Tamiko Thiel   Online Portfolio








Unexpected Growth

Augmented Reality Installation by Tamiko Thiel and /p, 2018

Commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art New York as part of the exhibition:

"Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018"
 September 28, 2018 – April 14, 2019

Press release


Unexpected Growth, AR installation by Tamiko Thiel and /p, 2018



Video recording of 3 phases of Unexpected Growth on the Whitney 6th floor terrace, 2018


Perturbations in the natural order have torn the fabric of the space-time continuum, and unexpected growths are seeping into our world - perhaps from our own future. Augmented reality apps transform our mobile devices into "ARscopes;" allowing us to see into these parallel dimensions that co-exist and overlay our own so-called "reality."

One such growth has been discovered on the 6th floor terrace of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The growths are movable, and are periodically reshuffled by passing waves.

This strange growth seems to respond to the mediated human gaze on a daily cycle, absorbing electromagnetic energy from our "ARscopes." Over the course of a day, depending on the number of people viewing it, the accumulated exposure seems to cause the growth to bleach. More investigation and longer terms studies will be needed to see the longer term effects of human interference with its growth cycle.

What we can say so far is that the growths seem to be an odd mixture of coral animals and plastic. They are clearly following principles of Lindenmayer systems, algorithmic, branching growth as is common in many corals. It is unclear however how the plastics are becoming incorporated into living systems, and what effects these coral-plastic symbioses will have on the larger ecosystems, especially on animals all along the foodchain - up to human beings - who feed off of sea flora and fauna.

Another troublesome aspect is that the plants on the 6th floor terrace are clearly underwater plants. If they are really coming from our future, when will the waters of New York Harbor reach this disturbingly high level? Are such symbioses our future, as plastic waste becomes more numerous than the fish in the sea?

"Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018" is organized by Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of Digital Art, and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research, and Clémence White, curatorial assistant.


Tamiko Thiel and /p, 2018