SPRING/BREAK Art Show's theme this year is A Stranger Comes to Town. "All great literature is one of two stories; a hero goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Who and what is this Stranger?" In response, the curatorial team at Wallplay partnered with artist Jonathan Rosen to create DOUBLE LIFE, an augmented reality installation powered by Blippar. Wallplay is utilizing AR to help bring Jonathan Rosen’s art to life in a new dimension, by exposing previously private desires that have entered the public eye ever since social media invaded the lives of people today.
With the ability to cloak one’s identity behind an avatar, familiar faces suddenly become strangers, hidden in plain view. They are our co-workers, our family members, our baristas, or potentially the person laying in bed next to us. Double Life is a conversation about the strangers among us and the power that technology has in amplifying their voices behind closed doors, in front of the glow of their computer & cell phone screens, changing the course of history as we know it. Wallplay & Rosen are utilizing these screens in an act of inversion, to reveal darker human impulses through the use of augmented reality.
Jonathan Rosen has created six new 4 x 6 ft works, housed in lightboxes, backlighting each print in a similar fashion to the light emitting from a computer monitor. These works expose the code behind some of the most controversial websites on the web. AR components are used to unveil questionable online behaviors that have recently afflicted American society. Wallplay is also providing specialized AR kits to collectors, including documentation, detailed manuals, and archival file formats to enable the long-term preservation of augmented reality artworks.
The DOUBLE LIFE series was greatly influenced by the 2016 presidential election. At this time, social media appeared to expose a Nixonian-esque populus. A bigoted group of strangers, who wouldn’t have previously been given a voice, were suddenly on the international stage. Through planted propaganda, many an anonymous comment, foreign influence, and misrepresented identities, a new breed of trolling emerged. The 4Chan and Reddit troll community continued to ego stroke, propagating and distorting knowledge. A hateful audience grew into something impossible to ignore by the general public via popular social media and news outlets. In this instance, the internet, a fake news disseminator, became a never-ending game of whack-a-mole with “alternative facts.” Ultimately, the false narratives that emerged swayed millions.
I WANT TO BE ANONYMOUS, using source code from Reddit’s Controversial section, alludes to the culture of internet trolling. Its AR component reveals a digital collage including hundreds of Troll dolls. I WANT THE TRUTH, radiating in only black, white, and grey, reveals the unfortunate epidemic of fake news, along with a maze of conspiracy theories propagated online. I WANT TO BE LOVED, made from OKCupid’s source code, seems romantic at first glance, only until the AR reveals actual men and women who have created fake accounts for the purpose of catfishing vulnerable potential lovers.
Leading a double life has become effortless in the internet age, as one can simply log on and slip into the identity they desire. Whether the intention is nefarious or not, no one is immune to this phenomenon. Double Life begs the question, “who are the real strangers in our own lives?”