Manifest.AR: “Turning FACT Inside Out”

Invisible ARtaffects

New Augmented Reality Art in the Public Realm
A FACT Commission for the Manifest.AR Artist Group

In collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University

@ “Turning FACT Inside Out”
FACT Liverpool’s 10th anniversary exhibition
June 13 – August 25, 2013

[ FACT website for “Invisible ARtaffects” ]

[ Instructions for viewing projects in Liverpool ]

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Invisible ARtaffects,” part of FACT’s 10th anniversary exhibit “Turning FACT Inside Out,” is an exhibition of works in progress by the Manifest.AR artist group that respond to the theme of inversion in the institution and in the body, connecting exterior virtual public art practices to the interiority of FACT and to intimate body rhythms of bio-sensing. The vital signs of the brain and body are projected into the city, while the city that surrounds FACT constitutes and effects the works inside.

After an international competition in 2011, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) awarded the Manifest.AR artist group a commission to create significant new artworks that align with one of FACT’s current research interests looking at augmented reality both as a medium to augment the visitor experience as well as an artistic medium in itself. Working with Stephen Fairclough (Professor of Psychophysiology) and Kiel Gilleade (Researcher in Physiological Computing) at Liverpool John Moores University, Manifest.AR is exploring artworks that link augmented virtual objects with audience responses translated through compact wearable bio sensing devices.

Augmented reality, a medium which itself suggests inversion and knows no physical boundaries, renders the institution permeable, spatially and symbolically. The categories of body-mind, the institution-city, and the virtual-physical are crisscrossed and reconfigured. FACT is revised as a laboratory medium for experiments in mind, matter and community. The nascent public form of mobile augmented reality, which Manifest.AR employs in this exhibition, is too simple at this stage to perform a utopian vision of techno-modernism. Rather it is used conceptually, as an interstitial universe, to break down systemic lines. If it predicts an idealized future, it does so in combination with the problematic present. Manifest.AR’s original proposal summary, “the affects of the audience affect the world,” is as much about the power of the nervous system as it is about systems that are nervous about a virtually infused world.

Project Descriptions:

(Alphabetically by last name of artist)


“I Must Be Seeing THINGS”

 John Cleater

The above THINGS Viewer can be set on a table for viewers to sit and view or on a pedestal where viewers stand and view. Whichever seems to work best in space. The THINGS Viewer assists users in imagining what they think they might be seeing as they flip through the THINGS Book of drawings.

I Must Be Seeing THINGS” is an Augmented Reality experience that “tests” users engagement with abstract imagery by asking users what they are seeing, thinking, hearing  and encouraging users to free associate images, sounds, and narrative.

Resources: The Rorschach Test, The Psychedelic Experience (LSD), Max Ernst’s illustrated book “The Hundred Headless Woman (La Femme 100 Tete)”, graffiti and tattoo art.


“EEG AR: Things We Have Lost”

  John Craig Freeman and Scott Kildall

EEG AR: Things We Have Lost allows participants to conjure up virtual objects by simply imagining them into existence using brainwave sensor technology. A database of objects based on the broad theme of “Things We Have Lost,” which includes things such as pensions, empires and dodo birds, has been generated. During the experimental phase, we will outfit test subjects with EEG-reading brainwave sensors and ask them to think deeply about what he or she has lost. Once our software detects a measurable and consistent pattern, it will issue a database call to instantiate a virtual object using augmented reality technology. The virtual object will then appear in front of the participant, viewable on any iPhone or Android device.

As part of the research, development and community engagement of this project in 2012 we worked with FACT’s videography team Carl Davies and Mike Donaghy to ask the people of Liverpool what they have lost. We generated a series of Vox Pop style video clip where people are selected at random in the streets of Liverpool and simply asked, “What have you lost?” The GPS location where the footage was shot was recorded. We then created a series of virtual lost objects, based on the responses given, and added them to a database. The objects were then placed back in the exact GPS coordinates where the recording was made, creating a citywide network of lost things.


“FACT Sky Museum”

Will Pappenheimer and Zackary Brady

FACT Sky Museum is a Skywrite AR project to be created for FACT which expands its exhibition space to encompass a large portion of the sky above the museum’s building and eventually, the surrounding Liverpool area. Participants are invited to create sky written drawings and messages in virtual airplane trails for the visions, thoughts and concerns of citizens and creative artists alike. Normally out of the financial reach for the general public, this grand scale image now becomes available for the potential artist, the contemplative poet, the instant messenger or the protester addressing the need for political change. Participants at the FACT building (or anywhere) trace a drawing into a canvas on their cell phone, tablet PC or an online webpage, and then, with the click of a button, the work is transferred by virtual airplane to ephemeral vapor lines hundreds of feet above the FACT. The cell phone viewer can see a preview of what it looks like above them wherever they are.

In this first iteration of the project, the participant’s drawings will hover above the museum until the next person draws a new work, which then replaces the main image. The previous drawing is then moved to a “trash” stack of previous drawings located in back of the FACT building. This stack of sky drawings is likely to form a sculpture as intriguing as the image at center stage high above the building.

