Augmented Realities

By: Peggy Nelson
December 28, 2009

“You’ve entered this space in the middle of a slow implosion, of things, text, faces, videos, access, egress… There is an Enclosure that a wide-open space contains, including rooms and traps, and internalized mechanisms of control and limitation. Each of us is a nexus of competing areas of memories and desire, imagination and will, and as we walk around and down the street we’re really almost anything but free. We think we’re thinking our own free thoughts but how much of that is conditioned? Worries about the rent, hopes for tomorrow, a snippet of song; any number of things, both quotidian and profound. How much of any of it do we remember when back inside? And are we ever really out?”

[Enclosure, from Web021 . . .]


[Tape Deck, from Covers]

When you walk down the street you are no more thinking about every individual step than you’re thinking about every individual letter right now. You glide over it in a silver balloon of your own construction, the steps a slender tether to your reality. We’re almost an epiphenomenon to our own experience, so much are we wrapped up in thoughts and worries and fantasies and reenactments. All virtual, ladies and gentlemen, all virtual.

“Away out yonder in Arizony
Where it ain’t rained since Noah
And it’s so dry you have to prime yourself to spit,
And it’s so dry the grass widows can’t take root,
Thar’s a wonderful forest whar the trees is a-growin’
Jest the same as they did centuries and centuries ago.
But a-a-all pewtrified, ladies and gentlemen,
A-a-all pewtrified.
And the roots of them thar trees is a-growin’ way down in the ground,
A-spreadin’ out and a-takin’ holt on the dirt,
Jest the same as they did centuries and centuries ago —
But a-a-all pewtrified, ladies and gentlemen, all pewtrified.
And the branches of them thar trees is a-growin’ full of twigs and leaves and birds’ nests,
Jest the same as they did centuries and centuries ago;
And flyin’ around them thar branches and through the pewtrified air
Is a number of pine hens,
Sand-hill cranes, White-necked ravens,
And yellow-headed blackbirds,
All a-singiny their beautiful songs jest as they did centuries and centuries ago,
But a-a-all pewtrified, ladies and gentlemen,
A-a-all pewtrified.
Now when I give a lecture on Arizony up to Boston last week and told this interestin’ scientific fact,
Some unbelievin’ miscreant sings out,
“What about the law of gravitation?”
And I sings out right back at him,
Seems to me that anybody with the sense of a coyote’d know that away out there in Arizony
This here new law of gravitation hain’t worked for centuries and cen­turies,
But is like everything else aout there —
A-a-all pewtrifiedy ladies and gentlemen,
Completely pewtrified.”

[All Pewtrified, from Our Singing Country, Contributed by John A. Lomax, Jr.]


[The Terra Cotta Warriors, by Peggy Nelson, from So Many Important Things]


Apples (2004) was an installation for a Prenzlauer Berg spring. I hung apples from every tree on my street (none of which were apple trees). A floriogram from Boston to Berlin.


[Installation shot (outside my apartment on Oderberger Straße), Apples]


Covers (ongoing) is an experiment in documentation. Polaroids are used to cover various standards.


[Sneakers, from Covers]


[Corner, from Covers]


The Audio Tour (2006), was a Burning Man dérive. You can’t not dérive at Burning Man. It was my solution to a painting problem – how to fill that much space? And then I realized – sound. Entries are played at random at “listening stations,” and the listening stations are – up to you. Download here, dérive anywhere.


[Entrance, The Audio Tour]


Web021 . . . (2007): lost forever both ‘bove and ‘neath the streets of Boston. Web021 . . . featured histories, fictional and otherwise, accessed via phone from 2D barcodes on stickers. Messages were placed in various underused urban pockets. Five interwoven mini-narratives included Daniel Shays, Edgar Allan Poe, Jerome K. Jerome, Samuel Adams, Honoré de Balzac, and others.


[Installation shot (Harvard Square), Web021 . . .]

[Charlie on the MTA, Kingston Trio]


So Many Important Things – Jason Grote and Karinne Keithley produced this walking tour for the 2009 Conflux Festival, an annual aggregation of psychogeographical arts. I was mixed in with other writers, living and dead, to navigate the streets of Brooklyn. Vocals by Jenny Seastone Stern.


[Bogsnorkeling, by Peggy Nelson, from So Many Important Things]

[Augmented reality and installation pieces Apples, Covers, The Audio Tour and Web021 . . . by Peggy Nelson, 2004 – 2009]


Artists in residence archive.


Art, Kudos, Paranoia, Spectacles