Art illuminates city spaces at night with interactive smart city technology

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Iconic works of art from the collection of the Newcastle Art Gallery will provide interactive nighttime attractions to liven up the city’s underused public spaces.

The works will be displayed on 15 illuminated light boxes, which also include interactive elements and augmented reality functionality to provide information about the art.

The first set of five light boxes is now operational at Kuwami Place on Hunter Street, with additional facilities to be delivered to Market Street and Pacific Park early next year.

Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen said local talent, innovation and creativity are behind the City of Newcastle’s Night Spaces project, which will enhance local public spaces at night for the betterment of the community.

“Specially designed interactive light boxes are an innovative solution to activate underused spaces throughout our city at night,” said Cr Clausen.

“Using cutting-edge interactive smart city technology, the City of Newcastle has partnered with Newcastle University and a local industrial design firm to create these bespoke light boxes, which offer a new way for the community to interact with the Newcastle Art Gallery‘s nationally significant collection while also helping to illuminate and draw people to these places at night.

The light boxes were locally built using durable, long-lasting products and run on solar power, with an internal battery to illuminate the artwork and drive sensor-based lighting functions. Augmented reality screens designed for each work of art add an extra layer of digital interactivity. The light boxes are designed to be movable for use at other sites or during major events.

Newcastle Art Gallery director Lauretta Morton said the light boxes will share the gallery’s vast collection with new audiences, with different exhibitions being held for each location.

“The artwork selected for Kuwami Place, for example, explores the genre of portraiture in the gallery’s collection,” Ms. Morton said.

Iconic images include Portrait of a Strapper by William Dobell, the portraits of Margaret Olley on her Church Street terrace and Rupert Bunny’s moving portrait of the muse and wife Jeanne.

“Some works comment on social issues to engage those who interact with light boxes, while other works describe a simple interaction between the artist and the subject of the image. “

The Night Spaces project was jointly funded by the City of Newcastle and the Department for Communities and Justice, under the NSW Government’s Community Safety Fund.

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