Disney has been playing with augmented reality for a while now. In 2015, it used AR to bring colouring books to life with ‘live texturing’, a process which captures a 2D drawing in order to create a 3D AR version in real-time. That was pretty neat two years ago, but Disney have kept pushing their AR agenda. The latest use of AR by Disney is their new application, AR Museum, an interactive, personalised art museum experience.

How Does It Work?


With AR Museum, you can scan any piece of art from a museum, or even a book, from your smartphone or tablet, then go in and alter the tone and colour of it in real time. Basically, you get to reinvent art pieces. There’s no mention of the app working on any image you can point your camera at, but it depends on how the app works, which we don’t currently know.


Disney’s Plans


It’s not available to try on any public platform yet, but the hope is that Disney will let it out of its box at some point. It’s clear that the company is working with Silicon Valley-level innovative spirit to take its brand into the future, but they seem to be keeping their developments pretty close to their chest right now.


That being said, Disney has made a few big announcements about its techie offerings. One of these was the exciting news that they would be bringing Star Wars VR experiences to Downtown Disney and Disney Springs.


Beyond Disney


With visual artwork being such a key part of Disney’s marketing strategy, it’s little surprise that the highly visual media of VR and AR appeal to them. But apps like AR Museum open new doors for marketing strategies in other brands and industries. Such an interactive AR experience would fare very well in the retail sector, where customised and engaging experiences are more in demand than ever.


Property Rights


There is, of course, the issue of property rights. Perhaps not all artists would appreciate having their artwork recreated in this way. Just as musicians request permission before other people can sample their work in any way, shouldn’t artists have the same rights? It depends, I suppose, on how that recreation is used, and whether proper credit is given.


Many artists may be totally fine with the idea, seeing such recreations as a valid emotional response to the initial artwork, amplifying the value of the original. Remaking original artworks through new editions is part of the trajectory of art history anyway. For example, Francis Bacon’s reiteration of Valazquez’ Pope Innocent X, which in turn was rearticulated by Mat Collishaw in his 2012 installation, End of Innocence.


As we have addressed many times on this blog, virtual and augmented reality technologies are developing the art world in new directions. Art is in the midst of a new movement, with never-before-seen methods of visual expression set to both alter and reflect the changing world in which we are living in. It’s certainly an exciting time – and this little app from Disney is just the tip of the iceberg.