Swimming Upstream AR

Dorit Naaman, Canada/Israel

Swimming Upstream AR
An augmented reality art project

The Belle Park Project

It may be hard to imagine it now, but in the past, fish were abundant in the Ka’tarohkwi river. In the 1750s, Pierre Pouchot reported that in the spring and early summer the creeks and rivers running into Lake Ontario teemed with spawning fish; “the quantities that go up on some days,” he wrote, “is inconceivable.” The Mississauga people (Mishi-zaagig – people of the large river mouths) depended on their fish relations for a large part of their livelihood. The construction of mills and dams and destruction of wetlands by settlers, not to mention overfishing and pollution, have drastically reduced the number of fish. They are still here, though. The herons and ospreys know that, and some fishermen do too! The Swimming Upstream AR project animates hyper realist 3D models of five species of fish onto the stagnant waters of the Ka’tarohkwi river.

Swimming Upstream AR was created as part of the Belle Park Project, which aims to make visible and legible colonial and environmental violence in and around Belle Park, but also resilience, re-naturalization, and survival.

This app features animated photogrammetry of fish including some textures of specimens from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. The artists world like to thank DigitalLife3D for their generosity in making their models available for creative and non-profit use.

Artists: AR by Jennifer E Norton, sound recording and design by Matt Rogalski, research and concept by Laura Murray, production and concept by Dorit Naaman.

The piece was originally mounted in summer 2021 as part of Next Door, a Skeleton Park Arts Festival production.

Dorit Naaman

Dorit Naaman is a documentarist and film theorist from Jerusalem, and a professor of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, Canada.  In 2016 she released an innovative interactive documentary, Jerusalem, We Are Here, which digitally reinscribed Palestinians into the neighborhoods from which they were expelled during the 1948 war. Her in-production collaborative project The Belle Park Project is situated in Kingston, Ontario, and harnesses creative practice to make visible, legible and audible colonial and environmental violence, but also resistance, resilience and re-naturalization, in a complex urban park/former landfill. Dorit is also engaged in a collaborative project on planning and mapping participatory media. She has previously researched film and media from the Middle East, specifically focused on nationalism, gender, and militarism.