Mediating Place

Mediating Place, Harbor Art Gallery, UMass Boston
Opening October 5

McCormack Building
University of Massachusetts, Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.

Monday – Thursday: 12:00 – 7:00 P.M.
Friday: 12:00 – 4:00 P.M.

Artist Statement:
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 often collaborates with individuals and groups in the production of his work. This exhibition will include eleven place-based augmented reality projects which have been produced over the past year in locations around the world. Built for smart phone mobile devices, this work allows people to view objects integrated into the physical location as if they existed in the real world. The public can simply download and launch the free augmented reality browser Layar (http://layar.com) to a late model iPhone or Android mobile device, and aim the device’s cameras at and around the public space just outside of the gallery. The application uses geolocation software to superimpose individual augments at the precise GPS coordinates.

Projects:

Water wARs, By John Craig Freeman

Water wARs is a virtual shantytown, which anticipates the flood of environmental refugees into the developed world caused by environmental degradation, global warming and the privatization of the world’s drinking water supply by multinational corporations like Bechtel.

Décharge de Rebut Toxique, By John Craig Freeman

With locations in New York, Boston and Paris, Décharge de Rebut Toxique consists of sprawling radiotoxic waste dumps at a time when the world is reconsidering its policies on nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Azadi SquARed, By John Craig Freeman

Place atop the Azadi (Persian for freedom) Monument in Azadi Square Tehran, Azadi SquARed is an augmented memorial to Neda Agha-Soltan, who was gunned down in the streets of Tehran during the 2009 Iranian election protests.

Border Memorial: Frontera de los Muertos By John Craig Freeman, in collaboration with Mark Skwarek

The Border Memorial: Frontera de los Muertos, is an augmented reality public art project and memorial, dedicated to the thousands of migrant workers who have died along the U.S./Mexico border in recent years trying to cross the desert southwest in search of work and a better life. This project allows people to visualize the scope of the loss of life by marking each location where human remains have been recovered along the border and the surrounding desert.

Peace Doors: Belfast, By John Craig Freeman, in collaboration with Mak Skwarek

Peace Doors: Korean DMZ, By John Craig Freeman, in collaboration with Mark Skwarek

Peace Doors is a site-specific augmented reality public art project located at multiple locations around the world near contested borders, checkpoints and other war torn or conflict ridden locations. People are encouraged to step through the doors in a symbolic gesture, a portal between differences among people

Metro-NeXt, By John Craig Freeman, in collaboration with Lalie S. Pascual, Caroline Bernard

Metro-NeXt is a follow up to Martin Kippenberger’s Metro-Net project. Before his untimely death death in 1997 at age 43, Martin Kippenberger imagined a conceptual global underground metro system and started to construct entrances to it in different cities around the world. These faux subway stations led nowhere physically, but conceptually linked the cities and people of the world. Rather than subway stations leading to nowhere, Metro-NeXt leads to a virtual realm, a mixed reality portal. Users/passengers can enter a Metro-NeXt Station and teleport to their city of choice.

Crystal Coffin, By Lily & Honglei, in collaboration with John Craig Freeman

This project is inspired by the crystal coffin displayed in Mausoleum of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square since 1977, a year after Mao’s death. In the twenty first century, while China has been transforming itself into a modern society in many ways and gaining more influences economically and politically around the globe, Mao’s crystal coffin, the immortal-looking shell, remains exist as a symbol of authoritarian ruling system.

Butterfly Lovers, By Lily & Honglei, in collaboration with John Craig Freeman

The painted figures in traditional costumes are derived from a popular Chinese folktale Butterfly Lovers (梁山伯与祝英台) regarded as the equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. The Augment Reality installation addresses issues of cultural displacement and diaspora, and visualizes the restless, roaming cultural spirit of the East hidden in western metropolis.

Tiananmen SquARed: Goddess of Democracy, By 4Gentlemen

Tiananmen SquARed: Tank Man, By 4Gentlemen

Tiananmen SquARed is a two part augmented reality public art project and memorial, dedicated human rights and democracy worldwide. The project includes virtual replicas of the Goddess of Democracy and Tank Man from the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square. Both augmentations have been placed in Beijing at the precise GPS coordinates where the original incidents took place.

The Great Firewall of China, By 4Gentlemen

In the Internet age, China has invented The Great Firewall to block free thinking, to censor messages and images which criticize government policies and draw attention to violations of human rights, and to keep this activity from circulating in the blogosphere.

Biography:
Freeman has produced work and exhibited around the world including in Xi’an, Belfast, Los Angeles, Beijing, Zurich, New York City, Taipei, São Paulo, Warsaw, Kaliningrad, Miami, Bilbao, Havana, Atlanta, Calgary, Buffalo, Boston, Mexico City, London and San Francisco. In 1992 he was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has had work commissioned by both Rhizome.org and Turbulence.org. 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, Second Addition, 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 an Associate 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.”

Instructions:

  1. Download any free code reader app (http://redlaser.com) to your iPhone or Android now.
  2. Press the scan button and aim at this code or enter https://johncraigfreeman.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/project-list/ in your phone’s web browser.
  3. Stand just outside the gallery.
  4. If you don’t have the free Layar Augmented Reality Browser installed, you will be prompted to do so (http://layar.com).
  5. Once Layar is installed, reading the code will launch a project list.
  6. Choose a project from the list and it will open in Layar.
  7. Aim the device’s camera towards the small dots in the mini-map in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

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