Artwork That Uses Augmented Reality

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In 1990 Tom Caudell, a researcher at Boeing, coined the term “augmented reality” to describe a display that layers graphics over physical reality — in this case for aircraft electronics. Early popular uses of the technology include the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, where animated characters first interacted with real actors. A decade later, a company called Sportvision introduced its “1st and Ten” system, which projected a virtual yellow line to denote the first down marker in televised football games. But with the explosion of smartphone technology, augmented reality is now being placed literally in the hands of everyday consumers. Besides finding a new restaurant or locating nearby tweets, augmented reality (or AR) has nearly limitless possibilities for artists looking to share their wildest ideas.

In an installation that he calls “Hand from Above,” British artist Chris O’Shea takes a billboard that displays the sidewalk in front of it via a live camera feed, and adds a giant hand that interacts with the pedestrians — tickling them, pushing them aside, or even shrinking them.

“The leak in your home town” is a piece currently on display in Brooklyn, New York created by Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking. They’ve made an iPhone app (currently not available to the public) that turns any BP logo into an oil-spilling tube.

Eric Epstein is a Brooklyn-based artist who makes art in the 3D space all around us. While this video may have been edited in post-production, the implications of what artists can create — without real materials — are clear.