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Harp of the Giant

Richard Humann

Harp of the Giant
Augmented Reality
Variable dimensions
2015

Harp of the Giant is an augmented reality installation by Richard Humann that will premier at the Augmented exhibition, curated by Seol Park, in Miami, Florida during the Miami/Basel Art Fair.

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory inputs, and in this case, are location grounded by GPS data.

For the AR installation, Harp of the Giant a virtual beanstalk, as in the classic tale Jack and the Beanstalk has been computer generated. The beanstalk is comprised of words, and codes, interwoven all the way up into the clouds. The words are from the story, and the code is the actual series of code that self define the graphic structure to create the AR visual graphic.

In the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack sells his family cow in exchange for “magic beans.” When he comes home to tell his mother, she is so upset that she throws the beans out the window and sends him to bed. In the morning though, the “magic beans” have sprouted into a large beanstalk that grows all the way into the clouds. Jack decides to climb it, where he finds riches as well as life-threatening danger. Later in the story, after Jack has stolen many items from the Giant that lives in the clouds with his wife, he attempts to steal the “harp of the giant” that sings beautiful songs to him. The harp itself is a combination of human being and machine. The beautiful harp plays itself while singing. While jack is running away with it to bring back down the beanstalk, it cries out “Master, master” and alerts the giant that it is being stolen away. The giant then pursues after Jack down the beanstalk. Jack gets to the bottom of the beanstalk first and chops it down, thus killing the giant.

The harp represents technology, art, music, and humanity. It is a combination of it all. It is autonomous, yet at the same time is beholden to its master, the giant. In this respect, our technological creations, including the AR works, are both the beanstalk, born from “magic beans” and the harp itself. We are also both Jack and the giant as well. Master and slave, landlord and thief. We profit from it in innumerable ways, but it can also come with great pitfalls and danger.

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Photography: Seol Park

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