Sorry, Mayor Bloomberg, but New York City isn’t the first city in the world to feature a transmedia walking tour through its busy streets. That honor belongs to Davis.
In February, John Natsoulas, in collaboration with Monto H. Kumagai, a software developer, and Finley Fryer, a UC Davis graduate and local artist, unveiled the beginnings of a transmedia sculpture walk highlighting various pieces of artwork in key locations throughout downtown Davis.
Natsoulas said that besides “Stan, the Submerging Man,” an impressive piece already in place in front of the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts, 521 First St., Davis, 11 more pieces have been installed around town.
Though cities around the world have replicated the idea of an art walk, none can dole out the unique experiences that the walk in Davis features.
Each sculpture on the transmedia walk has a radio frequency identification technology chip embedded into it over which participants will wave their cell phones to interactively learn about each work of art.
Visitors can watch videos about the artist or about the work itself, and they are able to leave remarks about the piece for future participants to view as well.
Not all cell phones yet have the ability to read RFID tags, but Natsoulas said many cell phone companies are headed in that direction. Currently, Nokia and Samsung manufacture phones with the necessary hardware. Apple does not.
Kumagai, who invented the technology that made this possible, explains how this idea will change the way people can experience art. Kumagai is president of Xtremesignpost Inc. in Davis.
“I think that this is really important because oftentimes art is very passive and it shouldn’t be,” Kumagai said. “People look at paintings, but really they have opinions or they see something and it brings back a memory or emotion, and then that memory or emotion is what they then link internally to that painting.
“Well, what we have is the ability to directly link digital information onto an RFID tag to transform and personalize a piece of art.
“We tagged ‘Stan, the Submerging Man,’ and it allows him to be more a of a portal, a doorway to another world,” Kumagai continued. “Here, visitors and participants can look at Stan and then write their experiences, their memories or anything that they want directly onto the sculpture.
“It’s almost like digital graffiti so the next person, if they want, can hold up a cell phone and play back that experience.”
Visitors also will have access to a digital video map that will guide them on their own virtual tours, said a news release from Natsoulas, and “educate themselves about the process and history of multiple artistic creations.”
Natsoulas said the sculptures included in the art walk can change every year. He plans to add more sculptures to the walk in the future to enhance the participants’ experience.
“If you look at any great sculpture walk, there’s actually about 20 sculptures that can create the amount of time people would like to go on the walk,” Natsoulas said.
“You have to have a certain amount of sculptures to keep people’s interest so they actually come here as a destination to look at art,” Natsoulas said.
For more information about the transmedia sculpture walk, visit http://goo.gl/BxYqd.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash