For University of Chicago student Zahra Nasser, this October marks the culmination of months of hard work—and the chance to see it shared not only on campus, but around the world.
A fourth-year College undergraduate studying art history and philosophy, Nasser is one of 10 current and former students involved in YOU BE MY ALLY, a groundbreaking public art commission from acclaimed artist and alum Jenny Holzer, EX’74.
The artwork uses both a web-based augmented reality app and LED trucks to share texts from UChicago’s multidisciplinary Core curriculum and nonpartisan get-out-the-vote messages created in partnership with UChicago’s Institute of Politics.
While the project draws material from the Core curriculum—the common academic foundation for College students—the public nature of the artwork also means its content can transcend the University.
“Part of the beauty of the project is that it challenges us to reevaluate these works in a public context,” said Nasser. “It’s different seeing the words projected on a building instead of inside a book.”
Public, yet personal
Through virtual projections on the AR app, YOU BE MY ALLY animates quotes from writers such as Audre Lorde, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, Plato, W. E. B. Du Bois and Toni Morrison. For the UChicago community, seeing the texts move across campus landmarks—from Cobb Lecture Hall, to Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, to the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library—creates an important shared experience in a time of social distancing.
Launched on Oct. 5, the app currently allows viewers to project selected quotes on campus buildings, while the title can be projected at any location. On Oct. 30, viewers will be able to project all 29 quotes anywhere in the world.