Public Space + Art + AR = Democracy + Civility

Very Quick History of Public Forums

Ever since the Greek Demos and Roman Republic, Public Spaces in metropolitan centers and in rural communities alike have played essential roles in the governance of our communities and in the meeting of minds by neighbors. The "town square" of old was such an essential part of public life, especially in America, that its importance was enshrined in our Constitution's Bill of Rights under the First Amendment's right to peaceably assemble and right to freedom of speech - you can peaceably discuss any topic, including self-governance, in any public forum. The broader public's participation in these discussions has always been central to the advancement of democracies around the world - and as more people have been "allowed" into the debate, our democracies have gotten stronger and stronger. There has been no democracy in history that has advanced its causes strictly through intermediated or non-personal interactions - face-to-face discussion has and remains the most effective method of reaching compromise on issues that weave logic and emotion into difficult problems.

Public Space is Not for Advertising

Public spaces, therefore, deserve special protections and extra scrutiny when limitations are placed on public access. But public space is not infinite in scope, and so limitations can be effectively put in place by simply crowding out other opportunities to speak. This is where HEAVY started - in philosophic resistance to public space being overwritten by commercial billboards and ads. When public space is just one big commercial, people stop visiting. Face to face sharing and discussion suffers. Neighbors become less neighborly. Misuse of public space creates a downward spiral away from congeniality and towards isolation, which is never good for any social creature.

AR Art Projected on the House of the Dukes of Brabant 

Brussels’ Grand Place, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998. House of the Dukes of Brabant (French: Maison des Ducs de Brabant, Dutch: Hertogen van Brabant), is a set of seven houses grouped behind the same monumental facade designed by Guillaume de Bruyn and modified in 1770, so called because of the busts of the Dukes of Brabant which adorn it. It was restored between 1881 and 1890.

HEAVY’s art art adorning the facade uses feature tracking of the architecture itself.

And so we work with vigor on projects that live in public spaces - we create spaces worthy of dedicated visits, and create digital AR interactions that encourage discussion, sharing, open-mindedness. We like to think that our work helps protect this valuable public asset. Digital experiences can be isolating, if they're designed to be experienced on magazine pages, on brand labels - these experiences are close up and personal, and are often only accessed at home. No one can see the delight on your face when a successful experience surprises and entertains you. No one shares in the mystery or the reveal or the storytelling on these in-your-lap experiences.

Public Spaces Create Shared Awe

If the experience is on a wall, or on a billboard, or a tower, then when people experience, they're out in public, aiming their phones up at some mysterious content in the sky - and others around them see their reaction, see their interaction, see their discussion. This magical effect helps neighbors share common experiences, yes, but in doing so, opens up face-to-face dialog about not just the experience in front of them, but also their reactions, their past experiences, their shared humanness. And THAT is HEAVY.

Chris NunesPublic Aert