The Oyster City Project

Oyster City (2011-2016) is a constellation of initiatives that draw participants’ 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 Oyster City AR, an augmented reality walking tour that highlights the history and future of oysters in New York City. Featuring geo-located virtual 3D objects and text visible in physical space with a mobile device, it was created using Palimpsest, an AR development platform created by programmer/artist Phoenix Toews.

Oyster City AR is site-specific to Governors Island, which sits just south of Manhattan in NYC’s upper harbor. The tour explicates the current effort to restore oyster reefs in NY harbor by non-profits such as the Billion Oyster Project. 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and civic pollution including PCBs from a General Electric plant on the Hudson River and human waste due to the city’s outdated sewage system.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 is a collection of stories, recipes, drawings and ecological information contributed by residents of the Lower East Side.

Meredith and Rachel have presented the Oyster City Project 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.

Please watch the video below to see documentation of the Oyster City AR app in action.

Scroll to Top