Project Name: Augmented Reality Flash Mob Amsterdam (2010)
Project Credits: Sander Veenhof
Project Brief Description:
At exactly 14.00 hours, Saturday April 24th, the world's first augmented reality flashmob took place. Dam Square in Amsterdam filled up with people using Android and iPhone devices, peering through the camera at Q-codes pasted on the ground that through the screen of the device revealed virtual 3D characters. Participants could also download and bring their own AR human sculpture models.


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Project Analysis
Participants downloaded the mobile application Layar on their phones. This application can read a Q-Code label placed at a specific location through the smart phone camera and then layer the image on the screen with a virtual 3D model of a character in place of the Q-Code Label.
The participants were able to choose between different characters – from the iconic to the banal - and the Square was filled with virtual models that were integrated into the physical space. Sander Veenhof, the creator of the project has staged similar interventions the MoMa where participants could integrate a virtual exhibition on top of the physical exhibition.
His work hacks public and private spaces, creating a new, accessible virtual public space that each individual can shape according to their own desire.
An observer noticed how everybody at the flash-mob was engrossed with their phones, peering into a new world shaped by them however they were oblivious to the presence of the other participants. Extrapolating to a future reality, this project shows how each if us can modify our virtual world to create layers upon a physical world that is otherwise beyond our control. However this new sense of control is illusionary. Although the project allows each of us to inhabit our individual versions of the world, we are cut off from others in the process. However if these individual interpretations of the world were exchanged and we used Augmented Reality as platform for dialogue and interaction we could tap the potential of AR to give us a more tangible sense of agency and control over our world.