WebARi – The Virtual Statue of Peace
Portable memorial via browser-based augmented reality, 2021
Using augmented reality for artistic freedom. Designer and artist Hojin Kang relies on virtual activism in his work and in turn shows the advancing art censorship its own limits. webARi - a portable memorial in public space, in response to the threatened removal of the peace statue erected in Berlin-Moabit in the fall of 2020.
This peace statue, designed by artist couple Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-seung, commemorates the 200,000 girls and women - euphemistically called "comfort women" - who were sexually enslaved in Japanese military brothels during the Asia-Pacific War in the early 20th century.
Art in public spaces in Germany, as in many other countries, is subject to an official approval process and in most cases is both costly and time-consuming. Hojin Kang breaks new ground with his virtual guerrilla installation and adds a new level to public space. Without an approval process. Without restrictions.
In order to make the virtual statue accessible to a broad audience, webAR was used. The browser-based augmented reality feature was the main reason for choosing webAR, unlike traditional AR experiences, users do not need to install an app. An aluminum dibond panel tagged with a QR code directs users to a URL that accesses the smartphone's camera. By focusing on the AR marker, a simple black and white graphic, the virtual statue appears.
WebARi is the virtual sister of Ari, the peace statue located in Berlin-Moabit. A portable memorial in a public space, to be experienced by everyone through browser-based augmented reality technology.
Through the use of virtual technologies, an attempt is made to expand and strengthen the concept of artistic freedom. It remains to be seen to what extent virtual space can maintain its unique selling point as a playground for artists, or whether it will ultimately have to submit to a thought up set of rules.
Concept and Design: Hojin Kang
Development: Jens Erassmy
3D Modeling: Homin Jeong
Technical Consultant: Ibrahim Khaled Reguieg
Video Documentation: Erik Freydank
Editorial: Aljosha Schäck, Hojin Kang
Curation: Uncomfortable Art Gallery