Famous Accountants

By Sarah Schmerler

“At the heart of the show, however, was The Leak in Your Home Town (2010), by artist-programmers Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking, who, to create their work, used augmented-reality software, a method for superimposing 3-D images over live video feed. When visitors pointed an iPhone at a British Petroleum logo installed on the floor, the viewscreen ignited with the image of a swirling toxic oil plume in Flash animation, which leapt out of the corporation’s once benign-looking green-and-yellow sunburst. Leak, it should be noted, will work on any BP logo, anywhere, and at press time Skwarek and Hocking were deciding whether to make the smartphone application that runs it available to the general public for “next-to-free.” Let’s hope they do just that. Leak is a one-liner, but it’s a good one—a work of interventionist art so deliciously acerbic it deserves the broadest audience possible.”

WIRED’s Beyond the Beyond

“the leak in your home town” was featured on WIRED’s Beyond the Beyond

  • By Bruce Sterling Email Author
  • June 30, 2010


Read Write Web

Are We Entering the Age of Augmented Trademark Infringement?

Written by Chris Cameron / July 6, 2010 12:50 PM /

The use of logos or insignias to symbolize a product, service or company is one of the oldest ways for a brand to stand out from competitors and similar products. These days, laws protect the misuse or copying of trademarked brand logos, but as technology evolves and companies find new ways to market their brands, these laws must adapt to cover new possibilities for infringement.

Augmented reality is a popular technology for new media advertising, allowing images, logos and markers to become triggers for 3D experiences on computers and mobile devices. It also could create 21st century legal dilemmas. Who has the right to create AR experiences from trademarked brand logos? Is the age of “augmented reality trademark infringement” rapidly approaching?

Consider a new application being developed in reaction to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The iPhone app – which is still in development – is called “the leak in your hometown,” and will let users augment any existing real-world British Petroleum (BP) logo with a virtually rendered oil pipe that is gushing with oil. The app developers, Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking, in their own words describe the app as “turning [BP’s] own logo against them.”

“This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive,” they say.

Nondestructive in what sense? Yes, virtually spilling oil is safe for the planet, but the use of BP’s own logo is destructive to their brand and the company has the right to protect it. It is true that BP’s brand has already been irrevocably damaged due to the spill, and it is also true that augmented reality is a niche technology not likely to be a strong vehicle for further brand damage (yet), but BP still has the right to control how its logo is used.

Would BP actually benefit from defending their trademark in this way? Erik J. Heels, a trademark lawyer with the Clock Tower Law Group in Maynard, Massachusetts, says BP would be better off simply letting it go.

“The analysis falls in two categories,” Heels told ReadWriteWeb. “First, what does the law allow a rights holder to do? And second, what is the smart thing to do from a business and public relations perspective? Even if BP wanted to take action against them, I don’t think they would win the battle of public opinion, it could backfire on them.”

Trademark law, Heels says, was created to protect similar products and services from being confused with one another, and it is unlikely a person using this app would be unsure of whether it was or wasn’t officially endorsed by BP. Free speech, parody and commentary are other areas of law that overlap with this issue, which makes any action from BP even more unlikely.

If any entity is going to challenge the existence of the application, it is likely to be Apple, which has had no problem keeping any app they deemed questionable from passing inspection. It is unlikely that this application will get by Apple in its current state, but an updated version using a different logo most certainly would. In the future, however, if augmented reality takes off and is part of our everyday lives, an application like this could attract more legal attention from a popular brand.

Should brands have the same protections over the use of their logos in augmented reality (or specifically as the marker to launch an AR experience) as they do in actual reality? Who has the right to use trademarks as AR triggers? These are questions brands will be faced with as AR continues to expand its presence in digital marketing.

In an interview with UgoTrade author Tish Shute, AR developer Anselm Hook discussed what he calls the “imageDNS” – a name space for images – which could potentially be used to solve some of these issues.

“When an image becomes a kind of hyperlink – there’s really a question of what it will resolve to,” said Hook. “Will your heads up display of McDonalds show tasty treats at low prices or will it show alternative nearby places where you can get a local, organic, healthy meal quickly?”

Trademark laws and image disputes aside, the potential for augmented “ad busting” and virtual activism is promising on the augmented reality platform, and more mobile apps will certainly surface in this space. I can even see an app in the future that will let activists spill virtual blood on fur coats, so developers, please get to work on “Fur is MurdAR.”


World Trademark Review

International – Trademark owners beware: augmented reality can pollute your brand

By Adam Smith
July 07 2010

There’s a new form of trademark infringement on the horizon. For the past few years, brand owners have been scratching their heads over what to do when third parties use their trademarks in online games and virtual worlds. The merging of parody, free speech and trademark infringement has led brands into some murky waters. Now programmers have come up with a new way to play with brand value: augmented reality.

It is an innovation that connects the real world with the virtual world: for example, physical branded products can be augmented in real-time with digital images. Point your camera phone at the logo on a BP service station and the screen displays the now infamous Helios with a gushing oil pipe bursting from its centre. This topical example is the basis for the first brand application of the system.

However, while augmented reality is already in use on smartphones and other devices, the brand and trademark implications are yet to be explored fully. “As augmented reality technologies become more prevalent, we will see increasingly innovative uses of brands, by brand owners and others. Much of this activity will be creative and positive, but some of it may also be unauthorized, and potentially damaging,” says David Naylor, partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse. “Aside from the sheer increase in the number of issues that can be expected, we also anticipate that new categories of business will potentially get caught up in disputes: for example, the developers of augmented reality applications. We’re also looking into whether the combination of mobility and augmented reality will create new substantive issues that have not yet been addressed in the law or by the courts.”

Potential threats aside, augmented reality provides brands with a huge opportunity. Shrewd brand owners can develop applications of augmented reality that support their brand strategies and bring trademarks to life in new ways. A consumer may be able to enhance their pair of Nike trainers, which could appear on the screen of their smartphone with all manner of additions, be it a flashing swoosh or winged soles.

Naturally, this will be done by marketers and IT experts but trademark managers will have to ensure they are involved in the discussion to ensure the marks are used appropriately. Augmented reality might also beg the question: are motion marks about to take on a whole new life force?


Games Alfresco


Posted on July 6, 2010 by thomaskcarpenter

The story Bruce Sterling posted up last week on his Wired blog blew my mind.  It shouldn’t have really.  But I guess I’ve been considering augmented reality and its commercial uses to be official and sanctioned.  This kind of unofficial gonzo-view of reality could go a long way.

First, if you’re too lazy to click the link and check out the article, the leak in your hometown gang have made an augmented reality view that shows the oil leak on your smartphone when you point it at any BP logo, assuming you have the proper layer pulled up.

Mark Skwarek, one of the creators, sent me an email about the project as I was writing up this post.  Here’s some of the progress they’ve made and other places talking about it.

We were featured on WIRED’s Beyond the Beyond. We have an upcoming show at Famous Accountants in Bushwick NY, Aug 7th through Sept 4th. We are showing it at the Bronx Art Space in NYC. We were featured on Turbulence’s Networked_Performance and will present on it at Upgrade! Chicago in September. We were also featured on Eyebeam’s Reblog. And we are in the upcoming Cyberarts.

This project itself seems simple and is quite ingenious.  But why stop at poking fun at the world’s current kick toy?  Pointing your smartphone at random objects and getting an individual person’s POV visual could be quite mind expanding.

An unofficial game of object-association could make great interactive art, political rhetoric, or dystopic reinforcing world-view; depending on its implementation.  Wouldn’t you like to point your smartphone at everyday objects and find out how your favorite artists or celebrities view the world?  Seeing how YoYo Ma, or the Dalai Lama or Bruce Campbell (the guy from the Evil Dead series) view the world could be liberating.  Or since our own Bruce Sterling is the Prophet of AR, one of the AR browsers could do a “Bruce Layer” and show us what kind of world he sees when he’s looking around.

