Post 1: Augmented Reality

One of the topics discussed in this course includes augmented reality. This describes a computer-generated image that is superimposed on a viewer’s visual image. It creates together a merged view, or an augmented reality for the viewer. This is relevant because it speaks to concerns about the future, and how media technology will become more intertwined with our lives. The reading relevant to this subject is David Rokeby’s The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content. Rokeby says of his work that it is interactive. He creates experiences through artificial realities (Rokeby, 1998). Artists often use this idea of augmented reality and its potential to allow the public to speculate on technology’s role in our lives and the power of mixed medias and interfaces. One of these includes Keiichi Matsuda who created a look into humanity’s future with augmented reality through Hyper-Reality, where the physical and virtual world are merged. The computer-generated image enhances the experience of the user, guiding them through their every day cycle, including taking the bus and going to the grocery store. It aids the user in choosing what to purchase, and even what direction to walk in. At one point, the technology stops working, and the user panics because they cannot function without the technological aid. Many viewers of this video thought it disturbing, because people are so reliant to their smartphones, computers, and GPS. It is a commentary on our reliance to technology.

In the first couple of weeks we were required to go on Janet Cardiff’s audio-video tour of The Rocks, The City of Forking Paths. Cardiff creates augmented realities. These change the way one interprets, feels, and perceives genuine experiences (Cardiff, 2016). The user is guided around the city through headphones and a video of Cardiff walking and speaking. It is very hard to differentiate between the real sounds and visuals of Sydney, and those from the video-audio source. The user feels like the emotions and obstacles she faces, are real, despite their knowledge they are not. Cardiff points out where bodies were thrown to the harbor, and the user hears the sound of them falling into the water. During this, and times Cardiff is confronted by seemingly menacing males, I felt scared for my own safety. This wholly altered my experience in a place I’d otherwise feel safe.

Another series of works to consider is Virtual Environments – BodySpin. In these systems, the participant’s bodily responses, such as anxiety, causes the manipulation of the virtual space they experience. Most of these are mazes, that get harder when the participant is stressed, and easier when they calm down. We think of technology as quantitative. One presses in numbers, and receive desired results, but one does not consider technology as responding directly to emotions. This presents technology as a therapeutic means, and makes one hopeful for the positive potential of technology in the future. In terms of anxiety therapy, if one forces themselves to think of the simplest conclusion rather than several, worse and more complicated scenarios, they will be more calm and have an easier experience in life. This allows a person to physically exercise this.

Works Cited:

Dodsworth, C., & Rokeby, D. (1998). Digital Illusion: Entertaining the Future with High Technology. New York: ACM Press.

Cardiff, J., & Bures Miller, G. (2016). City of Forking Paths. [audio-visual] Sydney.

“Virtual Environments – BodySPIN.” Time’s Up. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016. <http://timesup.org/content/virtual-environments-bodyspin>

Hyper-Reality. Dir. Keiichi Matsuda. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2016. <https://vimeo.com/166807261&gt;.

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