Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop
The architecture of the contemporary city is no longer simply about the physical space of buildings and landscape, more and more it is about the synthetic spaces created by the digital information that we collect, consume and organise; an immersive interface may become as much part of the world we inhabit as the buildings around us.
Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging technology defined by its ability to overlay physical space with information. It is part of a paradigm shift that succeeds Virtual Reality; instead of disembodied occupation of virtual worlds, the physical and virtual are seen together as a contiguous, layered and dynamic whole. It may lead to a world where media is indistinguishable from ‘reality’. The spatial organisation of data has important implications for architecture, as we re-evaluate the city as an immersive human-computer interface.
The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it.
* A film produced for my final year Masters in Architecture, part of a larger project about the social and architectural consequences of new media and augmented reality.
— Notes from Keiichi Matsuda on the AR project featured above
Freelance designer and filmmaker, Keiichi Matsuda situates us within a scene from everyday life (preparing a cup of tea) that delineates the contours of Augmented Reality. Rather than a dystopic prediction of some frightening future, Matsuda perhaps is drawing precisely from technologies that already exist (and circulate with regularity). Could this be read as a commentary on the present moment? It’s striking how many questions such a brief portrait of AR provokes within us. At once, we are confronted with both our fascination with (read: desire for) and fear of these kinds of physical-virtual interactions. We could generate an exhaustive list of the anxieties Augmented Reality induces: deepening (inescapable) alienation / pervasive corporate branding / intrusion (+ surveillance) of the domestic sphere / addiction.
In this next film, cleverly titled “The Pusher” Matsuda plays with conflicting fantasies of the (seductive) possibilities and (often obscured) limitations within the matrix of information, advertising and capitalist consumption. In his description of this particular project, he highlights the themes of addiction, obsession and compulsion. The fast cuts between the billboards and the street level re-enact the almost traumatic bombardment of advertising in many “cosmopolitan” cities. Matsuda forces to us to re-imagine the function, form and role architecture of technology and cities might play (presently and in the next moment). I’m interested in knowing what some of your reactions to these representations are? What do you make of Augmented Reality (and its consequences)? How far away is this reality…if it’s not already in place? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Follow the links below for more info on Matsuda.