Thursday, February 25, 2010

S.03 Augmented Reality

While researching modern virtual reality technology I stumbled upon this video about augmented reality: The main premise of augmented reality is to “superimpose graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time” (Bonsor). While reading ‘The Language of New Media’, I started to wonder how Manovich would respond to augmented reality. In defining what a screen is, he writes: “the visual culture of the modern period, from painting to cinema, is characterized by an intriguing phenomenon—the existence of another virtual space, another three dimensional world enclosed by a frame and situated inside our normal space. The frame separates two absolutely different spaces that somehow coexist” (95). To what extent can augmented reality be said to use such a screen? Augmented reality relies directly on changes in the physical world (and its effects can be seen in “real time”), and it is thus merged with real-life to a much greater extent than, say, virtual reality. Whereas one might suggest that virtual reality is hyper-real, augmented reality—as the name itself suggests—is based entirely on the assumption of the real and has its origins based firmly therein. Mankovich writes, “a screen's frame separates two spaces that have different scales—the physical and the virtual… it discourage[s] any movement on her part: Why move when she can't enter the represented virtual space anyway?” But this is not longer the case. Augmented reality is intimately dependent on the idea of the virtual and the real conforming to the same scale. The alluring thing about augmented reality is neither the virtual technology it utilizes nor the real itself—it is the fact that these merge together seamlessly. While “virtual reality allows us to travel through nonexistent three-dimensional spaces”, augmented reality allows us to do quite the opposite—to navigate familiar landscapes and inject virtual elements (such as graphics) into them. I wonder where this technology will take us in the future—is this a new type of cyberspace being mapped onto the real world?

Bonsor, Kevin. "How Augmented Reality Works." 19 February 2001. 24 February 2010.

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