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This 100-Metre-Tall Artwork Is Set to Tower Over Melbourne (But You'll Need Your Phone to See It)

The augmented reality design envisions the future of an imagined child, which'll age from zero to 100 years — all based on input from 14,400 locals.
By Libby Curran
April 15, 2021
By Libby Curran
April 15, 2021

The sky-high likeness of a child is set to land atop Melbourne's Hamer Hall, although you won't be able to spot it unless you know it's there. Soaring at a huge 100 metres tall, large-scale public art commission Child of Now is the work of multidisciplinary artist Robert Walton and First Nations author and activist Claire G Coleman — and, because it's an augmented reality piece, it will only be visible on digital screens and mobile devices. Fusing art and computer science, it's set to take to its rooftop perch in 2024.

Across a cleverly executed ten-day performance — with dates yet to be revealed — the virtual being will appear to age from zero to 100 years, all while undertaking normal human activities like playing, walking, communicating and dreaming each day. As the installation wraps up on the tenth day, visitors viewers will watch the then 100-year-old character fall asleep for the final time, with the vision played out alongside an onsite candlelit vigil. Child of Now will also be available to watch online, so it can be experienced by people all over the world.

The ambitious work is designed to glimpse into the future of an imagined child born in 2021; however, this isn't just any random kid. Child of Now is being created and shaped over the space of a few years, using input from a diverse group of 14,400 Melburnians. The artists, along with a crew of University of Melbourne tech specialists, will use volumetric body scanning and interactive technology to gather these public contributions, fusing all of the captured visions, thoughts and experiences together to generate the final product. And if you're wondering where they plucked that number from, 14,400 is the number of minutes that tick by in ten days.

Child of Now by Robert Walton. Concept image by Xavier Irvin.

If it sounds like a hefty project, that's because it is. That's why Child of Now isn't expected to be completed and ready for its Hamer Hall performance until 2024. In the meantime, the artists have been busy making a series of giant virtual holograms, which'll then be animated, and working on the artificial intelligence technology needed to do just that. Then, later this year, a Child of Now prototype will appear at Arts Centre Melbourne. That's when the team will call for assistance, too, giving the public the chance to participate.

Child of Now is currently in production. The ten-day installation is slated to appear atop Hamer Hall in 2024 — we'll update you with an exact date when one is announced.

Top image: Child of Now concept image by Xavier Irvine

Published on April 15, 2021 by Libby Curran


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