Can our smartphones connect us with non-human life?

Will we learn to participate as better citizens in the ecological commons?


An augmented reality application that will encourage participants to explore and experience local, ecological networks present in an urban park site. Cell phones and headphones are used to experience this artwork, which includes mixed-reality animations and storytelling as an overlay to the actual park. The experience will be an embodied one, designed to connect humans empathetically with the biodiversity, symbioses, and unseen worlds in public park spaces.

Introduction animation

Fantastic ecologies exist everywhere on earth and at many scales, many of which are invisible to us. Though we mostly ignore and disrespect the non-humans in these networks, our lives depend upon them. This artwork is a guided tour which will allow us to inhabit the worlds of multiple species along the network, allowing them to become visible and “sense-able” to us. The viewer re-enacts scientific stories; playing the part of a plant calling out to a bird to help with pest control, an ant planting spring flowers while simultaneously feeding her babies, and a cormorant searching for a meal in a man-made lake in New York City.

Drone footage by Jamel Youmans. We met on the trail and he showed me what Willow Lake looks like from above. So beautiful, it is amazing to learn that this freshwater wetlands park in the middle of Queens, New York, was originally a saltwater marsh, then a dumping ground full of ash and trash, then constructed as a freshwater lake for the 1938 World’s Fair, along with the larger Meadow Lake just to the North. The area also hosted the 1964 World’s Fair and soon after that it was designated as an official park. For more on the history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park visit the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation webpage.

  • Becoming Biodiversity work in progress
  • Commission Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center
  • Support New York Urban Field Station, New York, NY
  • Collaborators Josh Rodenberg, audio. Danielle McPhatter, programming. Jayne Kennedy, 3D modeling.