In brief

Artist Turns Mondrian Works into Augmented Reality Paintings

An inverted Mondrian by J. Robert Feld. Photo via Fast Co. Design

An inverted Mondrian by J. Robert Feld.
Photo courtesy the artist, via Fast Co. Design.

Artist J. Robert Feld noticed something that if you've been to a gallery or art museum recently, you've probably seen too. "People rush through a museum, like a scavenger hunt, capturing images in their devices, as if that's an appropriate substitute for pausing and contemplating the work," he told Fast Co. Design. This invasion of technology in a formerly tech-free zone inspired him, ironically, to create a series of paintings that actually require the viewer to look at them through the lens of a smartphone in order to properly experience the work.

Feld's "Mondrian Inverted: The Viewer Is Not Present" series features reproductions of Piet Mondrian's famed geometric compositions with inverted color schemes. In order to see the paintings with their intended colors, one must look at them through the function on an iPhone or Android that allows for the inversion of colors. He chose Mondrian because his work is both aesthetically pleasing and widely known, and his use of primary colors also makes the contrast between the inverted and intended colors stark. In an added twist, Feld insists that the paintings themselves are not the actual work.

"The act of looking through the phone and seeing the painting appear more real and recognizable on the screen than on the wall in front of you is the concept of the series," he says. Though a bit gimmicky, the point resonates. The ubiquity of smartphones and social media apps dedicated to photo sharing has made it almost impossible to do, look at, or experience anything even somewhat remarkable without feeling the urge to whip out that device and capture it, even at the expense of enjoying the moment for what it is. And, as we've seen, sometimes on-the-spot Instagram uploads can be less than tasteful, if not downright dangerous. Any art project that makes us question our collective iPhone obsession can only be for the best, right?