Field of Voices – Mobile AR Art & Performatism

Field Of Voices

Aequitas, "Field Of Voices," 2011.

Field Of Voices is a site specific a collaborative, interactive, social art installation embedded with audio and textual commentary from historical sources and you. Using Augmented Reality this installation exists in virtual space and can be accessed using Layar, a free application available for iphones and android phones.

In 2009, I wrote Performative Interventions: The Progression of 4D Art in a Virtual 3D World for the PBS Art:21 blog about the immersive 4D art in SL that combines sensors, video, sound, streaming, web cams, projections, programming, the web platform, and other technologies to produce immersive, interactive and participatory performances and installations.  Around this time I experienced and participated in Field of Voices in Second Life.  I even had my Visual Language II students participate to explore time design (4D) in perceptually immersive 3D space (SL).  You can hear some of their voices in this clip (ex. Johnston at 0:54).

Since then Aequitas (and future collaborator Stephen Beveridge) has moved this project from the virtual 3D space of Second Life into the physical space, using Layar, a mobile augmented reality (AR) platform.  I’ve been following this development, as well.

Join us in a collaborative, interactive, social art installation featuring your voice in combination with others from around the world. Experience the magic as you hear people singing songs, making statements, and generally injecting an unpredictable human quality in to the art that brings life and imagination to this otherwise neutral plot of land. Please consider participating by leaving a brief message. 

Ten years ago scholar Raoul Eshelman coined the term performatism to describe what we are now seeing take place in both virtual and physical spaces, as well as the blending of realities (and dimensions) in these spaces.

No more endless citing and no authenticity, but rather the framing of things already existing in order to transcend or radically renew them; use of ritual, dogma or similarly inhibiting frames in order to transform or transcend existing states of being; return of history in the guise of an empirically framed subject (for example, Greenblatt’s history of self-fashioning, Michaels’ neopragmatism). In narrative, return of authoriality, of a binding authorial frame, marked by different ways of stylizing transcendence: vertically (passage to a higher level); horizontally (sidestepping to a different frame); holistically (getting the right fit between subject and frame).

Eshelman specifically references Tom Twyker’s Run Lola Run, a film I’m watching while typing this entry.

Films such as Run Lola Run and Inception are cinematic representations of the blending of realities (virtual and physical), merging of dimensions, crossing of boundaries and ways of reframing our existence in the world.  Virtual and mobile AR art projects like Field Of Voices expand on these ideas and explore the relationship between content and form… science and technology (with some math and engineering mixed in).

Performance in itself is, of course, not a phenomenon new or unknown. In Austin’s speech-act theory it refers to a language act that does what it promises (“I now pronounce you man and wife”). In the sense of an artistic event in the modernist avant-garde, a performance foregrounds or “makes strange” the border between life and art; in the happenings and performance art of postmodernism it integrates the human body or subject into an artistic context. The concept of performance I am suggesting here is, however, a different one. The new notion of performativity serves neither to foreground nor contextualize the subject, but rather to preserve it: the subject is presented (or presents itself) as a holistic, irreducible unit that makes a binding impression on a reader or observer.

Run Lola Run still

Tom Tykwer. Production still (stairs), "Run Lola Run," 1998.

"Inception," production still (Penrose stairs)

Christopher Nolan. Production still (Penrose stairs), "Inception," 2010.

M.C. Escher.  "Relativity"

M.C. Escher. "Relativity," 1953. --> I couldn't resist making this comparison!

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