Manifest.AR at the ICA, Boston

This spring, the Manifest.AR collective is presenting new and established augmented reality (AR) artworks at the ICA during the 2011 Boston Cyberarts festival. Approximately 16 artists will present their incorporeal digital art in and around the ICA. Some will be site-specific works that respond to the architecture of the museum and some will aim to juxtapose their work against the existing physical exhibitions in the museum. There will be visitors to Manifest.AR @ ICA that won’t know what to think about the artworks confronting them and many will just not see the works. Stepping beyond Oscar Wilde’s request that we intensely admire the uselessness of art, the AR works are indirect, mediated works that are only accessible with smart phones. I’m sure he would have praised these undetectable artworks as the highest form of art.

John Craig Freeman, Tiananmen SquARed, 2011 All images courtesy of the artist.

AR artworks are still in their infancy. Although AR works are not dependent upon smart phones, since the release of the iPhone in 2007, AR works have been inclined to use the phone as an access device. One of the first AR applications in art was presented during the 2001 Cyberarts festival. It took the form of a pair of “glasses” made out of video monitors that reacted to printed graphics in the gallery. From a wider perspective, the presentation ethic, unauthorized superimposition of work within an institution, is an old technique– think Banksy installing his own work into four New York museums in a single day. Manifest.AR, or its members (the collective was founded in January of 2011), have intervened at the MoMA, Statue of Liberty, Venice Biennial, Anslem Keifer‘s exhibition at Gagosian, the White House, and the Pentagon. This intervention is one of the first working with a museum’s blessing and even has an informal educational reception scheduled for April 22.

Tamiko Thiel, Jasmine Rain, 2011

The disembodied art on display include (in collaboration with Damon Loren Baker and Arthur Peters) Mark Skwarek‘s Parade to Hope that will be located in the Boston harbor. John Craig Freeman will be exhibiting Tank Man and Goddess of Democracy as one work, Tiananmen SquARed. Both of these images draw from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Tamiko Thiel will present Jasmine Rain, a soft-curtain of Jasmine flowers falling around a golden cage that surrounds the viewer. Will Pappenheimer will present his signature psychedelic AR toads. Geoffrey Alan Rhodes will be exhibiting a new work titled MaoDoll(ar). His past works are compelling and sensitive to what’s possible within the AR vocabulary. Sander Veenhof, who made the worlds biggest AR work, a carpet of cubes surrounding the entire earth, will be presenting a minimalist take on the AR titled 1px. It’s sure to push the definition of what an AR work can and should be.

Mark Skwarek Parade to Hope, 2011

Manifest.AR @ ICA will be viewable from April 22 – May 8, 2011 and is part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival 2011. To see the works, you will need a device that can run the Layar AR app.