Place-based, Somatic Augmented Reality as Critical Practice


Session Title:

  • Sensory Body (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Place-based, Somatic Augmented Reality as Critical Practice




  • As new augmented reality software has made production more accessible, there has been a surge of mobile AR projects produced by artists interested in place and situation. A subset use the virtual to make critical statements about social, cultural and political phenomena embedded in physical locations. As new forms of public art, the works engage aspects of a participant’s experience of place generally negated by mobile devices. Exploring the physical setting, the built and natural environment, as well as the events and functions centered there, is often a main goal. Participants are not only asked to attend to the spatial and the corporal, they are invited to consider and enter critical discourse on the history and future of unique spaces ‑ how they are used and might be used. The virtual forms point back to the material. Telesthesia, to perceive things at a distance without use of known bodily sense organs, is a favorite theme for scholar McKenzie Wark. In a post‑capitalist age we have entered the era of the vector. Our commodity economy has moved beyond manufacturing and centers on controlling information flow experienced telestheticly by the consumer (1). Re‑engaging the body, place‑based somatic AR may release users, however temporarily, from immaterial vectors that push consumer culture. Using the same devices that normally distract us from our environment, these projects help us establish dialogue with sites and lives, human and non‑human, that are often rendered invisible by vectors of work and leisure. Artists researched include Teri Rueb, John Craig Freeman, Sarah Drury, and Mark Skwarek.