Augmented Reality Fine Art



In the early 21st Century, the “self” has become increasingly defined by the accumulation, aggregation, and interpretation of massive amounts of personal data. With the rise of ever-present high-powered mobile devices, social media, and artificial intelligence, our own personal data has become a digital avatar replacing us online in a way that is potentially “more human than human” [MHTH]  - carrying a higher degree of (perceived) value than our physical presence.

Heavy’s work critically investigates this dilemma by using cultural datasets from the City of Moscow’s Open Data Portal to construct a new version of the self. Specifically, the latitude and longitude of all of the theaters, exhibition halls, and museums in Moscow were digitally interconnected with a 3D lattice and laid over a wireframe skull mesh. These datasets were chosen because they are representative of the Arts and Humanities, core concepts that have traditionally signified the cultural human self as expressed into broader society.  However, these traditional cultural communal sites have been increasingly supplanted by impersonalized online activities and our “selves” represented not by our active presence at these cultural institutions, but rather by our accumulated data.

Our installation opens in AR with a mother (left) and son (right) chatting in a Pink Floyd moment - “Mother can I trust the Internet?” The shards of penetrating crystal in the scene become the conduits for the written exchange in both English and Russian. Mother replies with three pieces of advice:

  1. “Only if you encrypt your data.” Use a VPN on your phone - with outbound links to a Russia-approved (!?!) VPN.

  2. “Your big brother watches everything you do.” Use an encrypted messaging service on your phone - with outbound links to Telegram.

  3. “Mama will protect everything for you.” Use a password manager to help thwart hackers accessing your accounts.

    Maybe don’t rely on Mama so much.

    Be wise data consumers.