Ms. Tamiko Thiel





“Beyond Reality”

The concepts behind virtual and augmented reality are the very oldest basis of all human culture. Since the dawn of the human species, we have imagined virtual worlds as large as the Cosmos, as beautiful as Heaven and as terrifying as Hell. Our artworks began with immersive virtual environments–cave paintings seen by the flickering light of fires–and continued on through temples, gardens and entire planned cities. We have augmented our physical world with site-specific legends and myths since time immemorial. My first memories as a child in Kamakura are cedar scented temples with luminous gold statues, massive trees and rocks consecrated with shimenawa sacred ropes, playing in the hills around the first Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo’s tomb and seeing performances of Shizuka Gozen’s dance of defiance at Hachiman Shrine. In Kamakura I learned that the virtual, invisible worlds of legend, history and fantasy are closely overlaid onto the physical, visible world of buildings and streets. It is this spirit that I seek to visualize in my virtual reality and augmented reality artworks, where the newest technology gives us telescopes to peer into time and magnifying glasses to illuminate the imagination.


Ms. Tamiko Thiel
Artist, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Munich/Seattle
 Short bio 

Tamiko Thiel was awarded the 2018 iX Immersive Media “Visionary Pioneer” prize by the Society for Art and Technology Montreal for 30+ years of creating poetic objects and spaces of memory exploring social and cultural issues. Lead product designer for Connection Machine CM1/CM2 artificial intelligence supercomputer, in 1989 the fastest on earth and now in the collection of MoMA NY. First VR artwork “Starbright World” (1994) in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. VR interactive projection “Beyond Manzanar” (2000) is in the San Jose Museum of Art/Silicon Valley. “Travels of Mariko Horo” (2006) was supported by the Japan Foundation and MIT. “Virtuelle Mauer” (on the Berlin Wall) was funded by City of Berlin and won the 2009 IBM Innovation Award. In 2017 she was GoogleVR Tilt Brush Artist in Residence, creating her award winning “Land of Cloud.”
Thiel is a founding member of augmented reality (AR) group Manifest.AR, participating in their path-breaking AR intervention at MoMA NY in 2010, and curator/organizer of their intervention at the 2011 Venice Biennial. In 2016 the Seattle Art Museum commissioned her AR installation “Gardens of the Anthropocene” and in 2018 the Whitney Museum commissioned her plastic waste coral reef AR installation “Unexpected Growth” (with /p).