“Biomer Skelters”

A bio-sensing crowd-sourced augmented reality public artwork

A FACT Liverpool Commission, in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and the World Museum Liverpool

By  Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer


“Biomer Skelters,” Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer, 2013

“Biomer Skelters,” Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer, 2013

Biomer Skelters (“biome” + “helter-skelter“) is a crowd sourced, wild growth forest-to-rainforest propagator that creates a city-wide public artwork by connecting participants’ interior biorhythms to exterior urban ecosystems.

Turning FACT Inside Out” – FACT 10th anniversary exhibit

Invisible ARtaffects“: Manifest.AR @ FACT
14 June – 15 September 2013

For its premiere at “Turning FACT Inside Out,” FACT’s 10th anniversary exhibition, participants were outfitted with a mobile heart rate monitor system to become Biomer Skelters propagators. As they walked the streets of Liverpool and entered a relaxed mind-body state, the generative biosensing system read their heart rate and automatically generated and planted augmented reality (AR) vegetation in their wake. Which kind of vegetation did they spread, native Merseyside reforestation or invasive exotic species representing accelerated global warming biome change? Biomer Skelters propagators used the city as their canvas to create a collective public artwork.



Click on the image below for an online Biomer Skelters AR Google map or “mARp” chronicling the current extent of the two types of competing vegetation propagation.

Biomer Skelters mARp - click for current online mARp of Liverpool

Biomer Skelters mARp – click for current online mARp of Liverpool


View the plants on your own mobile in Liverpool:
Anyone with a late model Android or iPhone can download a Biomer Skelters viewer to see the three dimensional AR plantings around Liverpool.

See Biomer Skelters Exhibition Concept >>>


World Museum Liverpool’s Botanical Print Collection

Biomer Skelters draws its inspiration from the botanical history of Liverpool, the vibrant local garden and forest conservation efforts, and from questions about predicted global climates in the not so distant future. Exotic species are materialized in AR courtesy of the World Museum Liverpool’s botanical print collection, representing plants that grew in William Roscoe’s original botanic garden, which formed the beginnings of the world famous Liverpool Botanical Collection.

In our first meeting with Donna Young, Curator of the Herbarium at the World Museum, we looked at dried pressed specimens of the original plants grown in Roscoe’s botanical garden.


Donna has identified numerous specimens from the collection that we have incorported as exotic plants into the current “Biomer Skelters” propagating system.

Biomer Skelters plants from the World Museum Botanical Collection

Biomer Skelters plants from the World Museum Botanical Collection


Click here for a Slideshow of Biomer Skelters at the World Museum to see how the same plants look when encountered as larger-than-life Biomer Skelters artworks.

Biomer Skelters brings exotic plants out of the Botanical Collection and into the museum's atrium.

Biomer Skelters brings exotic plants out of the Botanical Collection and into the museum’s atrium.


Warmest thanks to our collaborators and sponsors:

Prof. Dr. Stephen Fairclough and Dr. Kiel Gillead of Liverpool John Moores University for the excellent collaboration on defining the bio-sensor system and bio-sensor driven game mechanics.

Donna Young, Curator of the Herbarium, and the World Museum Liverpool for the the excellent collaboration on exotic and native plants represented in William Roscoe’s original botanic garden, and in tours in collaboration with FACT to propagate Biomer Skelters between the two institutions.

Roger McKinley and the entire FACT staff – not only for the commission, but for support far above and beyond the call of duty! You are all truly amazing!

This project is supported by a generous grant and student assistantships from the Verizon Thinkfinity Initiative for Innovative Teaching, Technology and Research, at Pace University and the Siedenburg School of Information Science, principal investigator: Will Pappenheimer.



Artists’ Bios:


Tamiko Thiel
http://www.tamikothiel.com/      [ download CV ]
Tamiko Thiel is a visual artist whose works explore the interplay of space, place and cultural memory. Her artworks have been supported by awards from MacDowell Colony, MIT, WIRED Magazine, Japan Foundation, IBM Innovation Award, Goethe-Institut and Zero1 Biennial, and presented by ICP/NY, DUMBO, ICA Boston, the Corcoran/Wa.D.C., ZKM/Karlsruhe, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Art Gwanju, Fondazione Querini Stampalia/Venice, Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH and ISEA. She is Visiting Artist at Duke University, and augmented reality artistic advisor for the CCCADI project “Mi Querido Barrio” in East Harlem/NY, for which she helped win a Rockefeller Foundation grant.A founding member of the artist group Manifest.AR, she participated in the pathbreaking uninvited augmented reality intervention “We AR in MoMA” at MoMA NY in 2010, and was main curator and organizer of the AR intervention at the Venice Biennial in 2011, which lead to official participation in the 2011 Istanbul Biennale.


Will Pappenheimer
http://www.willpap-projects.com/      [ download CV ]
Will Pappenheimer is an artist and educator at Pace University, New York. His works in new media, performance and installation have been exhibited internationally in shows at the ICA, Boston; Kasa Gallery, Istanbul; Fringe Exhibitions in Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Exit Art, Postmasters, Vertexlist and DUMBO Arts Festival in New York; San Jose Museum of Art; Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zurich; the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; FILE, Sao Paulo, BR; Xi’an Academy of Art Gallery in China, and recently at LACMA, Los Angeles, San Francisco MOMA, the Foundation for Art and Technology (FACT) in Liverpool, UK and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. His work has been reviewed in Christiane Paulʼs recent historical edition of “Digital Art,” a chapter of Gregory Ulmerʼs theoretical book “Electronic Monuments,” Art in America, New York Times, WIRED, Modern Painters, the Boston Globe, EL PAIS, Madrid, Liberation, Paris, NY Arts International, and Art US.


One Response to ““Biomer Skelters””

  1. Giant augmented reality plants! – Blog, Liverpool Museums Says:

    […] Skelters viewer to see the three dimensional augmented reality plantings around Liverpool, visit manifestarblog.wordpress.com/biomer-skelters for more […]

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