Maybe if Glenn Beck was your thing, you’d have a Nazi symbol pop-up when you pointed it at an Obama sticker.  Or if you were a former Bush-hater, you could see a Stalin-esque version of the W with your smartphone.   Propaganda could be all encompassing, blotting out all but the sanctioned viewpoints.

I’m absolutely certain I wouldn’t want to see what Lady Gaga has in mind for the world.  Well.  I might take a peak for a few minutes.  Just out of curiosity.  Not like I’m a fan or anything.  Just curious.

And maybe that’s what a gonzo-reality could bring to AR.  Instead of a mirror reflecting all of our beliefs into an ever-increasing sine wave, we might be privy to alternate views to our own.  Maybe even trying out how someone else sees the world.


Or maybe we couldn’t handle their viewpoint.  The overstimulating rush would make our realities spin around us until we puked it back out, losing all those alternate nutrients our world views could have used to grow.

Oh well.

It’s a nice little project, anyway.


Famous Accountants just voted Best New Brooklyn Gallery!

Famous Accountants just voted Best New Brooklyn Gallery!
The L Magazine
Best of Brooklyn (and Manhattan too)

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: review

Famous Accountants Tunnel Deeper
by Paul Cox | August 24th, 2010
Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking mentioned in review for the Famous Accountants show.


Leak got on “James Kalm Report”


Art Review mentions Joe and Mark

Joseph Hocking and Mark Skwarek were mentioned in the review “”Tunneling” Curated by William Pappenheimer at FAMOUS ACCOUNTANTS” by James Kalm in Art Review.


Hyper Allergic Review

Full article here — Hyper Allergic Review

“One of the most awe-inspiring pieces in the show is Mark Skwarek & Joseph Hocking’s timely “the leak in your home town” (2010). Considered a “logo hack,” the artists have created an iPhone app (not available on iTunes or online yet) that allows users to hold up their iPhone cameras to the BP logo on the floor of the gallery, which is then transformed into a digitalized crude oil spill. It’s a fascinating technological trick and a type of corporate hacking that artists are only starting to experiment with. After my fascination subsided, I felt a sense of concern as I imagined how companies will eventually find ways to hook into the cool factor of these innovations and warp it into yet another means of advertising (think Foursquare).” — Article by Hrag Vartanian


The Creators Project “Augmented Reality Augmenting The Art World”

The ability to superimpose additional information on a physical object is one of the most exciting aspects of AR, and one that is utilized to convey a poignant political message by artists Skwarek and Hocking. Although the BP oil scandal has died down considerably since the oil flow in the Gulf has been (finally) put to a stop, it was arguably the largest national disaster we’ve witnessed since Katrina. Still, both the government and the public seemed relatively unphased by the travesty, likely because it didn’t seem to affect them directly. Hocking and Skwarek’s iPhone app art piece hopes to eliminate that sense of distance by confronting the viewer with the realities of that gaping oil hole under the sea every time they see a BP logo, turning the logo into a tube hemorrhaging barrels of oil. The app is an interesting demonstration of how AR can be used to overcome the limitations of the physical world and make seemingly distant objects or information feel more immediate and relevant.


AR Newsroom

BP – “The leak in your Hometown” an Augmented Reality APP for Iphone


ImageI don’t even know if we can call this an Augmented Reality APP, because “the leak in your home town” is all about the Real Reality! So, let’s be optimistic and get some hope from people who really care for our children but also for our planet in general. Joseph Hocking (Professor) and Mark Skwarek ( Digital Artist) are working on this new AR “Green” project and plan to release an Iphone APP very soon. This is the type of application that will help us to never forget, but also be aware of what’s going on in our ocean. This is a perfect example of AR Iphone App that really makes sense! Here is the App’s description with Mark ‘s own words:

We are using the iPhone to create site-specific art work about the BP oil spill. Basically the work lets the viewer see the broken pipe and oil anytime they see a BP logo. The viewer aims their iPhone at any BP logo and what they will see is the broken oil pipe come out of the BP logo. Out of the broken pipe comes the oil, pluming upward. This is done by overlaying 3D computer graphics onto the iPhone’s video camera, a process also known as augmented reality. What makes this project important is that we are using BP’s corporate logo as a marker to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics, basically turning their own logo against them. This re-purposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.


