Tamiko Thiel
Since the beginning
Works in Seattle, Washington United States of America

Tamiko Thiel is a visual artist exploring the interplay of place, space, the body and cultural memory. She is an internationally acknowledged pioneer in developing the dramatic and poetic capabilities of virtual and augmented realities to create spaces of memory for exploring social and cultural issues. Her virtual and augmented installations seek to reify the invisible webs of meaning that bind place and memory together to create what we call “culture,” while actively engaging the viewer's kinesthetic body sense to meld this virtual imagery with the physical experience of a space or a site to create a new form of reality.

She has a B.S. and M.S. in engineering from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an M.A. from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich/Germany. She has taught and lectured at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, the MIT Media Lab, Harvard University, the Bauhaus-University in Weimar/Germany, the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, the Berlin University of the Arts and Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

She exhibits internationally in venues such as the Istanbul Biennial, the International Center for Photography/New York, the ICA Boston, the ZKM in Karlsruhe/Germany and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Her art commissions include institutions such as the Zero1 Biennial in Silicon Valley, the Foundation for Art and Technology (FACT) in Liverpool, the Goethe-Institut and the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park.

As a founding member of the augmented reality artist group Manifest.AR she participated in the pathbreaking uninvited intervention “We AR in MoMA” at MoMA NY in 2010, and was the main curator and organizer of their intervention into the Venice Biennial in 2011.

Her grants and fellowships include the MacDowell Colony, the Grand Prize of the IBM Innovation Award for Art and Technology, WIRED Magazine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the Japan Foundation, Arts Council England and the Berlin Capital City Cultural Fund (Hauptstadtkulturfonds). She was Visiting Artist in the Duke University MFA program in Experimental and Documentary Arts, and Augmented Reality Artistic Advisor for the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) project “Mi Querido Barrio” in East Harlem/New York, for which she helped bring in a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund.
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Brush the Sky

Fri May 15, 2015 00:00 - Sun Apr 17, 2016

Seattle, Washington
United States of America

An augmented reality calligraphic family narrative, written onto the Seattle skies.

Gallery installation + site specific AR public art
Tamiko Thiel: Augmented reality & digital prints
Midori Kono Thiel: Japanese Calligraphy

For millennia East Asian artists have enhanced paintings with calligraphy, the abstract,
graphic qualities of the brush strokes reverberating with the meanings of text and image.

In “Brush the Sky,” a mother-daughter duo brings this ancient art into the 21st century:

In the Wing Luke Museum gallery, transparent wall hangings by Midori Kono Thiel emphasize the abstract nature of calligraphic art by deconstructing Japanese characters across multiple layers. Her daughter Tamiko Thiel enhances both the gallery installation, and 18 sites of family history around Seattle, with geolocative augmented reality overlays.

These virtual artworks further de- and re-construct Midori's boldly abstract, gestural calligraphy into visual poems, marking sites of this Japanese American family's four generations of involvement with Seattle.


Parsons/New School - panel on augmented reality art

Sat Sep 07, 2013 18:30 - Sat Sep 07, 2013

New York City, New York
United States of America

Saturday, September 7
6:30pm to 8:00pm

Parsons -The New School
Kellen Auditorium
66 5th Ave (12th Street) New York, NY 10011.

Something in the Air:
Artists talk about interventionist strategies in Augmented Reality Art

Please join us for a screening of artworks and a conversation between curators/editors Lanfranco Aceti and Pat Badani, Convenor Prof. Sven Travis, and “Manifest.AR” founding artists on the subject of Augmented Reality.

This emerging technology engages the public sphere in social and political critique by placing - in specific virtual spaces - artworks viewable through ubiquitous, smart mobile devices that integrate sensors, processors, access to networks, and visual/audio displays. The screening of AR works will promote a debate about this new type of mediation, as well as engage questions on the disruptive relevance of contemporary performance and site-specific interventions. The artists and curators will discuss the related aesthetic contributions, and furthermore question the political and social impact of the artworks in light of increasingly globalized socio-economic complexities.

The talk follows the publication of a seminal issue on Augmented Reality Art titled “Not Here Not There” Volume 1 and Volume 2, published by the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, edited by Lanfranco Aceti and Richard Rinehart.

