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The Artvertiser

One of our members from Rhizome sent us some information about one of the most exciting improved reality project of public art I have ever seen : The Artvertiser, a urban, hand-held Improved Reality project exploring on-site substitution of advertising content for the purposes of exhibiting art. Some of you might have seen it during Berlin Transmediale 2010 last week but I can’t resist the temptation to share this great project with our audience.

The project was initiated by Julian Oliver in February 2008 and is being developed in collaboration with Clara Boj, Diego Diaz and Damian Stewart.

The Artvertiser considers Puerta del Sol Madrid, Times Square New York, Shibuya Tokyo and other sites dense with advertisements as potential exhibition space. An instrument of conversion and reclamation, The Artvertiser takes imagery seen by millions and re-purposes it as a surface for the presentation of art.

The best description of their work is an excerpt from their website : « the Artvertiser software is trained to recognise individual advertisements, each of which become a virtual ‘canvas’ on which an artist can exhibit images or video when viewed through the hand-held device.

After training, where ever the advertisement appears, the chosen art will appear instead when viewed live through the hand-held device. It doesn’t matter whether the advertisement is on a building, in a magazine or on the side of a vehicle.

If an internet connection is present at the site, the substitution can be immediately documented and published in on line galleries such as Flickr and YouTube.

While offering itself as a new platform for public art, The Artvertiser seeks to highlight the contradiction of Public Space in the context of what can and cannot be written on the surface of our cities. Neither graffiti or Fine Art, The Artvertiser exploits the inevitable redistribution of these surfaces in media such as digital film and photography, providing an alternative memory of the city.

By leveraging the internet as a redistribution mechanism, The Artvertiser supposes that an urban site dense with proprietary imagery can be re-purposed as an exhibition space for art and archived as such in turn. Similarly, on-site exhibitions can be held whereby pedestrians are invited to use the looking device to view an exhibition on the buildings around them. Finally, non-live video can also be used. This enables artists to substitute advertisements in film and video with alternative content and redistribute those movies with friends or using their favourite peer to peer network.

The Artvertiser has received development funding from Intermediae and is being developed in Madrid and Valencia, Spain.


The software is stable and working well though is not yet ready for distribution. Currently it runs only on The Artvertiser’s own digital binoculars and netbooks/laptops with webcams. We’re still working on a port for Android.

The Artvertiser targets three classes of device:

Billboard Intercept Prototype:
A set of urban and weather-proof digital binoculars have been built. This device guarantees high-quality immersive advertisement substitution and is be more performant for AR applications than any hand-held device currently available; equipped with a high-quality wide-angle lens, fast CPU and GPU, powerful wireless adaptor, long battery life and plenty of solid state storage space.

We are currently porting the software to Google’s Android OS, now used on many smartphones worldwide. Following this we will target the Nokia N900 (Maemo 5) and (perhaps) the iPhone. These devices will have support for video and photo substitution modes at low resolutions. We hope to have an Android port available soon.

Standard Camera phones:
The great bulk of the world’s camera phones run the Symbian OS. We are currently authoring a version of The Artvertiser to provide ‘single shot’ photo substitution. 

The Artvertiser is a free software project and will be released under the copyright terms of the General Public License v3.0 when completed. It is developed on the Linux platform.


Project Lead: Julian Oliver

Computer Programming: Julian Oliver and Damian Stewart

Binoculars: Julian Oliver, Clara Boj and Diego Diaz

Julian Oliver, Damian Stewart, Clara Boj and Diego Diaz are experienced artists working in the vein of Augmented Reality, computer vision and computer graphics. Between them they share 30 years of practice across these areas, having worked with the technology in both research and fine-arts settings.

Their work has been exhibited in major museums and electronic art-festivals in Europe, Asia and North America and has received many awards and commissions ».

Source : Rhizome and The Artvertiser.

Filed under: Evénements, Expériences, Ingénieries, , , , , , ,

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