During the exhibition, FACT Sky Museum will be engaged through the application Skywrite AR, introduced and delivered on an iPad available in the Manifest.AR exhibition area by the gallery assistant. It will also be available to the public on their cell phones and mobile devices. Documentation will be viewed on one of the HDTV monitors and a current catalog of all sky writings drawn over FACT will appear on a monitor.


“Diminished City”

  Mark Skwarek and Animesh Anand

Diminished City allows viewers to erase the FACT, its collection, and the surrounding Liverpool cityscape with diminished reality. Diminished reality is very similar to augmented reality; however, instead of adding content to the real world, it allows viewers to delete things from it. As participants walk through the FACT and adjacent area, they are able to erase buildings, trees, cars, and works of art from the real world. A mobile device (smartphone or tablet) is used as a virtual looking glass enabling viewers the power to delete objects from reality.

To erase their surroundings, participants simply touch objects they wish to remove on the mobile device. Once the object has been touched it will gently float away into the sky, eventually fading from sight. As they touch more and more buildings, the city around them ceases to exist, leaving a desolate and disorienting landscape of asphalt and street signs leading to nowhere.


“Biomer Skelters”

  Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer

Biomer Skelters (“biome” + “helter-skelter“) is a crowd sourced, wild growth forest-to-rainforest propagator that connects interior biorhythms to exterior ecosystems. FACT participants will be outfitted with a mobile heart rate monitor system to become Biomer Skelters propagators. As they walk the streets of Liverpool and enter a relaxed mind-body state, the generative biosensing system reads their heart rate and automatically generates and plants augmented reality (AR) vegetation in their wake. Which kind of vegetation will they spread, native reforestation from the County of Merseyside or invasive exotic species representing accelerated global warming biome change? As participants in a collective artwork, Biomer Skelters propagators will determine the canvas of the city and which form of vegetation dominates. The work draws its inspiration from the botanical history of Liverpool, vibrant local garden and forest conservation efforts and questions about predicted global climates in the not so distant future. Exotic species will be materialized in AR courtesy of World Museum Liverpool’s William Roscoe botanical print collection.

FACT visitors are encouraged to become Biomer Skelters propagators at scheduled times during the exhibition. Gallery assistants in the Manifest.AR exhibition area will show participants how to do a trial AR planting inside of FACT, and then offer an excursion to the streets to contribute to the spread of virtual vegetation in Liverpool. During the exhibition, two monitors will display screenshots of the Biomer Skelters vegetation taken around the city and an online Biomer Skelters AR Google map or “mARp” chronicling the current extent of the two types of competing vegetation propagation. Both inside and outside of FACT, anyone with a late model Android or iPhone can download a Biomer Skelters viewer to see the three dimensional AR plantings on the streets of Liverpool and find out where growth can be seen from mobile Biomer Skelters mARp.

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.


“Human Conference Sensors”

  Sander Veenhof

With augmented reality being a very suitable technology to fix anything, the interactive Human Conference Sensor environment provides a solution to conferences suffering from lack of audience concentration. Bringing back concentration to an optimal level not by requiring changes in the presentation content, but through augmentation. In order to detect moments of fading audience concentration or daydreaming, one or two persons attending a conference will be equipped with a body activity sensor. Their concentration level is continuously monitored. When a drop in concentration is detected, for example a heartbeat that is too low, a compensation for a probable lack of exciting content will be activated using augmented reality within the conference room. Optimally to be experienced through augmented reality headwear, but for the time being anno 2013, the augmented space can be experienced through the use of a smartphone with the Junaio augmented reality app installed.

Whereas many Quantified Self projects end with the delivery of proper and functional representations of data, the Human Conference Sensor project aims to add another step to that process. It automatically acts on the gathered inputs. Additionally, by doing so in unexpected ways and targeting an unusual context, it adds a story to the data-flow.

The on-the-spot adaptation of our surrounding based on real-time biosensing is the match between us humans, and the semi-digital environment we live in today. Because this space stretches out to any place on earth, it’s clear that the world of data has great potential for many other fields and disciplines too. Worth a conference or two, to be augmented!


Manifest.AR Artist Group

Projects blog:

The Manifest.AR collective formed in 2011 with a common interest in emergent forms of augmented reality as interventionist public art. The mobile AR medium, only a few years in circulation, presents a live mobile phone or tablet camera view of the physical real-world environment overlaid and integrated with three-dimensional computer-generated objects. Content can be animated and interactive such that it responds to the audience encounter. Scenes are site specific through GPS location and visible in all directions such that they appear to exist in the real world. Manifest.AR seized this early opportunity to challenge and transform public space. Its members have created dozens of pioneering artworks in AR staging institutional intervention, cultural memory, logo hacking, political protest, transformative architecture, ephemeral sculpture, collective gaming, synchronized performance, urban planning, ecological conditions, virtual conceptualism, altered states and the hyperreal fantasy. The group engages the AR medium simultaneously as utopian and dystopian, as playful and potent, as both a future trajectory and a critical space.

