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Mapping Ararat

Welcome to Mapping Ararat: An Imaginary Jewish Homelands Project. Using augmented reality, this project animates Major Mordecai Noah's 1825 unrealized plan to transform Grand Island, New York into Ararat,

a "city of refuge for the Jews." Explore. Take a Tour. Learn. Imagine.

     In September 1825, Major Mordecai Noah founded Ararat, “a city of refuge for the Jews” in Grand Island, New York. This turned out to be the first of many failed projects in modern history that sought to carve out a nation for the Jewish people. Mapping Ararat offers the user/participant the tools to imagine an alternative historical outcome for Noah’s Ararat and to navigate through an imaginary Jewish homeland.

     Utilizing cutting-edge digital media technologies such as augmented reality and simulated cartography, this project gives Ararat a virtual chance to become the Jewish homeland that its founder had envisioned over one hundred eighty years ago. The project consists of an on-site augmented reality walking tour that haunts the contemporary landscape of Grand Island. In addition, Mapping Ararat generates the vernacular artifacts common to all modern nation-states whether money, postcards or newspapers.

     “Ararat AR” is an augmented reality public art project constructed at the very location where Mordecai Noah intended to found Ararat, “a city of refuge for the Jews” in Grand Island, New York.

     With smart phones in hand, visitors will be able to take an onsite augmented reality walking tour of Ararat. This project allows people to imagine Ararat while experiencing the actual place it would have existed.

     The public can simply download and launch a mobile application and aim their devices’ cameras at the landscape. The application uses geolocation software to superimpose virtual objects at precise GPS coordinates, enabling the public to see the objects integrated into the physical location as if they existed in the real world.


Mapping Ararat: Globally Positioned Sites

Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

April 4 - April 7, 2013

Project for the American Comparative Literature Association Conference

Where To?

Israeli Centre for Digital Art, Holon, IL

April 28 - July 15, 2012

Melissa Shiff

Lead Artist and Project Director, Research Associate, Sensorium Centre for Digital Art and Technology, York University.

Louis Kaplan

Chief Historian and Theorist, Professor, University of Toronto.

John Craig Freeman

New Media Artist and Augmented Reality Specialist, Associate Professor, Emerson College Boston.

Sarah James - Graphic Design
Reena Katz - Soundscape
Elizabeth Hirst, Ultan Byrne - 3D Modelling
Niki Sehmbi - Photoshop
Stev’nn Hall - After Effects

Exhibition at Jackman Humanities Institute

Mapping Ararat: Globally Positioned Sites


Mapping Ararat is made possible through a generous grant from the Insight Development Grant Program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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