Crumbling Cities and Urban butterflies


An Augmented Reality (AR) Installation. Custom designed computer 12"x12"x6". Wall mounted LCD screen 36"x60"x6". Fluid dynamic algorithms, motion sensing input device, camera. White plexi-glass pedestals 15"x15"x30". Custom designed AR Marker.

Artist Statement

The city is a container and transformer, autonomous and explosive. It makes demands and keeps promises, uses power to expand or dismantle possibilities. The very pressure of its limited space produces more social collisions and interactions within a generation than would have occurred in many centuries if not for this force. Cities attract people, ideas and lines of social energy. They are composed of dynamics that rise, decompose and reconstruct by way of ingenuity and human toil. In a way, we can understand the creation of the metropolis as the marriage of technology and human spirit, an amalgamation of the mundane and the extraordinary, or as an expression of potential. While computers serve as "efficient" storage centers for knowledge and the Internet has created a virtual interlocking community, the relationship between technology and culture has proved to be far more complex than deterministic. These interrelated components together form a system that exhibits properties and behaviors not palpable from its individual parts. The city's transformations and shifts are at once subtle and drastic. In this project this concept is expressed as the flapping of the wings of the butterfly, an insect uniquely capable of making a trans-Atlantic crossing. A visual gamut of natural and technological splendors and failures are thus phrased as a testament of shifting dynamics, eternal return, interconnectivity and beauty. Urban Butterflies Undique forms part of Amir Baradaran's ongoing body of work, FutARism.

Project Description

This project invites participants to observe themselves as reflected in a wall mounted Augmented Reality LCD screen "mirror." Motion sensing equipment reads the spectator's body gestures and a 2D AR marker placed on a plexi-glass pedestal in front of the screen trigger the materialization of a 3D cityscape that will arise and crumble, releasing a migration of butterflies. The participant will find himself or herself located within this scenario, directly influencing the course of events through the power of their presence, observation and body motion.