Tamiko Thiel was a fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies from 2004-05. A visual artist exploring the relationship between the body’s spatial awareness and cultural identity, Tamiko uses an array of visual media and is currently using an augmented reality system to exhibit her latest work.

She was recently the subject of an article, Unveiling the Invisible, published by the Arts at MIT on November 30, 2022. An excerpt is below:

Unveiling the Invisible: The digital artworks of Tamiko Thiel ’83 expand perception of our immediate environment

Imagine walking in an urban setting, conjuring a spontaneous rewilding of the world around you; metro stations are dominated by native species, exotic invasives self-seed in parking lots and café patios. Swipe and select a different AR application. This time, the streets are submerged underwater; as both participant and observer, your gaze generates algorithmic patterns of living corals and discarded plastics, existing together in mysterious symbiosis.

These experiences might arise via two augmented reality (AR) artworks by Tamiko Thiel (SM ’83); ReWildAR (2021), and Unexpected Growth (2018), commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum of American Art, respectively, and created in collaboration with the artist /p. Thiel is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of digital art, and she developed her artistic toolkit as a master’s student at MIT. During that time, she participated in research groups that served as forerunners of the MIT Media Lab: the Architecture Machine Group (founded in 1968 by Nicholas Negroponte) and the Visible Language Workshop (founded in 1973 by Muriel Cooper).

Waldwandel/Forest Flux

Waldwandel/Forest Flux
Flowers Forever: Flowers in Art and Culture
Kunsthalle Munich
February 3 – August 27, 2023

Developed in collaboration with the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise,* Waldwandel / Forest Flux provides an immersive encounter with how climate change is affecting the Bavarian forests. In the Kunsthalle Munich, the installation is viewable as an AR livestream on a monitor, through dedicated iPads that visitors can take in their hands, and through the free ARpoise app that visitors can download onto their own smartphones.

For the Norway Spruce (Fichte, Picea abies), long a staple of the Bavarian forest economy, abundant conical blossoms (actually “strobili,” a sort of proto-flower) and the resultant clouds of wind-borne pollen are probably a form of survival instinct, as the trees attempt to survive the dryer, hotter environment we have created.

Waldwandel / Forest Flux was commissioned by the Kunsthalle Munich for the exhibit Flowers Forever (curated by Franziska Stöhr), BIOTOPIA Museum of Natural History, and the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise.

Sponsored by generous grants from the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise, and from Sundance Institute Interdisciplinary Program with support from Unity Charitable Fund/Tides Foundation.

About the exhibition: With their splendor and diversity flowers have always captivated us. They possess great symbolic power – whether in mythology, religion, art or politics. In earlier centuries, flowers were coveted status symbols, today they are traded globally as a mass product. Currently, the flower is coming into focus as a fragile yet indispensable component of our global eco-system. With objects from art, design, fashion and natural science, Flowers Forever offers a fascinating, elaborately staged tour through the cultural history of flowers from antiquity to the present day.

Lend Me Your Face

Lend Me Your Face
Evoluon in Eindhoven, Holland.
September 2022 – October 2023

In Lend Me Your Face!, a neural network animates a single photo of each participating visitor’s face to match “driving videos” of leading public figures.* The deepfakes are displayed in large projections surrounding the public. The visitor is confronted with a very personal encounter of how the most intimate and yet public part of the self, the face and the emotions it expresses, can easily be manipulated and placed in contexts out of their control.


#JulietToo” AR installation, Tamiko Thiel, 2022Sited at the Juliet Capulet sculpture in Marienplatz (but all the AR works in #MakeUsVisible are visible around the world as well). Exhibition is ongoing indefinitely.

Created for the augmented monuments project #MakeUsVisible, a network of audio, visual and scholarly engagement empowering diverse female and gender-expansive voices in public spaces.

The AR monument #JulietToo by Tamiko Thiel surrounds Juliet’s statue in downtown Munich with body positive avatars as a powerful warrior with a bared breast: Juliet as Amazon Archer; Juliet as Viking Shield Maiden.

In Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” the star-crossed heroine was only 13 years old, but determined to decide herself with whom she would share her body. Her bronze statue has no such autonomy: whereas women touch her hand or arm for good luck, men climb onto her pedestal and grab her breast, and have worn off the patina.