works are part of the Prospect Art Walk that is taking place from Thursday to Saturday, which will include other artworks across the district and multiple venues featuring DJs, buskers, music, live art and food.
The hub will be the City of Prospect’s inaugural addition to the Adelaide Fringe Festival and a reminder that the world’s second-largest festival of its kind is not constrained to the city alone but spreads to the suburbs and regions as well.
“The City of Prospect were pretty keen to have an AR component for the art walk, and that’s precisely the sort of silliness I love to get myself involved in,” Kuku said.
Daubism into dARbism
Kuku is an artist who wasn’t “particularly into AR”, but said a show at MOD, a futuristic museum of discovery, in Adelaide changed his mind and led him to write his own AR app for an exhibition, which in itself was inspired by a Driller Daubist exhibition.
“From the start of my creative career, I started looking at Driller Jet Armstrong as quite an interesting character and started making daubism work,” Kuku said.
“I then thought it would be funny to hang an exhibition of paintings that I hadn’t painted on this time around and to make an AR app that, once you downloaded it and looked at the paintings, they actually had been covered with crazy elements.”
Naming it “dARbism”, he said the process included finding an artwork that had enough contrasting elements and detail that a computer program could recognise.
In the more recent case of Marieka Hambledon’s Vietnamese laneway mural, he communicated closely with the artist about her work’s origins and meaning.
“It was always the intention of Marieka’s work that the grandmother was yelling at the granddaughter, so I got in contact with the model for that particular character and got her to record that line as audio,” Kuku said.
“We picked out the grandmother in that scene because she is leaning out of a window and is already kind of breaking out of the mural in so far that her hand is a sculptural element.”
‘Hard to go back’
From 2011 and 2017, Kuku was the lead animator and multimedia creative at Illuminart, which has created animated projections and interactive content in Adelaide and Sydney.
Since 2017, he has been curating the digital content at the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, including the “large 350-degree wraparound psychedelic videos”.
He was recently showcased at the opening of The Lab venue at Light in Adelaide, where he used a 3D depth-sensing camera trained on the face of a DJ to generate visuals based on that data, as well as from sound data.
“I love paint, but all the amazing creative technologies made available to us these days are so tempting,” Kuku said.
“It’s hard to go back.”
The Prospect Art Walk begins at Newmarch Gallery, starting at 7pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 8:30pm, and runs until 10pm every night.