Vol.1: http://www.leoalmanac.org/vol19-no1-not-here-not-there/

Vol.2: http://www.leoalmanac.org/vol19-no2-not-here-not-there-part-2/


Sven Travis (Convenor)
Lanfranco Aceti
Pat Badani
John Craig Freeman
Will Pappenheimer
Mark Skwarek
Tamiko Thiel


"Biomer Skelters" @ FACT & World Museum, Liverpool

Sat Aug 31, 2013 13:30 - Sat Sep 07, 2013

Liverpool, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Biomer Skelters participatory public artwork
By Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer, 2013

Exhibition @ FACT - until September 15, 2013
In the Manifest.AR exhibit "Invisible ARtaffects"
"Turning FACT Inside Out" 10th anniversary exhibit

Special events @ World Museum - 31 Aug. and 7 Sept.
Participatory public art events
(See below and http://www.fact.co.uk/TFIOtours/ - scroll UP if necessary)

Biomer Skelters is a crowd sourced, wild growth forest-to-rainforest propagator that connects interior biorhythms to exterior ecosystems. It draws its inspiration from the botanical history of Liverpool, vibrant local garden and forest conservation efforts and questions about looming global climate change.

FACT visitors, outfitted with the Biomer Skelters mobile heart rate monitor system, sync their pulse to the Liverpool streets to generate augmented reality (AR) vegetation in their wake. What will they choose: to spread native Merseyside reforestation, or to be invasive propagators of exotic species representing accelerated global warming biome change? As participants in a collective public artwork, they determine the canvas of the city and alter the (virtual) composition of the cityscape.

Video: https://vimeo.com/69094382
Website: http://manifestarblog.wordpress.com/biomer-skelters/


31 August, 1:30pm: Biomer Skelters Botany+Biosensing Tours at World Museum

This is an informal informative event, in which participants can learn more about the World Museum Liverpool's Botanical Collection during the Herbarium tour, and the body in Professor Fairclough's biosensing talk. Participants then can don the Biomer Skelters system and walk the streets of Liverpool to propagate Biomer Skelters vegetation.
  • 1:30pm - Herbarium tour with curator Donna Young - source of Biomer Skelter exotics!
  • 2-2:30pm - Biosensor talk at the World Museum by Stephen Fairclough, Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2:30pm on - Participatory Biomer Skelters planting tours departing and returning to the World Museum

7 September, 1:30pm: Competitive Biomer Skelters Game at World Museum

Which team can propagate more virtual vegetation - Indigenators planting Merseyside natives, or Exoticators planting exotics as harbringers of global climate change? "Relax to win" and test your biofeedback ability in this race to spread helter-skelter vegetation in Liverpool!


Biomer Skelters is a FACT Liverpool commission in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and the World Museum Liverpool.


Manifest: AR Symposium @ Corcoran

Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:00 - Sat Aug 31, 2013

Washington, DC, District of Columbia
United States of America

Saturday August 31st, 12pm-2pm talk; 2pm-4pm reception

Manifest: AR is the second in Gallery 31's Manifest series, focusing on the relationship between Art, Technology, and Exhibition spaces. This exhibition features the serendipitously titled Manifest.AR collective of artists who work with the burgeoning technology of Augmented Reality to place their artworks in site-specific virtual spaces accessible through ubiquitous smart mobile devices integrating sensors, processors, access to networks, and visual/audio displays.

Join us for an afternoon of talks as the members of the artist collective discuss their work and group exhibition.

A reception in Gallery 31 will follow the program.

Projects for Manifest:Ar @ Corcoran:

Review in Washington Post Express:


Shades of Absence: Governing Bodies @ Corcoran

Wed Aug 14, 2013 00:00 - Sun Sep 01, 2013

Washington, DC, District of Columbia
United States of America

Censorship tries to condemn artists and their artworks to absence and invisibility. In cases that attract widespread public notice, artists can actually gain prominence when their works are censored. In the majority of cases however both the artists and their work disappear soundlessly from the public discourse, with artists fearing negative consequences if they challenge the censors.

“Shades of Absence: Governing Bodies” is the fourth work in a series on censorship in the visual arts, which premiered at an intervention into the 2011 Venice Biennial. Images of contemporary artists whose works have been censored by (or due to threats by) members of the US government are reduced to silhouettes and surrounded by terms of transgression. The erased figures stand for countless lesser known artists who face censorship or persecution with no public support.

Its physical manifestation in the Gallery 31 references Robert Mapplethorpe and Paul Cadmus; the virtual manifestation additionally references (among others) the NEA 4 and Andres Serrano. It is visible all throughout the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Capitol Building and the NEA offices at the Old Post Pavilion, an axis of fierce public battles over censorship in the arts.

The augmented reality (AR) component of this work uses the ability of AR to penetrate walls and invade protected spaces, and manifest its presence at a site that gives the work added meaning. Viewers can touch the work on the display of their own smartphones to see information on these censored artists.