Phoenix’s First AR Mural Urges Youth to Vote
On Friday, May 4, visitors to downtown Phoenix’s RoRo arts district will have the opportunity to experience a newly completed mural and watch the piece’s brightly colored wings sprout from their own bodies thanks to the magic of augmented reality (AR).
The new mural, by Phoenix artist Lauren Lee, is entitled Take Flight and is located at 214 E. Roosevelt St. on the western wall of the monOrchid gallery and studio space. Featuring a pair of 10-by-10 feet wings, once the mural’s AR feature goes live visitors and their friends will be able to use their smartphones to scan a QR code on the mural and, using the Shazam app, can see the wings sprout in full motion, spreading from whomever might decide to stand in front of the mural for an AR photo op.
Above: Take Flight Artist Lauren Lee posted an image of a visitor enjoying the mural as it neared completion. In AR, the mural’s wings will appear to grow around visitors.
Phoenicians familiar with the area might recognize the location as the site of another locally famous mural featured on the same building, 2016’s The Garden by Brian Boner which features a flight of hundreds of birds and a Mother Theresa quote in an artistic effort to raise awareness of struggling homeless people.
Take Flight was commissioned by the Citizens Clean Elections Comission (CCEC), a non-profit state watchdog entity that helps audit elections statewide and provides funding to candidates that agree not to receive special interest money. The CCEC also educates and informs Arizona’s electorate about voter registration, polling day info and candidate information.
According to a press release released by the CECC, Take Flight will be installed as part of the “18 in 2018″ campaign, an initiative launched by the organization to mobilize young voters. Referring to those who will turn “18 in 2018,” the campaign seeks to encourage voting and civic engagement in the crucial 18-29 demographic, whose registration and turnout at the polls lags compared to other age groups.
The artist Lauren Lee said, “The meaning behind the mural is especially appealing to me. My intention is to captivate Arizona’s young people with a beautiful representation of taking flight with your decision to register to vote. The addition of augmented reality to the art will literally look like they are a part of the art and ready to spread their wings.”
CCEC Damien Meyer said, “We believe that our “Take Flight” AR mural will appeal to voters from all walks of life and ages […] the point is to find new ways to engage voters and to heighten awareness about the political process and participation.” He added that the project was “especially timely” as the rumblings of the late summer and autumn election seasons are beginning and said it will stay in place through the fall.
In addition to the original piece at monOrchid, a second installation of Take Flight will be featured in Tucson at 191 Toole Ave and have its debut on May 8. Along with the twin Take Flight murals, the 18 in 2018 campaign also features a social media effort on Instagram as well as a CCEC voter dashboard site with registration, election and candidate information featuring an AI-powered chatbot, according to the CCEC.
Visitors to Take Flight are encouraged to use the hashtag #18in2018, which already features photos from people visiting the mural.