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Kaleida Studio
Photograph: Courtesy Kaleida Studio

Kaleida Studio's interactive art exhibition in DUMBO brings vivid prints to life

The immersive collection can now be viewed at Time Out Market New York.
Written by
Will Gleason

It’s often said that art can take you on a journey. When it comes to the works of Kaleida Studio, that saying is even more true than usual.

The innovative studio specializes in limited-edition prints that reveal animated digital artwork when activated with a custom smartphone app. After a quick download, the app lets viewers hover their phones in front of the prints to trigger light-dappled journeys through forests, whimsical plants, moving animals and other fantastical scenes. The experience lies somewhere between a tactile two-dimensional and vivid cinematic experience.

The studio is currently exhibiting examples of these (literally) moving pieces across both the first and second floors of Time Out Market New York. Guests to the Market can download the Kaleida app, which uses the immersive reality technology Violet, to activate the pieces and view the fascinating works for themselves.

“We hope we can ignite some excitement around what art can be,” says Kaleido Studio Executive Director Julie Gratz. “In terms of NFTs and cryptocurrency, the worlds of fine art and digital art are all up in the air. I think AR art is exciting because it’s able to push the boundaries of what’s possible—not only in digital art but also with physical art. You can own a physical print, and have that with you, but also activate it and go into that digital world.”

Earlier this summer, Kaleido Studio brought that technology to the captivating Brooklyn Heights exhibition Not Another Second, which brought the stories of 12 LGBTQ+ seniors to life through portraits viewable through AR. Seeing those photographs, shot by German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen, activated with an additional layer of technology enriched the viewing experience tremendously. By bringing the photographs to life, they were able to provide a stronger, and more captivating, voice to the subjects.

“I’ve been trying to engage in projects that are more geared toward healing, health and mindfulness,” says Gratz. “From the beginning, I’ve always felt a little guilty about asking people to be in front of their phones more. It helps that we can use technology for healing and connection. Also, people like engaging with art in this way so much, they end up engaging with every piece. It does feel like a more active participation.”

Gratz was initially introduced to the technology which makes Kaleida Studio’s pieces possible in 2018. She soon realized that it would be a perfect way to display animations in a gallery space, a form of art that’s previously been displayed through more detached mediums like projections, television screens and at special film festival events. Through this format, artistic animations could be more easily experienced alongside other fine art on gallery walls.

“In each of my pieces, I try to do something further than the one before it,” say Gratz. “Whether that’s through the camera moves or how to build the space. I’ve started to see the reactions be very successful when viewers start to feel like they’re going beyond the physical boundary of the wall.”

You can stop by Time Out Market New York at 55 Water St in DUMBO every day of the week to see that artistic boundary-pushing for yourself.

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