Artists Create GPS Enabled Augmented Reality Art to Deliver Provocative Political Messages 

Artists Create GPS Enabled Augmented Reality Art to Deliver Provocative Political Messages 

In the last couple of weeks, artists around the country have been placing provocative statements in politically controversial locations around the world. Unlike traditional works of art, these pieces are suspended in the air via augmented reality. Launched in February 2018, 4thWall is the first truly interactive fine-art augmented reality experience that puts users in control of how, when, and where they experience art. Conceived to democratize the experience of artists’ work and exhibitions by allowing any landscape or location to become the setting for an immersive and personalized encounter, ‘Coordinates’ broadens the app’s scope to include collaborative, site–specific, public art installations using art created by artists working with topical subject matter.Artist Nancy Baker Cahill, the founder of 4th Wall, opened the platform to artists to place artworks, translated into AR (sometimes with controversial messages) in powerful and challenging locations in the United States, Mexico, and Egypt, and emergent locations around the globe.

An example of how AR technology is providing swift exposure for political messages: Beatriz Cortez’s sculpture, Tzolk’in, created first for Made in LA 2018 at the Hammer Museum and at Bowtie Project in Los Angeles, now exists virtually over the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, as a memorial to Claudia Gómez González who was shot by border patrol as she crossed the river on May 23rdPrudent political messages catching momentum through the use of geo-located AR art installations that bridge the intellectual, physical, and social dimensions.Certain artworks will also include sound, like Debra Scacco’s “The President Wilson, 1928,” which includes a segment of an interview from the Ellis Island Oral History Project. Scacco’s piece will be visible from the free, Staten Island Ferry above the waters by the Statue of Liberty and from nearby locations. This new feature requires app users to travel to the specific sites to experience the works. Users will be directed, based on their location, toward the nearest artwork when they activate the ‘Coordinates’ feature.

Baker Cahill wanted to expand the platform of the app to include other artists and the scope and impact of public AR art. Collaborating artists choose their work of art to be translated into AR, where they would like it placed for its historical, cultural, or political significance, and its relationship to the artwork itself. Each artist is credited as their image appears onscreen. ‘Coordinates’ will be updated frequently and will regularly include new artists, artworks, and sites.

A new addition to the catalog, Michele Asselin sends a potent message in the image “Daughters” (2018), a photograph of two young girls whose father had recently been deported.  The girls stand at the center of the conversation about immigration and family separation. The deportation of undocumented immigrants has long been a policy of the U.S., leaving children behind in the foster care system.

Another new artist to 4th Wal, Shizu Saldamando, places her works in locations to mark individual histories and experiences: her two pieces below (one over Echo Park Lake, and another in Downey, CA) … “this piece is an homage to my friends and to the friendship between two of them. They both love to Karaoke (as do I) and this night we all joined Karen at her favorite Karaoke spot and local bar, the Smogcutter. The Smogcutter was a historic dive bar in Echo park. I feel like my works fits really well into this project because of its site specificity to the people and specific locations in Los Angeles.”Nancy Baker Cahill and one of the original Coordinates artists, Debra Scacco, are currently co-curating an AR public art exhibition along the LA River,Defining Line, using Coordinates and the 4th Wall platform to GPS locate artworks created by artists working conceptually with issues related to the river. Opening October 7th, it will explore how lines connect, divide and define communities and invite viewers to explore, reconsider and interact with the river… “our intention is to contribute to the community around and cultivate interest in the LA River through culture and technology.”

Cahill’s is also presenting a new AR-injected piece, Method No. 13, a graphite drawing translated into AR with original sound and currently available through Coordinates at the corners of 12th St and Maple Avenue, Downtown __. The work was created for a group exhibition on surveillance at the artist-run space Durden and Ray which opened to the public on September 8th. She created original audio (heard in the video) for the drawing with her longtime sound collaborator, Lisle Leete. When activated, the sound blends with the sounds of the city in an unnerving cacophony.

4th Wall is a collaborative, artist-run subversive use of technology to activate sites of historic, cultural, and political importance. The innovative creative platform is disseminating art digitally and spreading a message of social consciousness. It offers a nimble iteration of public art while creating zero environmental impact and allowing audiences to experience art and the artist’s intent in diverse settings.

Nancy Baker Cahill will be delivering a TEDx talk this fall in Pasadena.

4th Wall is now available on current Android and iOS devices.

For more information visit: