Todd Margolis

Augmented Reality

“We don’t necessarily have to think of immersion into the virtual and augmentation of the physical as the opposites... it all depends on how we understand the idea of addition: we may add additional information to our experience – or we may add an altogether different experience.”
-Lev Manovich

Augmented Reality

Show Me

by Todd Margolis

Show Me explores virtual tourism using augmented reality with my avatar agent.

I've never been to Philadelphia. My father, born and raised in Philadelphia, is my only connection to the city. I have always wanted to visit with him to see his childhood haunts and listen as he recants tales of his youth. He doesn’t travel much these days, and I cannot afford the time so the tour of Philly has been put on the backburner. That is, until now...

I have sent my avatar there as an augment to learn more about Philadelphia by recruiting audience members as “tour guides”. Using a 3D laser scanned model of myself inside the Layar augmented reality browser, my avatar wanders throughout the exhibition sites until visitors interact with Virtual Todd. He attempts to befriend willing participants, hitching a ride with them to show him the sights. This is the beginning of telepresence in virtual tourism. The experience results in the typical sight-seeing artifacts - photographs (screenshots) of my avatar with the exhibition audience, in various locations in and around Philadelphia. Using Layar's authentication and screenshot uploading, people can reload my Layar at any time and location during the exhibit and Virtual Todd will join them there.

This artwork builds upon my previously produced Augmented Reality projects like Local ARt (an AR Alternate Reality Game) and ImageQuest (a citizen science project using mobile AR with urban tree canopies). My current research investigates social and cultural relationships to emerging media which draws on over a decade of experience creating tele-collaborative immersive and interactive artworks and systems. Show me is an ongoing project which will integrate social networking and game mechanics to further engage the public in novel forms of virtual tourism. The premiere exhibition for Show Me is in Distributed Collectives with other members of Manifest.AR - an international artists collective working with emergent forms of augmented reality as interventionist public art.


Linked Media


my avatar on the OptiPortables at SIGGRAPH


Distributed Collectives, Little Berlin - Philadelphia, PA