What better band than Pink Floyd, the pioneers of psychedelic and progressive rock, to show the music industry how to reinvent album art for the augmented reality age?
All rhetorical questions aside, Sony Records saw the opportunity to promote The Later Years, an 18-disc boxed set of CDs that covers Pink Floyd's output from 1987 forward, including 13 hours of unreleased material, with a web-based augmented reality experience.
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Built at immersive studio Draw & Code via 8th Wall's web-based AR platform, the AR experience for the boxed set brings album art from the collection into the real world.
Fans can access the experience at PFLaterYears.com. There, thematic elements from the studio albums A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell, the live album Pulse, and the boxed set itself, along with the band's Glyph logo, are shown in all their immersive glory.
Fittingly, the mind-bending AR experience matches the hallucinogenic music, with beds falling from the sky, stone duo-liths emerging from the ground, and street lamps twisting inexplicably. Furthermore, while the band's famous concept album, The Wall, is not included in the experience, live tracks from the album do appear in the set.
The approach to Pink Floyd's release is basically the opposite of Snoop Dogg's I Wanna Thank Me, which included a Snapcode in the album packaging that unlocked an AR experience for the album's cover art. First, the Pink Floyd web AR experience serves to promote the album, while Snoop's Lens was offered as a value-add for customers. Second, while the Doggfather simply animated his album art, Pink Floyd brings its otherworldly art into the real world.
In general, the entertainment industry has welcomed augmented reality with open arms, but the music industry, in particular, has been in harmony with the technology. Examples include standalone mobile apps for David Bowie, AR headset experiences from Sigur Rós and Brian Eno, and mobile AR from Childish Gambino, as well as camera effects from Drake, Childish Gambino (again), Slipknot, Guns n' Roses, and many more.
Visual arts have long enhanced musical experiences. For instance, fans of Pink Floyd's music are likely among the cross-section of music fans who wax nostalgic about the experience of listening to an album while visually immersed in the album art, lyrics, and liner notes.
Now, augmented reality has the potential to usher in a new era of music listening, where the boundaries of visual art expand beyond the second dimension.