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Take a moment, BLINK… look again. Everything you see is not what it seems…

Blink provides a modern day recasting of the past. It is a digital intervention project that refreshes the traditional gallery viewing experience. Facilitated by mobile technology and shape recognition, established works of art are layered with an alternate re-imagining of the work.

This juxtaposition of realities aims to provoke a spectrum of reactions in the viewer: not only does it provide a new ‘remixed’ digital layer, it reframes the original by having the viewer consider the invisible space, the relationship between old and the new.

Technology always re-casts human experience but is rarely used as a mechanism to reflect on the eternal. This project inspires pause, reflection through a magical looking glass into altered worlds.

A proof of concept, consisting of two interventions, have already been created and are playable at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Their primary focus to explore, push and test the limits of the technology, but also with a mind to being the first in a larger collection of pieces that explore the past with a contemporary eye.

Interventions in the Canadian Collection, Future Shock indicates how technology can separate and spoil us, where as Reunited reminds that technology can also bring us together.

How it works: the gallery visitor simply lifts their smart phone or tablet up, pointing the camera at one of the  paintings. This automatically triggers the intervention bringing the painting to life.

future shock

Future Shock: George A. Reid’s beautifully peaceful ‘Drawing Lots’ depicts 3 boys huddled together free from the distractions of modern day life. The Blink interventions catapults into the present, the boys are now too distracted by their mobile devices to want to sit together any more. Cars, trucks and planes zoom past the once peaceful scene leaving the spoils of pollution in their wake. It is only when the iPad is turned away are we reminded of the moment of calm that once  was.


Together: Théophile Hamel’s portraits depict a married couple Mr. and Mrs Dorian. Be it a sign of the times, or matter of convenience, the couple were painted separately but hung together. Very little is known about their relationship but I have always felt the melancholy of their situation, frozen in time, so close to each other yet a world apart. The Blink invention bypasses traditional formality reuniting them in the age of the digital camera. As if conscious of being in eyeshot, they come together posing for the visitor’s camera. The visitor may take a picture of the couple, only then do they return to their original state.

Future interventions will provide a variety of experiences. Some of the interventions will be time based, some will react with the users interaction, some narratively driven, others will spill out into the gallery space. Other themes that will be explored in the next proposed interventions will be: 

  • social justice
  • racial diversity
  • sexual equality
  • surveillance culture
  • the rapid progression of scientific knowledge
  • industrial pollution
  • modern food consumption


  • Blink refreshes the viewing experience. Regular gallery visitors can get used to seeing the same paintings time and time again.  By presentation a modern day juxtaposition, Blink can renew the viewers relationship with the work.
  • Blink can help visitors connect with old paintings in a way they were not able to do before. Audiences can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of centuries old paintings, but living in this modern age, it is not always easy to relate to them, no matter how timeless and relevant the subject matter may be. The reality depicted is of a bygone age, this time difference can place a distance between the painting and the viewer. Blink joins the points between past and present with a captivating juxtaposition on a deeper reflection on the original painting.
  • Blink works for all ages. All ages respond well to the project. As the augmented vision collides with that of the painting, it harmonises creating a resonance, a sense of wonder and time passing. The technology provides a way in to the viewing experience for younger tech savvy audiences. Older audiences are generally bewitched by the technology.
  • Blink is simple and easy to use. The interface is minimal and as intuitive as it gets. See a painting with a Blink icon next to it, simply lift your device up and point it at the painting and it will work.
  • Blink requires no installation. Unlike most ‘physical intervention’ works, there is no disruption or closing of the gallery space and no physical installation.
  • Blink will work even when paintings are moved around. There is no restriction if a painting is moved into another room or removed. If the painting is put on loan then that gallery will also be able to access the intervention.
  • Blink will also work with printed and digital versions of the painting. There is a great merchandise opportunity to sell Blink postcard packs. The customer use the app to bring each postcard to life in the comfort of their home or can send the postcard to someone else to experience it. The app will also work with posters and images on the web site allowing potential visitors to sample the experience and lure them into the gallery.
  • Blink can be downloaded to work on visitor’s devices or own devices or use the institution’s device. Blink is free to play.
  • Blink will work on iOS and popular Android devices including phones and tablets.

silver ring

Re-Blink is an integral part of the Blink project. It is a way of getting audience participating with exhibits like never before. It encourage them to react, reinterpret and create a visual remix of a painting and have it be immortalised for all to see in an ongoing digital collection. The Re-Blinked experiences can be viewed anywhere in the world via the web site or in the gallery itself using augmented reality in the Blink app.

Re-Blink empowers the individual giving them a voice where they may otherwise may not have one, with no disruption to the everyday running of the galleries. It builds a bridge between perceived elitism of the art world and the everyday punter. It also means the app is constantly refreshed with new content.

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