“In his 2006 novel, Spook Country, the science fiction author William Gibson described a new form of sculpture based on augmented reality. The artist builds virtual objects located in particular spaces, tied to their location using GPS co-ordinates and only visible using special goggles that superimpose the 3D image on the real world. In almost record time, science fiction has come true as the Wikitude augmented reality browser for Android or iPhone has been used to rebuild the World Trade Centre in New York.
“As this rather disturbing video shows, visitors to Ground Zero need only download the Wikitude app and hold up their phones to see where the skyscrapers would have fitted into the skyline. Move around the site and the digital model can be seen from all angles. Trees in the background seem to interrupt the effect slightly, but this is a very early release and such problems should not be impossible to fix. The World Trade Centre is the first 3D model to have been added to Wikitude, which has only been capable of adding text tags and linked media to locations until now.
“It’s difficult to decide whether this is a very modern moving tribute to a great tragedy, or a cynical opportunistic way to cash in on a nation’s desire to remember its past. One of the founders of Wikitude was in Manhattan on September 11 2001 and says that making the model was something they had wanted to do for personal reasons, and I hope that is the case.”