The Augmented Landscape – Artworks

Gardens of the Anthropocene by Tamiko Thiel, 2016-2017

Mutant giant red algae invade Salem Harbor!

Standing at the water’s edge, the mutant giant red algae (Alexandrium collosus) ebb and flow around you, surrounding you with their spores. The giant algae are virtual, but the danger of them increasing to toxic levels more frequently with warming waters is real.

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Treasures of Seh-Rem by Tamiko Thiel, 2017

What treasures did the Orient desire from Yankee traders? Treasures of Seh-Rem overlays the greensward next to Derby Wharf with a surreal fever dream of odd, precious wares, under the watchful eyes and hairy visages of Westerners, as depicted by Japanese artists under the shock of first contact.

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Virtual Russia and Virtual China by John Craig Freeman, 2017


John Craig Freeman has constructed two geo-located augmented reality public art experiences for the Augmented Landscape exhibition at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Virtual Russia and Virtual China. This two part project uses the historic Salem Custom House as a metaphoric portal, transporting users to alternative realities created by the artist on location in the cities of Wuhan in Central China and Saint Petersburg Russia last year. The project is meant to evoke the history and contemporary manifestations of globalization, international trade and revolution.

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Privateers Reenactment by Will Pappenheimer, 2017

This work, premiering for this exhibition, envisions the reenactment of Privateering, the Revolutionary War form of Congressionally-chartered private naval action. Salem Privateer vessels were estimated to have captured approximately 445 ships, generating funds for the revolution while acquiring private wealth beyond the needs for warfare. The giant virtual ball of galleon-style ship masts featured in this work was obtained from disassembled ship models accessed from shared 3D model websites. It hovers and rotates out over Derby Wharf, as a gigantic conglomeration sculpture. It evokes both memories of profit mixed with patriotism and current forms of voracious wealth acquisition and politics, which test the boundaries of social contracts understood to be the bedrock of American idealism.

Ascension of Cod by Will Pappenheimer, 2017

In its early days Salem Merchant trade specialized in the export of cod fish to bring home molasses, oranges, iron, salt and wines. Massachusetts Bay cod, the Atlantic Cod or Gadus morhua, were so plentiful that they became the hallmark of New England fisheries and trade. Up until recently. A 2014 NOAA scientific survey revealed that up to 80% of the cod have been either fished or suffered from the effects of warming oceans. A recent Discovery Channel film, Sacred Cod, documents the struggle between the cod fisherman’s livelihood and science behind the fisheries’ regulation. Ascension of Cod, premiering for this exhibition, suggests the shared hallowed role that the species plays in these two perspectives. This augmented reality work creates a school of virtual cod swimming upwards in a column around and above Scale House as if in an ascension to the heavens. It is in some sense both a reverence and farewell vision of the species that has fed us so well.

Goodbyes by Kristin Lucas. Salem’s maritime ports have been the site of innumerable goodbyes between sailors, cadets, family, and lovers over the city’s nearly 400-year history.

3d models collected through online markets—crafted by others for “goodbye” occasions—arrive and depart from the landscape. Tributes to discontinued and retired aircraft, vestiges of 3d artists graduating onto more challenging software, a melting snowman, a figure stoically waving goodbye, and more. Each model has its own backstory.

Elephant In Room by Kristin Lucas. An elephant, brought to America as cargo, lounges in a psychiatrist chair reminiscing about its natural habitat—a twist on idioms: “elephant in the room” and “elephants never forget”.

The conspicuous “elephant in the room” is literalized to bring to the fore a history of unspeakable acts inherent to international trade and labor practices. The elephant is an elephant and a stand-in for humans and species divided and dislocated for the purpose of international trade. The walls of the metaphorical “room” are replaced with a porous virtual forest made up of freely-distributed 3d models collected through online trade markets.

The ship America of Salem is credited with carrying the first known elephant to America from Calcutta, landing first in New York, and exhibited in Salem in 1797 (Goodwin, 1951). According to John Frayler, historian of Salem Maritime NHS, the basement of the Custom House once became an incidental zoo serving as a temporary holding pen for exotic birds and animals imported to Salem by collectors and for resale (Pickled Fish & Salt Provisions, 1999).

And there is more to The Augmented Landscape. At the Saugus Iron Works, Will Pappenheimer and Zachary Brady’s SkywriteAR generates virtual skywriting vapor phrases hundreds of feet above the viewer. For the next six months, SkywriteAR texts relating to the notion of everything connected to “iron” will be posted in the sky at monthly intervals. And in the Salem Visitor Center, Pappenheimer creates another version of Ascension of Cod, fish swimming upward into the Center’s atrium.

This is the artworks page for The Augmented Landscape