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Workshop 32


BostonAPP/Lab Notes from June 26, 2017

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

  • How can AR “democratize” art?



Here’s one definition of Augmented Reality: an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on 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, and to prod us to think more expansively about the uses to which augmented reality can be put -- and about the users, actual and potential -- we’re 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.

Each will discuss 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 the world and interacting, such initiatives in the civic space also raise questions around issues of access to technology, representation in participation, and digital equity.


We’ll be inviting you and the other participants to then brainstorm AR-based or –enhanced “remix” efforts, and to see what kinds of collaboration might emerge.


A favorite quote from somewhere in the Lab’s recesses: “Collaboration is not about gluing together existing egos. It’s about the ideas that never existed until after everyone entered the room.”


So be it.


Finally, we want to thank Dillon Bustin, Artistic Director, Hibernian Hall, and his colleagues at Madison Park Development Corporation.


[From Ron Mallis: This Workshop was one of the most instructive, productive, questioning, and complex of the Lab’s efforts so far. Some of that complexity is reflected, I think, in the notes below – a series of ideas/reactions/”what if’s...” from a few of the participants. We’re hoping to use them – and others – as a catalyst for a follow-up AR workshop later in 2017. In the meantime, we hope you’ll respond to these “prompts”: let us know – via -- your thoughts and ideas on AR, and we’ll post them to the website and continue the discussion from last June.]


From Tannaz Monfaredzadeh

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 lock it like the websites or apps that are being locked in some countries like Iran or China?


From Abby Jamiel

  • Art is to be seen: but AR creates layers – what is seen, what is not seen (and by whom)

    • lack of narrative

    • kind of like, "ïf a tree falls in the woods..." If no one is there to see the AR, does it count?

  • Expansion of public memory

  • Raises the question of: "which people?" get to experience the AR?

  • Blows apart the pronoun "we"

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

    • There is a lawsuit now actually saying the city should get $$ for Pokémon Go being allowed in their park.

    • So if Pokémon players ruin a park as they play, who pays?

    • But who will regulate this?


Potential Directions

  • Online database for all of the AR?

    • Net Neutrality

    • Algorythmic carelessness

  • AR created by the dominant narrative thinking

    • What is the language and vocabulary?

  • What if/how can AR become more participatory?

    • An app of manipulation?

    • Provide access and physiological walls

    • The power of voice

  • Social media might be the way to make it egalitarian- expanding narrative and voice

  • Urban planning and design! AR can be a way to see what will be the future of our city and

  • space (hope/education/terror or global warming)

  • Use AR as data collection: what is it that people get to see or know?

  • You can commemorate/personalize your city with your own story (where you met your wife,

  • where you used to live...)


Recreate and review value of a city

  • Without the participant, it doesn't exist

  • New ways for communities to re-establish some kind of cultural dominance andsignificance. Gentrification?


*Image below (Max Stearns)

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