Augmented Reality Art, 2019

Nancy Baker Cahill, John Craig Freeman, and Will Pappenheimer

The Greenway Conservancy’s Augmented Reality (AR) exhibit blends interactive digital elements into our real-world environments through the overlay of historical imagery responding to the ever-changing nature of what once was a major transportation corridor through downtown Boston.

In a curatorial partnership with Boston Cyberarts and Hoverlay, the Conservancy commissioned three prominent AR artists and Amy D. Finstein, a local historian to conceptually explore the themes of transportation and the automobile superimposed with views of The Greenway.

The historic photographs shown within the augmented reality exhibit narrate more than a century of growth and change along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. These images capture the city’s changing economic prospects, its accommodations for new modes of transportation, and its embrace of city planning and modern engineering to address successive eras of challenges.

  • Collision, 2019

    Speed, 2019


    Artist Statement

    I interpret the human body as a site of ongoing struggle and resistance.

    In drawing, video, VR, AR, and original sound, I attempt to isolate simultaneous moments of exertion, violence, defiance, and stillness in my graphite and digital mark-making. I am equally interested in power dynamics and how they shift, strain and contract. On paper and in virtual space, my process is deeply physical. My hope is that this energy is present in the experience of the work.

    My move to digital drawing in three dimensions is a natural extension of what began (and continues) on paper. It allows for an empathic and immersive expansion of my ideas, as well as the ability to introduce traditional drawing into an uncharted technological arena.

    Access to art is essential to me. My goal is to offer unexpected perspectives to new audiences that in turn provoke conversation and affect a broader cultural dialogue.

    About the Artist

    Nancy Baker Cahilfounder of 4th Wall, a free AR app. A 2018 TEDx speaker, she was also profiled in Bloomberg’s Media Art + Technology series. She is a Desert X 2019 Biennial artist and received an LA City Hall “Impact Maker to Watch” Award.

  • Roadside Detritus, 2019

    Fossil Fueled, 2019


    Artist Statement

    John Craig Freeman has contributed two augmented reality public art experiences for The Greenway, including Fossil Fueled, a whimsical representation of the history of fossil fuel consumption, and Roadside Detritus, a poetic contemplation of U.S. Route 1, which was once routed along the same path through Boston that makes up the Rose Kennedy Greenway today.

    These projects will allow users to view and explore world-scale virtual representations of the detritus of an era of optimism based on the freedoms afforded by the automobile and the interstate highway system. Roadside Detritus was produced along the remaining U.S. Route 1 through Massachusetts from Attleboro to Newburyport. The artist traveled the historic highway scanning residual evidence of the utopic mid-twentieth century automobile culture. Fossil Fueled includes a collection of virtual gas pumps, dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. Some have become unmoored, spinning in midair.

    About the Artist

    John Craig Freeman uses emerging technologies to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. He seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital technology and mobile networks are transforming our sense of place.

  • CarPark-X, 2019

    CarDrop-V, 2019


    Artist Statement

    The two augmented reality works developed for The Greenway represent my interest in shifting spatial and object relations with respect to the preponderance of virtual worlds overlapping the physical environment. Through various processes of simulation, modification and media collage, I hope to alter familiar functional modes.

    CarPark-X envisions a future airborne parking system which allows the citizenry to release antigravity cars for collection into a giant sculptural ball and then retrieve them upon request.

    CarDrop-V follows the common fantasy corresponding to a physical world challenge of dropping cars from high up in the air, only to watch their surreal fall and collision when they reach the ground. In this case the car and gravitational atmosphere are virtual and the landing is non-destructive and unpredictable.

    About the Artist

    Will Pappenheimer is a Brooklyn artist working in new media, performance and installation. He has pioneered augmented reality art for nine years. His projects have been featured at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, Los Angeles, the San Francisco MOMA, and Bloomberg TV’s Art + Technology series.

  • Greenway Conservancy Director and Curator of Public Art, Lucas Cowan, moderated a lively conversation engaging perspectives of contemporary art from artists, software developers, and curators. The panel explored how increased access to technology and the borderless possibilities of Augmented Reality enable the scope of public art to exist in all spaces, from public parks to our living rooms. How has an increase in technology, from the growth of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, intersected and expanded public art opportunities, especially in a pre/post COVID-19 world?


    • Lucas Cowan, Director and Curator of Public Art, Greenway Conservancy
    • Nicolas Robbe, CEO, Hoverlay Inc.
    • George Fifield, Director and Founder, Boston Cyberarts, Inc.
    • John Craig Freeman, Conservancy Artist & Professor of New Media, Emerson College