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The Artvertiser mayo 25, 2010

Posted by christian saucedo in Other projects.


Desde febrero de 2008, Julian Oliver,Clara Boj, Diego DíazDamian Stewart trabajan en Artvertiser, un proyecto de software libre que sustituye los anuncios de la calle por imágenes de arte. Mediante unos prismáticos especiales, y cada vez a través de más smartphones y teléfonos móviles corrientes, los participantes pueden ver fotos o vídeos proyectados sobre anuncios.

El proyecto se inscribe dentro de lo que se denomina “realidad aumentada” (sistemas tecnológicos que amplían la percepción de la realidad saliendo a la calle y no generando un mundo alternativo en interiores, como ocurría con la “realidad virtual”). Sus referentes más evidentes son el product placement (esa manía de colocar productos en películas y series de ficción para despertar el consumismo del espectador), el film Viven de John Carpenter, donde la humanidad era dominada mediante instrucciones en los anuncios (y cuánta verdad hay también en ello), y el proyecto textual y diferido Diminished Reality de Steve Mann y James Fung.

Esta misma sección se hizo eco de la tendencia a sustituir anuncios por arte hace un par de años. En aquella ocasión era un plugin para webs, pero ahora que Artvertiser ha salido a la calle, ¿cuántos más se animarán a reclamar el espacio público?

Vía: Raquel Herrerahttp://www.thetrendnet.com



The Artvertiser is an urban, hand-held Augmented Reality Improved Reality project that re-purposes street advertisements as a surface for exhibiting art. The project was initiated by Julian Oliver in February 2008 and is being developed in collaboration with Clara Boj, Diego Diaz and Damian Stewart.

The Artvertiser considers Puerta del Sol Madrid, Times Square New York, Shibuya Tokyo and other sites dense with advertisements as potential exhibition space. An instrument of conversion and reclamation, The Artvertiser situates the ‘read-only’, proprietary imagery of our public spaces as a ‘read-write’ platform for the presentation of non-proprietary, critically engaging content.

Product Re-Placement

The Artvertiser software is trained to recognise individual advertisements, each of which become a virtual ‘canvas’ on which an artist can exhibit images or video when viewed through the hand-held device.

After training, when ever the advertisement is exposed to the device, the chosen art will appear instead. It doesn’t matter whether the advertisement is on a building, in a magazine or on the side of a vehicle.

If an internet connection is present at the site, the substitution can be immediately documented and published in on line galleries such as Flickr and YouTube, providing an alternative memory of the city.

While offering itself as a new platform for public art, The Artvertiser seeks to highlight the contradiction of Public Space in the context of what can and cannot be written on the surface of our cities.

By leveraging the internet as a redistribution mechanism, The Artvertiser supposes that an urban site dense with proprietary imagery can be re-purposed as an exhibition space for art and archived as such in turn. Similarly, on-site exhibitions can be held whereby pedestrians are invited to use the looking device to view an exhibition on the buildings around them.

Finally, non-live video can also be used. This enables artists to ‘product replace’ advertisements in film and video with alternative content and redistribute those movies with friends or using their favourite peer to peer network.

A third method of interception has been theorised by Julian and Danja Vasiliev, involving realtime Man-In-The-Middle attacks on a wireless computer network and subsequent alteration of streaming video. This will be developed at some point soon.

The Artvertiser has received development funding from Intermediae.


Project leader: Julian
Computer programming: Julian and Damian
Binoculars V-1: JulianClara and Diego
Exhibition designs: all of us


The software is stable, working well and will soon be ready for distribution. Currently it runs only on The Artvertiser’s own digital binoculars and netbooks/laptops with webcams. We’re still working on a port for Android.

The Artvertiser targets three classes of device:

Billboard Intercept Unit:

A set of urban and weather-proof digital binoculars have been built. This device guarantees high-quality immersive advertisement substitution and is be more performant for AR applications than any hand-held device currently available; equipped with a high-quality wide-angle lens, fast CPU and GPU, powerful wireless adaptor, long battery life and plenty of solid state storage space.

A page of concept art by Julian can be seen here.

We are currently porting the software to Google’s Android OS, now used on many smartphones worldwide. Following this we will target the Nokia N900 (Maemo 5) and (perhaps) the iPhone. These devices will have support for video and photo substitution modes at low resolutions. We hope to have an Android port available soon.

Standard Camera phones:
The great bulk of the world’s camera phones run the Symbian OS. We are currently authoring a version of The Artvertiser to provide ‘single shot’ photo substitution.

The Artvertiser is a free software project and will be released under the copyright terms of the General Public License v3.0 when completed. It is developed on the Linux platform.


Here’s is documentation of a recent street intervention/exhibition in Berlin, showing the digital binoculars at work.

Artvertising Berlin, Transmediale 2010 from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.

Here’s a great video review of The Artvertiser and other pieces at the Future Obscura exhibition, Transmediale 10 from respected hacker, activist and Free Software developer Jaromil. Thanks man!

Old videos:

  • VIDEO First Progress Report, Vimeo (browser), 1:30 (Medium Quality)
  • VIDEO First Progress Report, MPEG4 (64M download), 1:34 (High Quality)
  • VIDEO Video Postcard, Vimeo (browser), 0:59 (Medium Quality)
  • Booking information

    Get in contact if you’d like the Artvertiser at an event in your city.

    Conceptual References

    They Live, directed by John Carpenter, 1998, imagines an Earth overrun by aliens that control citizens using subconscious instructions encoded into billboards. The dystopia is revealed to the hero when he stumbles across what appears to be a simple pair of sunglasses.

    Product Placement, WikiPedia article.

    Diminished Reality was a conceptual project by Steve Mann and James Fung that explored re-purposing billboard advertisments as the basis of a messaging and navigation system using Augmented Reality technology. While the experiments were largely non-realtime and not actually experienced in the street, the project represents an important early exploration into ‘product-replacement’ using computer vision.

    Resource: http://selectparks.net/~julian/theartvertiser/



    1. The Artvertiser (via NAIT5) | Aumentada Blog - septiembre 19, 2010

    […] Es. Desde febrero de 2008, Julian Oliver,Clara Boj, Diego Díaz y Damian Stewart trabajan en Artvertiser, un proyecto de software libre que sustituye los anuncios de la calle por imágenes de arte. Mediante unos prismáticos especiales, y cada vez a través de más smartphones y teléfonos móviles corrientes, los participantes pueden ver fotos o vídeos proyectados sobre anuncios. El proyecto se inscribe dentro de lo que se denomina “realidad aumentada” … Read More […]


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