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.