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Nancy Baker Cahill: CENTO

Oct 3, 2023–

Nancy Baker Cahill: CENTO will be a global, participatory art project comprising augmented reality (AR) and video. Whitney visitors will be able to engage in the Museum’s first participatory augmented reality art project collectively built by the audience.

CENTO a monumental digital, hybrid “creature” will be viewable via Nancy Baker Cahill’s free 4th Wall app on the Museum’s terraces, soaring and flapping over the Meatpacking District. The work will accompany a video featured on the Whitney’s artport website that explores the creature’s imagined habitat. After watching the video, online and in-person viewers will be prompted to download 4th Wall to choose AR feathers with different properties and add their own feathers to CENTO. With each contribution, the creature will change and grow stronger, becoming more adept to the engagement of an ever-expanding community of participants. CENTO’s metamorphosis over time underscores the necessity of collaborative action and materializes species’ interdependence and entanglement.

The work takes its name from the term for a “collage poem” composed of lines from other poems, alluding to the creature’s hybrid body and the audience’s contributions. The fictitious interspecies entity features a serpentine body lined with scales and mycelium, cephalopod legs, manta ray wings, and colorful feathers. The chimeric creature draws attention to the care and cooperation needed to survive under changing conditions, pointing to the necessity of symbiotic co-existence in the face of the climate crisis’s existential challenges. CENTO will ask whether a creature imagined as a collage of humans, cephalopods, microbiomes, birds, fungi, fish, and machine fulfills or even exceeds basic evolutionary requirements.

The Whitney’s artport is overseen by Christiane Paul, Curator of Digital Art, with David Lisbon, Curatorial Assistant.

Nancy Baker Cahill, process sketch for CENTO, 2023. Participatory augmented reality software



A 30-second online art project:

Peter Burr, Sunshine Monument

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