Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, Don Dada partner with Edna Manley students for augmented reality mural
Luz Tejada (centre), Pepsi-Cola Jamaica commercial manager, is flanked by Edna Manley students (from left) Marques Watt, Kyle Gooden, Shanelle Davis, Alicia Clarke, Kimberley Jones, and Shemar Bernard at the 'Blast Your JamaICAN Flava' campaign augmented reality mural at the corner of Donhead Avenue and Hope Road in St Andrew.

IN a groundbreaking project that merges augmented reality (AR) with traditional mural art, renowned AR artist Bonito ''Don Dada'' Thomas and students from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts are collaborating to create an AR mural.

AR adds digital elements to the camera of your smartphone, creating the illusion that virtual content is a part of a physical world.

Commissioned by Pepsi-Cola Jamaica (PCJ), this initiative is a key part of its 'Blast Your JamaICAN Flava' campaign, which focuses on youth empowerment. The eight-foot-high mural is located at the intersection of Donhead Avenue and Hope Road in St Andrew.

Luz Tejada, commercial manager at Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, shared her enthusiasm about the project.

Pepsi engaged the services of students at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts to paint the augmented reality mural alongside Bonito Thompson, as part of the corporate company's 'Blast Your JamaICAN Flava' campaign.

"The 'Blast Your JamaICAN Flava' campaign draws its inspiration from the vibrant and diverse cultural tapestry of Jamaica. At Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, we believe in celebrating the unique Jamaican spirit, from its music to its art, and its people. We want to amplify the voices of Jamaican youth and provide them with a platform to express their authentic selves," she exclaimed.

"To the Jamaican youth and the broader community, we want to convey a simple yet powerful message - your voice matters, your culture is your strength, and your creativity can transform lives. We encourage everyone to engage with the AR mural and the Blast Your JamaICAN Flava campaign. Let it inspire you to celebrate your Jamaican identity and embrace your unique flava."

This is the second mural commissioned by Pepsi-Cola Jamaica. The first was done in 2019 for its Jama I Can campaign, also by students from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

The art project will add to Jamaica's street art collection, underscoring the country's status as a hub of innovative and culturally significant art, and today, November 19, the wall's AR will go live.

The Pepsi-Cola Jamaica 'Blast Your JamaICAN Flava' campaign augmented reality mural at the intersection of Don Head and Hope Road in St Andrew.

In this cutting-edge project, the Don Dada of three-dimensional art is the principal designer responsible for creating the initial design of the mural. He brings his unique artistic vision influenced by dancehall culture to the forefront. The students from Edna Manley College will then assist in bringing this vision to life by painting the mural under his guidance.

Thompson's use of AR is activated when the viewer scans the QR Code that he has embedded into the artwork using their phone's camera.

"I'm truly excited to embark on this artistic journey with the talented students of Edna Manley College. Collaborating with these budding artists brings the project a fresh perspective and energy. Through the canvas of augmented reality, we paint not just images but a fusion of Jamaica culture and technology that comes to life," said Don Dada.

During a workshop at Edna Manley College, Don Dada and the students delved into the intricacies of AR in mural art.

Bonito Thompson, also known as Don Dada, and one of his artworks, Too Bad, a piece from the Mango Kush collection.

Kimberly Jones, a second-year visual communication student, expressed her excitement about participating.

"Being a part of this project is an exciting opportunity, and we are so happy to have been chosen to contribute to such a significant project," she said.

Additionally, the initiative includes another mural in the Jungle community of west Kingston, where Romario ''Laa Lee'' Ricketts, dancehall artist and Pepsi brand ambassador from the community, will provide the vision and message.

While not directly involved in the painting process, his input will ensure the mural authentically represents his message for the community.

"As a youth from Jungle, now working with a brand as big as Pepsi, I'm honoured they've chosen to do a mural here and asked me to contribute to the messaging. I want to inspire our youth to believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to no matter where they're from," Laa Lee declared.

This collaboration is a unique fusion of established artistic talent, emerging student artists, and innovative technology, highlighting the dynamic nature of the Jamaican art scene.

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