An Augmented Reality Art Game

An Augmented Reality Art Game at the Rockwell Museum (A Smithsonian Affiliate), Corning, NY, July 26, 2023 to October 29, 2023

In a partially remediated brown field where nothing new can be built, the viewer explores 11 large scale ephemeral cityscapes based on real-life city grids. Hidden in each virtual city is that city’s Heart—an AR sculpture—that when discovered, provides access to the source code files, allowing the “Conqueror” to 3-D print the city at The Southeast Steuben County Library. Loaner iPads are provided to viewers who don’t possess an Apple mobile device.

This work was inspired by Italo Calvino’s celebrated 1978 novel “Invisible Cities.” In the book, readers are taken on a journey through a series of fantastical towns, as narrated by Marco Polo to the notorious conqueror Kublai Khan, whose advanced age has trapped him in his own avarice, unable to visit his conquests in order to verify Polo’s fabrications.

In the book, readers are taken on a journey through a series of fantastical metropolises as narrated by the explorer Marco Polo to the notorious conqueror Kublia Khan. Soudant seized on the idea of cities so ephemeral, they appear as you approach them and disappear as you leave. The result is The Rockwell Museum’s very first Augmented Reality Art Game.

Join us on this journey to conquer all 11 Cities and plunder their hearts. When you find and 3D print the cities, you make them real, and become their caretaker. How they connect, and how you display them, is completely up to you.

Scan this QR code to visit the City of Cipheria, based on the street grid of Washington DC (this is best experienced outdoors, in a large open space):

Are you ready to play?


  1. Visit the Burden of Conquest: An Augmented Reality Art Game installation at
    Fallbrook Park to play!
  2. You’ll need an Apple iPhone or iPad. If you would like to borrow one, visit The Southeast Steuben County Library to check a device out for free.
  3. At the park and in the library: Be sure your phone or tablet is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data. You may connect to The Southeast Steuben County Library’s free Wi-Fi at:
  4. To experience a virtual city, walk up to one of the yellow pillars in the park and look for the square QR code on top of the pillar.
  5. Use the camera or QR code reader on your phone or tablet to scan the QR code. Please note that it may take a moment for the file to download abnd the city to appear on your screen. Tap the small cube icon on the upper right of the screen, and follow the directions on your device to cause the Gate to the city to virtually appear before you!
  6. Explore the virtual city by walking around the park as you view the city through your screen. Notice that as you move around, parts of the city come into focus or fade away!
  7. Have fun playing in the space as you search for the City’s Heart, and feel free to take pictures or video by pressing or holding the round button on your device screen.
  8. When you discover the City’s Heart—a small digital sculpture with another QR code—scan it to fill out the Google Form. You’ll be provided with directions on how to collect it at The Southeast Steuben County Library.
  9. Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Share your photos and videos with us on Instagram by tagging and following: @burdenofconquest, @rockwellmuseum and @shastiolearysoudant

Burden of Conquest is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. This work was incubated and supported by the Sculpture Space Artists Residency in Utica, NY.
We are grateful to our local collaborators—the Southeast Steuben County Library and Megan O’Toole (Community Based Arts Practitioner)—for helping us bring this Augmented Reality Art Game to fruition.