Brush the Sky
A calligraphic family narrative, written onto the skies of Seattle (2015) and San Jose, CA (2019).
Tamiko Thiel: Augmented reality & digital prints / Midori Kono Thiel: Japanese calligraphy & mylar hangings

On-site augmented reality (AR) artworks

For millennia East Asian artists have enhanced paintings with calligraphy, the abstract, graphic qualities of the brush strokes reverberating with the meanings of text and image.

Now a mother-daughter duo brings this ancient art into the 21st century:

In the orginal version, created for Seattle, transparent wall hangings by Midori Kono Thiel in the Wing Luke Museum emphasized the abstract nature of calligraphic art by deconstructing Japanese characters across multiple layers of mylar. Her daughter Tamiko Thiel enhanced both the gallery installation and sites of family history around Seattle with augmented reality (AR)* overlays. These virtual artworks further de- and re-construct Midori's boldly abstract, gestural calligraphy into visual poems, marking sites of this Japanese American family's four generations of involvement with Seattle. (Note: this version is currently not accessible.)

For the second edition, addressing Midori's and Tamiko's family roots in Silicon Valley going back to 1908, Midori's calligraphies were shown as a gallery installation in the Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College Cupertino, enhanced by Tamiko's augments and prints of AR sites in San Jose Japantown. The site specific public artworks are sponsored by Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) with support from the California History Center, De Anza College.
* Mobile augmented reality (AR) transforms the hitherto invisible layers of memory and culture associated with a site into artworks visible in the display of an "ARt-scope" - a mobile smartphone or tablet running an AR app. The artist places virtual computer graphic artworks at selected sites via their GPS coordinates. Viewers at that site see the virtual artworks as an overlay on the live camera view of their surroundings, as if the artworks were physically present at that site. The real and the virtual merge into a new experience of reality.