Nina Chanel Abney’s First AR Artwork, “Imaginary Friend”

Created with voice, script and music assistance from Chris Chalk, Jeanette E Toomer (Jet) and El Tsid and available on the Acute Art app, Nina Chanel Abney’s latest artwork is an AR companion known as “Imaginary Friend.” Unveiled 28 August, the piece is Abney’s first-ever augmented reality work and was made to be a kind of talisman. As the New York-based artist tells artnet, “I’m offering it to anyone who’s suffering right now. I’m offering it those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. I’m offering it to those who have lost their loved ones due to the pandemic. I’m offering it to the families and friends of people murdered by police and hateful individuals. I’m offering it to the protestors risking their lives to be on the streets right now in support of Black life. I’m offering it to the Earth, which is obviously in need of great healing right now.” Users simply download the Acute Art app, and place “Imaginary Friend” on the floor. With sparkling chimes and jazz playing in the background, the character offers up stories, blessings and advice. Abney further explains, “This new project is a departure from my usual practice, and reflects this wild new locked-down world we live in. But it’s also a continuation of the same, both in terms of how I use caricature, ambivalence, and absurdity to process grief, and in terms of this crisis being an amplification of the traumas that people have been experiencing in day-to-day life and on screens for decades.” Read more of the interview with Naomi Rea at artnet.

Image courtesy of Nina Chanel Abney and Acute Art