Sunday, 29 January 2012

I Am Crime

Mobile phone screenshot: Goddess of Democracy, in front of SOMart gallery building, San Francisco
Goddess of Democracy, in SOMart gallery, San Francisco
Tank Man, in SOMart gallery, San Francisco
Tank Man, in front of SOMart gallery building, San Francisco

Tiananmen SquARed
By 4Gentlemen

Tiananmen SquARed is a two part augmented reality public art project and memorial, dedicated human rights and democracy world-wide. The project includes virtual replicas of the Goddess of Democracy and Tank Man from the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square. Both augmentations have been placed in Beijing at the precise GPS coordinates where the original incidents took place.

The Goddess of Democracy was a 33-foot tall statue, constructed in only four days out of foam and papier-mâché over a metal armature. Students from an art institute created the statue, placing it to face toward a huge picture of the late Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong. Tanks later flattened the statue when China’s military crushed the protest.

Tank Man was an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international recognition due to the videotape and photographs taken of the incident.

Although it has been more than twenty years since Tiananman Protest took place, the authorities  persistently use all means possible to erase the fact that the Chinese people pursued democracy in this democratic and anti-corruption movement. Today in China, young people are not aware of the courageous actions that Tank Man and the Goddess of Democracy represent. Nonetheless, history should not be forgotten.

Information and communication technologies have inspired people to express their thoughts freely. We as artists, taking advantages of the development  of mobile phone technology and smartphone applications, have revived the history of 1989 Tiananman Protest that  has tremendous implications waiting  for further examinations by our contemporaries.

Once the audience downloads the Layar Augmented Reality Browser to their Android or iPhone, he or she could stand in Tiananmen Square and point their device’s camera towards the northern side of the plaza where the Goddess of Democracy was originally erected. The application uses geolocation software to superimpose a computer generated 3D graphic of the Goddess of Democracy at the precise GPS coordinates of the original, enabling them to see the augmentation integrated into the physical location as if it existed in the real world. Similarly, the Tank Man augmentation would be placed on Chang’an Avenue northeast of Tiananmen Square in the exact location of the original event. Both augmentations will appear in the original scale and orientation.

Both virtual objects have been place at SOMArts in San Francisco as part of the I Am Crime exhibition.

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