By Sabine Zetteler
Published April 25, 2016
I’ve been struggling to find a way to summarise this project. The best I’ve managed so far is ‘radically inventive mash-up of photography, tech, travel and interactive art’. But however you describe Space Explorer, it’s about to land in the streets of East London in Britain. As of Thursday, May 5, 2016, you’ll be able to explore the wilds of the Great American Desert without leaving Hackney.
Robin Mellor, a London-based documentary and portrait photographer with a thirst for adventure, is about to launch Space Explorer, his Kickstarter-funded, app-enhanced 4D platform that seeks to rekindle our sense of adventure and change or perceptions of the city around us.
The first Space Explorer project, ‘Another Space and Time’, is an outdoor art trail from Hackney Central to Regent’s Canal, featuring billboard-size photography of desert dwellers secreted around the neighbourhood’s streets. That’s fun in itself, but the Space Explorer smartphone app also uses GPS technology to trigger the sounds and stories behind each image as you get closer to it, making it a properly immersive experience.
It’s an exciting alternative to the traditional gallery set-up, and an excellent example of the innovative ways the digital world can be used to enhance the physical one.
This pioneering new public art initiative is a new, free, art-based app platform intended to encourage people to explore the urban environment, discovering artworks and soundscapes along the journey.
“I’m fascinated by people’s stories, especially those who have a great obsession in life or who like to live outside the norm. We set up Space Explorer as a creative outlet for work we’re really passionate about, which can help inspire others and spread outsider knowledge into the public consciousness,” says Mellor, founder of Space Explorer.
After a successful Kickstarter funding campaign raised the £16,000 needed to bring it to life, Space Explorer’s first show is now ready for lift-off. Driven by a desire to rediscover our sense of adventure in the city, the project aims to create moments of wonder and intrigue in the heart of our everyday city surroundings, taking the joy of discovering art out of the gallery and onto the street.
‘Another Space & Time’ takes viewers on a journey through the American desert in search of the meaning of life, via 15 locations in East London. The Space Explorer app will guide explorers along a route from Hackney Central to Regent’s Canal, with 15 billboard-sized artworks hidden along the way. Once in the GPS zone of the artwork, the app immerses its users in a bespoke soundscape designed to complement and enhance the image, thus turning the untapped spaces of the neighbourhood into a four-dimensional outdoor gallery.
Running for eight weeks, ‘Another Space and Time’ uses images and stories of the inhabitants of the Great American Desert to ignite our curiosity and alter our perspectives by re-contextualising art and bringing extraordinary narratives into unexpected locations.
The project is run with the support of Hackney Council as part of its regeneration scheme, and is accompanied by the free Space Explorer magazine, available from cafés and shops along the route. The publication explores the story of the exhibition in depth and showcases up-and-coming photographic talent from the local VSCO community.
The Space Explorer app is available to download free on iOS and Android from April 25, 2016.