Legal issues with using Augmented Reality for activist purposes

David SargentAugmented Reality0 Comments

My conference presentation at the 2017 CreateWorld Conference was very interesting. The audience asked some really great questions and quite a few people sought me out later to discuss my work. The most popular topic by far was the legalities of using AR in this manner, which to be honest I hadn’t thought about that much.

I use the Layar platform to create augmented advertising takeovers like the video above. After reading the terms and conditions of use it seems I’ve been breaking a whole bunch of them! These kinds of breaches can result in an account being suspended, but could also lead to the original copyright holder (i.e. the publishers of the ad) chasing you in regards to unauthorised use of their property and possibly damages for slander etc. As with all technology, the law takes time to catch up, especially when it is an international issue (i.e. I could augment a billboard on the other side of the world if I wanted to). Personally, I think it would be a public relations nightmare for an organisation to come after someone making comment on body image and the saturation of the ideal body types in advertising.

So, if you were to be using a consumer facing AR package for activist purposes and were concerned about your privacy, I would suggest you consider the following three elements which are required to use the platform:

  1. Internet access
  2. Email address to create your account
  3. Credit Card to publish augmentations

And consider using the following tactics to obscure your identity and location:

  1. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when interacting online
  2. Creating a free unidentified email address like Hotmail / Gmail (other even more secure options detailed here)
  3. Buying and using a prepaid ‘Gift Card’ card which works with Visa and MasterCard systems. The availability of these seems to depend on your location, but in Australia you can purchase these at supermarkets or post offices with cash. They are activated when you buy them (via a fee) and you don’t need to provide any identifying information.

Of course, this is all moot when you post all of your augmentations up on a blog which uses your name as the domain… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Conference: CreateWorld 2017 Presentation

David SargentAugmented Reality, Conferences, DVA0 Comments

I’ll be presenting a conference paper Repurposing Augmented Reality Browsers for Acts of Creative Subversion at this years Apple University Consortium (AUC) CreateWorld Conference. It’s all about my initial experiments figuring out how to use Augmented Reality as an activist tool.

I’ll be talking a little bit about my failures too, including the above video! I ambitiously tried to augment the Queensland State Parliament building during the recent election, but unfortunately it didn’t work on site (the video is a desktop simulation test). I had successfully augmented large buildings before, but I think in this case the ever changing gardens in the foreground caused the image recognition to fail. You could work around this with a geo-located augmentation, but that starts to get complicated and expensive! I will just chalk it up as another learning experience.


Bikeway at Risk: Augmented Reality protest

David SargentAugmented Reality, DVA0 Comments

Bikeway at Risk 2017

A fun little Augmented Reality experiment this morning, adding a Monty Python-esque detail to the construction cladding for Queens Wharf. The animated tongue exclaims ‘BIKEWAY AT RISK’.

The Bicentennial Bikeway is the busiest active transport route in all of Queensland with 6500 people using it every day (including me!). One of the many problems with the new Queens Wharf Mega Casino development is the proposal to convert this section of the bikeway into a mixed use plaza / events space. Think of it like putting a park on a freeway — it’s going to be bad for all concerned. This is my small contribution to adding more awareness around the issue, drawn using Procreate on the iPad Pro, animated (clumsily) using Adobe Photoshop, and augmented using Layar.

If you want to know more about the development, you can visit the Economic Development Queensland page and search for the development DEV2017/846. For what it’s worth, you can email them to let the government know you think it’s a bad idea until October 19 2017.

In other related news, the new iPhone iOS now allows you to record your screen natively! This is massive as I used to have to jump through some serious hoops using some slightly dodgy apps to do this in the past.

If you want to see the augmentation in person, you can download the free LayAR app and scan it yourself. It will be active until the end of October 2017. Watch out for bikes when doing it!


Exhibition: Project Passion 2017

David SargentDVA, Exhibitions, Letterpress0 Comments

Letterpress printing in progress

five a's three ways

close up

Honoured to have been included in the Project Passion exhibition at Minnesota State University. This year, they have the theme of  ‘collaboration’. As luck would have it, I was working on a collaborative project anyway, so the exhibition just added a deadline to it (always very helpful in getting things moving). The exhibition is running from September 18 to October 10, 2017.

My contribution is a series of letterpress prints created with the generous assistance of Clint Harvey at his Bacon Factory. The letterforms were hand and digitally drawn, then created using laser cut acrylic hand glued to plywood bases. All of the colours were custom mixed from a collection of vintage inks with a white base (to help with opacity). It was my first real letterpress experience, and it took way longer than I had anticipated. Even the creation of the custom blocks seemed to take forever with having to learn how to use the laser cutter, and generating multiple tests and experiments to get it right. But, the final printed images were definitely worth it.

