Augmented reality projects transform Boston into a digital cyberland

[From The Independent]

Augmented reality projects transform Boston into a digital cyberland

Monday, 18 April 2011

Areas of Boston will be transformed into interactive digital landscapes as a series of augmented reality artworks come to life during the Boston Cyberarts Festival, which begins April 22.

With an open mind and smartphone in hand, people traveling from one area of the festival to another will look on as aliens invade the public space around them in an art project titled Occupation Forces.

The artwork, created by Mark Skwarek, is made possible through a technology called augmented reality (AR for short).

Geolocation-linked computer-generated graphics are superimposed onto the environment in real time via a specially designed augmented-reality smartphone app. As the participants view the scene on their smartphone it creates an interactive illusion that changes as they navigate through the area.

“Viewers experience an unfolding narrative through time and space, transforming daily real-world existence into something visually stunning and otherworldly. The project encourages people to explore the urban environment, letting them see the world like they never have before,” explains Boston Cyberarts Festival organizers.

An international artists collective called Manifest.AR will create multiple virtual exhibitions in and around Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art for the Cyberarts Festival too.

The works include Tamiko Thiel’s Jasmine Rain, a soft curtain of jasmine flowers falling around a golden cage that surrounds the viewer; Will Pappenheimer’s signature psychedelic AR toads; and a minimalist take on AR titled 1px by Sander Veenhof.

The AR artworks will be complemented with exhibits of art-infused technology and digitally inspired creativity in the fields of visual arts, music, dance, theater, film, video, and performance.

Like the Ars Electronica Festival and MIT’s Festival of Art, Science and Technology (aka FAST), the biennial Boston Cyberarts Festival aims to showcase projects that blur the lines between art and technology and to inspire exchanges where computer technology can further expand artistic possibilities.

The seventh edition of the Boston Cyberarts Festival runs from April 22 to May 8 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

To view the Manifest.AR artworks during the festival, visitors will need to download the Layer augmented reality app on their Android or iPhone smartphone ( and search for “Manifest.AR” or go to

Viewing instructions for the Occupation Forces exhibit will be announced shortly via
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