Augmented Unreality

Posted in Society and Technology by tpdr on February 6, 2009

This post is based on the interesting article ‘Disputing Augmented Unreality’ by Keir Neuringer in TAG MAG 06 ‘Augmented Reality, Superimposing the Virtual, published by <>TAG

Imagine this, I am walking a mountain trial and all of a sudden the weather changes so I have to get as quickly as possible to a shelter, but there is no such place for hours. I panic but then again I have this Augmented Reality device with me. These glasses function as a projection screen on the inside adding a layer of digital/virtual information to the reality I see watching through the glasses. The device calculates my route to safety, using GPS data cross-referenced with weather info from Internet and thus taking also into account the conditions of the environment, access to water and my own physical condition as it also monitors my heart rate with a sensor, etc. All this superimposed information makes me calm down and I am on my way to safety. Still I would rather leave the device at home. this story was told by the writer of the article, Keir Neuringer and I agreed, which I will explain later.

1) Neuringer states that Augmented Reality doesn’t actually change reality as we can not qualify or quantify reality. Disputing reality we would end up in insanity or art. Augmented reality, like mobile phones, the Internet and anything that can be abstracted from specific perceptions of time, space and connectivity, threatens the notion of the local. The largets entity that we can grasp as local is this planet and all its tangible, physical aspects that others experience. If we watch somebody drink water, we can not taste it but our memory can trigger a memory of the taste of water, which is empathy. An AR device might allow us to ctually taste water even though it is not there, which is insane.

2) Keir Neuringer remarks that with ubiquitous computing, data of things we make can be networked. He is actually convinced that birds, earthworms,etc.and people awake to their unaugmented senses are also networked and syncing too. He knows this because if he spents a certain time away from devices, walking in the mountains, the more he feels alive to the world around him, he doesn’t need devices to connect his perceptions amongst them or to facilitate the connectivity to his surroundings.

3) As his conclusion he writes: There is a layer of experience and perception and action that is augmentable. He believes art can dispute reality when artists address it forthrightly and bring creativity to bear on the enigma of being, on problems and beauty embedded in our perceptions. And by sharing in reality, consciously and with clarity. Which is to say sanely.

Personally I agreed earlier with his conclusion of his little story about the mountain walk because I feel the same way just using a GPS navigation system. I rather use a map or get lost. Why? Because these devices feel so totalitarian, telling where to go and which way to take, but more importantly, these devices stop you from thinking. Outsourcing ‘thinking’ to me feels like a dangerous thing to do. I don’t want to make this sound too conservative, I just want to say we have to think about what these devices do to us and make sure they don’t make us weaker in the end. Somewhere in the article Neuringer also mentions that he also could have used a map, could hav learned about the fauna and flora in relation to this mountain, etc. but it is easier to just take a device and make it tell us all of this and turning ourselves into passive receivers. I would just want to be someone who is not a fool for gadgets but takes their consequences into account and decides afterwards if it is a necessity to have this or that device or not. And to put in a positive note, I still believe for every device that makes us stop thinking, there is always a way to use it to exercise our thinking.


3 Responses

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  1. happyslave said, on February 6, 2009 at 4:00 am

    read mine too..
    they are in german but give it a try

  2. tpdr said, on February 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Have checkt yours, german is not that big of a problem for me but I couldn’t find immediatly related posts…do have other interesting posts concerned this subject?

  3. sveng said, on February 11, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Yow Fili, here’s the blog I mentioned about the augmented reality on the iPhone:


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