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New app brings Cheech Marin collection to life

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Photo by Illi-Anna Martinez/ISLAND WAVES Cheech Marin virtual app provides a new experience for Art Museum of South Texas visitors.

ILLI-ANA MARTINEZ
INTERIM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Prior to the spring semester, Cheech Marin visited the Art Museum of South Texas to speak about his recent art exhibition, “Los Tejanos: Chicano Art from the Cheech Marin Collection.”

Because of Marin’s popularity, as well as the interest in contemporary Chicano Art in the region, the museum collaborat- ed with Island professor David Squires to create a virtual experience for visi- tors. During the January visit, professor Edward Tyndall recorded Cheech speak about the pieces on display. Squires, then took this recording and created a mobile app for visitors as they explore the exhibition called IDET ARTS.

“I believe (IDET ARTS) has been en- gaging and helpful for accessing new and interesting content for partici- pants,” Squires said.

Squires began working at the Island in September of 2017 in Instructional Design and Educational Technology and said he has worked with augment- ed reality development since 2012 when he worked as an eLearning de- veloper in the Middle East. He said he

has continued this work on other proj- ects, including a statewide initiative to conduct virtual tours in Georgia.

Squires said he was given the idea of designing the app when he was touring the museum this sum- mer with his son and wife. His wife, who is an artist herself, suggested he spoke with the museum about some of the work he had previously done with augmented reality and mobile learning environments.

Karol Stewart, coordinator of com- munity services at the Art Museum of South Texas, said Squires’ app was cre- ated to help visitors become more en- gaged with the artwork.

“Artwork can be pretty off-putting for some people,” Stewart said. “Art muse- ums and history have had a tendency to be where you go to be educated or cultured and that’s not who we are. We are a vital community and we are here to serve our community and our goal is to get as many community members and university students and professors to come in and view the exhibition.”

Prior to the “Los Tejanos” exhibit, Stewart said Squires had worked with the Art Museum before, where he cre- ated an app for the “Digital Darkroom” during Fall of 2017. Just as the “Digital Darkroom” went well, Squires said the

results with the Chicano exhibition have been successful as well.

“To date, the qualitative feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Squires said. “While I am considering expand- ing the IDET ART app’s delivery to An- droid operating devices, the application and secure data collection are currently only available for Apple users.”

Aside from the app benefiting the Art Museum, Stewart said IDET ARTS is helping with ongoing research as well.

“What David is doing is that he’s able to collect data on what artwork is the most popular artwork,” Stewart said. “How many times they’ve viewed that art work, how long they view that art- work. All of that data is great for re- search. So, the school of education has incorporated the Art Museum of South Texas into a grant that they’re writing to the National Science Foundation and it’s a larger project and we’re just one aspect of that project.”

Squires said the ongoing research is primarily focused on human perfor- mance, working memory and cognition.

“While we are still collecting data, there is emerging evidence that sug- gests continued Augmented Reality use can improve overall recall and content engagement, in training and informal learning environments,” Squires said.

Squires and Stewart said the app is simple to use. With your Apple device, download the IDET ARTS app. Once you open the app, visitors can point to any individual piece of artwork and listen to Cheech explaining the meaning behind each of them.

“We don’t just put anything up on the walls,” Stewart said. “We put it up for a reason. So, this device al- lows you to learn and engage and in- vest your time as you see fit. It’s not automatically dictated.”

Stewart said she highly encourages Islanders to come visit the museum not only to experience the art exhibit and use this new app, but also to come learn about the artwork the art museum pro- vides. With a valid SandDollar, Island- ers are able to visit the Art Museum of South Texas for free.

“The goal is in the future is that this app won’t be connected to any specific exhibition,” Stewart said. “Visitors will be able to use it throughout the muse- um, whether it’s a temporary exhibition or a permanent collection, or a sculp- ture outside. This way people can look and see and learn about Corpus Christi and the art, the building, and our rela- tionship to TAMUCC at their own pace and every time they come back, there will be something new.”

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