Lin Ke’s interactive ‘Art Book’: where printed matter meets augmented reality

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In 2016 Lin Ke 林科 released a book via Tria publishing that presents a chronological overview of his output from 2010-2016.  As an artist Lin is known for innovative works which explore the impact of digital technology and computer operating systems on contemporary art and visual culture. Integrating images culled from social media platforms with playful subversions of standard software packages and graphical user interfaces, his practice employs screen recording software and programming code to blur the boundaries between real and virtual spaces.

After graduating from the China Academy of Art’s New Media Department (now the School of Intermedia Art) in 2008, Lin began a series of video works which were created without the use of a video camera. Capturing the mundane real-time actions governing artistic creation in the computer age, many feature the artist interacting with his laptop. We view these videos via the computer’s own camera, controlled from a distance with the use of a touchpad as the artist records his own movements to music.


The resulting mirrored images, with their spectral layering of open windows, screen savers and desktop detritus present us with unsettling self-portraits of the digital age. As we increasingly experience life mediated by digital devices, they reinforce not only the reality of spending eight hours a day staring blankly at our computer screens but also the incursion of these virtual environments beyond the computer frame, personifying the uncanny possibility of a machine that can return our gaze. 


Lin Ke, The universe folder, 2010
Archival Inkjet Print
10 3/5 × 8 3/10 in
27 × 21 cm
Edition of 6 + 1AP



Lin Ke, Data Foam Board, 2013, Archival inkjet print 120 x 57.56 cm

Presenting video works such as these in a traditional book format has always posed problems, ones which seem to have been further exacerbated in the current digital era. In order to overcome these limitations, the book was released with a specially designed ‘augmented reality app’, which enables the user to explore more content related to each image. The book therefore represents a hybrid between traditional printed matter and the technological advances of new media.

As Tria explain on their website: “以这种阅读方式去了解林科的美学世界也是模仿着视频的观看方式,并强调了在电子创作时艺术家的纯人力劳动的重要性。增强现实技术的运用满足了即时更新内容和与对跟上科技发展脚步的需求。艺术家在最后的一个视频中留下了文字线索,读者读后可以被隐形地带领在书中漫游,当手机扫码时也同时完成了一场电子的行为表演。

“This way of viewing Lin Ke’s aesthetic universe mimics the intended way of viewing the videos and stresses the important aspect of manual movements in the work of the artist. It also allows the augmented reality content to be constantly updated and so stay in an ongoing exchange with technological development. The reader will be guided through the book with text-messages from the artist, which will be displayed at the end of a video. By using the app the reader is also implementing a digital performance.”

The book features texts in Chinese and English from Anna-Viktoria Eschbach 安娜夏波 and Liu Pinyu 刘品毓 and is available to download and buy via their website.