These AR Apps are Free and Give You a Look at a Metaverse Future If Artists Were Responsible


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What’s going on?

Tribeca Festival’s best augmented reality projects are free to anyone, without any trip to New York.

Why it matters

No matter what the metaverse’s future holds, artists’ AR experiences can offer a glimpse into its more thoughtful possibilities.

Augmented realityVirtual reality was able to take over during the pandemic. VR headsetsThese devices, which completely block out the world in order to immerse yourself in a virtual world, gained new popularity when social media shut down and people remained at home. AR overlays the real-world with digital ornaments. But AR has found a new stage. Immersive in-person experiences at large film festivals are now one of its most prominent showcases.

One of the newest, Tribeca FestivalLast month, New York revived full-blown, in-person installations Its Immersive curationIt was the first time they had been there in more than two decades. They were probably not there for you, though. 

Three of Tribeca’s most innovative AR art experiments can be accessed now for free by anyone who has a smartphone. 

Iago: The Green Eyed Monster is a modern version of Shakespeare’s villain. 

Tribeca Festival

One app ReachYouIt feels like post-COVID metatherapy guided by a gentle, glitchy future transmission. Another, Emerging Radiance, a mural of Japanese-Americans wrongfully held by the US government in World War II. Und a third. Iago the Green Eyed Monster performs a rock ‘n’ roll anthem reimagining Shakespeare’s infamous villain as a queer woman fed up with arrogant dudes.

These experiences offer glimpses into AR’s potential. You’ve probably interacted with AR through Instagram and other social media channels, or even tried out digital replicas of Ikea couches in your living room. Mixed-Reality experimentation is a technology that has often led to new concepts being made available to billions of people. This includes putting new ideas in the hands of everyone with a smartphone, not just a select few who own expensive hardware or headsets. 

These are also a glimpse of what it might look like if we were to live in a metaverse.Debatable).


ReachYou feels like meta-therapy sent from a metaverse.

ReachYou, described as an “intermission from the future designed for the tenderness and the present”, is an AR experience that turns your phone into a portal. It allows you to both receive messages from a meditative sender from the future and record your thoughts on “the human record”. 

Katrina Goldsaito is one of the creators of ReachYou. She said that the project was created “for strangers” to help them connect over the most important aspects about being human. 

She stated, “If you are living in a dystopia right now, you need more visions and protopias.” Kevin Kelly, Wired founder editor, coined the word to describe a compromise between the dystopian nightmares and the unattainability (and stasis) of utopia. Protopias expect technology to make it possible for a more complicated path toward a better future than the present. 

Goldsaito explained that ReachYou’s protopia encourages you to be “authentically vulnerable” in order to make progress. The app, which is free — allows you to connect with others in “authentic and vulnerable” ways. Free downloads for iPads and iPhones from Apple’s App StoreWith a version for Android currently in the works, it encourages us slow down, to be present, as well as changing our relationship with technology. 

ReachYou uses AR to allow you to place a rectangular beacon on the floor in front you. This transforms into an onyx cluster, a swirling of glowing orbs and then a cameo window portal studded with pinpricks filled with stars. Inside, a woman contemplatively speaks to you about “the greatest unwinding” and the nature and meaning of time, grief, and gratitude. You are compelled to move closer and your phone shakes at the possibility of being connected. You’re asked to gently hum so that your vocal vibrations can join those of others.

At the end of the experience, you can wander around floating pyramids spinning and unlock one of these public messages. You have the option to make your recordings public or private. This field can be accessed in the app to access whenever you wish. You will also find new recordings to unlock. However, only one transmission is allowed. It is final and cannot be relived.

ReachYou however has new transmissions. A second transmission was due to arrive Friday for those who have completed the first; an additional one will arrive Oct. 15. This experience was designed to be episodic. 

Goldsaito says that the transient nature of each transmission was designed to give you more meaning in your experience.  

She said, “It’s an opportunity to remind us that we only have one moment.” It asks us to take the time to listen attentively and fully. 

Radiance emerging

A woman sits cross-legged on the floor painting a wall-sized mural with faces of Japanese Canadian farmers.

