Rana Abboud

This is a call for Sydney to champion Augmented Reality experiences on its public sites.

With COVID accelerating the adoption of technology in the broader sense, Augmented Reality (AR) has emerged as a medium that can bring the outside world into our homes while redefining the experience of real-world place. Should Sydney invite, and champion, Augmented Reality spaces as part of its future vision, the resultant places will transport the public to worlds of wonder and awe, providing a welcome distraction from the anxieties of the COVID pandemic.

As an example of what may be possible, PIXELPLANTS employs Biophilic design principles in its design ethos. The installation encourages a shared engagement with virtual content, to bring joy at a time of uncertainty.

The UK’s Serpentine Augmented Architecture commission (2019) demonstrated the incredibly transformative power of AR over a site’s spatial experience. PIXELPLANTS takes advantage of the three keycapabilities of Augmented Reality, first explored by Pokemon Go in 2016:

  • It alters the usage of its physical public space by converting the site into an interactive art installation
  • It directs foot-traffic within public space, by asking visitors to follow a maze in plan
  • It engenders feelings of attachment to physical public space using geolocated digital content. Repeat visits are necessary from those ‘planting’ a digital ‘seed’ in order for the plant to furnish a yes/no answer to any question posed.

Should Sydney strategically support the creation of Augmented Spaces, it will pioneer the discourse into what makes great public spaces, when these straddle the Digital and the Real.

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