Forget the old phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
UK-based artist Alexander Ward was shocked to see his AR-enabled cover for Allowah Lani’s book I am love was circulating online. When scanned with a smartphone camera, the books cover opens a 3D portal to a visually-captivating psychedelic cosmos.
“It certainly was very surprising,” Ward explained, “[I] can’t imagine anyone expects their video to travel around merrily on Twitter gathering almost a million views.”
Ward said he didn’t even have a Twitter account — but he certainly does now, @wardyworks.
“For a while now I’ve been excited by the interesting new avenues this tech opens up for my art, and the book cover was a small snippet of what I’m working towards with that tech,” Ward said. “So it’s very encouraging to see the response that many others are excited by it also!”
The cover is a woman surrounded and made of celestial and mystical elements. Her hair is an intertwining of creatures like snakes and butterflies, light, and faces and she is reaching out to an unknown hand wrapped in gauze that feels like it is your hand when looking at the cover in AR.
“For this particular Augmented Reality book cover I created, I wanted to give the illusion of looking into the cover itself,” Ward said, “as if the book cover is a window or portal into the artwork.”
“I achieved this by separating the artwork and text into many individual layers, that I placed in receding layers of 3D depth, in a 3D program on the computer,” Ward said.
Ward’s design works similarly to how an Instagram lens or Snapchat filter recognizes your face and then adds a layer AR element that moves with your movements. Ward has also designed face filters with his similar ethereal style.
“If for example there is a book that already has a million copies in circulation,” Ward explained, “I could make an effect, and it will work on all those million copies. Provided those covers are the same.”
A similar effect was achieved by the New Yorker in 2017 with a magazine cover that came to life in AR using the UNCVR app.
Want to try it yourself? Click this link to open up the AR effect (Facebook app required) and point the camera towards the book cover image designed by Alexander. You can also scan the QR code provided above.
I Am Love by Allowah Lani is a guide meant for those using psychedelics in order to enhance their spiritual growth and is a sequel to his 2016 book, Who Am I? Yoga, Psychedelics, and the Quest for Enlightenment.
To check out more of Ward’s AR projects, visit wardyworks.art.