An Augmented Reality App for One Voice and Seven Spirits

By Claire Tolan

Duration: June – October 2021 

Location: On the Lawn at Kongreßpark 1160 Vienna (alternatively under former Milk Hall)

Probable Presentation and picnic in the park on Friday, June 18th, 4 – 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 19th, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

A buzzing clatter fills the shimmering summer heat. Sitting in the green of the park, they whisper things to us from the past, present and future. The cicadas of this audio play are gossips and voyeurs. They observe the world and speculate about the nature of things. They use ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) to beguile and relax us, reminding us that there are realities beyond the human one. So with the same tools they promote awareness of our environment, our human and non-human companions* and ourselves.

Bird view of Kongreßpark (left) and Kongreßbad (right) in Vienna’s 16th district Ottakring.

CICADA GAMES is an art project based on an ASMR audio play and designed as an augmented reality app for Kongreßpark. It will be downloadable on platforms for iOS and Android.

A whisper about history and time, isolation and conspiracy.

Referring contextually to the radio play Die Zikaden (1954) by Ingeborg Bachmann and Plato’s Phaidros, CICADA GAMES throws us into an acoustic frenzy. The mythological cicada figures sit in the trees and whisper to us both truth and falsehood from their perspectives as children of the muses.

Kongreßpark, the green oasis surrounded by the cityscape of Ottakring, is named after the Congress of Vienna (1814-15). Its history is marked, as well, by the various Viennese and European conflicts in the 20th century. On this inner-city front, for example, the socialists held out against the spread of fascism in the 1930s (February Fights). Today, the carefree Viennese daily life unfolds at that same location, and we feel the left-wing socialist utopias from Viennese modernism (Red Vienna).

As a poetic reinvestigation, this audio play makes aspects of information, power and ideology tangible to the park visitors. It is an augmentation of the park experience through a virtual sound space that adds an extra layer of mysticism and glamour to our reality. In this fictional world, the whispering cicadas appear as mediums of silenced ghosts of the city (Teresa Feodorowna Ries, Hilda Doolittle, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others) as they ponder their own existence.

Curator: Lona Gaikis

Graphic Design: Milena Georgieva

Funded by KÖR Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, the Austrian Ministry for Culture BMKÖS, and the City Council of Vienna.