10 public murals around Jackson WY were enhanced with AR features that transformed the static image into a live story.

If you walk down the Pearl Avenue alleyway in Jackson Hole WY, if you look up above the dumpsters, you’ll see a large painting of a cutthroat trout on the wall of local Pinky G’s Pizzeria. You can then pull out your phone, open the Hoverlay camera browser and hold it up to the fish. As you do so, a voice-over and animation will begin.

The trout on your screen will start to move its fins as the blue water behind it ripples. Putting too much fertilizer on lawns, the voice says, creates algae buildup in the water. On screen, the blue water turns a murky green. This algae, the voice explains, kills the insects that trout eat and covers the places that trout normally spawn, limiting their population and eventually forcing them to leave and seek out new habitat. Then the screen shifts again and shows three actions to take to protect the water quality of Jackson-area streams.

This particular mural, created by Jackson artist Deb Fox, is one of 10 murals that Jackson Hole Public Art has put up around town over the summer. The mural project, “Wild Walls,” combines art with augmented reality technology to offer science-based lessons on water quality and conservation.

Wild Walls is a series of murals on display during the summer of 2020 in Jackson Hole WY showcasing local artists. The murals are paired with Augmented Reality animations, activated via Hoverlay, that bring the murals to life and share information about local water quality issues.

Augmented Reality Murals Bring Conservation Messages

All of the animations were created by local artist Ouree Lee.

There’s a huge potential in enhancing public murals with AR messages and experiences. It’s something Jason Hole Public Art curators realized by creating Hoverlay AR channel +JHPublicArt. They hoped people will not just be enthralled by beautiful images that they see, but want to dig a little deeper and learn more about local water quality issues and conservation. Some of the AR renderings animated the murals themselves, and others showed a local conservationist or community member hologram speaking about water quality issues while standing in front of the mural.

Protect Our Waters Jackson Hole partnered with Jackson Hole Public Art to provide the water quality facts and suggested actions people can take. The curators wanted to make sure if they were promoting conservation messages that they were based in science.

Public Murals Offer New Opportunities with Augmented Reality Content

Nine of the murals were impermanent, with wheat paste used to stick the paintings to the walls of participating local businesses. After the Fall Arts Festival ended, they were power-washed off the walls, creating a clean slate for next year. The 10th mural is a permanent art piece commissioned by Snake River Brewing Company. Laramie artist Dan Toro was unanimously selected by Jackson Hole Public Art from a group of applicants to create the mural, which covers most of the east-facing wall of the Brewery’s office building, parallel to the front lawn. Toro visited Jackson and painted his mural in May while an augmented reality feature through Hoverlay was created later.

To see all 10 murals visitors were invited to pick up a map of their locations at one of several sponsors around town, including Pinky G’s, the Anvil Hotel and the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts. Jackson Hole Public Art also created a scavenger hunt with clues to find the murals yourself. Both the map and the scavenger hunt provided instructions in Spanish and English.

Whether people found a few accidentally or took themselves on a walking tour of all 10, the murals were a great way to continue enjoying art even as museums and other art venues were shuttered because of the pandemic. One of the big things about public art — unlike live performances or small enclosed spaces — public art is out in the open, and as long as people are wearing masks, they can still walk around in their small family groups or pods and get to experience augmented murals.

For more information about Jackson Hole Public Art and the upcoming “Wild Walls” event visit JHPublicArt.org.

These kids learned about the importance of Teton Glaciers. The photograph titled “Subtle Gradation” by Andy Bardon come to life with Augmented Reality.