a study of how digital

augmentation shapes our

experience of art




july 2023 - february 2024 / 6 months

This culminating experience for my Master's interwove my backgrounds in Art, Psychology,

and Computer Science by researching the role of digital augmentation in fine art.

I created a sculpture with thoughtfully designed digital figures to interact with the physical

piece. I then studied perceptions of the work by inviting participants from a wide-range of

backgrounds to observe the work stand-alone, in AR, and in MR.


1 researcher (solo project)



3D modeler + animator

XR developer



Unity 3D

Autodesk Maya


Google Suite

digital augmentation in art observation

meet the project


As augmented-, virtual-, and mixed-reality technology take over the

world, "augmented art" is an evolving and fast-growing field.

Vladimir Geroimenko, a digital painter, defines augmented art as "the integration of

physical and digital worlds to produce a coherent whole.”


Whether it's used for education or creativity, immersive tech in art is

often criticized as distracting from the value of a piece.

This is an opinion that I frequently encountered in my undergrad art studies, where

digital art was appreciated as "novel" but disdained as "gimmicky" and lacking meaning. It

inspired me to pursue this research and to study what makes augmented art "good" art.


(research questions)

How does the use of augmented art (AR and/or Passthrough) affect

the perceived quality/value of an artwork?

  • Does the degree of immersion affect the perception of the artwork (semi-immersive

    hand-held AR vs. fully immersive hands-free Passthrough)?

  • Do different backgrounds in Computer Science and Studio Art affect audience

    perceptions of an artwork when it involves digital components?


the art effect

When comparing results across backgrounds, I found

that viewers who had formally studied visual art were

far less inclined towards Passthrough VR.

In interviews, many said that they liked to see the

handworked details of the physical sculpture, and that

the headset image quality lost these.

They also enjoyed being able to immediately compare

the stand-alone and virtual, and were therefore more

apt to prefer AR than non-art majors.

This differs from the non-artsy viewers, who found the

use of a phone for AR distracting rather than engaging.

passthrough prevails!

In interviews, most viewers defined 'good' art as having

"meaning" and something that they want to spend

"time" with— prioritizing meaning and engagement.

Across these categories, as well as in immersion and

cohesion, AR and Passthrough VR were at least as— if

not more— successful as the stand-alone work.

The data supported Passthrough VR as an especially

effective medium: quantitatively, it scored significantly

higher in immersion, engagement, and meaning.

This was echoed in interviews: many users felt that the

immersion told a larger story in a more engaging way.

evaluating 'good art'

Twenty-five participants from a range of artistic and

technical backgrounds observed the piece in a random

order of MR, AR, and stand-alone.

Following each 'round', they completed a survey

evaluating how immersive, engaging, cohesive and

meaningful they found the sculpture on a scale of 1 - 5.

Finally, I interviewed them about their definitions of art,

backgrounds, and overall takeaways.

careful creativity

The first challenge of this process was artistic: I sought

to create a sculpture to which the digital aspects were

essential and meaningful.

The final piece is a outstretched figure, covered with

hand imprints from invisible people— these figures and

textures are revealed in AR/MR.

To me, it embraces vulnerability: the figures represent

perceived pressures, and where their touch warps the

figure, it also breaths color into it.


This page is a work-in-progress, but details

on this project's process will be added soon.

Please check back in the next few days!

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a very exhausted

me with some of my lovely teaching-assistant friends

after successfully defending my thesis!

thank you for reading!

like what you read and want to hear more? please get in touch below.

built with framer by macy [2024]


march-june 2023 / 10 weeks

This culminating project for my Master's interweaves my

backgrounds in Art, Psychology, and Computer Science

through a study of digitally augmented art.

I created a sculpture with digital and physical elements,

then invited artists, techies, and everyone in-between to

interact with it stand-alone, in AR, and in Passthrough VR.

digital augmentation in art observation