News: Marina Abramovic's Volumetric Art Piece Heads for Christie's Auction Block After Debut in Magic Leap

Marina Abramovic's Volumetric Art Piece Heads for Christie's Auction Block After Debut in Magic Leap

Some people believe that art makes artists immortal, and now one of the best known performance artists on the planet is working on taking that immortality into the realm of augmented reality.

Marina Abramovic is using volumetric capture technology, along with the Magic Leap One, to immortalize her latest piece called "The Life." This week, auction house Christie's announced that copies of "The Life" will be solid in a world-first mixed reality auction in 2020.

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Known by many outside the art world for her artistic encounter and subsequent controversy with music mogul Jay Z, Abramovic's work is widely considered to be at the cutting edge of performance art, which makes her choice of the Magic Leap One quite fitting.

A non-augmented still from Abromovic's volumetric capture video "The Life". Image via Tim Drum

And while the immersive project will give the 72-year-old artist's work a life beyond the grave, those looking to buy her immortal 3D image from Christie's won't be able to get it on the cheap -- Christie's estimates a price tag of $775,000 (£600,000) for each of the three editions of the video.

What will buyer's get for that price? Well, the volumetrically-captured performance in "The Life" runs 19 minutes, was produced by UK studio Tin Drum, and filmed at 4D Views, a volumetric capture studio in France. The performance was initially put on display for UK audiences wearing Magic Leap One headsets at the Serpentine Gallery.

4D Views volumetrically scans artist Marina Abromovic. Image via Tin Drum

Small but sold-out audiences at the gallery were arranged by staff to view the AR presentation while standing in a semi-circle to see Abramovic performing in the center of the room.

The experience will also go on a tour of the world ahead of the October 2020 auction.

Audiences at the inital showing of Abromovic's video "The Life" wore Magic Leap One. Image by Serpentine Gallery/Twitter

"A hundred years beyond when anybody who ever knew she was alive, there will be people who will see her walk into the room and will feel that sense of connection, of human experience," said Tin Drum studio founder Tim Eckert, in a statement via Christie's.

Magic Leap One is placed on audience member at "The Life" in London in February. Image via Tin Drum

Abramovic seems to be obsessed with the theme of presence, which she played to in her widely publicized performance "The Artist Is Present" project at MoMA a few years back.

For the performance, she made eye contact, sometimes for hours, with hundreds of strangers. She gave a wrap-up speech saying she thought the stillness amid New York's frantic pace and noise would let people be present in the here-and-now.

The even more abstract idea that 3D presence has value (and death is not the end for performing artists) crops up in pop culture every few years, for example in this year's episode of Black Mirror where a performing hologram of a brain-dead performer (played by Miley Cyrus) is exploited by her handlers. We have also seen real-life profits made at Coachella in 2012 when it hosted a performance by a hologram of the long-dead rapper Tupac.

Therefore, it's not hard to imagine that augmented reality captures could cause a bidding war at Christie's next year and turn out to be worth some very serious coin for those with an eye toward the future of art.

Cover image via Tin Drum

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