“Portrait of The King” is an interactive AR installation produced for permanent exhibition in the Memorial Room of the House of King Peter I in Belgrade, Serbia. The Memorial Room is part of a newly established cultural centre situated in a 19th century villa in which King Peter I Karadjordjevic lived after WWI.
King Peter I of Serbia reigned from 1904 to 1918. While he spent most of his life in exile as a result of dynastic disputes, during his short reign “Serbia and its king experienced all the glory and ordeals of history”. King Peter I was immensely popular throughout his reign and remains one of the Western Balkans most popular leaders. The house where he lived was declared a museum dedicated to his life almost a century ago, but its turbulent history has rendered most of the artefacts destroyed or lost.
Augmented reality was chosen to address the limitations brought by the inability to adequately display the remaining historical artefacts, but also to reflect, on the conceptual level, the ascetic lifestyle of King Peter. The interactive installation is based on a large-scale mosaic comprising several hundred photographs gathered from various national institutions and numerous private collections. The photographs portraying the King throughout his life, his family, his friends, his army, but also other important contemporaries that represent Serbia and the time in which he lived. Images are designed and positioned to build a large scale mosaic, forming a historical portrait of King Peter I of Serbia. Through Augmented Reality the portrait doubles as a platform for additional multimedia elements offering overlayed realities and new interpretative content as part of the experience. When viewed through junaio-powered iPads, various parts of the portrait are triggering new layered images and stories highlighting different aspects of the King’s life. By using iPads or iPhone/Android smartphones visitors can also see one of the first ever motion picture portrayals of Serbia (the crowning of King Peter) from 1904 in AR view, as well as a digital replica of the original crown. As new photographs and documents of the King’s life are found they will be built into the portrait, forming new “markers” and as a result triggering new historical narratives within a new spatial realm.
A contemporary approach in exhibition design offers an innovative museum experience, while the interactivity, introduced by augmented reality, engages visitors in an authentic way enabling them to become actively involved.