The Oyster City Project (2011-2016) is a constellation of initiatives drawing attention to the relationship between urban life and marine ecology. A collaboration between Meredith Drum and Rachel Stevens, the project traces vectors between social, economic and ecological systems, and engages people, playfully, with the ever evolving NY Harbor and surrounding estuaries.

One component of the larger project is the Oyster City AR app, an augmented reality walking tour and game featuring 3D objects and text in real space visible with an iOS device; It was created using Palimpsest, an AR development platform developed by programer/artist Phoenix Toews.

The Oyster City app highlights the history and future of oysters in NYC and it is site specific to Governors Island, an island just south of Manhattan in the upper harbor. The app explicates the current effort to restor oyster reefs in NY harbor by non-profits such as the Billion Oyster Project and the Harbor School (a public school located on Governors Island which focuses on careers centered on marine ecosystems and logistics). Moving further back in time, the app narrates the decline of oysters due to over-harvesting and industrial and civic pollution including PCBs from a General Electric plant on the Hudson River and human waste due to the city’s outdated sewage system 

As Oyster City, Drum and Stevens also produced the sister project Fish Stories Community Cookbook, which was funded and supported by Paths to Pier 42. Fish Stories Community Cookbook is a collection of stories, recipes, drawings and ecological information contributed by residents of the Lower East Side. To learn more about Fish Stories click here

Meredith and Rachel have presented Oyster City at Visible Evidence in Toronto, CA in 2015; the International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Dubai, UAE in 2014; ISEA in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2012; i-Docs at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, UK in 2011; and Mobility Shifts: The International Future of Learning Summit at the New School, NYC in 2011, among other places.

Oyster City was in residence in 2015 with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and Paths to Pier 42 at Process Space at 100 Wall Street, and in 2013 we were part of LMCC’s Swing Space Residency in Building 110 on Governor’s Island.

This page presents documentation of the place-based Oyster City AR in use on Governors Island. Please watch the video for more information.

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