The Manifest.AR collective and individual members have produced projects, exhibitions and interventions worldwide, including at the MoMA NY, Venice Biennial and Istanbul Biennial, and in well-known galleries, museums and festivals in cities such as New York, Liverpool, London, Paris, Beijing, Cairo, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Berlin. Since 2011 Manifest.AR has been involved in a research initiative created by the FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, in Liverpool, U.K. FACT has been leading the UK new media arts scene for 20 years with groundbreaking exhibitions, education and research projects. FACT aims to pioneer new forms of artistic and social interaction with individuals and communities.


Manifest.AR Artists’ Bios


John Cleater  –

Educated and trained as an architect, John Cleater received his Masters from Columbia University. He worked with Asymptote Architecture, off and on, from 1989 – 2003 where he lead projects for clients such as Guggenheim Museum, Venice Biennale 2000, Documenta XI, NYSE, and others. After being introduced to Augmented Reality in the fall of 2010, his AR work has been included in group exhibitions with Manifest.AR at ICA Boston, Venice Bienalle 2011, Devotion Gallery, NY, Kasa Gallery in Istanbul, Turkey, DUMBO Arts Festival 2011, and others. In the summer of 2011, Cleater curated and participated in an AR exhibition at OMI International Arts Center in upstate NY. Participants of this exhibition included such architects as Libeskind Studio, SHoP, Asymptote, Acconci Studio and other high profile NY studios. Currently Cleater is developing adaptive / personalized AR experiences using GSR sensors for FACT museum in Liverpool, UK.


John Craig Freeman  –

John Craig Freeman is a public artist with over twenty years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. His work seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital networked technology is transforming our sense of place. Freeman is a founding member of the international artists collective ManifestAR and he has produced work and exhibited around the world including in Liverpool, Venice, Istanbul, Xi’an, Belfast, Los Angeles, Beijing, Zurich, New York City, Taipei, São Paulo, Warsaw, Kaliningrad, Miami, Bilbao, Havana, Atlanta, Calgary, Buffalo, Boston, Mexico City, London and San Francisco. In 1992 he was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has had work commissioned by the LA County Museum of Art , ZERO1 Biennial, and


Will Pappenheimer  –

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.


Mark Skwarek  –

Mark Skwarek is an artist working to bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds with augmented reality [AR]. His art explores the translation of our everyday digital experience into the physical world using mobile AR.  He organized the AR artist group Manifest.AR, the arOCCUPYWALLSTREET movement, and co-organized We AR in MoMA. Skwarek’s practice is also largely based in art activism with emerging technologies. He has a long record of international work, ranging from “erasing” the DMZ battlements between North and South Korea (a piece he did on site), to the virtual elimination of the barricades between Palestine and Israel, at the Gaza Strip. Skwarek earned his M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design’s Digital Media Department. He is full time faculty at New York University Polytech, where he teaches 3D Graphics and the Augmented Reality Grad Class.


Tamiko Thiel  –

Tamiko Thiel is a visual artist whose works explore social and cultural issues. 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.


Sander Veenhof  –

Being an artist with a university computer science degree, Sander Veenhof from the Netherlands not just uses technology to realise his projects, but he launches his interventions within the world of hi-tech too. A logical business-goals oriented world, anxiously anticipating the newest hypes but unfamiliar with counter-logical or seemingly ‘purposeless’ alternative applications of upcoming technology (The 3D printed fake Google Glass was not at all appreciated nor understood by the community of faithful tech fans). Because living a tech life is mainstream these days, Veenhof’s tech explorations do deal with social implications too, as redefining the boundaries of tech will have an impact on the space we live in. Being a longtime dreamer of a semi-digital universe, thanks to augmented reality he now finally sculpts in a world where geo-located data, physical material and virtual content unite, for real.

Collaborators’ bios

Zachary Brady

Zachary Brady is a digital artist and web developer from the NYC area. Zack earned a Bachelor’s Degree in New Media in 2012 from SUNY Purchase where he helped to found the digital agency Suits & Sandals, LLC. Recently he has been collaborating on the “Skywrite AR” augmented reality series with Will Pappenheimer which was shown at the Zero1 Biennial in 2012 and has been written about in the Huffington Post, Modern Painters, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also maintains a blog, on his personal site, dedicated to teaching the basics of modern web development.


Scott Kildall –

Scott Kildall is a cross-disciplinary artist who combines networked performance and algorithms to make art works that invite public participation. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the New York Hall of Science, Transmediale (Berlin), the Venice Biennale (Internet Pavilion), Furtherfield (London) and the San Jose Museum of Art. He has received fellowships, awards and residencies from organizations including Recology San Francisco (2011), (2010, 2009), Eyebeam Art + Technology Center (2009), Kala Art Institute (2007) and The Banff Centre for the Arts (2009, 2006). He currently works at the Exploratorium as a new media exhibit developer and helps create exhibits relating to Life Sciences. He resides in San Francisco.


One Response to “Manifest.AR: “Turning FACT Inside Out””

  1. FACT 10th Anniversary | TT MA Says:

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