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creative:impact - Art Viewed From A New Dimension


Sitting at the intersection of art and technology, local entrepreneur Don Hicks wondered how SaganWorks 3-D technology could make it possible for anyone to view the work of artists from anywhere. Being one to take action, he started the nonprofit CultureVerse to figure it out. Aubrey Martinson was enlisted as executive director, and she explains it all when she joins co-hosts Deb Polich of Creative Washtenaw and WEMUs David Fair on this edition of "creative:impact." 

Deb Polich
Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.


A non-profit leader working at the intersection of art and technology.

Personal Bio -   

Aubrey Martinson
Credit LinkedIn / linkedin.com
Aubrey Martinson

Aubrey grew up in the middle of a cornfield in Pinckney, Michigan where she was enriched by her experiences in the theatre and band programs in the public school. After attended Albion College, she chose to pursue her personal mission of connecting humans with one another using arts as a catalyst. Doing this work has led her to work with several Washtenaw County non-profit organizations whose services ranged from theatre to dance to art and music. 

She lives in the quiet town of Grass Lake with her husband, Chris, and creative children, Lily and Iver.

Visitors to Ann Arbor’s CultureVerse Gallery & SCANN ARBOR Scanning Labs are literally invited to step into the intersection of life, art, and technology.

CultureVerse, a new arts organization in Ann Arbor, welcomes the public to its retail storefront at 309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. They will be featuring new technology, an in-person art exhibit, and virtual art exhibits. 

In the month of October, CultureVerse presents the work of RCKBNY. The CultureVerse retail storefront is designed to provide an engaging and accessible entrypoint for everyone to explore the intersection of art and technology as well as new tools for capturing and sharing 3D scans, including a 3D body scanner. Visitors can step inside and scan themselves!



Opening Reception October 8, 2021 from 5 pm - 8 pm

Gallery Hours 2 pm - 7 pm Thursday - Saturday through October and by appointment



309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104



As individuals and as a society we live in the intersection between life and technology. 

There is no better way to explore this than to see the transition in person. At the CultureVerse gallery you can experience an in-person art exhibition by the artist RCKBNY and explore two digital, virtual galleries by the same artist. 


We will also be demonstrating our 3D body scanner. Participants will be asked to step into our scanner, stand still for a quick second, and watch as they are transformed into a 3D image.



The exhibition is free and open to the public. We invite everyone to enjoy this exhibition. 


About CultureVerse:

CultureVerse is a Michigan nonprofit corporation founded in May of 2021 whose mission is to serve the keepers, creators, and curators of art, culture, and knowledge. We do this by sharing digitized art and artifacts within immersive 3D environments. Our primary purpose is to help unseen things be seen as widely as possible. 


We do this by utilizing cutting edge technology such as 3D scanners and immersive 3D environments such as those built by SaganWorks. CultureVerse provides services to our partners free of charge. You can find our work online www.cultureverse.org as well as in our demonstration gallery and SCANN ARBOR scanning lab at 309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Located between Shalimar and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and across from Blue Llama Jazz Club and The Ark.


CultureVerse is sponsored by Artrain.



SCANN ARBOR is a project of CultureVerse designed to introduce the community of Ann Arbor and surrounding communities to 3D scanning technology in a very personal way. Step inside our scanner and your image will be generated! You can share this image with friends, purchase a 3D printed figurine, or insert your 3D figure into a virtual gallery to share with family, friends, and the world! All are invited to step inside our scanner - whether you choose to come as you are in your casual clothing or capture your cosplay outfit, SCANN ARBOR would love to help you capture yourself in 3D. Come alone or bring your family - SCANN ARBOR can scan up to four people at once.The scan takes just a few minutes to complete but processing takes a bit longer. Browse our gallery or nearby shops while you wait! 



RCKBNY aims to make his art full of color and energy. That produces emotional reactions while illustrating his own thoughts, perceptions, and analysis of the world.




