FutARism Manifesto Stamped

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Artist Statement

I performed the FutARism Manifesto Stamped at Benrimon Contemporary, New York, NY, on 27 January 2011 so as to inaugurate the titular movement. Under the auspices of FutARism, Augmented Reality (AR) is employed as a new artistic medium, as it adds virtual content to a given space that is experienced in real-time and in semantic context with the real-world environment. Canonical artworks and sites will be appropriated and augmented. These virtual installations will be viewable with a smartphone application. It only follows that the performative utterance of an AR-based movement would come in the form of augmented content.

Markers, either a point of interest or a bold, geometric shape, are viewed through a smartphone camera and recognized by an AR application. While an object can be augmented, I chose to augment markers because they are no longer at the leading edge of virtual technology. An anachronism in the process of becoming, they are caught up in the narrative of technological development and a paradigm of planned obsolescence. In this project, the marker is a watchword of sorts, hedge to the utopian bet of better living through design, reminding us of the destruction creation entails.

Like other forms of mark making, calligraphy is wrapped up in the metaphysics of bodily presence. Here, the trace of the body digital is presenced in the performativity of calligraphy. The repeated act of stamping the calligraphy onto the sandwich board (an old-fashioned spectacle) creates the marker. Generative knowledge and ancient tradition are literalized and embodied in this process, compelled by desire and necessity (like a child beseeching, "again, again, again," or Freud's fort/da). Singing - air pushed over a muscle, interiority made exteriority made interiority - reinforces this productive trance, the multilayered imbrications of this new flesh. More, chanting Sufi poetry creates a center from which the slide into pure spectacle is evaded. The stamps builds up and makes semi-opaque the surface of the board, a palimpsest of hope.

An AR marker does not exist so much for itself, but for the spectacle (the modern miracle) it produces, a contemporary phantasmagoria. Similar to that Victorian entertainment, the marker made during the performance seems a quaint parlor trick. As is stated in the manifesto, the marker itself is made from the convolution of a Sufi text on spectacle and the search for enlightenment. The original fable tells the tale of two spiritual masters who try to out do one another by walking on water and flying, respectively. A third master remarks that walking on water makes one akin to floating debris and flying akin to a fly; miraculous events do not bring us closer to Beloved, but the very human act of love. Process is stressed over product in the quest for relation with the divine.