Monday, 16 December 2013

levels of reality


I liked this ad for the simple reason that it is a billboard inside a billboard. The augmented reality element is a big thing for the PS4 and the ad communicated the idea of gaming-as-AR pretty well. What it also does is inviting the imagination to explore what AR can potentially be. Wouldn't this ad be more relevant if the city depicted on-board IS Rotterdam? If the battle-scene on the ad takes place IN this very location in the city? If the hands holding onto the ropes are actually my hands? In the not-so-distant future where AR technology had matured and google-glass-style vision-alteration devices become prevalent, this type of location-specific and/or viewer-specific advertisement may become standard. You and I can configure our visions in different ways, such that when we look at this billboard we will see different things. Hell, we might not need a billboard at all. Ads can literally hide behind every corner and then pop out to individually scare you like some intrusive reality-TV asshole.

AR facilitates a post-modern definition of the world. What's the difference between hallucinating an unicorn and seeing it on your AR glasses display? In both scenarios the horny fucker is only visible to you. It does not exist in the objective reality. Maybe the objective reality will soon become too boring and therefore obsolete.

In accordance to the perspective of this blog, I may in fact argue that the objective reality is ALREADY boring and obsolete. Why look at anything as it physically IS, when with mindfulness we can see so much more? The human consciousness is naturally capable of AR. Take the example of Feng-Shui: Asian geomancers and their followers observe and analyse geographic elemental energy-flows that are not objectively measurable. These Feng-Shui considerations are often seriously taken into account by architects in Asia, as they design their buildings and cities. They see a relevant reality that the uninitiated ones cannot, and then they operate in this reality. We may say that to study Feng-Shui is to enter and engage a specific FS AR. Now imagine a Feng-Shui app developed for the Google Glass. This app can use geolocation and google maps coupled with a database of Feng-Shui rules, to calculate and display the Feng-Shui qualities of any place on the planet. What it really does, however, is only conveniently presenting a visualisation of an augmented reality that already exists in geomancers' minds. This app does not create an AR, but rather translate an existing AR into visuals that are accessible to everyone.

Having access to the visualisation of Feng-Shui does not make one into a geomancer, for seeing does not equal to believing nor understanding. But it does make both of those processes easier. I imagine that such an app would make a great education/visualisation/initiation instrument.




While we talk about visualisation instruments we may also discuss a different technological approach. Instead of a fabricated digital reality that only exists on screen, we can create tangible scale-models. Scale models are definitely real objects in the objective reality, but at the same time they are also representations, and there is tension in this duo-quality of theirs. In the setting of the Blaak Markthal construction site, we see the arched structure existing in 3 different levels of reality. There's a small representation inside of a bigger representation, set in front of the REAL SIZE THING. The size is, of course, not the only differentiating factor, as each of the two representations draw attention to different aspects of the building, while the actual building is not complete (although it is more complete now than it was when I took the photos). The models represent a Markthal in the future, which as of this moment does not exist yet. They communicate a reality that objectively is not yet, but one that already exists in the minds of city planners and architects and construction workers, and also in the schedule.

Now what if I create a model for a reality that only exist in my own schedule, and you create one that only exists in yours? When we do, are we also creating a style of ARs according to our subjectivities? In a previous post I mentioned Kraków Szopki. These models, although not to-scale, are meant to represent some aspects of the city of Kraków, according to the individual craftsman's interpretation. They take inspirations from local architecture and culture and construct these elements into an imagined amalgam reality. Of course in the objective reality Jesus wasn't born in any cathedral or castle in Kraków, but in the AR of Szopki he was born in Kraków many many times.

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