Richfield rainforest mural comes to life with AR technology

In Richfield’s Galaxy Food mural, people can see and hear the animals in the mural on their phones.

RICHFIELD, Minn. — Art needs work, and the murals at East 72nd Street and Chicago Avenue in Ridgefield are one example. At 80 feet wide and 12 feet high, this rainforest mural is the ultimate expression of community collaboration.

“For rainforests to thrive, there must be diversity,” says Galaxy Food boss Arun Motilall.

Motilall and his friends started the mural-making process two years ago when Galaxy Foods decided to involve the community in the artwork. They host events, cook for neighbors and ask them what they would like to see in the mural. Artist Ricardo Reyez says community members from different cultures want him to bring the rainforest to Ridgefield.

“We brought elements of a lot of culture,” Reyez said.

The masterpiece mixes representations of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Rem5 Studios helped it come to life beyond the walls.

People scan one of the four QR codes on the mural with the camera settings on their smartphones. They can then click on the link that pops up and open Instagram to see the artwork popping up from the building.

Amir Berenijan, CEO of Rem5 Studios, said: “Seeing people use technology is basically like magic, it never goes out of style.”

BJ Skoogs with Berenijan. Incorporating augmented reality into murals was his idea. He said the mural would not have been possible without the help of their community partners and the City of Richfield.

“I grew up here,” Skog said. “I love it here. I think it’s a bridge city. The beauty of a bridge is that it connects people.”

Rem5 Studio plans to update AR every so often so the artwork can change without actually adding more paint. Berenijan says AR is part of a movement towards sustainability in art.

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