Mobile Art: The Aesthetics of Mobile Network Culture in Place Making

College Art Association, 100th Annual Conference

Date & Time: Saturday, February 25, 9:30 AM–12:00 PM

Location: Concourse Meeting Room 406A, Level 2, Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA

Chairs: Hana Iverson, Visiting Scholar, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and Dr. Mimi Sheller, Director, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, Drexel University

I-5_Passing/52 Food Marts Project, Christiane Robbins, Jetztzeit

Narration in Hybrid Mobile Environments, Martha Ladly, Ontario College of Art and Design

Silver (Gateways): Being Here and Everywhere Now, Jenny Marketou, independent artist

Mechanics of Place: Textures of Tophane, Sarah Drury, Temple University

ManifestAR: An Augmented Reality Manifesto, John Craig Freeman, Emerson College

ManifestAR: An Augmented Reality Manifesto

By John Craig Freeman on behalf of ManifestAR

ManifestAR is an international artists’ collective working with emergent forms of augmented reality as interventionist public art. The group sees this medium as a way of transforming public space and institutions by installing virtual objects, which respond to and overlay the configuration of located physical meaning. Utilizing this technology as artwork is an entirely new proposition and explores all that we know and experience as the mixture of the real and the hyper-real. Physically, nothing changes, the audience can simply download and launch an Augmented Reality Browser app on their iPhone or Android and aim the devices’ camera to view the world around them. The application uses geolocation, marker tracking and image recognition software to superimpose computer generated three-dimensional art objects, enabling the public to see the work integrated into the physical location as if it existed in the real world. The ManifestAR collective and individual members have produced projects, exhibitions and interventions worldwide, including in New York, Venice, Istanbul, Beijing, Cairo, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Berlin.

Augmented Reality as Intervention

No augmented reality beyond this point, photomontage by Sander Veenhof, 2010.

We Are in MoMA

ManifestAR formed after the groundbreaking uninvited augmented reality intervention at the Museum of Modern Art in the fall of 2010. Mark Skwarek had been invited to participate in New York’s Conflux Festival. In preparing his proposal, he began to imagine mounting an exhibition of augmented reality art in the MoMA without asking permission. As he was conducting some preliminary research, he came across an image of a fictitious sign from inside MoMA that Sander Veenhof had posted on the Internet, which read “No augmented reality beyond this point.” Skwarek contacted Veenhof and a plan for the first augmented reality intervention was hatched, “We AR in MoMA.” Skwarek contacted the artists he knew who were pioneering augmented reality as an art form. Many constitute the ManifestAR membership today.

We Are in MoMA

It is now the artist, not the curator, who decides which artworks can be placed where. The group sees this medium as a way of transforming public space and institutions, by responding to and overlaying the configuration of located physical meaning.


Leak in Your Own Home Town

Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking, with Arthur Peters, Leak in Your Own Home Town, 2010.

During the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mark Skwarek produced his logo hacking augmented reality project, “Leak in Your Own Home Town.”

Using image recognition and tracking technology, the project would convert the British Petroleum logo into a gushing oil spill when viewed through a smart phone.


Virtual Public Art Project, by Chris Manzione, 2010.

As early as 2010, Chris Manzione was developing the “The Virtual Public Art Project,” in New York and Philadelphia.

Tiananmen SquARed

The Goddess of Democracy model, by 4Gentlemen with reference image and two screenshots, 2011.

Tiananmen SquARed” is a two part augmented reality public art project and memorial, by the anonymous ARt collective 4Gentlemen, dedicated human rights and democracy worldwide. The project includes a virtual replica of the Goddess of Democracy from the the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square…

Tank Man model, by 4 Gentlemen with reference image and two screenshots, 2011.

…and “Tank Man” facing down a column for Type 62 tanks on Chang’an Avenue. Both augmentations have been placed in Beijing at the precise GPS coordinates where the original incidents took place.

Gagosian Gallery Anselm Kiefer Infestation

Gagosian Gallery Anselm Kiefer Infestation, by Will Pappenheimer, screenshot montage by Will Pappenheimer, 2011.

In December of 2010, during the Anselm Kiefer exhibition entitled, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” Will Pappenheimer, of Virta-Flaneurazine Laboratories, discovered that a subspecies of Bufo Virtanus originating from the Virta-Flaneurazine Clinical Trials, had spread to the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, New York.

