Augmenting Place

My daughter Donia has been showing interest in the family art practice of late and I have been waving her off and telling her to focus on her course work. However, she showed up with a shinny new Android mobile device the other day and was immediately exploring QR code technology. My friend and fellow artist Don Repella was experimenting with QR codes years before they were common in the United States. His work is a very poetic form of augmented image/text photography. Incidentally Don was my assistant on the Rocky Flats work back in 1990.


I had been thinking for some time of developing some form of augmented reality based on the choragraphic method that Greg Ulmer and I developed with the Imaging Place project starting with Imaging the Miami River beginning in 1997. I have also been hanging out with the folks from the Tunneling exhibition at Famous Accountants in Bushwick and I am quite inspired by Mark Skwarek’s phenomenal AR work.


The idea for Augmenting Place will be to take a walk or psychogeographic dérive with the denizens of a site and shoot smart phone video of them periodically as they reflect on formative memory. We would position them in front of various sign polls or fences, anywhere the QR code could be mounted as if it were a street sign.


Composite image of proposed Augmented Place methodology.

Composite image of proposed Augmented Place methodology.

This visualization material is based on Imaging Place work from the Miami River with J Tomas Lopez, but Donia and I will probably get the project under way in New York.

Augmenting Place QR Code Sign

Download a QR code reader onto your smart phone and point the device’s camera at this code.

About John Craig Freeman

John Craig Freeman is a public artist with over twenty years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. His work seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital networked technology is transforming our sense of place. Freeman is a founding member of the international artists collective Manifest.AR and he has produced work and exhibited around the world including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, FACT Liverpool, Kunsthallen Nikolaj Copenhagen, Triennale di Milano, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing, He has had work commissioned by the ZERO1, and His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, El Pais, Liberation, Wired News, Artforum, Ten-8, Z Magazine, Afterimage, Photo Metro, New Art Examiner, Time, Harper's and Der Spiegel. Christiane Paul cites Freeman's work in her book Digital Art, as does Lucy Lippard in the Lure of the Local, and Margot Lovejoy in Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age. His writing has been published in Rhizomes, Leonardo, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Exposure. Freeman received a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1986 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990. He is currently a Professor of New Media at Emerson College in Boston. Freeman writes, “If Andy Warhol set out to create a distinctly American art form in the twentieth century, I identify with those who seek to create a distinctly global art form in the twenty-first.”
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