Lugano Lake Page


Augmented Reality Artwork On and Around Lake Lugano

About Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano is a glacial lake which is situated on the border between southern Switzerland and northern Italy. The lake, named after the city of Lugano, is situated between Lake Como and Lago Maggiore. It was cited for the first time by Gregory of Tours in 590 with the name Ceresio, a name which is said to have derived from the Latin word cerasus, meaning cherry, and refers to the abundance of cherry trees which at one time adorned the shores of the lake.

The Società navigazione del lago di Lugano provides excursions and cruises on the lake that bring you to the ports that can’t be missed. Lake Lugano has always been a popular destination with tourists from around the world because of its history and charm. Thanks to its central European location and a Mediterranean climate, it is a must for anyone who loves culture and entertainment.  Ports such as Lugano, Museo Helvetia, Grotto Elvetia, Gandria, Museo Doganale, Caprino, and Saint Rocco are reached with ease and through the efforts of the Virtuale Switzerland and Unseen Art each port features a remarkable work of virtual art that can be discovered while visiting the lake by simply using a mobile phone.

About Unseen Art Australia 

(Un) seen Sculptures is a mobile 3D augmented reality art show, which has been presented by dLux MediaArts and Bega Valley Regional Gallery of Australia from 2011 onwards. Exhibitions have been staged at locations in Bermagui, Merimbula, Bega and Eden and have featured virtual digital works, which are hidden from the naked eye but are made visible to anyone with an iPhone or Android smartphone and an Augmented Reality Browser.

Intrigued by mobile augmented reality art in general and the variety of artworks available, (Un) seen Sculptures has featured and premiered works by Australian artists and international visitors from USA, China, and Germany. For 2016, the (Un) seen Sculptures show will present a collection of artworks along Lugano Lake from artists who were featured in previous shows held in Australia from 2014 onward. In addition to these works, several artists from Switzerland will join with premier works.

Coordinating closely with boot routes of the "Società navigazione del lago di Lugano", the Virtuale Switzerland has been able to offer Unseen Sculptures a show that features works at each one of the ports stops along the lake at which the boats dock.  As the ship nears the port, visitors will be able to see the artwork appear, floating above the port and while the boat passes by the middle of the lake, the visitors will find themselves in the middle of a virtual field of water lilies, immersing the ship in a thicket of greens and flowery colors. 

Selected AR Artists

Warren Armstrong (AUS)
Alvaro Barata (BRZ)
Andrew Burrell (AUS)
The Curious Minded (CHE)
Jayson Haebich (AUS)
Jake Hempson (ZAF)
Lily & Honglei (CHN)
Christian Meinhardt (DEU)
Nathan Shafer (USA)
Monica Studer / Christoph van den Berg (CHE)
Tamiko Thiel (JAP)

Selected Augmented Reality Artworks

Title: Water Lily Invasion
Artist: Tamiko Thiel


As global water levels and temperatures rise, plants and animals mutate to adapt. Strange new creatures arise at the interstices between plant and animal, transgressing the boundaries between reactive flora and active fauna. In 2013, one such form – an invasion of strangely reactive water lilies – was observed on the Star Ferries route in Hong Kong. In 2014 the water lily invasion reached Europe – in the Rhine River at Basel, Switzerland. Scientists hypothesize that they feed off energy dissipated by ferryboats, the human cargo and their electronic devices. Sensitive to the mediated human gaze, a small, innocuous water lily can enlarge to engulf viewers who focus it in the display of their mobile app. Until now viewers have reported feeling no effects other than a temporary fibrillation. Scientists worry however that future mutations could cross boundaries between insentient plant and sentient, perhaps even carnivorous life forms.


Tamiko Thiel is a visual artist exploring the interplay of place, space, the body, cultural memory and identity, and a pioneer in virtual reality and augmented reality as art forms. She has won awards from the MacDowell Colony, MIT, WIRED Magazine, Japan Foundation and IBM Innovation Award, and exhibited at the Istanbul Biennial, Art Gwangju, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Contemporary Istanbul, ICP/NY, ZKM, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Ars Electronica, Zero1 Biennial, SIGGRAPH and ISEA. Her work is featured in the references Digital Art (Thames and Hudson World of Art) by Whitney curator Christiane Paul, The World of Digital Art by DAM curator Wolf Lieser and “Not Here Not There” special issue of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac.

Placement: Middle of the Lake

Title: Anamorph 3-D

Artist: Alvaro Barata & Herve Graumann



Anamorph 3D is a  virtual sculpture by Brazilian artist Alvaro Barata.  Barata brings to us his hand-drawn form which has been virtually modeled, bringing the 2-D into the virtual 3-D world. Barata’s sculpture has been created using the features of “Anamorphosis.” In anamorphosis, a drawing viewed from a certain position reveals another image previously unseen, in this case a 3D form.   The augmented reality sculptures has been placed at Lugano port and as it slowly rotates, the viewer begins to notices that the two sides of  are very different but are  the same model. The Textures of the objects modulate with the rotation of the work and reveal textures for the artists and his guests, the Swiss artist Herve Graumann.

