When Associate Visual and Media Arts Professor John Craig Freeman explains that he’s a teacher of new media, he’s not exaggerating. In fact, one of his current projects is so new that it completely replaces the reality we live in. Through iPhone and Android technology, Freeman has created an augmented reality program called “Manifest.AR,” which will be part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival. This year’s festival runs from April 22 through May 8 at the The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. As a public artist whose work spans more than 20 years, Freeman’s moment in the sun as a new media guru has arrived.
“Augmented reality,” Freeman explained in a recent Boston Globe interview, “is using technology to supplement a view of the physical world. In this case, we’re using cell phones.” Manifest.AR is simple to use; all that a Smartphone owner must do is download the application and use the device’s camera to “see” things that aren’t actually there. Technically speaking, these “things” are layers of images superimposed into Freeman’s software in an immensely convincing style. Of his work, Freeman said on his blog that “augmented reality allows us to overlay this virtual public sphere onto our experience of the physical, cultural world.”
When life is viewed through Manifest.AR, one can spot a series of commentaries on contemporary life in Freeman’s own style, including walking skeletons, virtually sculpted statues, and re-creations of major political events (for example, he has digitally rendered the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, China).
The Boston Cyberarts Festival presents the best in forward-thinking media projects from around the country.
Photo Credits: Manifest.Ar