DictionARy: an augmented reality intervention in a bricks and mortar library (2019)


DictionARy (2019) is an augmented reality artwork, made with software developer, Mark Hurry. It’s a site-specific artwork created for libraries. It continues Prophet’s experiments with the form of dictionaries and her love of lexicography. In earlier artworks she lasercut dictionaries to visualise selected definitions of arguably the first dictionary by eighteenth-century lexicographer, Samuel Johnson. The selection of words for those physically altered books showed how language is mutable and unstable, and this is emphasised in one of the DictionARY series which displays most popular words of the year from different years. Dictionary definitions are captured, live, from online dictionaries and displayed as 3D animated texts when library visitors point their mobile devices at graphic markers. Unfamiliar, weird and wonderful words are shown rising about of what looks like a hole in the floor, sliding down a column in the library lobby where most library visitors sit and chat, and bursting through the wall, bringing rarely used words into the mixed reality space. The graphic markers that anchor each of the AR series of texts are site-specific, with large adhesive vinyls placed on often overlooked elements of library architecture. The 3D animated texts are designed to relate to those vinyls and the real 3D space of their locations, playing with the local geometry of the library. The bricks and mortar library cannot contain texts which are shown through AR  cascading out of the opening they have forced through a library wall, and emerging from a trompe l’oeil hole in the library’s floor.