Placement: Lugano Port


Alvaro Bareto is a Brazilan artists who has a strong focus on creating art in Public Space. He  has worked in this area by creating not only Augmented Reality artworks, but also may forms of street art including graffetti and mural based works. Motives often include natural and icongraphic elements
reference the place in which the work is placed, blending into the evironment, extending it naturally or accenting it politically


Tiltel: Mushrooms on Tour
Artist: Studer / van den Berg


Derived from an ever developing Internet and public art project titled "A Band of Floating Mushrooms” started in 2011, the artwork "Mushrooms on Tour" is a derivative work consisting of a series of polygonal models of mushrooms. These models consist of groups of diverse mushroom forms which pop up at unexpected locations. They stand as a metaphor of the change of balance between private and public spaces, which are undergoing a metamorphoses in both their physical and digital manifestations. The music that accompanies each of the groups, or "bands" of mushrooms consists of collected sound clips assembled and streamed to the viewer in real-time. They can be accessed directly via For the work created for the Virtuale Switzerland, several new groups of mushrooms will be performing a recorded stream from their last gigs from the here and there of the Internet world.


Monica Studer was born in Zurich, and Christoph van den Berg is from in Basel, where both artists reside. They have collaborated on New Media projects together since 1991, and have also produced a series of Internet projects since 1996. They have exhibited extensively and have been awarded important prizes including, the Swiss Federal Fine Art Prize, the Alexander Clavel prize, Riehen amongst others. In 2003 they had a visiting professorship for new media at the Kunsthochschule in Kassel.

Placement: Casarata Port, Paradiso Port & Caserata Port

Title: The Dragon’s Pearl

Artist: Lily & Honglei


The imagery in the work associates the images of human brain with that of the Dragon, As a whole, the work reflects on the intrinsic meaning of the symbol the Dragon as a symbol of power.  As a cultural icon, The dragon as an almighty creature attributed with the ability to adjust itself to suit its own purposes. Within this context, the work stands for how this thousand-year-old unreal creature has influenced Chinese people’s mindset and thinking for centuries, but because environmental, economic, and political issues have come to span across the entire world, the symbology of the work is relevant to all cultures. The world has become global we as individuals often find ourselves acquainting with unfamiliar peoples, places, and history. On the one hand, this challenges us all to think beyond their native cultures and landscapes in a new global age.  By inserting virtual artistic elements into a physical site, the AR medium provides the viewer to contemplate about how it is possible to redefine a particular space with a new historical, political, or aesthetic light.


Based in New York and Beijing, Lily & Honglei work as an artist collective. Utilizing traditional painting and animation, as well as new media such as virtual reality and augmented reality, Lily & Honglei create ‘visual fables’ intertwining current social issues with cultural heritages. Their works have been exhibited international and national venues, including Museum of Art and Design in New York, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, The Painting Center of New York, Eyebeam Art Technology Center New York, Zero1 Biennial in San Jose CA, New York Artist Residency Studios Foundation Gallery, Shanghai University Gallery in China, FILE-Electronic. Language International Festival in Brazil, Queens Museum of Art in New York.

Placement: Museo Heleneum Port / Museo doganale svizzero Port

Tilte: Vertebrae Mandala V0.*
Artist: Jake Hempson


The form of the piece is a digital translation of the structure of the vertebrae of an antelope native to Sub-Saharan Africa. The artist’s interest in incorporating an imperfect physical form into a perfect digital world stems from a fascination with the random imperfections existent in the natural world and how they translate into a digital medium. The work is an example of a sculptural exploration using the generated digital detritus, the errors of translation from the analog into the digital as part of my process.  The work therefore goes against a pre-conception of digital medium as a clean and impersonal medium without history or aura and by capturing and translating imperfections from an analog into digital object the true nature of the object is revealed, which at the same time explores a relationship between technology and nature.


Jake Hempson is a Zimbabwean born multi-disciplinary artist. His visual arts practice emerged from research done during a Masters, which focused on digital sculptural works based on natural forms found in bones. The technical side of his practice stems from years spent in computer game development and vfx, while his explorations of bone forms a memento vita, harking back to his post colonial childhood in Africa.  The works are an exploration of memento vita (memento of life), which the artists interprets as the way he has chosen to re-experience childhood fascination with the remains of life, evangelizing the beauty of bones, without associations with the macabre.

