Unprecedented augmented reality exhibition extends to additional Botanical Gardens across eight countries in October 2022

Season one was experienced by around one million visitors and featured AR Works by Artists Including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin.

Exhibition to open for a second season in Australia, Canada, England, Greece, Israel, Singapore, South Africa, and the United States.

Image of Mohammed Kazem, Directions (Zero), 2010/2021, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. Photo credit Hannah Rendell.

The most ambitious and expansive exhibition to date of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology was launched at 12 Botanical Gardens across six countries in 2021 and now extends to a further 10 locations for a second season this October. Seeing the Invisible features works by more than a dozen international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin—including several artists’ first work in AR.

Visitors will engage with Seeing the Invisible via an app designed for the exhibition downloadable to smartphones and tablets. Forging new links between gardens located in diverse biomes around the globe, the exhibition fosters collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences, highlighting the power of art to connect people around the world.

The first exhibition of its kind to be developed as a joint venture among botanical gardens around the world, Seeing the Invisible was initiated by Hannah Rendell, Executive Director at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Candida Gertler, co-founder of Outset Contemporary Art Fund with support of The Jerusalem Foundations Innovation Fund.

Seeing the Invisible is co-curated by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring. As part of Seeing the Invisible, the Eden Project in the UK has also developed accompanying educational programming for children, educators, and families available at every partner institution and online for viewers around the world.

Season Two will be presented at:

  • Adelaide Botanic Garden (Australia)
  • Eden Project (England)
  • Gardens by the Bay (Singapore)
  • The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (Israel)
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Historic Spanish Point campus (USA)
  • Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Garden at Elm Bank (USA)
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (Canada)
  • National Garden, Athens (Greece)
  • University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (USA)
  • Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (South Africa)

 Seeing the Invisible premiered at:

  • Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, Colorado, USA)
  • Eden Project (Cornwall, England)
  • Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Florida, USA)
  • Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)
  • Royal Botanical Gardens (Ontario, Canada)
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Cranbourne Gardens (Cranbourne, Australia)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens (Melbourne, Australia)
  • San Diego Botanic Garden (San Diego, California, USA)
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens (Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Seeing the Invisible will place the same exhibition of commissioned artworks in analogous sites in all outdoor settings located in different biomes all around the world, creating parallels and contrasts between them. The AR nature of the exhibition allows for the creation of expansive, immersive works that engage with existing features of the natural landscape beyond the limitations of what is possible with physical artworks. Many of the works created for the exhibition will address related themes around nature, environment, sustainability, and explore the interplay of the physical world with the digital one.

“As an artist always inspired from the nature that makes Nature. Truly honored to bring our studio’s most ambitious research called Machine Hallucinations to gardens around the world with AR technology.’ Refik Anadol.

Among the thirteen AR works created for Seeing the Invisible, highlights include El Anatsui’s first work in AR, adapting one of the artist’s iconic recycled bottle-top installations into an AR tapestry that shimmers gently as though moved by a soft wind; a new work by Sigalit Landau marking the artist’s first foray into AR, offering the viewer endless routes of investigation both around and inside the hidden creeks of a work inspired by the natural formation of a salt stalagmite; a new work by Jakob Kudsk Steensen revolving around the organic shape of a dried branch of cacti, furthering Steensen’s reexamination of desert as omens of life, rather than symbols of death; and a meticulous translation of Ai Weiwei’s Gilded Cage into AR, addressing issues related to power structures, habitats, borders, confinement, and restriction, but also caregiving, preservation, and nurturing. 

Seeing the Invisible features AR works by the following artists:

  • Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing, China; lives and works in multiple locations, including Beijing, China; Berlin, Germany; Cambridge, UK; and Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Refik Anadol (b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey; lives and works in Los Angeles, USA)
  • El Anatsui (b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana; lives and works in Nigeria)
  • Ori Gersht (b. 1967, Tel Aviv, Israel; lives and works in London, UK)
  • Isaac Julien CBE RA (b. 1960, London, UK; lives and works in London, UK)
  • Mohammed Kazem (b. 1969, Dubai, UAE; lives and works in Dubai, UAE)
  • Sigalit Landau (b. 1969, Jerusalem, Israel; lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Daito Manabe (b. 1976, Tokyo, Japan; lives and works in Tokyo, Japan)
  • Sarah Meyohas (b. 1991, New York City, USA; lives and works in New York City, USA)
  • Mel O’Callaghan (b. 1975, Sydney, Australia; lives and works in Paris, France)
  • Pamela Rosenkranz (b. 1979, Switzerland; lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Timur Si-Qin (b. 1984; lives and works in New York City, USA)
  • Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987, Denmark; lives and works in Berlin, Germany)

“Today we have an exceptional potential for global collaboration. AR allows us to share costs and experiences in a way that has never been possible before” states Jerusalem Botanical Gardens Executive Director and Seeing the invisible co-initiator, Hannah Rendell. “We are deeply gratified for the opportunity to forge new connections with partner gardens and art institutions across the globe, for a second year.”

“The exhibition invites viewers to contemplate contemporary notions relating to site and non-site, physical and digital realms. In 1968, when Robert Smithson created his series Site/Nonsite, addressing the tension between outdoors and indoors, scattered and contained, natural and constructed, these themes were at the forefront of theoretical discourse and artistic practice. Today, as questions pertaining to the physical and digital realms become central to our existence, they inevitably become a part of the artistic discussion too, and form the very heart of this exhibition,” says Seeing the Invisible Co-Curator Hadas Maor.

“Coming out of the pandemic when outdoor experiences and nature have taken on a new meaning and gravity in our lives, this exhibition represents a fresh way for people to engage with art and nature simultaneously,” added Seeing the Invisible Co-Curator Tal Michael Haring.

“The interplay of these augmented reality works in vibrant natural settings breaks down the binary between what is often considered ‘natural’ versus ‘digital,’ and in this way provides an exhibition experience that is much more connected to the way we live today.”

“Following the first season of the exhibition at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in September 2021, SANBI is proud to join this global collaboration by offering visitors to Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden the opportunity to interact with the Seeing the Invisible Art Exhibition,” says Shonisani Munzhedzi, Chief Executive Officer of South African National Biodiversity Institute. “It is more than a static exhibition, it is an interactive experience that challenges visitors to connect with nature in a fun and thought-provoking way.”

Seeing the Invisible is accessible via smartphone and tablet through the Seeing the Invisible app, which will be available for iPhone and Android in the App Store and Google Play. Further details are on the website www.seeingtheinvisible.art.

This project has been made possible in partnership with The Jerusalem Foundation. Seeing the Invisible is co-curated by Hadas Maor and Tal Michael Haring and initiated by Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Media enquiries:
Nontsikelelo Mpulo
Director: Marketing, Communication and Commercialisation
Cell: 082 782 7143
Tel.: 012 843 5286
E-mail: n.mpulo@sanbi.org.za

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