See Times Square Underwater in Microsoft’s AR Art Exhibit

The Big Apple takes a dip in this location-based augmented experience from Microsoft.

According to researchers, if sea levels continue to rise as an effect of climate change, Manhattan will be completely submerged underwater within the next 80 years. 

In 2012, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that by 2100 sea levels could rise from 11 to 38 inches, depending on the volumes of greenhouse gases emitted.

Although a foot-long increase doesn’t seem like much, this rise in sea level would not only swamp much of the east coast, including New York City, but flood the entirety of London as well. And these are the estimates considered to be too conservative…

But often, these jarring stats are challenging to visualize, especially to those who do not believe in the effects of global warming. That is where AR comes in.

Accessible via your smartphone or a Microsoft Hololens headset, Unmoored is a new mixed reality experience that transports you to a surreal, post-apocalyptic viewpoint of a sunken New York City.

Watch as the iconic tourist destination is flooded with water and the sky above is filled with boats floating among the towering NYC skyscrapers and billboards.

Artist Mel Chin is the artist behind this provocative public art installation. He worked in partnership with Microsoft to create this Microsoft HoloLens experience. While Unmoored is an AR experience that can be downloaded to a smartphone, the app can only be activated at specific sites located at Times Square or 49th street.

Chin is using art and AR to challenge New York visitors and citizens to be more environmentally conscious by uncovering what our potential future could include.

“Mixed reality helps me because it’s agony to have thoughts and dreams and visions and not have them realized,” spoke Chin. “Having an opportunity like this conquers that demon. Not silencing, but expanding a vision.”

He chose New York City as the heart of his project, not only because of the effects rising sea levels could have on the area, but because of the area’s role in climate change, through commercialism as well as the impact of Wall Street.

“For this highly visible and iconic site, it is so powerful that Mel has developed his profound concerns around climate change into an artistic format that is so accessible and will strike the imagination of a vast array of audiences,” said Manon Slome, chief curator for the non-profit arts organization No Longer Empty and frequent collaborator with Chin. “In my view, he has risen to the occasion and asks that everyone consider their role in addressing this crisis, as well.”

If you get the chance to check out the experience while in New York, you will see that each of the physical ship set-ups have their own unique identification number that serve as Chin’s bibliography and reference some of the causes of climate change.

Image Credit: Microsoft

About the Scout

Allison Hollender

Allison is a Bay Area journalist reporting for VRScout. Follow her attempts at jokes @alleyrenee16.

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