Artist Interview: Elizabeth Leister

"The endless possibilities make AR exciting"

Only recently, Artivive launched an open call to bring the masterpieces of the Paris Musées into augmented reality. We asked our artist community to break the boundaries of the traditional media, by adding a digital layer to classical works of art with the Artivive tool. This was a first-time experiment that allowed the community to join the museum in the presentation by taking part in the storytelling process.

In this series of interviews, we introduce you to the people behind the best submissions. This time we talk to Elizabeth Leister, a California-based artist, and educator who engages a practice that includes video, performance, drawing, and XR.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have a practice that includes video, performance, drawing and more recently, virtual & augmented reality. In these new projects, subject matters range from domestic work to the history of women and mental illness and drought conditions in Southern California where I live. My work is conceptualized through a feminist perspective on the female body, space, language and landscape and I am finding ways to address these same concerns in AR. As a result of my background in traditional art, drawing is an important aspect of my work and I have been using it as a key element in developing my AR projects. An upcoming work includes portrait drawings of women who have disappeared due to violence. Their drawn images will trigger a video to tell each unique story. I am an Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Production in the Cinema and Television Arts Department at California State University, Northridge. We are launching a new Emerging Media program in the fall and I look forward to sharing these modes of production with my students.  My work can be seen on my website and also on my Vimeo channel.

2. How did you come across Artivive?
I found Artivive when I was searching apps that were easy to use, multi-platform, and free for my students to work with. Once I started learning more about Artivive in order to teach my class, I started experimenting with my own ideas.

3. What inspired you to take part in our open call?
I liked the idea of combining something traditional from the past, an oil painting made in the 1800s, with technology to create a unique collaboration through AR. Editing the original image to tell a story that reflects our current times was also an interesting challenge.

4. Which masterpiece from the collections did you choose and what was the concept behind your augmented reality extension?
I chose La Lecture by Georges Croegaert made in 1890. I was drawn to the color palette and the composition. The woman reading on the couch immediately brought to mind being quarantined at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That became the idea.

5. What do you find most exciting about augmented reality art?
There are many approaches to creating AR art that incorporate other modes of making – video, photography, drawing, projection, sound, etc. and so the endless possibilities make it exciting. I’m particularly interested in the merging of traditional with the technological.

6. What are you working on now and what are your future plans?
I am currently completing a VR project titled “All Her Bodies” which is being developed for the Oculus Quest. Five women, captured as volumetric video, weave unique stories in unexpected language that is more poetic than straightforward to reference violence against women within a broad range of situations.
I am also working on an AR project using Artivive which will use drawing, video projection, and AR to highlight the stories of women across age, ethnicity, and geographic locations who were victims of domestic violence, police brutality, and hate crimes.

6. Any advice for those who would like to use augmented reality for their art practice?
The most interesting works integrate the target image well and play off of the formal qualities to surprise the viewer. It’s another tool so, the concept is key.

Interested to create art in augmented reality? Sign up for free to our augmented reality tool.