Cambie Bridge turning into digital-analogue world

Cambie Bridge turning into digital-analogue world of Voxel Bridge

Voxel Bridge is a Vancouver Biennale public art work under the Cambie Bridge that uses augmented reality, NFTs and blockchain technology.

The underside of the Cambie Bridge is about to be transformed into the unique digital world of Voxel Bridge. Part of the Vancouver BiennaleVoxel Bridge will exist both as a physical analogue art work and an online digital one.

“To my knowledge, nothing has been done at this scale outdoors that’s fully interactive,” said Sammi Wei, the Vancouver Biennale‘s operations director. “Once the digital world is built in your phone, you’ll be able to walk around objects. When you touch one, it kind of vibrates.”

Just as a pixel refers to a point in a two-dimensional world, voxel refers to a similar unit in a 3-D world.

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Voxel Bridge will be about itself: it will tell the story of what it means to use new decentralized technology called blockchain to create Voxel Bridge.

Starting Monday, a crew will begin installing a vinyl overlay directly on the architecture on the underside of the bridge deck, around the columns, and underfoot on the sidewalk from West 2nd to the parking-lot road. Enclosing a space of about 18,000 square feet, the vinyl layer will be visible without any digital enhancement. It will look like an off-kilter circuit board.

“It’ll be like you’re standing in the middle of a circuit board,” she said. “At the same time, the visual perception will be slightly off. It’s like an optical illusion. You feel the ground is not quite where it’s supposed to be.”

To access the second, digital layer of Voxel Bridge, users will have to download a Vancouver Biennale app that is expected to be available this month. By July, Voxel Bridge will be operational and accessible to anyone with a smartphone, iPad or tablet. The app will have a scanner designed to read markers that resemble QR codes. The markers will be on the vinyl layer on the ground. Once you’re in the digital layer, you’ll be able to move your phone to see digital objects that appear to float and interact.

“They’ll be moving, animated and interactive, so you can touch these objects through your phone,” Wei said. “They’ll show you messages, videos, as well as visualization of live data being in real time.”

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Wei said the artist worked very closely with augmented reality software developers and Kusama, a multichain network for developers building decentralized applications.

Wei explained blockchain by comparing it with Facebook where users’ data is stored on a centralized server controlled by the U.S. company. Blockchain, however, is a decentralized and autonomous way to store data. It’s called a block because the data is linked in a connected chain that is protected by measures that include cryptographic techniques.

“It’s a way to make sure no one owns your data,” she said. “It’s really a way to take back your digital privacy.”

There are 20 NFTs in Voxel Bridge. An NFT is a unique digital file that can’t be changed or divided. It’s being called the digital version of a unique artwork.

Voxel Bridge, Wei said, is way over-budget at more than $300,000. The Biennale is hoping to sell the NFTs to offset the cost of the project. How much will the Voxel Bridge NFTs sell for?

“I have no idea,” Wei said. “It depends on the market. Prices fluctuate with the price of cryptocurrencies.”

Wei described blockchain technology as a new layer to the internet, one that she believes will eventually expand to include all of the online world.

“We have to make sure art has a place on the blockchain,” she said.

Voxel Bridge is a temporary installation until 2023.

Voxel bridge

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non fungible token. Cryptocurrencies and physical money are called fungible because they can be exchanged. NFTs are unique digital files that can’t be exchanged for one another.

What is a blockchain?

NFTs exist on blockchains, a series of blocks on a network that records transactions. The NFTs in Voxel Bridge are minted on the Kusama blockchain.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a digital experience built on the physical world. It allows someone to interact in real time in a way that seamlessly meshes 3-D and physical objects.

Published By : TheProvince

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