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May 2, 2018

Augmented reality and yard sale junk collide to make art

by John_A


Who doesn’t enjoy digging through piles of old junk at yard sales? They’re a window into the past, capturing lives and forgotten memories. At the Tribeca Film Festival, the installation Objects in Mirror AR Closer Than They Appear takes that concept to the next level. At first, it just looks like a random assortment of trash and old gadgets. But after donning a pair a custom pair of augmented reality goggles, built out of the shells of antique stereoscopes, you’ll discover hidden videos and experiences tied to each object.

As I sifted through old photos, aging YouTube memes popped up in the glasses, which made me ponder how digital media becomes nostalgic at almost light-speed. When I stepped into a small corner filled with photos from Hawaii, a 360-degree video of an idyllic beach appeared. If this were a real garage sale, I’d imagine how the owners might be recalling a family vacation (or perhaps, pining for a trip they never took). One experience didn’t even rely on the AR goggles at all — it was an old phone with instructions to dial a specific number. As you’d expect, a recording popped up when I called it, but the mere act of dialing that number and cradling a corded handset in my neck brought back memories of an age before smartphones.



“What brought us together was a shared fascination with the way that physical objects function as windows into inner worlds, portals that transport us into memory, nostalgia, and absurdist fantasy and a common desire to explore how technology can make this ephemeral, even Proustian experience visceral and immediate to the senses,” said Graham Sack, one of Objects in Mirror’s creators, in a statement.

Objects in Mirror was co-developed by Sack, Geoff Sobelle, John Fitzgerald, and Matthew Niederhauser. And if the concept sounds familiar, that’s because it was inspired by Sobelle’s popular theater installation The Object Lesson, which also explored the beauty in digging through piles of nostalgic junk. If you’re in NYC over the next few weeks, you can check out Objects in Mirror at the New York Theatre Workshop’s Next Door performance space.

Click here to read all the news from Tribeca Film Festival 2018!

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