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Virtual Aliens, Squid and Rainbow Coming to Philadelphia as Augmented Reality Exhibit Opens in April

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imagine running up the “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and being greeted by an alien creature that could have been designed by Joan Miro – but is visible only through your smart phone. The alien will be joined by a giant squid floating above the Schuylkill River waterfall, a faceted rainbow above the Delaware River and 22 other pieces of virtual art throughout the city when the VPAP@PIFA Augmented Reality exhibit opens on April 7 as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). The exhibit can be viewed via a free smart phone app that overlays 3-D images on top of real-time screen visuals as seen through the smart phone camera lens.

The VPAP@PIFA Augmented Reality exhibit is a collaboration between Breadboard, a hybrid program at the University City Science Center dedicated to exploring the intersection of art, science and technology, and the Virtual Public Art Project (VPAP). Augmented Reality or AR interlaces the physical real-world environment with virtual computer-generated imagery in real-time. VPAP is an augmented reality platform for the public display of digital works of art and the first mobile augmented reality outdoor art experience of its kind. VPAP merges the real-world physical environment of public spaces around the world with site-specific virtual sculptures that can only be viewed in-the-round using the iPhone and Android phones when one is at the sculpture's real-world location.

The site-specific virtual art works included in VPAP@PIFA can be viewed throughout the city by smart phone users. Local and international artists have created unique AR art works, such as the giant squid, that will be geo-tagged to specific locations around Philadelphia and visible via a free Layar App that can be downloaded to iPhone (3GS and above) and Android operating systems. Viewers then have the unique ability to experience an emerging art form as well as new media technology that has a growing influence on our social and commercial interactions.

To complement the VPAP@PIFA Exhibit, a free panel discussion titled Augmented Reality Check: Seeing the Future Now will be held on April 26 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Van Pelt Auditorium. The panel of experts including cutting-edge artists, software developers, gaming specialists, sociologists and social historians will discuss the future of augmented reality and how it may play into our everyday lives. The discussion will be followed by an interactive demonstration and virtual art tour that blurs the line between the real and the virtual. The walking tour and demonstration will include site-specific AR content developed by artists and designed to interact with locations and landmarks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Moderated by Dr. Mimi Sheller, Director of Drexel University’s Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, the panel will include: Deb Boyer, public historian and project manager, Sajara and the Philly History Project; Dr. Paul Diefenbach, associate professor, Digital Media and co-founder of Drexel’s RePlay Lab; John Craig Freeman, artist and professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College; Chris Manzione, artist and founder of the Virtual Public Art Project; Josh Marcus, software developer and technical lead for Decision Tree; and Mark Skwarek, new media artist. Opening remarks will be offered by Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer of Philadelphia and director of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

Augmented Reality Check: Seeing the Future Now is also part of Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival.

About Breadboard

Breadboard is a hybrid program at the University City Science Center that facilitates cross-disciplinary art exhibits, community outreach initiatives and special programs offering public access to a new generation of fabrication technology and workspace in an effort to empower individuals and convene communities around creative applications of technology. Through a unique partnership with NextFab Studio Breadboard engages groups and communities at all levels of interest and experience. Breadboard programming combines 3-D printing technology, CAD-operated equipment such as laser cutters and milling machines with a collaborative workshop environment where artists, DIY enthusiasts, fabbers, hackers, community groups and students can share a computer station or a circuit board with business entrepreneurs, engineers, and industrial designers.

About the Virtual Public Art Project

The Virtual Public Art Project is an Augmented Reality platform for the public display of digital works of art. VPAP is the first mobile AR outdoor art experience ever, and maximizes public reception of AR art through compatibility with both iPhone 3GS and above and Android phones. Unlike current AR smart phone utilities that enable users to view a location with an additional layer of information about that location – i.e. information about a restaurant, VPAP creates site-specific sculptures at a location that invite viewers in for close observation from all sides and from multiple perspectives.

About The Science Center

The University City Science Center accelerates technology commercialization, regional economic development, and the market availability of life-enhancing scientific breakthroughs by bringing together innovations, scientists, entrepreneurs, funding, laboratory facilities, and business services. Established in 1963 and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. For more information

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing