JAN 20: BC [Heavy] Biermann


BC [ heavy ] Biermann is an educational technologist, academic, and digital artist. With a PhD in Humanities [ Intermedia Analysis ] from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, BC derives his alias from his love for philosophical discussion. With an interdisciplinary background that comprises technology, philosophy, and the arts, he has worked as both a university professor and a tech developer. Since 2005, BC has internationally presented his academic work, which explores the intersection of emerging technologies and semiotics. BC [Heavy] is part of The Heavy Projects group:

Links provided by BC as of 1/26/16:
AR creation tools for non-programmers:
AR creation that requires some programming:
Here is another that provides a robust overview of all the diff types of platforms as well:




24 thoughts on “JAN 20: BC [Heavy] Biermann

  1. Evan Tedlock says:

    It was a pleasure and a treat to have BC Heavy come and share some of his projects with us last week. Hearing him speak not only about the ‘hows’ but also the ‘whys’ and the meanings behind the choices they make as a creative team was truly revealing about the contexts and purposes behind their work. Often when people speak about media arts or media projects they can tend to focus too much on technical aspects so it was refreshing to discuss the social, psychological, and practical implications of this kind of work.

    I continue to have reservations about Augmented Reality as well as Virtual Reality. The apparatus is too intrusive for my purposes and carries with it some scary sci-fi implications. The potential augmentability of someone’s lasting perspective of reality is something that totalitarian governments, businessmen, and swindlers alike would kill to get their hands on. Maybe this is why so much money is being poured into this area of tech currently. There are positive implications too, as BC touched on. He commented that being a part of that initial wave has the advantage of shaping public opinion about AR and VR. The more artists who embrace the medium as a way of adding to reality in revelatory and thoughtful ways the more it will promote a conscientious public who may be inclined more towards community awareness than disconnection or diversion. But if what he said about Google buying up virtual space is true, then we can expect to see a heavily monetized sector in which adds, corporations, and propaganda are more likely to extend the constant bombardment of big business and homogenizing digital wallpaper, working to paste over the harshness of reality creating a docile public whose main concern will be buying the latest fantasy world skin as opposed to working toward making a better real world.

    I really appreciated BC’s honest discussion and comments. The work he and his collaborators are doing is important and engaging.


    • David Nessl says:

      I agree with you Evan that there is just something off about augmented reality. I think it also has something to do with our heritage in the US or any heritage in the world that’s grounded in the physical beauty of our own reality. When the US was beginning to flourish after the Revolution, and apart from our horrible history of slavery, there were a large number of romantic poets who inspired so many people not just in their love for literature, but in how they lead their lives. Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, the list goes on, but they all were completely in love with the world, and seemed to hate industrial expansion or what they considered technology. I think that same mindset exists today, or is imprinted in our brains since we were young, and augmenting the physical world comes off as a negative thing.
      It will be interesting to see how the babies of today develop in our new world. The babies!


  2. Sagar Ramesh says:

    I really enjoyed BC Heavy’s presentation in seminar last week. In fact, earlier last week, I was flipping through a published collection of Keith Haring’s journals; Haring repeatedly mentioned that by adding his artwork to public spaces (by tagging print advertisements in the New York subway), he was democratizing something that was otherwise inaccessible to the public. It was interesting to draw parallels between The Heavy Projects’ AR work and and Keith Haring’s graffiti pieces; there’s definitely something special about modifying or fiddling with something that is meant to be “above” the general public (like billboard advertisements, museum spaces, etc.). It provides unique experiences for the observer(s), and I think it’s amazing that such experiences can be made available through our phones.

    VR and AR experiences are becoming more popular and accessible every day, and I like the direction that The Heavy Projects and BC Heavy are taking. It was thought- provoking to hear about animation as a semiotic system, and as a constant interplay of practice and theory. I’m excited to see the future of guerilla VR/AR, as well as the opportunities that will come with it for animators and multimedia designers.


  3. Erik Dumas says:

    For me, AR seems to be a dubious prospect. It seems like it could push us further and further into a virtual world instead of living in reality. It feels like one more reason for people to have their phones out in front of their face, constantly checking to see if someone has left something for them to see in the virtual world. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s advertising, maybe it’s a little of both, or maybe it’s something else entirely. We already live in a world over saturated with advertising, and I can only imagine how corporations will utilize this technology in the future.

    Then again, maybe I’m just being pessimistic. New technology like this is always a little scary. It’s also an opportunity to add another layer of beauty to the world. An optional layer that doesn’t detract from the beauty that’s already there. It would exponentially increase the number of “canvases” that artists have to work with.

    I’m glad that people like BC are one of the ones developing and utilizing this technology. It gives me hope that the future will be more like my second paragraph and less like the first.


  4. HyeonJeong Cho says:

    VR and AR, those are the very new technologies that I’ve learned after I came to USA. I vaguely knew what those are, but didn’t really know, and wasn’t interested in how they work. I learned what VR is and how fascinating this method is from Eric Hanson last semester, but AR was still unknown, and not really interesting thing for me(I only knew google glass kind of things).

    I think it is very fun idea that using flat arts in 3D space with flat means(like monitor screen) for virtual 3D art. It seems like elements in reality and virtual reality are integrated, and affects each other. The work B.C did: putting his artwork on the top of advertisements at subway station, yet not physically, reminds me that the arts can be like ratio waves, somethings exists and floats in the air but we can’t see, in the future.

    However, I have a little bit of concern that those kind of new technologies, inviting people to different space(like virtual reality) detaches people from real world. As smart phone is developed and becomes common thing that most of public have, lots of people stick their eyes on to small screen, which is a very sad tendency.

    But I believe that people, and artists will figure out how to adapt and balance this new world into our habits somehow, so thing that I have to do now is enjoying the new era coming with new forms of arts, try my best to catch up and use it my own style and way.

    Thank you for sharing awesome works and giving good presentation, BC!


  5. BC says:

    greetings animation krew –

    First, my deep appreciation to each of you for your excellent questions / discussion in class and your thoughtful / insightful comments posted here. Several of you raise some very relevant and important concerns w/ these types of “mixed reality” (AR and VR) technologies, which I deeply share. Ironically, I just finished the rough abstract of a paper I might present at the AR VR conf in silicon valley this june in which would address some of these same philosophical and cognitive concerns. As such, I thought it might be of interest to you and i’ve posted it here:

    Mind-Alterations: The Presence and Absence of Mixed Reality
    While there has been much ado about the convergence of mixed reality like AR and VR, these technologies phenomenologically oppose each other in meaningful ways. Specifically, AR is a cognitively “present” experience in which physical surroundings are still a part of one’s vision, while VR is an “absent” experience in which physical reality is eliminated from vision and replaced with a digital surrogate. By augmenting physical spaces with contextual digital content in situ, AR has the ability to join people to their physical environment in new and unique ways. Conversely, VR wholly removes people from their surroundings and replaces it with simulacrum where the distinction between reality and representation often vanishes. As such, we should thoughtfully consider the spectrum of cognitively beneficial, mind-altering, and manipulative impacts of these technologies.

    There are many of us w/in this mixed reality community who, on the one hand, believe in some of the powerful artistic, social, cognitive, etc benefits of mixed reality, and on the other, are concerned about some of its possible harmful side effects and uses, which is why this type of open dialogue and healthy skepticism is so critical in the early stages of adoption of any new technology, AR and VR included. If we can be proactive and use cautious foresight, together we might be able to steer new technologies in a more positive, healthy, and socially responsible direction.

    Again, thank you all for your thoughtful insights and i’m happy to continue the discussion should you have further questions etc.

    All the very best to each of you not only this semester, but in all the years that lay ahead.

    + bc


  6. Lisa Mann says:

    Thank you so much for being our guest last week and for sharing your abstract here with us! Very best to you!


  7. Shang Song says:

    This is my first time contact with people who made AR! I think this technology will reach a new height in art creation.When I saw in the Biermann ‘s AR demo, I thought many new ideas!
    I thought of a new “narrative method” please allow me to talk about my idea: I want to speak a similar “detective story” in the script, perhaps is a “Suspense story”.Players can be in their own building, such as the students in the school, you live in the apartment. As you know, AR technology can map graphics in real space.
    Players will have a task, for example, in the room has a ghost, you have to avoid him, only your phone can see this ghost image “, or” this is the murder sence, clues are distributed in the apartment, you have to find them, using your mobile phone and time limit!!!
    If the program can be achieved, will be a good art works! Integration of the film and the game, this is the future of the art form.

    Finally, thanks to Biermann’s speech, let me touch the art form of the future.


  8. yuyustudio says:

    I enjoy the speech from BC Heavy tonight. I happened to experience an AR exhibition in Taiwan last year, which let me indeed want to know more about the VR and AR. I’m not making MAYA or other 3D materials very well, but I know AR and VR will lead a larger way for digital artiest to show their world. They are both in a small screen yet make the whole view bigger and open up more possibility.

    The Audio and the path plan will be interesting topic that people may want to figure out in an AR exhibition. It’s fine if the arts are outside, but if they are indoor may cause some problems. In a museum we may can ask the audience to put on their head phones so that they won’t interrupt each others. And the rout is another problem. Everyone is using their smart phone or put on a VR glasses, it the road is too small or have too many people, it will indeed not be a pleasant place to enjoy the arts. Maybe one day when those thing are fixed very well, the AR can not only use to create abstract arts, but telling a narrative series of stories.


  9. Katie Smith says:

    BC Heavy’s presentation was so intriguing, I haven’t seen augmented reality to this extent! I’ve only seen it with the Google glass, and when people do animations with cells & incorporate the cells with real life.

    I really loved the gorilla aspect of what BC Heavy & his crew do, especially when they have the AR in the museums (such as MOMA) or the posters in the subway. It’ll be so interesting to see where AR goes and what happens next, it’s certainly an evolving field. AR also kind of weirds me out in a way, just the aspect of putting something in front of your eyes and have it looking like it’s actually there… it’s a little unsettling. The whole virtual reality/augmented reality is something that doesn’t fully sit together with me, but that also might be because I’ve read too many sci-fi books. In any case, BC’s presentation was really interesting & it was really neat to go up to the screen with our phones and see the AR that they did all around the country. The video he also showed with the woman with the mapping points on her face, which translated the AR, was fascinating.


  10. Amir Arzanian says:

    BC lecture was interesting for me because it was about an new phenomenon that I have thought about it lot. This phenomenon could revolutionize the way human being see the world. I was excited that BC said he is a structuralist. I though he was going to talk about the semiotic approach to AR but he did not talk about it that much. I think AR can change the relation between Signified – Signifier and transcendental meaning of the things . I hope this kind of things would be discussed in future about this technology. In my opinion AR is at beginning of its way and it has a long way to go but it will change the world. The project that BC showed us were interesting but although they have high potential they are primitive now. I hope I can see this technology more developed and glorified in the near future.


  11. Okike Franklin says:

    It’s safe to say we’ve kicked off this seminar on a good note. I have always been intrigued about technology in general but Biermann’s presentation today struck a chord and I realized why I used to love programming.

    I respect how Biermann has chosen to draw a line and abide by certain moral rules towards any project which I’ve found hard over the years to be honest. Just to be clear, Money isn’t a 100% determining factor for me, but as a freelancer, if I get commissioned to do a project that promotes an idea or concept I strongly disagree with, I most likely will do it on the account that I’m a “freelancer” and looking for work “Experience” but I guess with time I’ll add to my not-to-do-list.

    I’m big fan of new tech and coding, hopefully I’ll be able to learn, understand and implement unity.

    You mentioned the ‘stylish glasses with prescription for AR” and I forgot to mention this but recently remembered , check out this link http://www.laforgeoptical.com/shop/index.php?id_product=20&controller=product

    I was amazed at how far you could be from the murrel and the app would still pick it up.


  12. Kun Xia says:

    I really enjoyed Bc Biermann’s presentation last week. It was my first time have interactive experience with augmented reality, their idea is to draw attention to commercial encroachment into public spaces and also draw more democratized participation in urban messaging systems. Augmented reality is a really potential industry, it has already piqued interest in the business, health, education, and entertainment communities. Augmented reality has extended the boundary of traditional 2d artist, harnessing the technology as a means of expression and social commentary. From my point of view, augmented reality is a really smart approach to virtual advertising, not everyone has to see the message, but the message is there, maybe one day those virtual overlay will undercut the need for physical advertising. Augmented reality is a very potential resource, I am excited to see what come with it in the future, and best wishes to Biermann, really appreciate your speech.


  13. Min Woo Song says:

    I was always interested in new technology, and I’m still currently looking into new emerging technology. I learned a lot about augmented reality, and got a little insight on VR. The idea of digital interactive mural was not something I was aware of, and I’m glad I got a look at how it works. I think the idea is very cool, and I understand the technology is in the initial stages of development, but I was disappointed in the practicality of the art. Perhaps practical is not the right word, but what I mean by that is, I don’t see myself taking out my phone, downloading an app, just to see the piece. I can see however that if the content was extremely high quality with interesting narratives and the application was easier to access, I would be thrilled to see the AR piece. Maybe the experience would be much more awesome in real life, but those were just my thoughts when looking at it through the projector. I learned a lot about how philosophy is integrated into art. I could tell BC is a very well spoken person who has a lot of knowledge on philosophical ideas, and listening to him hear about how we should be grounded in what we believe, etc., was nice. I asked him what kind of meaning is in his artwork, and I was disappointed that he answered vaguely. I guess it can’t be helped that meanings in artworks are very subjective and he couldn’t help but be a little vague. I learned that I need to have integrity as an artist, standing up for what I believe in, but at the same time being open minded to things. I would love to know more about how an artist like himself makes money more specifically, but I never got a chance to ask. Overall, he’s a great guy, funny, and deep in his thoughts. I’m not sure if VR or AR is something I want to get into.


  14. David Nessl says:

    As a mural artist I think what BC Heavy does is really cool. I’m not saying I’m an amazing mural artist, and have only painted one mural of my own creation. The others have been bullshit in my opinion; grocery store city collages and brain washing material for children that we see in Sunday-school classrooms. I would love to do this! And most importantly, just do something for myself, but when I think about creating code, or processing–my dreams of doing something similar to BC Heavy fly out the window. It’s impressive and frightening to see the images on screen link up so well to our cellphones. Back in Davis people were experimenting in similar ways with bullet tags acting as QR codes that link a mural to information, but this blows that stuff out of the water.

    I like to look at technology from an archaeological perspective and really think about what lasts through the ages in what we consider art. I don’t think it has anything to do with technology, which nobody can really define, but instead is something within us as humans. Maybe its just stories, or communication? I don’t know…Apart from this being really interesting, and awe-inspiring, there is still a disconnect between the physical mural and the digital video that plays through a portable device. I’ve always been a practical artist, who is greatly inspired by art history and the skills and talents that are primarily human and almost impossible for others to reproduce. That uniqueness in a work of art is a primary reason for calling the work art. We seem to have moved into a realm of art that is no longer singular, but instead collaborative and its difficult to pinpoint one artist as the master. Instead we are all masters of some form of expression, continuing the saga of art being undefinable. What is art anyhow? I really have no idea, and I love it. Its another frontier that we will keep exploring.


  15. Yingzong Xin says:

    I liked BC’s presentation a lots , he showed us such a new technical that I had never seen before, not like mapping , AR has more magic, it can has real connection with the audiences. The most important thing is we should never stop the step of developing new form to express ourselves , arts can be in any forms . I always enjoy looking at those interesting technology from and think about what is going to be the next. This can give me lots of inspiration , thank you BC.


  16. Jing Huang says:

    It’s the first time I hear the word of “AR”, a brand new thing for me. Thanks to BC’s interesting presentation, I can know more about AR, and approach to their fantastic projects.

    AR is more closed to human’s life than VR in my mind, people don’t need to buy any expensive electronics to approach to it, we can just use our smart phone to download an app to interactive with art. Although it’s hard for artist to make huge installation in a realistic space.

    It’s glad to know that people work on this heavy project not only focus on the technology, but also thoughts in it. Nowadays, people often forget the inside part of an artwork, just make an artwork looks pretty outside. Technology more developed, thoughts more lost. It’s important to combine both of them.

    I will introduce AR to my friends who are not in our field, they will be surprised by these fabulous things.


  17. Joe Stucky says:

    Fantastic presentation and discussion with BC Heavy last week. The VR/AR technologies frighten me. The dependency to devices that eat time and distract…concern me. This is part of the reason I still carry a phone that is only a phone. Welcome to Hollywood right:). We are here to make entertainment I know. Yet, We have to keep audiences, individuals, and community constantly in mind when making work. Good to know that a person can make art utilizing these devices and still question the medium itself and question how it might be used.

    My experience with mobile device has been more narrative. I helped make animation for a mobile series on Nickelodeon like their TV series that you can watch on your phone. It was fun. From my end the work didn’t differ from any work previously made for Television however. The direction of what BC and his coworkers are doing with their projects up to this point are really interesting, and I think definitely open new possibilities. The interaction where really well put together as well.

    Thank you.


  18. Jane G. Kim says:

    This was my first time learning about VR and AR. Though it was not a field that I am particularly interested in, I commend the people who work with it and enjoyed learning about it. It is a very unique and new application to our present generation that holds a lot of potential. It makes information and history more accessible as well as entertaining. In result, I feel like it will increase interest and appreciation for the arts in the general youth, as the use of smart phones seems to be going strong. VR and AR seem like very logical steps forward to enhance the average human experience in the first world.


