Nancy Baker Cahill
The Augmented Reality Activist
An interdisciplinary artist whose recent work lies at the intersection of art, technology, and activism, Nancy Baker Cahill’s preferred medium is augmented reality. She first explored AR as a more accessible alternative to VR. “Once I started working in AR, I realized … it occupies this fascinating conceptual space, this fascinating psychological space,” she says. Nancy still creates analog work and considers herself a studio artist, but her globally exhibited AR installations, which are both visually appealing and thought provoking, are the ones garnering big buzz — and future commissions. Coming up next for Nancy: a solo retrospective exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art, a new video and AR installation for the Whitney Museum of American Art and an immersive film project for COSM in Los Angeles.
State Property, a monumental work of AR-enabled art, uses geolocation (and Nancy’s free app, 4th Wall) to project a glowing red uterus that explodes over the Supreme Court and other U.S. statehouses. Another recent installation, Mushroom Cloud, first broadcast in Miami, and then Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and soon Atlanta, bursts from the water’s surface into a mushroom cloud, then evolves into an interconnected mycelium network — signifying Nancy’s alternating feelings of pessimism and hope over the current climate crisis. A third, Stone Speaks, is more optimistic. Created in collaboration with Hanson Robotics’ Sophia the Robot, the piece takes the viewer from a particle field to a polluted earth to a pristine planet. And currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art is Nancy’s CENTO, an augmented reality art project involving a digital “creature” that evolves through audience participation.