About CultureVerse

CultureVerse on Facebook

CultureVerse on Twitter

CultureVerse on Instagram

CultureVerse on LinkedIn



David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and I'd like to welcome you to another edition of creative:impact. Each week, we take a look at the local creative sector. I'm David Fair, and I'm with my content partner and co-host Deb Polich. She serves as president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw. Always good to have you back.

Deb Polich: As always to be here with you too, David. Hey, you may have seen that there's like three immersive Van Gogh exhibitions traveling around the country, and they're attracting like hundreds of people. And I had the chance-- 

David Fair: Hundreds of thousands.

Deb Polich: Hundreds of thousands of people, right? And I had a chance-- 

David Fair: That would be slightly disappointing. 

Deb Polich: I had a chance to see one of them in Detroit recently. 

David Fair: And what did you think?

Deb Polich: Well, you know, for me, nothing replaces sitting in a Van Gogh or any artwork in person, but I truly appreciated the technology that was used. It's a projection process called Image Total, and it was created in the 1970s, and it's making Van Gogh's work accessible to people that may never venture into a museum. You know, innovation, technology, and the arts have always connected. And, as a matter of fact, right here in Ann Arbor, a technical tool is being adapted to extend the reach of artists and our artists and art. 

David Fair: Well, good. 

Deb Polich: So, yeah, let's welcome Aubrey Martinson, director of CultureVerse, to learn more. 

David Fair: Well, welcome to creative:impact.

Aubrey Martinson: Thank you. 

Deb Polich: You know, Aubrey is a director of a brand new organization. When somebody asks you, how do you describe CultureVerse. 

Aubrey Martinson: Oh, my gosh. It is such an exciting concept to describe, and I do have to say I have the very strong feeling that it's impossible to know where we're headed, but I know what we're doing right now, because what we're doing is so new and what we do is we harness new and cutting edge technology to display artwork, scanned objects, knowledge, and other culturally relevant information inside of a virtual 3D immersive experience that you would experience through your mobile phone or a website using a platform called Saganworks.

David Fair: So, Saganworks. Who developed that and why did you choose that technology? 

Aubrey Martinson: [00:02:15] That's a really good question, so Saganworks is developed by a company they are called Saganworks and their tool is called Saganworks. And it was headed by a man named Don Hicks, who is well known in Ann Arbor for-- 

David Fair: The Blue LLama. 

Aubrey Martinson: Yes, the Blue LLama. And being a longtime entrepreneur, founder of Llamasoft, and we chose that tool because it is honestly one of the most impressive tools to use at this point. It's not just a way to display 2D art on a wall in a 3D space. You can bring in information and context and create a really rich environment to display artwork and cultural artifacts and other knowledge items. And we have the expertise on our team to use the software, and we have a very close relationship with the engineers and everybody at Saganworks to be the most successful and to launch the most successful projects possible. 

David Fair:This is creative:impact on WEMU, and our guest is Aubrey Martinson, director of CultureVerse. We're just learning about it together. It's a startup organization that is using 3D technology to create virtual connections for people anywhere to experience art collections and the work of artists online. 

Deb Polich: I mean, what was Saganworks? What was this technology originally developed for? 

Aubrey Martinson: You know, I can point to a moment that Don talks about. And that would be Don Hicks, the founder of Saganworks, which is the technology we we utilize at CultureVerse. And he had this moment where he was viewing an exhibit, and it was so moving to him, and he thought to himself, "Man, I wish I could take this home with me." And so, part of it is preserving memories and sharing that experience with other people. And, as you know, you know, when you're experiencing an in-person exhibition, you know, you either see it or you don't. And so, how can we bridge that gap? Those are the questions we're trying to answer through the work and the really exciting opportunities we have to partner with Saganworks is how can we bridge that gap between an in-person exhibit that can only be seen if you drive there, fly there, if you can afford to get there? And how can we make that experience more accessible to more people? So, in a lot of ways, it feels like time travel or, you know, we are removing the barriers of space and time to experience something that was once only accessible in person. 

David Fair: So what projects did you choose for the launch of CultureVerse? 

