Resident Artist: January 13 to February 25, 2023
Michael is an interdisciplinary designer, artist and researcher primarily investigating ways in which citizen science, tinkering, hacking and critical making can be used to create stronger relationships with our environment. He works with a variety of mediums, including software coding, hardware design, and installations. Through these means, he advocates for action toward connecting people with less empowered stakeholders in the environment, such as plants and water. This work challenges western- normative scientific investigation methods and is a call to action that brings visibility to under-represented entities, living and nonliving.
During this residency, my aim was to explore the capacity of augmented reality as an interactive, location-specific storytelling format. Taking advantage of the ability of augmented reality to access a phone’s GPS and spatial orientation, I experimented with mobile exhibits around the city. I also wanted to explore how environmental data, GIS mapping, and data visualization intersects with this technology. My most recent work in progress before coming on this residency was focused on our relationships with water in our environment. Eastern Edge, being located so close to the Atlantic Ocean, made for an amazing opportunity to interact with the Atlantic Ocean as a focus, and a source of water data.
My goal was to become familiar with some industry-standard augmented reality tools and learn how to create an environmental awareness narrative with them. I explored how live data might feed into the augmented world using a device like Arduino and related environmental sensors. I investigated how GIS mapping software can interact with augmented reality software to help generate digital landscapes.
The main output from my time at the Mainframe residency is a large, augmented reality (AR) map of St John’s harbour and surrounding area. The map is contained in the Adobe Aero software environment which allows users to access this AR experience. This map is composed of four smaller digital elevation models sourced from the Canadian Government’s Open Data Portal, which were then processed in 3D modelling software to make them more suitable for use in AR. The AR map of the harbour features sounds recorded in the area, models of a ship and Cabot Tower.
After this residency, I became a lot more excited about 3D scanning. This allowed me to create original 3D models to work with in augmented reality (AR). I began experimenting with the LiDAR Scanner built into iPhone 14, scanning the urban spaces I interact with on a regular basis - my apartment, my office, and utility access points. I found the most interesting things to scan were objects that I could later scale much larger in size to provide a very novel AR experience. Two examples provide are a gopher hole and a fallen log. Both of these models are using Adobe Aero to facilitate the augmented reality experience.
The gopher hole was an attempt to scan as far as possible into two surface holes of a gopher colony. Once moved into an AR environment, the user can explore a short distance into either entrance hole and get a sense of the underground structure of the colony. There are several gopher colonies around Winnipeg, but this one is located in a park area in The Forks National Heritage Park.
The Fallen Log is a cut-up chunk of an American Elm tree - a prominent street tree species in urban Winnipeg. Unfortunately, these trees have been infected with Dutch Elm disease resulting in many being felled to minimize the spread of the infection to other Elms in the area. This particular tree trunk was cut into sections to clear it off a busy multi-use pathway. The sectioning of the trunk revealed an open passageway from end to end, hollowed out from rot over the years. The 3D scan has been enlarged to give the viewer a sense that they are much smaller while exploring the log.