September marks the final month of Vävda rum (Woven Places), the countrywide augmented reality exhibition we created with 136 arts organisations all over Sweden. Ten artworks have been placed in over sixteen hundred locations, from forests to public squares to barren parking lots, a virtual layer weaving together these disparate places. Each artwork is in some way a comment on or exploration of the strange hybrid spaces created in these intersections of physical and digital public space.
Eric Magassa's artwork sought to transform public space in a simple yet radical way. To experience the piece, you need to make a sound with your voice. During the press viewing, we had a bunch of journalists shouting into their phones in the middle of busy Lilla Torg in Malmö. This brings the experience of the entirely virtual artwork out into physical space, through the gathering onlookers wondering if this group of people shouting into their phones have gone crazy or if they are witnessing some peculiar flash mob.
Adam James' work follows a similar dynamic, asking the visitors to complete scenes in AR with their bodies and then sharing these social sculptures on social media. James’ practice is rooted in the tradition of live-action role-playing, and to maintain a degree of directorial agency, he continuously monitors what people share from his work and updates the piece's content to bring what is shared in new directions.
Around Pastelae's sculpture of a reindeer posing on top of a cliff, each simultaneous visitor is represented as a lifesize pink reindeer, regardless of where they are visiting it from. A horde of reindeer forms around the centerpiece, its size growing and ebbing throughout the day. Sometimes, you might be all alone, but then, when you turn around, you see some reindeer have joined you. They might be on the other side of the country, but they are visiting the same virtual tundra.
Space Popular's Rootunda employs a similar dynamic but for different ends. A manifesto for the future of *portals* is written on virtual fabrics blowing in the wind, and through the drapes, you see other visitors pop in and out, each with a small sign above them revealing the city they visit from. Bereft of other means of communication, we make little dances for each other when encountering visitors from other cities. Vävda rum is present in 136 cities and towns throughout Sweden, so you often discover places you have never heard of.
Similarly, in Lundahl & Seitl's Pseudo Mona's Fountain, at one point in the fifteen-minute-long journey, you encounter a spirit hovering in front of you. As you interact with it further, you realise that this is a representation of a real person that you are connected to, who is as surprised as you are. The resulting connection becomes surprisingly intimate, even if your partner is geographically located somewhere completely different.
In both Oscar Häggström's Jog Your Mind and our piece Det långa sorlet (Interspatial Echoes), the anonymity of these connections is used as an advantage. In Oscar's hilariously funny satire over online fitness culture and the over-sharing, like-counting spreadsheet-brainedness of contemporary social media, each user can put in their name to have it displayed in a leaderboard tallying who's spent the longest in his piece (as of this writing, Player One has the lead, followed by Burken and Jenny.) At the end of the exhibition, he will reward the winner with a special prize.
In our experimental spatial social network, each visitor can leave a message that floats about in space, available for others to read and give energy to. We'll follow up this newsletter with a more in-depth one about our piece.
The individual placements of the works greatly affected how they are experienced. Each artist defined the type of site their piece was developed for, and then each arts organisation found the closest match in their local area. Åsa Cederqvists beautifully illustrated meditation about our relationship to water turns into a very different experience depending on if it is visited at the poisoned wasteland next to Industrigatan in Malmö, at Sweden’s westernmost lighthouse on the island of Koster, or next to petroglyphs illustrating ancient fishing practices next to the Nämforsen river.
James Webb's work, a series of incantations, or aphorisms, originating from a local elderly home, doesn't change depending on the site but depending on how many people visit it. The piece is entirely audio-based, and the sounds vary depending on whether you hear them alone or if you are there together with others.
Similarly, SONG’s visually striking speculative narrative about the origins of the world allows the visitors to take different paths through the story. Like in a game, no visitor's experience is the same as another's. Funnily enough, this work has yielded several bug reports complaining that visitors did not get the same experience as their friends. A logic fundamental to games becomes quite surprising when applied to the experience of an artwork.
We are currently working on creating a public version of the platform called meadow. We’ll tell you more about this shortly.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the artists, our partner Sveriges Konstföreningar, both project leads Alexandra Hvalgren and Linn Hübinette, our brilliant curator Ulrika Flink, and of course, all the individual arts organisations that have made the exhibition possible, all the way from Simrishamn to Kiruna. The project has been generously made possible with funding from Postkodstiftelsen.
The artists participating in Vävda rum are Lundahl & Seitl, Åsa Cederqvist, James Webb, Space Popular, Eric Magassa, SONG collective, Untold Garden, Oscar Häggström, Pastelae, and Adam James. The app and platform is developed by Untold Garden.
Some housekeeping: We are moving our newsletter service over to Ghost. We intend to make these installments somewhat more frequent - in addition to covering our projects, also allowing for deep dives into the research we’re currently doing. You can find all our previous newsletters here.
See you soon,