Augmented Reality Workshop with John Craig Freeman


Learn how to use Augmented Reality with media artist and activist John Craig Freeman!

Upgrade! San Francisco is proud to present a weekend workshop called “Making Art with Augmented Reality”, hosted by SOMArts in San Francisco.

Register here:

Your artwork will be included in the “I Am Crime” show, along with a 17 x 22 print!

When: Weekend of March 31st-April 1st, 2012
Where: SOMArts, 834 Brannan St., San Francisco
Also: There will be an artist talk by Freeman on March 29th, 7pm as part of the ongoing Upgrade! SF conversations and events.

About the Instructor: John Craig Freeman is a public artist with over twenty years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public works at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. He has produced work and exhibited around the world including in Xi’an, Belfast, Los Angeles, Beijing, Zurich, New York City, Taipei, São Paulo, Warsaw, Kaliningrad, Miami, Bilbao, Havana, Atlanta, Calgary, Buffalo, Boston, Mexico City, London and San Francisco. Freeman received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990. He is currently an Associate Professor of New Media, at Emerson College (Boston) in the Department of Visual and Media Arts and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, at UC San Diego.

Support for this workshop is provided by Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Grant Program.

Pictured above: Border Memorial Frontera de los Muertos by John Craig Freeman


Upgrade! San Francisco at the Exploratorium

Last Thursday, Upgrade! San Francisco met at the Exploratorium — an art & science institution founded in 1969. Hosted by the New Media Studio, whose mandate is a hands-on educational experience, we got a tour from staff & Upgraders: Eric Socolofsky, Lotte Meijer and Chris Cerrito. In the after hours, we learned about three of NM Studio’s projects and the behind-the-scenes techniques to make a rich viewer-based experience.

The first installation we saw was Elastrotron — an interactive installation, which acts as neo-funhouse mirror, warping our reality. In front of the screen, visitors quickly loose their inhibitions, performing with their bodies and creating interactions with strangers.

We then played with Where do you belong? in which you can take a picture of yourself, inserting your image in between two other people you select. The buttons to take your picture are at the edges of the frame, creating an effect so that you appear to be holding hands with your two neighbors. The challenges here were less conceptual — as the idea was straightforward — but instead of user-interface. The solution was to make two large buttons that you have to hit with both hands at the same time and also a countdown timer so that that you don’t repeatedly hit the ‘take picture’ button (a common result, especially with younger kids).

This bubble floor, called Social Projections impressed me by its non-interactive nature. At first, it looks like it responds to movement, reminding me of Scott Snibbe’s Boundary Functions — but instead, there is no camera vision. People quickly make up their own rules. Different shapes appear and move through the space. People negotiate social behavior, jumping over lines, stepping in and out and performing collaborative tasks, all without interaction.

We followed up the tour with conversation along the lines of development process, how to generate user feedback and more. Here, it turns out that the new media staff spends a lot of time casually observing how people use the interfaces, refining the process. Prototypes are put on the floor without a huge degree of bureaucracy, creating a truly experimental science space.