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Project Description

Takeoff by Amir Baradaran is a part of WeARinMoMA (2010), the first international Augmented Reality (AR) exhibition, permanently installed in The Museum of Modern Art. AR adds virtual content to a given space, experienced in real-time and in semantic context with the real-world environment. In this instance, that content is identified via global positioning systems and is viewable with the smartphone application Layar. On the screen of their phone, visitors to the museum engage with Baradaran's work: a video of the artist "taking off" in a director's chair before crashing back down to earth.

Takeoff is part of Baradaran's larger public art project, entitled Futarism. A provocation and a proposition, Futarism hints at our future while it, simultaneously, reckons with our present. The project seeks to explore the experiential, conceptual and legal shifts suggested by the advent of AR within the modalities of contemporary art, its practice and reception.

Artist Statement

With straightforward delivery and an absurdist sense of humor, Takeoff questions institutional authority and the spectacular economy of the contemporary art world. Climbing the ladder of art world success necessarily entails finding gallery representation and exhibiting at museums of increasing importance. This progress confirms the validity of an artist's work, both as art and as culturally significant. For years, female artists and artists of color have rightly pointed out that this is not a democratic system; rather, it reflects the interests of hegemonic power. By employing AR, I am circumventing this system and inserting myself directly into the desired institutional frame.

Takeoff also taps into the anxiety around cognizance endemic to contemporary art. Unlike work that has already been canonized, contemporary art is a space of continual contestation. The shadow of van Gogh looms large: in a field where one's career is dependent upon their ability to see value, no one wants to be stricken with blindness. Cultural workers and institutions make sight by virtue of their legitimating function, delimiting what is to be seen. By using AR, which requires a device to be seen, I hope to shed light on the constructed nature of these frames.

Moreover, Takeoff draws attention to the spectacular nature of contemporary art world stardom. Work made with new technology often runs the risk of being labeled as sheer novelty as opposed to serious work. Yet, the branding imperative for artists who wish to succeed within the field is intense and seemingly demanding of gimmicks. An artist with an identifiable style and knack for attracting attention has a greater chance at securing a thriving career. With Takeoff, I seek to elucidate the unspoken truth of the contemporary art market.