Checkmate, The Beaupre Blog

BP triggers dark side for augmented reality

No sooner did brand managers and marketers discover augmented reality (AR) as the next big marketing frontier then did consumers find a way to use AR to voice their own opinions.
AR developers Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking are keeping BP’s feet to the fire with a new AR iPhone app that lets users visualize the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at their local BP gas station or wherever they happen to see a BP logo.
Called “the leak in your hometown,” the app transforms the logo into the source of the deep sea gusher. Just point your phone at the logo and your outrage and sense of futility over the unceasing disaster is rekindled.
If you’re new to augmented reality, it’s technology that overlay’s digital information and imagery onto your view of real-world things, typically using a webcam or smartphone camera as the visual conduit.
The BP gusher app is pretty simplistic as far as AR apps go. Yet it’s a brand manager’s nightmare. As the app’s creators describe on their blog …
An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.
Remember back when brand managers first swooned over the potential of social media as a new direct-to-consumer marketing channel, not yet realizing how the technology gives consumers their own, sometimes critical, voice? With AR, it’s déjà vu all over again. Google ‘augmented reality’ and ‘marketing’ and you’ll see what I mean. But the effusive praise by marketers will soon be tempered as they discover that AR can be a double-edged sword, as much a threat to their companies’ corporate reputation as it is a powerful marketing tool.


Ad Busting and Android AR Competition

Ad Busting BP


As the cruel oil rig disaster of BP continues to spill oil all over the bay, beaches and birds, activists and artists start to think of new ways of ad busting and stigmatizing companies, to be seen on the black list sooner and longer. This social hacking raises awareness for the problem and burns the bad management of this biggest environmental accident ever – with Augmented Reality.


Untitled for Now

BP Spill Inspired AR and What it Does Right

Blog by Tony Volpe

I have to give a big two thumbs up to the iPhone App, “The Leak in Your Home Town” created by Mark Skwarek and Joesph Hocking. In summary, after grabbing their iPhone App you can head off to any BP station, point your camera at the iconic British Petroleum logo and voila! You’ve got yourself an oil spill of your very own! It’s like socially aware, virtual, graffiti.

One thing that I love about this piece is that it’s much truer to what I feel is Augmented Reality than most applications just by using the BP logo. What I mean by this is that as a user of AR Apps I’m sick of being required to print out a logo that looks like some kind of half finished cubist painting and position it somewhere to get a virtual object to appear. At this point am I really augmenting reality? It feels more like I’m augmenting a piece of paper in an environment of my own choosing. I understand this proceedure is required to overcome huddles involved in the technology,  however it seems that Ad Agencies and Developers of AR applications seem to forget that this typical process destroys much of the illusion that is so key to their idea.

I’ll give you an example brief that I’ve seen many times. To promote a product an agency wants to create an out of doors event where people will use a mobile device to present a virtual representation of a that product layered onto the real world. To do so the user must point their device at the stereotypical AR marker.

The intention is that viewer is Shocked! Amazed! that there is a crazy, unreal object right before their eyes! The problem is this : at the point which the user is required to point the camera at a symbol which is clearly not a part of their normal surroundings, that user already knows that something is out of the ordinary. And so why would they be surprised when something virtual appears above it? The user already has a big hint that “Hey! something out of the ordinary exists right here!”

“The Leak in Your Home Town” avoids all this by using something that is naturally present in the environment. That’s part of what makes this project so excellent to me, and I’m sure it’s been done before and will be done often after this.

What are some other alternatives? A simple one is to have the app respond to a logo in a billboard 50 feet away. Hand the phone to the user and give them alternative task – “Can you take a picture of me and my girlfriend?”. When a car leaps off the billboard and is chased by a giant T-Rex, I can gaurentee you the view will be suprised then!



Cell Phones

Cutesy AR App Busts Up BP Logo, But Is It Harmless? We Say Yes

So there’s this cheeky new app concept that’s been floating around the Internet lately, and it’s raised the question of how trademarks are protected in the virtual space. “The Leak in Your Hometown,” an augmented reality app for the iPhone that hasn’t yet been approved by Apple, captures any BP logo that the phone’s camera detects, and superimposes an animated pipe, billowing some kind of miasma. Cute, but is it legal?