Emerging Radiance paints murals of Japanese Americans and shares their stories about wrongfully imprisoned during WWII. 

Tribeca Fest

ReachYou will send you a message from the future if ReachYou is successful. Radiance emergingIt reanimates messages that were once locked away in the past. 

Emerging Radiance’s AR is a new way to use Instagram filters. It brings to life mural portraits by three Japanese-Americans. They share their experiences with forced relocation and wrongful imprisonment in US concentration camps during World War II. Tani Ikeda, the creator, said that she wanted to preserve their archival recordings which her father had taped many years ago. This would allow them to continue these stories to younger generations.

She explained that AR filters were created so anyone who uses Instagram can use their smartphone to hear the stories of each of their ancestors. 

Every member of Bellevue’s Nikkei farm community, including the protagonists in Emerging Radiance, shares the personal pain they went through during incarceration. Rae Matsuoka Takekawa for example was the daughter a leader in this community. He helped organize Japanese-American farmers to receive fair prices for their crops. Takekawa’s mural, Emerging Radiance, recalls the night her father was arrested and taken by the FBI just hours after Pearl Harbor bombing. 

Ikeda stated that stories like Takekawa’s offer “a historical roadmap” to defy the current climate. anti-Asian hate

She said that cameras and any other equipment that could have been used to record what was happening inside the camps during my grandfather’s imprisonment were removed. This augmented reality mural gives the community the opportunity to speak again, since most survivors of concentration camps are their ancestors.

Meta Open Arts — the art program of Meta, the owner of Instagram — originally commissioned the murals, by Michelle Kumata, for its office in Bellevue. Kamata and Ikeda collaborated to create the AR filters that bring the subjects of the mural to life for those who have Instagram installed on their phones. By scanning any one of the three images, you can hear their stories. QR codes on the project’s site

Iago: The Green Eyed Monster

An animated Iago intervenes between a set of male holograms playing pool and a holographic version of herself, trying to box.

Iago, The Green Eyed Monster makes a Shakespearean villain into a rock song on an AR stage. 

Tribeca Fest

Iago has been a source of DGAF energy since Shakespeare created the villain in his tragic play Othello 400 years ago. Iago shows this with crunchy guitars. 

Iago: The Green Eyed MonsterThis 3D-animated AR music video transforms Iago into a modern female soldier. While this Iago may still occasionally use “doth”, “shall” words in her lyrics, it’s not necessary to know much about Shakespeare to see what she’s talking about. She snarls, “These men…these men…these men.” 

Mary Chieffo, one the creators of Iago, played Iago in 2015 as a male character in an all-female production. But she was curious about what Iago would look like as a modern military lady, she explained. “Our female Iago is consumed with her jealousy and internalized anger over being overlooked, making her the ‘green-eyed beast’.

Creators encourage you “to be your own cinematographer” as you explore the AR stage while this Iago’s performance plays. The experience includes Easter eggs that are related to Shakespeare. They said that it could be a great opportunity to “rock out with Shakespeare verse set to some good music”. 

The project hopes to inspire thought about patriarchy and oppression, as well as how people can behave outside the confines of their boxes.

Iago: This Green Eyed monster was made with support from Verizon and Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions. Viola Davis co-founded the company with Julius Tennon. This is not the first time that the Oscar winner’s production house has dabbled with Shakespearean mixed reality. In fact, Operation: Othello was a pilot for a VR series called JuVee Productions. It premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2019. JuVee’s head, immersive Joshua Nelson Youssef and the creator of Green Eyed Monster said Davis “would retreat to other worlds in her trailer for How to Get Away with Murder.” 

Green Eyed Monster’s AR app can be used for both Apple iOS and Android devices. The creators recommend an iPad in landscape orientation with headphones for the best experience. (A bigger screen definitely makes a difference.) The song is also available to stream on Spotify other services. Snapchat Lens is also available. 

Chieffo stated that watching young women interact with Iago the Green Eyed Monster at Tribeca Fest gave her hope that they can embrace their inner monster rather than suppress it.

“I hope this piece does what all great art should do – and certainly what Shakespeare was trying to do in his day: allow us to examine ourselves through heightened expression in order to inspire action in the real world we live in.”


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