Was Forever21's augmented reality Times Square billboard inspired by "hand from above"?

Looks like we've found yet another case similar to the Toshiba chairs in space that looked like Simon Faithfull's chairs in space.

There's currently an Augmented Reality Billboard in Times Square for Forever 21, and while it's not a clever PSA mirroring peoples behaviour to make a point, it uses the same neat-o tech to make a 50 foot woman on the billboard interact with the crowds on the street. She even picks people up and throws them off the screen.

forever 21 billboard - augmented reality - Times Square

Hmm. That sounds a little familiar. Like Chris O'Shea's augmented reality billboard "Hand from above" picked people up and threw them off screen. (Scroll down for his video).

But then it gets even more interesting. Chris says in the comments on Vimeo;

I was contacted in March by space150, with them asking “We have a couple OpenCV projects in the works right now that our designers and developers are working through and would love to chat with you about the possibility of contracting your services for a duration on these projects”.
This is a very vague and generic request....

and then all hell breaks loose as the Director pops in to share;

Petty blog comments are diminishing your aura though. "Look at me! Look at me!" It's a different thing dude. In fact, it's more complicated. What you're doing is like Orson Wells getting mad at everybody for shooting "deep focus" after Citizen Kane.

That's when the comments start recounting other advertising copies. It's not like the Nike Chalkbot which just won to massive applause in Cannes was new - way back in 2004 a parsons student, Joshua Kinberg, made the chalk dot-matrix printer that one could bluetooth messages to. This is brought up later in the Vimeo comments as well, get out of my head people! (or maybe off my website, no, wait, don't do that! Stay here!)

The comments get a little nuts, as some will yell rip-off over and over, while Nick scoffs and hurls insults, but suddenly Golan Levin shows up with a few choice phrases;

Although Goossen's remarks are uncivil (and ignorant of interactive and computational media arts), he's absolutely right about one thing, when he writes, "the concept is locked before I'm hired - if you worked in the industry you'd know an ad agency comes up with the idea and then hires a director." Goossen merely directed the models for the shoot -- it wasn't his job to "come up with the idea". We might object to the attitude and tone of his retorts above, but the real culprit in this sorry situation is someone in the space150 agency. There's simply no question that they lifted Chris's concept (for the record: a giant billboard character plucking live pedestrians, etc.). Their record of having contacted him shows that they were aware of his project -- and by emailing him with a "vague request" (instead of a specific proposal or even a heads-up notice), they plainly reveal their low character.
A lot of people benefited in a lot of different ways from the Times Square billboard. (What was the budget for this thing, any guesses?) But one person -- the artist who invented the core premise, and who showed that it could be done -- received nothing: not even the courtesy of a heads-up. Not even being asked the straight question, "We intend to reinterpret this idea; in respect of your obvious prior authorship, what would be an acceptable form of acknowledgement/involvement/remuneration to receive your blessing? So that we can go forth without damaging our reputation in the worldwide community of interactive designers and developers?"

The problem is you can not copyright an idea. And we in advertising might think we're in the idea business, but really we're not. We're in the business of execution and taming ideas to fit-a-client business. However, copying an execution may get you into legal trouble and the line is difficult to find for some. The moral line seems pretty obvious to me though, if you're inspired by a living artist, hire that artist.

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Publigeekaire's picture

For those who like BIG augmented reality examples...


Dabitch's picture

Yeah, we posted that one too: Brazil claims world’s larget rooftop augmented reality experience—pilots report being freaked out.. Who was the target for that? I mean, how many folks fly around with laptops open in the skies of Brazil?

Publigeekaire's picture

In fact, the idea was to celebrate the performance of a bigger operation, not to make people believe they could do it by themselves.

Previously, they made this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcTMktEBBFA&feature=player_embedded

Little Monsters were locked in packet of Doritos crisps. To free them, you had to go there: http://www.doritos.com.br/comidadibuteco/ - and use augmented reality.

After few months, 250 000 monsters were freed. So they decided to make someting cool with the monsters and augmented reality to celebrate.

In my point of view, both parts are cool: at first, a clever marketing operation with augmented reality, then a clever buzz.


Dabitch's picture

Yeah, I would want one of them little monsters.

Dabitch's picture

From @memotv

haha, @nickgoossen edited his comments to try and hide his childish remarks. Luckily some are smarter ;) http://www.chrisoshea.org/vimeo-debate/

You have to read the comment thread, it's a near epic flameout.