Aubrey Martinson: So, we have a few exciting opportunities that are coming up. We're in conversations with a very well-known library to digitize some of their collections and display them online. We have a really interesting possibility with a Detroit organization that is currently closed and inaccessible, so we're excited about the options there. And some of the specific projects we've started to work on--actually, there's two collections that reside in basements in Washtenaw County that cannot be seen because they do not have a physical space. One collection is the Stearns collection of musical instruments that is housed at the University of Michigan, and we are working to digitize a part of their collection. We are scanning instruments, and we will be displaying them within 3D virtual galleries. And that's exciting because we can share something that is is really inaccessible to the public, and it will be available to scholars and the students and anybody who wants to see it. 

Deb Polich: If I were to be on the site, give me--I mean, it's hard to create a visual while we're on the radio. But you know what? How would I navigate that as a viewer of the Stearns collection, for example? 

Aubrey Martinson: Right. So, if you were to enter our our gallery of instruments, which is in the process of being created, you would click on a website or click on a link that would take you there. Or it would be embedded in the Stearns website as part of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. And you would navigate into something that would look very much like a room you might see in a video game. And it's very easy to navigate. Once you get inside that room, you click on the floor, or you click on an object and you're taken there. So, it really is very an accessible way to experience this new technology. And then, you would see either photos or art on a wall. You could click the art and be taken to it, or you could explore one of the 3D scans of a musical instrument by walking. I guess I say walking around it, but by sort of traveling around it in this 3D virtual space. 

David Fair: Is there a response from artists that we may not even know about and the artistic community that this is a potentially exciting way for them to become more accessible and for us to access them? 

Aubrey Martinson: Yes. So, through local community builder and collaborator Trevor Stone, we've been connected to some new artists and one of those artists he has. He does his work under the acronym of RCKBNY, and his name is Stephane, and he is a Detroit-based artist. And we actually have some of his artwork on display in our retail space, which is at 309 South Main in Ann Arbor. And we have his physical work here in our gallery. We have several of his portraits, but we also have worked with him to create 3D virtual galleries, which he has embedded in his website. One is for his photography, and one is for his paintings. And he was so excited to work with us, because he felt like it gave, you know, it gave the visitors to his web site a really immersive experience to explore his work in a gallery setting with no need for real walls, no need for any real estate at all. It is a free-to-use software, and we just helped him leverage the use of the software.

David Fair: This is creative:impact on 89 one WEMU. 

Deb Polich: So, Aubrey, you know, technology can be expensive. What's the process, and how do artists and art collections and collections in general get connected to this and make it happen? 

Aubrey Martinson: Yeah, absolutely. So, we have our website, which is cultureverse dot org, and we have a very simple submission form. If anybody is interested that we would love for them to reach out. If they have a collection that is in need of a display, if they have an idea, or if they're an artist that just wants to learn how to create one of these galleries for themselves, we can give them the training, the tools they need. We can also help them build it. It really depends on the scope of the project. 

David Fair: You have a launch event coming up at your place Friday, October 9th, from five to eight p.m.. And is this open to the public in general? 

Aubrey Martinson: Yes, anybody can visit, and it's Friday, October 8th, from five to eight p.m., and it's at our, again, our retail space, which is three oh nine South Main, and we have RCKBNY's artwork displayed, and we also have a 3D scanning booth that people can step in to--literally step into--that intersection between real life and the virtual world and the intersection of art and technology and get themselves scanned. And it really is a very quick process scan itself. But it does take a little bit of time to process, so while it's processing, people can view the artwork on display and enjoy some of the refreshments that will have. 

David Fair: I feel like I'm starting to live in an episode of The Jetsons. I'm looking forward to it. I hope everyone else as well. I think it's exciting, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out. 

Aubrey Martinson: Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much, and I hope you'll join us, and I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation. 

Deb Polich: I love the name "SCANN ARBOR." Yeah, thank you so much. And we'll look forward to hearing more as time goes on. 

Aubrey Martinson: OK, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. 

David Fair: That is Aubrey Martinson, director of CultureVerse, a startup organization using a 3D technologies to make it possible for people anywhere to experience art collections and the work of artists online. 89 one WEMU FM and WEMU HD one Ypsilanti. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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