Placement: Grotto Elvetia Port

Title: Virtual Native
Artist: Andrew Burrell


The artwork Virtual Native is an investigation into what form a virtual inhabitant of a physical environment might take. Consisting of a series of light fragments, shimmering upward in a spiral like form and organic in nature and digital in its creation, the virtual flora contained in the work grow over time in an infinitude of combinatorial possibilities in virtual space against the back drop of the real world in which they are placed. These floras have always existed. If we go back in time, we can find them, long, long before history. With this in mind, the artists invite you to observe them and listening closely, one can and can even hear their song.


Andrew Burrell is a contemporary arts practitioner with a history in real time 3d and interactive audio installation. He is exploring notions of self and narrative and the implications of virtual worlds, networked environments and artificial life systems upon identity. His networked projects in virtual environments have received international recognition. He holds a PhD from the University of Sydney. Recently his focus has been on storytelling with real-time data in a series of media art collaborations with Chris Rodley including Death of an Alchemist, a novel written with data premiering at ISEA 2015 in Vancouver Canada

Placement: Gandria Port

Title: About Archie (aka Architeuthis)
Artist: Nathan Shafer (USA)


Archie is derivative new media works based on literary descriptions of them from sci-fi novels.  It is based on one of the locative media pieces from William Gibson’s novel Spook Country, credited to the fictional artist Alberto Corrales.  The work is s one of five pieces from Spook Country which were originally created as locative media works inside of Google Maps. These included the River Phoenix Death Shrine, the Portable Iraq War Memorial, the Mongolian Death Worm, the Faulkner Re-enactment and Archie. When mobile augmented reality browsers became popular, the artists re-crated the works again as geolocated AR. In the novel, Archie’s skin is described as being thousands of anime clips for scales, which even today is beyond mobile AR’s technological capacity. For this version, Archie is skinned with an animated gif from the original Tron film, but as technology evolves, Archie’s skin will gradually be replaced by thousands of little anime and monster movie clips.  Touching the 3D model in the Layar browser will open up an audio track of a bot reading the excerpt of Spook Country where Archie is described.  


Nathan Shafer is a new media artist living in Alaska specialising in augmented reality and digital humanities. He received his MFA concentrating in digital media from Rutgers University in 2008, founded the Institute for Speculative Media, while an Art House Resident at Out North Contemporary Art House in 2011 and is one of the founding members of the Meme-Rider Media Team (an art collective founded in 2000 designing early form Internet memes).

Placement: Grotto Pescatoi Port

Titlel: Neon Expansion

Artist: Jayson Haebich


Neon Expansion is a virtual sculpture representing the explosion of color and form. The work rotates in the sky, floating above the viewer while its shape expands into an infinity of changing values of negative and positive space, expressing as a whole a feeling of the beauty unfolding and with the violence that is kin of expansion. All this happens in a single instantaneousness moment of a split second event.

Jayson Haebich is a new media artist and programmer who uses his skills as a computer programmer to create diverse and innovative works ranging from light sculptures, digital artworks, club visuals, site specific installations, data visualisations, film clips and much more. Constantly evolving, Jaysons work takes the latest innovations in technology and aims to use these within an artistic context.

Placement: S Rocco Port

Title: Gaza 1:1 – The Names
Artist: Warren Armstrong


Gaza 1:1 – The Name is a memorial to the Gazans killed during Operation Protective Edge, July - August 2014. The work is based on a map of approximate GPS locations of casualties (derived from news reports), which has been transposed full-scale into the sky above Lugarno and environs. At each location on this map is a star, and when that star is focused on, an info box will appear with name, age and brief details about the death of the person that star commemorates. This work was inspired by US-Iraq War Memorial by created by the American AR artists, Mark Skwarek and John Craig Freeman.


Warren Armstrong is a new media artist and the organizer of (Un) seen Sculptures. Prior to immersing himself in augmented reality, he worked with composer Amanda Cole on a series of installations that turned Twitter updates into generative musical compositions. He sincerely hopes that people who come to (Un) seen Sculptures are moved, excited and/or delighted by the amazing work of the artists involved, and maybe will walk away inspired to create their own augmented reality art.

Placement: Lake Middle

How to Access the works as a visitor

The works are placed at ports along the lake. One can take any of the boat tours that stop at any or all of the ports, or one can take the the sight seeing tour from Casaarata to Gandria which goes along the lake. Once you have downloaded the free AR browser application LAYAR, you will be able to view each of the works at the ports as you near them. 

- Download the free app LAYAR on any mobile device (google play or apple itunes)

- Open the LAYAR app on your phone or tablet.
- Scan the Project QR code with the  scan function in the LAYER application OR
- Type in "Unseen Art" in the search function in the LAYAR application
- The artwork  will open automatically on your phone or tablet
- Once the arwork has opened, look around through your screen
- Make a screenshot, selfie and share on social media

Scame Me with LAYAR Mobile App

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