It is not yet known what habitats the subspecies gravitates towards, other than heroic or sublime artworks, which certainly would include those of the Anselm Kiefer exhibition.

ManifestAR @ ICA

Art Critic Face Matrix Reloaded: You call this ARt!?!?

Art Critic Face Matrix Reloaded, by Tamiko Thiel, screenshot by Tamiko Thiel, 2011.

In “Art Critic Face Matrix Reloaded: You call this ARt!?!?,” by Tamiko Thiel, a matrix of art critic faces, with animated expressions ranging from skepticism to outrage, hovers inside the ICA, Boston.

Biggâr and 1px

Biggâr and 1px, by Sander Veenhof, screenshots by Sander Veenhof, 2011.

Biggâr,” by Sander Veenhof consist of 7.463.185.678 virtual blocks encapsulating the whole earth, making it the biggest possible virtual sculpture in the world. A leap forward in terms of scale, based on new limitless dimensional possibilities brought to the physical space through augmented reality.

The one-dimensional “1px” work is an attempt to discover the limits of augmented reality in the opposite, minimalistic direction. Never before was it possible to actually create a truly one-dimensional piece for real. But with augmented reality, it is. Augmented reality gives us total dimensional freedom. Even to skip redundant dimensions.

Mao Wants His Money!

Mao Wants His Money!,” by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, included two augmented reality features. The first is a set of augments hovering in space above banks and ATMs near the ICA, Boston. The second converts users’ dollar bills into Mao Dollars when viewed on a smart phone using the “Mao Wants His Money!” app. Each bill becomes an I.O.U. and reminds us, “The United States of America owes China One Dollar.” Oh no! Mao wants this dollar!

Butterfly Lovers

In “Butterfly Lovers,” by Lily & Honglei, the painted figures in traditional costumes are derived from a popular Chinese folktale regarded as the equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. The augment reality installation, at the Ruby Red Steps in Time Square, addresses issues of cultural displacement and diasporas, and visualizes the restless, roaming cultural spirit of the East hidden in western metropolis.

Manifest.AR Venice Biennial 2011 AR Intervention

Water wARs

Water wARs, Giardini, by John Craig Freeman, image by John Craig Freeman, 2011.

Water wARs,” by John Craig Freeman, is a pavilion for undocumented artists/squatters and water war refugees, 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. This version was exhibited as part of the ManifestAR Venice Biennial 2011 AR Intervention, in front of the main pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennial, International Art Exhibition, ILLUMInations in Giardini…

Water wARs, Piazza San Marco, by John Craig Freeman, image by John Craig Freeman, 2011.

…and in the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

DUMBO Arts Festival 2011

Revolving Bridges

In order to facilitate more movement and foot traffic across the East River during the DUMBO Arts Festival, “Revolving Bridges,” by Will Pappenheimer, allows two of Manhattan’s busiest bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, to detached from either side and slowly rotate 360°. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s prototype, automobiles and pedestrians can board the bridges from many vantage points but only in limited numbers. The twin bridge configuration also resembles the barnyard turnstile, which regulates human and animal flow.

Crystal Coffin

Crystal Coffin, by Lily & Honglei, with John Craig Freeman, screenshot by John Craig Freeman, 2011.

Crystal Coffin,” by Lily & Honglei, 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 a symbol of an authoritarian ruling system.


AR Occupy Wall Street, Screenshot montage by Mark Skwarek, 2011.

Protesters were not allowed to protest at Wall Street during the Occupy Wall Street uprising, forcing them blocks from the New York Stock Exchange to Zuccotti Park. Wall Street was barricaded off. Only part of the sidewalk is accessible to the public and there was a constant police presence around both the protesters and the Stock Exchange at all times.

The “#arOCCUPYWALLSTREET” flashmob, organized by Mark Skwarek, took the protest to the heart of the financial district directly in front of the Stock Exchange. Augments now blanket the entire financial district.

Occupy Wall Street Bufo Colony

Occupy Wall Street Bufo Colony,” by Will Pappenheimer of Virta-Flaneurazine. Video documentation of Occupy Wall Street colony breaching the barriers set up at the NYSE with mounted police. Later strange clump-like behavior above the drum circle at Zuccotti Park, with a very large rising uber OWS toad.