The images are an extension of past work, in that I was interested in the diversity of letterforms. In this project, it was all about bringing together six different A’s and seeing what would happen by overlapping them in various configurations. We did do some tests with all six over each other, and while they looked amazing, the drying time required was just too much for the time we had. Due to my desire to have the forms as opaque as possible, the process requires several passes for each letter, and then a day to rest and dry before the next colour. In all, we created five different print combinations, with three being selected to the exhibition.

Looking at the included artists and designers, the exhibition is bound to be a really high quality collection. The way I can tell: when I go to stalk them on Instagram I’m already following most of them! Can’t wait until all the work is uploaded onto the site to see what else was included.


More Augmented Reality (AR) subvertising experiments

David SargentAugmented Reality, DVA0 Comments

So I’ve managed to complete a few more of these, learning as I go. One issue that is maddening is the frequency that advertising is changed over. Quite a few times I’ve found a great billboard to cover, taken the shot, generated the artwork, and then found it no longer exists when I return to augment it. I think I just need to be more responsive and get them done the same day.


Experimenting with Augmented Reality (AR) as an activist tool

David SargentAugmented Reality, DVA0 Comments

No Bodies Perfekt and That’s Ok 2017

I originally looked into Augmented Reality years ago when it was the ‘next big thing’ in marketing circles. It was one of those things that was just too hard and time intensive to work out at the time. Apart from Pokemon Go, it never seemed to take off anyway. Earlier this year someone was showing me an exhibition they had been to featuring Augmented Reality animations. Long story short, I’ve come back to looking at Augmented Reality and have discovered plenty has changed. Many of the browsers of five years ago have closed or been bought out, and the remaining ones are fairly easy to navigate. There has been some pretty good activist campaigns using Augmented Reality too like in Occupy Wall Street and the recent Venezuelan elections.

This experiment was produced using the Layar AR Browser and an animated GIF. It reskins a super large banner in a nearby shopping centre. I did discover some issues with the browser not picking up the banner because of the distance between my iPhone and it, hence the weird angle and portrait format. It seems to work best with something close, with not too many other visuals around. Something to keep in mind for future projects.

Hoping to experiment more with this tool for a bit anyway. A great way to push my work into a more activist space while being non-destructive. It would be great to build my own app with my own browser… and while this is possible… time is a bit of a luxury this year.


New Work in 2017

David SargentDVA0 Comments

appearance does not equal value mirror

Appearance Does Not Equal Value 2017
No Bodies Perfekt 2017
Who Profits From Your Insecurities? 2017

A few outcomes produced in January. I’m keen to investigate printing onto mirrored acrylic, a technique I first saw last year and was really excited by it. If it works the way I’m hoping, I’ll produce these as full height mirrored prints. All three aim to prompt viewers to really think about what they see in the mirror — a true reflection, or an image to be judged by standards set by others.

Exhibition: Project Passion @ Minnesota State University

David SargentExhibitions0 Comments


Studies for Happiness Not Perfection 2015

The physical exhibition happened this time last year, but now an online exhibition has been collated and posted. Some fantastic work included from all around the world. I had two projects selected, the first was my animation Happiness Not Perfection (which was also exhibited in Philadelphia later in the year) and the second was a series of digital prints created during the development of the animation.

Great to be reminded about these artworks — at the time I felt like I was finally starting to get somewhere with my project, and to have them selected for inclusion in this exhibition was a great confidence boost. I haven’t done much animation work since (it’s very time consuming) but perhaps it’s time to continue along that thread.

Don’t Bend Stay Strange

David SargentDVA, Mural0 Comments


Don’t Bend Stay Strange 2016

First attempt as a largish scale mural. The quote is by David Bowie — the advice he gave the band TV on the Radio. I quite like the quote, it works in the location (Liveworm studio, a student design studio) and with the larger scale project I’m working on too.

Mural painting seems so easy when you see others doing it… but, lessons were learnt! I have so much respect for those who do this often.

Issues round up:

  • When I thought about the larger scale, I thought it would be a good idea to add more detail to some of the letterforms. Lesson: the extra detail can’t be seen from a distance, so not worth the extra effort.
  • I couldn’t get the exact colours I wanted and had to adjust my plans mid-paint when I realised the replacement colours I had picked were too close in tone. The final colours, Glow Magenta and Turquoise by Permaplastik. Lesson: needed to have started the process much earlier.
  • I also realised that working this way just takes way longer than you expect. The initial design was a solid days work (even with most of the letters pre-drawn from past projects). Four hours to sketch out the drawing on the wall (using a projector). Two solid days to paint. It still needs another coat in many places too! Lesson: block out enough time, then double it!

But, even with those issues, really happy that I pulled it off. Have had some positive feedback. I’m thinking all of my studio work will culminate in an exhibition, so great practice as I imagine at least one mural will be involved for that. I’ll be much better prepared!