Adbusting like this is a facile form of protest, but the main failure of this app is the fact that it’s both private and self-selecting. Turning a Pepsi logo, say, into a billboard that reads ‘OBESITY’ is charming, but it also reaches a multitude of viewers who may or may not believe that the soft drink giant contributes to American fattiness. “The Leak in Your Hometown,” in contrast, will only be downloaded and viewed by people who already believe that BP is evil. (Well, that may include all of us nowadays, but you get our point.) If an ad gets busted, and no one’s around to see it, did it ever really happen?
The discussion, though, is all theoretical unless Apple approves the app, which could have its army of attorneys scrambling at yet another lawsuit. Chris Cameron at ReadWriteWeb wonders if this app isn’t a blatant case of trademark infringement, and what precedent an app like this could set for the AR space. While he notes that parody is often protected, he doesn’t really give libel law its due. Unless people mistake a busted BP logo for the real thing, the company has little legal recourse. The real question is whether Apple would approve an app that negatively targets a business, and we’re betting that they won’t.

BP has much, much larger problems than a minor iPhone app (like 60,000 barrels of crude soaking poor cormorants each day), so the corporation probably won’t take the developers to court (if the app ever manages to get into the App Store). “Hometown” creators Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking write on their site that AR adbusting “will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses.” Although we think their distribution platform limits the effectiveness of their message, we agree that the virtual space may become the next stomping ground for digital protest. But, until we see the first case of virtual trademark infringement hit the court room, we think activists have little to worry about. [From: ReadWriteWeb]



14 Apps Connecting You to the Gulf Oil Spill

App developers are always quick to hop on a new trend, especially one as big as the Gulf Oil Disaster. But that also means a plethora of tools and apps for all of us, from the serious news to snarky political elbowing. For staying up on the latest updates, becoming a citizen reporter, or simply grasping the impact of the spill, here are 14 apps that connect you to one of the greatest ecological disasters the US has ever experienced……

full article here



Crisi BP: creatività e humor contro il corporate storytelling

Quando sei responsabile del più grande disastro ambientale del secolo non puoi cavartela facilmente. Ma gli errori di comunicazione commessi da BP sono stati davvero tanti: dall’aver cercato inizialmente di minimizzare l’accaduto fornendo cifre sottostimate del petrolio sversato passando per il tentativo di far ricadere la colpa sul fornitore Transocean Ltd., fino alle dichiarazioni inopportune del suo amministratore delegato.

Ciò ha dato vita ad una reazione dal basso tesa a tentare di opporre all’ipocrisia del corporate storytelling una narrazione credibile in grado di disvelare la realtà e sensibilizzare le persone attraverso le armi dello humor e della creatività (e non le solite azioni di boicottaggio reale e virtuale). Tra i massimi esempi:
il geniale video spoof “BP Spills Coffee”

l’hacking della parola BP presente nelle pagine web o del logo BP incontrato nel mondo fisico attraverso un’applicazione di augmented reality

il fake twitter account BPGlobalPR che ha spiazzato tutti con i suoi messaggi al vetriolo e che inizialmente è stato davvero confuso con quello ufficiale BP_America .



“the leak in your home town” was featured on Networked_Performance


Eyebeam’s Reblog

“the leak in your home town” was featured on Eyebeam’s Reblog.


World’s Best Ever


Pink Tentacle‘s twitter


Augmented Times






Plus: The BP Augmented Reality app.


Eco Friendly Mag

14 Apps Connecting You to the Gulf Oil Spill

Posted by EcoFriendly


green makers group


Wonder How To

AR: Everytime You See BP Logo, See 3D Oil Spill





ambiente de aprendizagem


barbarian blog

bisceglie: the leak in your home town — awesome AR iPhone app.


duurzame gadgets


「AR 抗議活動」は是か非か?



BP se convierte en su peor enemigo



止まらない原油 その6