Zuccottii Park After the Raid

Zuccottii Park After the Raid,” by Mark Skwarek. Video documentation Zuccottii Park after the police raid with AR occupation still intact, November 15, 2011.

Border Memorial: Frontera de los Muertos

Visualization of the Border Memorial Data in Google Earth, 2012.

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.

The Border Memorial: Frontera de los Muertos, 2012

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.

LA Re.Play

Whereas the public square was once the quintessential place to air grievances, display solidarity, express difference, celebrate similarity, remember, mourn, and reinforce shared values of right and wrong, it is no longer the only anchor for interactions in the public realm. That geography has been relocated to a novel terrain, one that encourages exploration of mobile location based public art. Moreover, public space is now truly open, as artworks can be placed anywhere in the world, without prior permission from government or private authorities – with profound implications for art in the public sphere and the discourse that surrounds it.

Compass Rose

“Compass Rose,” by ManifestAR. converts the revolving bar atop the Hotel Bonaventure into a giant mobile device for viewing augmented reality art citywide.

Monumento a las Mujeres Desaparecidas

Monumento a las Mujeres Desaparecidas,” by John Craig Freeman and Christina Marin is a monument to the missing women of Ciudad Juárez and the opium brides of Afghanistan at Olvera Street.

Shades of Absence

Shades of Absence,” by Tamiko Thiel, is a work in progress which explores ways to collect and disseminate information on censored and persecuted artists worldwide. Images of contemporary artists whose works have been censored are reduced to gold silhouettes and placed among terms of transgression. Touch an image for a webpage with cases of censorship. at the LA Convention Center, the UCLA Broad Art Center and Art Center South Campus.

La Lotería Aumentada

In “La Lotería Aumentada,” John Craig Freeman collaborated with the New York based painter, Patricia Espinosa and Borderline Project to transform the Mexican card game La Lotería into a vortex of contemporary cross-cultural icons at Olvera Street.

Skywrite AR: We Need Something

“Skywrite AR: We Need Something,” by Will Pappenheimer, Skywrite AR creates sky written messages in virtual airplane trails for the thoughts and concerns of individuals and citizens. Normally out of the financial reach for ordinary folks, this grand scale text now becomes available to the contemplative computer poet, the instant messenger or the protester addressing the need for political change at the LA Convention Center, Art Center South Campus and the UCLA Broad Art Center.

Global Pong

The 1971 classic PONG game

Schematic presentation of 2012 version

Global Pong,” by Sander Veenhof. A global 3D multi-user version of PONG using augmented reality to play against your friends worldwide. Look around for targets, select one and click SHOOT to play ball. Tap an incoming ball and click to bounce it back.

Pool Hopping on the Island of the Bull

Mark Skwarek will transform different locations tied to the financial crisis into islands surrounded by a sea of fire with “Pool Hopping on the Island of the Bull.” Skwarek and other pool hoppers will travel from island to island in a special AR boat and partake in the tradition of pool hopping, until they are kicked out by security or until the party moves.

Southeast Flies the Peacock

Southeast Flies the Peacock,” by Lily & Honglei, assembles images of some most influential folktales of China in Chinatown.

Metro-Next: with Service to Lausanne/Thonon

Metro-Next: with Service to Lausanne/Thonon,” by Lalie S. Pascual, Lili range le chat and John Craig Freeman, will teleport users to a virtual realm, a mixed reality portal, linking the cities and people of the world at the LA Convention Center, City Hall, Olvera Street and Chinatown.

Sky Pavilions Occupy Walt Disney Concert Hall

Sky Pavilions Occupy Walt Disney Concert Hall,” by John Cleater, are virtual cloudbursts filled with nonsensical and practical guidance. They may be located near cultural landmarks, empty fields, abandoned developments, or above your home. They cause disturbances in the atmosphere and may jump out of bounds without notice. Be sure to click on these hovering vessels to activate them at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Cubic Memory

“Cubic Memory,” by Chris Manzione consists of eight separate cubes that have been skinned with his formative memories. Each cube is able to be touched on screen causing the cube to react with an animation or the users can even call the artists to discuss his or her own memories. Some cubes float into the sky while others play music, spin and travel across the ground and off into the distance.


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