Manifest.AR: “I Shall Please”

“I shall please,” the translation of the Latin word “placebo”, suggests the willing complicity of a patient to imagine a cure. This empty control procedure might also be applied to various belief systems necessary for us to create what we understand as reality. Increasingly our intermediary existence between physical and virtual lives raises these questions about that which we have previously dismissed as purely ephemeral.

ManifestAR founding members and artists/doctors Will Pappenheimer and John Craig Freeman will fill prescriptions of the experimental augmented reality drug Virta-Flaneurazine AR, to volunteer test subjects at the VF mini clinic, located at the DAW headquarters. Test subjects will be screened and admitted into the VF AR clinical trial program, where their mobile devices will be prepared. They will receive instructions on what to expect and how to create screenshots of their experience and relay those results back to the clinic for display. As the drug takes effect, users will be guided on a walking tour/trip from the clinic to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. When people arrive at the museum, their placebo experience will continue as they encounter a wall sized video projection of augmented reality trial results from the VF test subject files, a mix documentation of ManifestAR work with clinical-artistic approach to questioning what means to “augment” reality.

Manifest.AR 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 and artworks, 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 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 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. Manifest.AR will augment the area in and around the venues for Digital Art Weeks 2011, based on the broad exhibition theme “The Art of a Placebo.”

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