Walking Backwards into the Future
Augmented Reality in Dragør, Amager, Copenhagen, by Tracey Benson

Fishing for Herring, Olaus Magnus, Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, 1555
Fishing for Herring, Olaus Magnus, Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, 1555

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Proposal for Mapping Amager and Sharing Copenhagen: AR guided tour and presentation

Walking backwards to find the future combines a guided walk around the island of Amager with the use of augmented reality. This work has been created by Australian based media artist Tracey Benson to explore the Cultura 21: Eco Island transect sites of Dragør, Amager as a potential tourist. This work seeks to build knowledge of the location from afar – past journeys and memories, present events, spaces, places and histories. The work would be ready for use by participants at the Dragør/Tårnby transect and formally presented at the Eco Creative Camp by the artist via Skype.

Tracey has developed a number of augmented reality works which focus on walking and local discovery, with the most recent project Finding the Ghosts of K Road being presented as part of ADA Mesh Cities in Auckland.

Dragør Fort: Image Credit http://dragorfort.dk/om-fortet/fortets-historie/
Dragør Fort: Image Credit http://dragorfort.dk/om-fortet/fortets-historie/

Walking backwards into the Future is perhaps the most ambitious AR walk to date, as there is not only the challenge of distance, but also of language and culture, which contribute to a strong sense of unfamiliarity with the location and its history. This complexity makes the project all the more interesting in terms of the process of developing the walk, as it provides an opportunity to learn about a place and culture that is distinctly different to the geographies and stories encountered thus far. It is perhaps an opportunity to gain some understanding of ancestral narratives of place, given Tracey’s own genealogy and surname which connects her to Scandinavia.

There is certainly a connection between Dragør and Australia as revealed in a post on on the Dragør Archive. Given that my great, great grandfather Anton was a merchant seaman (albeit from Norway), this article resonated for me:

As early as the 1700s Dragør was an active seafaring town connecting to faraway horizons.

Most of the young men in Dragør went to sea at age 14. They were either hired on one of the city’s many sailing ships, or they served in the Danish Navy. Boys were registered at birth in the ‘Navy Muster Rolls’…For those who were poor or without a job in Dragør in the 1800s there was very little help to be had – even after two ‘poor houses’ were established. One was established in Store Magleby in 1830 and another in Dragør in 1832…Due to the economic crises in the 1800s, many emigrated from Denmark to overseas destinations. In Dragør several ship owners, as well as skippers, were forced to sell or even break up part of their fleets.In 1835 Dragør had 1602 inhabitants, and in 1922 the number had risen to 2048. During this period only 136 persons (of whom 103 were male) were registered as ‘emigrated’. It was mostly younger, unmarried men, who left Dragør, and almost half of these were registered as ‘youngest son’. Probably these young men had difficulties finding a job in their family circle, as well as in the local community…Reports made in the 1850s by returning seamen about the big Gold Rushes in California, Klondike, as well as Australia, probably inspired many of the ‘youngest sons’ to leave.

I think it would be interesting to do some research on the broader Scandinavian history of the mid to late 1800s to see if some of the economic issues related to the broader region.

Stay tuned for more soon!


About Dragør, Restaurant Beghuset http://www.beghuset.dk/about-dragoer.html (accessed 20 August 2014)

Amager Museum, http://www.museumamager.dk/index.php/da/visit-museum-amager.html (accessed 19 September 2014)

Atlas of an Eco Island, http://www.cultura21.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Atlas-of-an-Eco-Island-Amager-2014.pdf (accessed 20 August 2014)

Dragør Fort, http://dragorfort.dk/om-fort (accessed 19 September 2014)

Dragor (Dragør), Copenhagen, Tourist Attractions (accessed 19 September 2014)

Dragør South Beach http://www.kobenhavnergron.dk/place/dragor-sydstrand/?lang=en (accessed 19 September 2014)

Dragør – Beyond Copenhagen (accessed 10 September 2014)

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