SUMMARY: Perceptoscope is an interactive public arts initiative devoted to engaging people with the places around them through shared mixed reality experiences. It’s an open-source movement for bridging the digital and physical worlds, as well an act of social practice that brings together a diverse coalition of neighbors, artists, and storytellers.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Global connectedness and technological advances have allowed for all the world’s knowledge to be carried with us in our pockets. However, by having everything everywhere all the time, we’ve actually become more disconnected to the immediate world around us. Our focus has drifted from our surroundings and our communities to float atop the cloud of global events and lost acquaintances. It’s a problem, first and foremost, of distractedness.

With this disembodiment of the mind came a rise of placelessness. Town squares became digital rather than physical, and though they offered immensely powerful tools for like minded communities to gather, they also created echo chambers likely to reinforce our preexisting biases. This lack of physical interaction created a new type of disconnect between people different from one another.

People in public places have brownian motion. We bump shoulders, share reactions, and interact with strangers that we may or may not ever see again. We expose ourselves to one another through this process of randomness, and through that exposure gain insight. However, nowadays even when weäó»re next to each other, we mostly live elsewhere.”

SOLUTION: “Perceptoscope creates a portal between a physical place and its digital immersive potentials through the deployment of mixed reality binocular stations. Inspired by analog coin-operated viewing scopes, they introduce everyday people to the emerging medium of mixed reality in a familiar way and with an imposing physical presence that’s impossible to ignore.

This new type of public novelty engages citizens with the stories of the places around them, incites conversation amongst strangers, and brings together a broad coalition to design and implement a deployment at a location.

Perceptoscope is also a trojan horse to a more distributed internet. Our devices combine both an augmented reality renderer with mesh networking to create a local cloud of information exclusive to and about that space. By engaging with and connecting to viewing scopes, visitors to public locations will be able to experience a new way to understand and utilize the environments they explore.

As an open source project, Perceptoscope has been engaging with a global community of makers, technologists, and storytellers. By continuing to grow an open and distributed community around the device, we’ll be able to act as a facilitator that groups can circle around to explore their local communities.”

UPDATE (2018): Perceptoscope has completed construction of our pre-production prototypes and is now tooling up for a small scale production run. They have been publicly field testing around Los Angeles, and are building some exciting partnerships around the city. Ben Sax also recently completed a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship.


CONTACT: [email protected]