Memorials, monuments, sculptures and statues. Every city has them. But why?

Holosphere and Second Home Studios have teamed up to create Set in Stone? A mobile augmented reality (AR) experience using your smartphone and headphones to view and discover some of Birmingham’s most iconic, most artistically inspired, or perhaps most controversial statues. The brand-new app has been launched as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival which runs until the end of September.

Set in Stone? is a guided journey through the hear of our ever-evolving city, from Chamberlain Square to Centenary Square. The experience pauses at three stops - the statues of Thomas Attwood, King Edward and a A Real Birmingham Family -  to learn how three icons came to be part of the Birmingham landscape, what they represent, and how they were received.

Using a combination of geolocation technology, AR, and 3D/CG animation, people will be prompted to think about how they personally feel about the statues. Are they viewing a key piece of history? Or do they find themselves interpreting a piece of art? How do they belong in the current socio-political context? Or are they just street furniture to be ignored?

Set in Stone? is a new and exciting use of technology and animation, creating thought-provoking scenarios and exploring the fragments of history which remain from previous generations. The app is now available to download and explore.

In the closing month of the festival I think it’s apt that we are launching something that goes beyond time and place, into history and back again, using pioneering software.
Raidene Carter - Executive Producer of Birmingham 2022 Festival

Sean Duffy, Director of Holosphere said: ‘This piece was a great opportunity to further develop the collaborative potential between fellow Birmingham companies Holosphere and Second Home Studios. We have combined cutting edge spatial technology with traditional storytelling and animation to create a thought provoking and engaging look at a slice of Birmingham's history.’

Set in Stone? is an outcome of one of the festival’s digital challenges, to create something innovative that could then potentially be commercialised and recreated in other cities after the Games. It’s a collaboration between Create Central - an industry body that works with the West Midlands Combined Authority - and Holosphere – a Birmingham company that specialises in immersive technology.

Ed Shedd, Create Central Chair said: ‘This project is a great example of collaboration and demonstrates the creativity and technical expertise we have in the West Midlands. The Innovate:Create scheme set out to connect creative companies with industry challenges, so it is great to see Holosphere and Second Home Studios grasp that opportunity and get their concept out to audiences in Birmingham.’

Set in Stone? is generously supported by Create Central, Arts Council England and The National lottery Heritage Fund.