Carrie Able, prolific art-maker and eponymous gallery owner / curator, refuses to pigeon-hole herself in one medium.
The New Yorker commands both the digital and physical canvas, as well as language and sound. The poet-painter-performer, now programmer, has long been interested in the melding of media to communicate her ideas about the world.
Immersive technologies have been a welcome contrast to more conventional disciplines as she leans into using both virtual and augmented reality visuals to complement her musical expressions and bring her oil paintings to life. Some of Able’s past exhibitions and performances include a residency at former NYC VR arcade, Jump Into the Light, a series of XR installations at Pulse Art Basel Miami Beach, the Independent Music Awards Showcase at SXSW, a 360 music video for her ADIM label song, Prince, a series of mobile AR interactive artworks, AR-enabled compositions, and Instagram filters.
Having recently released a new song, Inside, the artist opens up to VRScout about her creative process cross-media.
What drew you to combining mixed-reality into your artworks?
“Most of my work has roots in surrealism and there isn’t anything more literally surreal than mixed reality. As artists, our work is to paint the world as we see it in our minds. As Mexican poet, Cesar A. Cruz said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
As a fine artist traditionally and by definition, how do you see your mixed-reality work against the rest of your portfolio?
“Specifically, I see AR art in the same way I view music: as being something that is much more accessible. I want to make art that is available for all demographics, not just those who are wealthy enough to collect oil paintings. This is part of why I wanted to create AR art filters with Instagram—to give such an accessible way for anyone in the world to view and interact with my work.”
“In a more traditional fine art setting, I have found that including an augmented reality component to an oil painting makes viewers engage with the work in a more thoughtful way. For younger viewers, interactive media is a big draw and makes them more interested in 2D work. For older viewers more accustomed to viewing static 2D paintings, an AR element feels less intimidating, because it’s attached to a way they are already comfortable viewing.”
Visuals are very much a standard for musical releases. What is it about augmented reality that drew you to create an immersive experience for your listeners?
“I have found that with experimental music it’s even more important to have strong visuals, it makes people more open to listening in a new way. Having an augmented reality experience allows listeners to connect with an experience not just in sound and visual, but to interact and view it in their own environment. As most everyone is experiencing restrictions due to the pandemic I wanted to create an experience that would be accessible for anyone anywhere.”
What technologies did you use?
“To create my augmented reality experiences, I use Google Tiltbrush and then collaborated with ARIZE to launch the experience for users and fans.”
How have your fans responded to your AR works combined with music?
“The XR community is still esoteric, so it tends to be fans of mine that are already involved with VR/AR who are drawn to the AR element of the music single release. I am currently trying to figure out the best way to lower the barrier of entry. Through the development of more streamlined viewing and also creating some educational content, I hope experiences feel less intimidating to the uninitiated.”
What are your predictions for AR/XR technology for both the music industry and for fine art?
“The interest in XR art has definitely advanced since the pandemic hit. While collectors are very interested, there are still a lot of practical concerns they have, such as equipment becoming outdated, what happens when there is a technical issue, or if a collector is not particularly tech-savvy, but loves the work.”
“As unique or limited edition works are traditionally considered to be fine art, concepts like digital scarcity will need to be ironed out and presented in a way that assures the collector. I think AR is excellent for public art right now. An example of doing this well is the Art Production Fund’s collaboration with Nancy Baker Cahill.”
“Regarding music, I think XR, particularly more accessible versions of AR, such as social media filters, will only continue to skyrocket as musicians want to find more ways to connect with their fans while in-person concerts are restricted.”
Image Credit: Carrie Able