  19. ZOEY says:

    Bc Biermann’s presentation is really powerful and insightful. From the precise analysis of differences between AR and VR, I could not only figure out the evolvement of the state-of-the-art technology but also know which techniques should be used in the work to reflect art concept instead of following the trend blindly. Also, I enjoyed the geo-location live demos of their former works in different places a lot which strongly express the changes of architectures’ skin with the passage of time. It’s the best way to let audience to have further understanding toward the meaning of building itself and also reinvented significance with cultural and environmental elements which keep transforming and reinterpreting in a place. Nothing can sustain forever. And also it’s unnecessary to do so.
    So many immersive details and nuanced movements can be viewed in the AR pieces at the same time. With dynamic changes, it will be easier to let people get into the imaginary space created by artists without boundaries. All visual components can work so well and naturally when people can even interact with them directly.
    I’m highly interested in putting my works into AR. In this way, I can really present and develop my personal ponderation and visual metaphors of the society and environment we lived which always have two coexistence and opposite sides — surface / underlying , static/dynamic, visible/invisible, quiet/noisy, etc.


  20. ZOEY says:

    Bc Biermann’s presentation is really powerful and insightful. From the precise analysis of differences between AR and VR, I could not only figure out the evolvement of the state-of-the-art technology but also know which techniques should be used in the work to reflect art concept instead of following the trend blindly. Also, I enjoyed the geo-location live demos of their former works in different places a lot which strongly express the changes of architectures’ skin with the passage of time. It’s the best way to let audience to have further understanding toward the meaning of building itself and also reinvented significance with cultural and environmental elements which keep transforming and reinterpreting in a place. Nothing can sustain forever. And also it’s unnecessary to do so.

    So many immersive details and nuanced movements can be viewed in the AR pieces at the same time. With dynamic changes, it will be easier to let people get into the imaginary space created by artists without boundaries. All visual components can work so well and naturally when people can even interact with them directly.

    I’m highly interested in putting my works into AR. In this way, I can really present and develop my personal ponderation and visual metaphors of the society and environment we lived which always have two coexistence and opposite sides — surface / underlying , static/dynamic, visible/invisible, quiet/noisy, etc.


  21. Min Shi says:

    I really enjoyed Bc Biermann’s presentation. It was my first time have AR experience.
    I totally agree what BC Biermann said that interactive media allow people to participate art and get involved in art. He treated his art like making the city landscape into a canvas meanwhile redraw the city.

    This format of art is entertaining while educational and meaningful, just like film, film has that kind of language and structure.. it can amuse people while make people think.
    Maybe in the future, when tech stuff are fixed very well, then AR can also delivery the narration and meaning just like film did. Looking forward to see that happen in the future!


  22. Lucia Masuko says:

    BC [ heavy ] Biermann is a very cool artist and doctor.
    His lecture was very academic and technical, and very professional.

    I enjoyed viewing his project using my own smartphone.

    Me and my classmate was talking that the technic would be used in very various art and media, including advertisement and entertainment. We saw some movements and objects through our iPhone that We couldn’t see just by our eyes. This technics are so exciting to me.


  23. Megan Simon says:

    I thought BC [Heavy] Biermann was a great speaker, very easy to have a conversation with and extremely insightful on where the art world is going in terms of augmented projection reality. Wow, do I love his work in the subway system of New York, and I think that his work is not only transcendent in the use of medium, but also in revealing corruption in culture. Street Art is often dismissed as damage to property or vandalism, but with augmented reality an artist can create art without damaging property. This is revealing, because without the argument of criminal activity towards property there are people attempting to make it illegal by buying “digital space” and insisting it is still vandalism. I certainly don’t agree, I think people should have free will to use augmented reality to project whatever they wish and not have it forced upon them.

    I think there is a broad future for AR, from games, to directions, to learning. I see a future of museums and art projects by using AR to offer relevant information to real live spaces through developing informational aps. I think AR could truly make history accessible to people. Each space could have a documented history that people could access, and I think knowing what has occurred in places will help people appreciate what the future of a place should be. I think knowing for example a person discovering that a neighborhood used to ban african americans from buying houses would cause the same person to be more socially aware when noticing the same area lacks african american residents, while other areas where historically where african americans where allowed to live and to this day still live with poor access to education or clean water *coughs* flint *coughs*. Through information like this people could become more aware of how social prejudice has a real impact on our lives in seemingly hidden ways. But beyond social awareness and history, there could just be educational facts about science, or math, or even economic information accessed through aps like this.


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