notes from Workshop #32

“This Workshop was one of the most instructive, productive, questioning, and complex of the Lab’s efforts so far.”  

                                                         -Ron Mallis, Founder, Boston APP/Lab


Boston APP/Lab is hoping to use the interest, ideas, and reactions to Workshop #32 as the catalyst for a follow up workshop in 2017.  E-mail to participate

Questions & Themes:

  • What new opportunities does AR open up for civic participation?

  • How can AR “democratize” art?


Augmented Reality: an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information of an image of something being viewed through a device...


Reading this, several questions come to mind:

  • Whose reality?

  • What is the “something?”

  • Information about what?

  • And then what happens?


To lead us through this remix, prod us to think more expansively about the uses to which augmented reality can be put into place, and about the users ( actual and potential ) we were honored to have the participation of George Fifield, Director, Boston Cyberarts, and, from Emerson’s Engagement Lab, Eric Gordon, Founding Director, and Christina Wilson, Programs Manager, facilitate presentations.


Each discussed their AR-based projects – whether focused on civic participation (Participatory Pokémon Go) or civic art ("The Augmented Landscape") or both -- which they are currently implementing in the Boston area. While AR opens up the possibility for new ways of seeing and interacting with the world, such initiatives in the civic space also raise questions around issues of access to technology, representation in participation, and digital equity.

A big thanks to Dillon Bustin, Artistic Director, Hibernian Hall, and his colleagues at Madison Park Development Corporation.


Notes from Tannaz Monfaredzadeh’s small group brainstorm raised the following questions:

Will virtual art eventually affect the real art? Are future artists coders?

·  Augmented Reality would be a powerful tool in the hands of artists in societies that suffer from lack of freedom of speech.

·   It could very much help in civic campaigns. AR has a great potential to become a powerful political narrative.

·  Democratizing the art? Who will access to this type of art? Who is more willing to discover the virtual art?   I believe if the augmented reality represents an existing reality of a society that has been underrepresented, if it helps the excluded voices to be heard, people will become more and more eager to search for them and to discover them.  

· Can we download or save the virtual pieces of art? New series of applications could allow us to save the artwork upon the permission of the artist who has created it.

·  I would like to know about the platform on which the pieces of art are being uploaded. Is it accessible to public? Is it free? Is it like a domain to buy from IT providers? Is it possible to filter or luck it like the websites or apps that are being locked in some countries like Iran or China?


Notes from Abby Jamiel’s small group brainstorm raised the following questions:

- We assume that art is to be seen or experienced. However, by creating layers (some visible, some invisible), AR challenges this notion. How can we play with what is seen, what is not seen (and by whom)?

  •   Does this lead to a lack of narrative?
  •   If no one is aware the AR piece exists and never sees it, does it count as art?

  •  How can we use AR to expand of public memory? Is it a new way to create monuments?

  •  "Which people?" get to experience the AR?

  •  Who has the right to control the AR and who puts what where?

   + Can a park sue Pokemon Go if participants ruin the park while participating in the game?

   + If so, who will regulate this?

-Potential Directions

  • Can we create online database for all AR installations?

+Net Neutrality

  • What if AR is created by the culturally dominant voice?

          + What is the language and vocabulary used?

  • What if/ how can AR become more participatory?

    •   Creation of an app that allows users to manipulate the AR?

    •   Can it provide access and or build physiological walls?

    •   Does it change the power of voice?

  • Social media might be the way to make AR egalitarian

  • Urban planning and design! AR can be a way to see what will be the future of our city and space (providing hope, education, or terror ( i.e- global warming)

  • Commemorate/Personalizing your city with your own story (where you met your wife, where you used to live...)

    •  Does this personalization recraft the value of a city?

    •  Does this allow a voice for a new cultural dominance and significance?