USC phone app creates magical mural experience

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Artist Mieke van den Berg, Information and Communications Technology student Michael Lin Liu and USC Senior Lecturer in Information and Communications Technology Dr Mark Utting receiving their HackFest award

An interactive app that can bring murals and art installations to life has been created in a collaboration between USC and a Sunshine Coast-based artist.

USC Senior Lecturer in Information and Communications Technology Dr Mark Utting said the Art Trail app could turn streets into augmented reality art galleries with the use of smart phone technology.

Dr Utting, final-year Information and Communications Technology student Michael Lin Liu from China, and artist Mieke van den Berg developed the prototype as an entry in the Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s annual HackFest competition.

The team took out the top prize in the competition’s Smart Region category and a special commendation in the Horizon Digital Art challenge.

“We had a vision of developing an interactive art trail that connects the audience to art through time and place by animating murals to make them come alive,” Dr Utting said.

“When the user points a smart phone or tablet at a mural, an augmented reality animation of the work will start playing on the screen,” he said.

“They will also have a library of art and information at their fingertips, and can discover the story of the artist and their work and the stages of its creation.”

Ms van den Berg, who specialises in street art and traditional mural painting, said murals had the power to transform internal and external spaces into magical wonderlands.

“This app will help to create a more intense connection for the audience to the artwork in front of them,” she said. “It will make art more accessible and add a sense of curiosity and discovery for the viewer.”

Dr Utting said the team was now developing a proposal to use augmented reality to animate artworks and installations at this year’s Horizon Festival of Art and Culture on the Sunshine Coast.

The team’s winning HackFest entry can viewed on

Applications remain open to study at USC in Semester 1, starting 26 February. For details go to

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