Beck’s is doing a pretty elaborate and strange art endeavor with their Green Box Project. Basically, they created a mobile app that if you point your phone at a thing you see another thing coming out of that thing, like more complicated 3-D glasses. Beck’s calls this “augmented reality” and explains it in superfluously complex language:
“Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.”
That sounds a bit like it was written with a belly full of Beck’s—which, we should add, The Observer thinks is delicious.
Even with all that cerebral jargon, there are still typos in the press release! “30 internationally-renowned artists from the world’s [sic] of art, design fashion and music have been commissioned to create a new piece of work, the radical difference being that this piece of work will live only in the digital realm.” Aside from the misplaced apostrophe, one should never start a sentence with a numeral, Beck’s. Piece of work, indeed.
So let’s get to the bottom of what this augmented reality mumbo jumbo really is. Pictured, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty with a gross red thing coming out of it. That’s Rock Strangers, a 200-foot high “digital sculpture” by Arne Quinze that was unveiled on July 4. It can only be seen through a mobile device that has the app downloaded to it. There will be other art projects like this one opening around the world, marked by green boxes that appear on a map on app-equipped phones, over the next three years.
Mr. Quinze had this to say about his work:
“My work is a manifestation of my own thoughts.”
Click here to watch some of the artists try to make this sound much more interesting than it is (“you bring your phone up in line with the box and you start to see into another world;” “people will start to question this and then to question themselves”). There’s also a hilarious video about Beck’s commitment to the arts in which an artist and a critic talk about how Beck’s only sponsors “really good” art that is “difficult.”