"Unexpected Growth," by Tamiko Thiel (with /p), is a geolocative, site specific augmented reality art installation commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It is premiering in the exhibition "Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018," from September 28, 2018 - April 14, 2019.

To experience it, download the „Unexpected Growth“ app to your own smartphone, go onto the Whitney Museum 6th floor terrace and look around the terrace in the display of this app. You will find yourself surrounded by a coral reef, as if the sea water levels have risen to inundate the entire Whitney Museum under water. Occasional waves seem to sweep the corals back and forth - they have become mobile, to better respond to changing climate conditions.

In nature, many corals are self-similar structures following simple, repetitive rules of growth, which can often be described as mathematical „Lindenmayer systems.“ Here, you can see that the corals are forming these Lindenmayer systems out of plastic waste. Is this our future, as plastic waste becomes more numerous than the fish in the sea?

Construction and use of smartphones is also a factor contributing to global climate change. As more and more visitors view the corals at the Whitney, their colors slowly bleach to white. Only after many hours of rest from the mediated human gaze will the corals regain their vibrant colors.

What’s New

Version 1.4

Version 1.4 is a bugfix release, resolving a stability issue. No new features were added.

Ratings and Reviews

4.3 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Marimic7 ,

Beautiful use of AR

One of the most creative AR uses and beautifully expressive (but, yeah, damning). The app worked even when I got home in upstate NY (3hrs from Manhattan) and one other time I believe. Turned location service and data on for the app today and it’s gone. It’s been more than a year since I used the app though. Bummer. What a great project to show friends.

Jane5984 ,

Beautiful and damning

Beautiful, colourful augmented reality underwater organisms are, on closer inspection, made of our discarded plastic. Go at different times to see the “coral” bleach out.

Closet0taku ,

Be aware...

...this application is useful only on the 6th floor of the Whitney museum; elsewhere it does nothing but maintain access to your location and camera.

App Privacy

The developer, Tamiko Thiel, has not provided details about its privacy practices and handling of data to Apple. For more information, see the developer's privacy policy.

No Details Provided

The developer will be required to provide privacy details when they submit their next app update.


Tamiko Thiel
92.9 MB

Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.



Age Rating


  • Family Sharing

    With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.

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