DURHAM – Ever feel the urge to jump into a mural like Mary Poppins and get transported into another reality?
Well, now you can.
A new augmented reality app called Mariposa AR –commissioned by Google Fiber and developed by Code the Dream — allows visitors to interact with two murals in downtown Durham inspired by artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
“AR is still new, and working with these technologies has been a challenge and a joy at the same time,” said Jorge Rodriguez, who is originally from Mexico and one of the student developers who created the app.
“While working on Mariposa AR, I’ve learned the satisfaction and also the frustration from working with cutting-edge technology,” added Irene Serrano, the other student developer.
Code the Dream is a Durham-based software development nonprofit that gives people from diverse low-income backgrounds the chance to gain tech experience while building apps that help the community.
The murals are located on the 100 block of East Chapel Hill Street, directly across from Ninth Street bakery parking lot, on the side of the Downtown Durham Convention Center.
They were installed in late 2019 by the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) to celebrate the Museum’s exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, currently on view until Jan. 26.
The installation includes I Am My Own Muse by Cecilia Lueza, inspired by Frida Kahlo, and Juchari Ziranhua / Nuestros Raices/ Our Roots, by Cornelio Campos, inspired by Diego Rivera.
Through the app, spectators can stop at the mural and leave their own stories, including sharing where their family originally came from.
Inspired by the migrating butterfly in Campos’ mural, the app then zooms out to show the entire world, with butterflies representing each user all coming together to land in this one North Carolina city.
In Lueza’s mural depicting an image of Frida Kahlo, viewers can walk through a “portal” into the Museum’s exhibition galleries, even after it closes Jan. 26.
“The downtown Durham mural project connects the arts, education and technology, bringing diverse folks together to learn about and from each other,” said Jess George, Google Fiber’s government and community affairs manager, in a statement.