Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


6. HUMANITIES, History and philosophy of science and technology, Arts, Art history

Publication Details

Augmented Reality Art From an Emerging Technology to a Novel Creative Medium Editors: Geroimenko, Vladimir, Springer Series on Cultural Computing.


This chapter proposes that augmented reality art and open data offer the potential for a redefinition of urban interventionist art practices.

Data has emerged as a significant force in contemporary networked culture from the commercial commodification of online presence as practised by internet giants Facebook and Google to the 2013 revelations of the unprecedented scale of the US Government’s data collection regime carried out by the NSA (Gellman and Piotras, U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845- d970ccb04497_story.html, 2013). Big data and its effective deployment is seen as essential to the efficient running of any enterprise, from city governance to commercial enterprise and, of course, government intelligence services. In parallel to developments in big data open data sources have proliferated opening access to myriad data sources previously only available to Government and corporations. We have seen advances in techniques of data scraping and manipulation which have democratised the ability to parse, analyse and effectively manipulate data, developments which have powerful implications for artists and activists. This chapter examines the possibilities for redefining the activist art practice of urban intervention with data and augmented reality to introduce new hybrid techniques for critical spatial practice (Rendell, Critical spatial practice. Accessed 18 September 2017, 2008).

The combination of AR and Open Data (in the broadest post-wikileaks sense) is seen to provide a powerful tool-set for the artist/activist to augment specific sites with a critical, context-specific data layer. Such situated interventions offer powerful new methods for the political activation of sites which enhance and strengthen traditional non- virtual approaches and should be thought of as complementary to, rather than replacing, physical intervention. I offer as a case study this author’s NAMAland project, a mobile artwork which used Open Data and Augmented Reality to visualise and critique aspects of the Irish financial collapse.