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.


Ambient Intelligence

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

This post is a summary of what I found interesting in the article ‘The Territory of Ambient Intelligence’ by Rob van Kranenburg in TAG MAG 06 ‘Augmented Reality, Superimposing the Virtual, published by <>TAG

In the Phaedrus Socrates spoke out against writing, pencils, and any other way of outsourcing our human memory to the environment, the question is should we exclude any kind of environment?

For most of us growing up with technology, makes it not technology but something that just is arround. As we are moving into the territory of ambient intelligence (AmI), we have between five and ten years to decide which connectivities we want, after that, also according to Marc Weiser in ‘The Computer of the 21st Century’, they disappear into the ‘fabric of everyday life’. Still there are still quiet a few catches.

Catch 1: The Internet is not yet ready to become the ‘Internet of Things’.

Catch 2: Philips sold their chip-making divisions so as not to get caught up in the debate of ‘privacy’. Companies do not want to be associated with things like RFID, they just want to add drama to the everyday life, bringing ambient narratives, gameplay, etc. in our homes. In these last cases people are not supposed to be thinking about what is running in the background to make them effective systems. But this can only happen if we can implement the technology in a stable environment, we need this so nothing goes wrong since people only start thinking of the system behind something if it goes wrong.

Catch 3: We want to be safe, not feel safe, because to feel safe may change quickly. AmI promises this safety, but will we still feel free? As an example of the totalitarian character of AmI just imagine this. Some people would like to use RFID to do provocative surveillance tracking every action of citizens. As somebody is noticed to have visited shop A to buy product A, then  stops at shop B to buy product B and ends up in shop C to buy product C, the police could catch him right there because these are the ingredients for a bomb. Just take this way of thinking and you might end up with a world in which you can get arrested for saying certain words, even thinking something, for reading this text, etc.

Catch 4: No more public. Even hacking an RFID tag is pretty useless as the database and thus the system will still continue to exist.

Catch 5: We have 2 options. One is that the ongoing disciplining process will sclae larger and to more damaging techno-logistic blocs (which we will have to fight). Option two is that the first cracks will show and in highly developed and techno-saturated countries opening the doors for cibil wars, gang wars, etc. not accepting the fact that a gouvernment which has outsourced its currency and law and privatised all it’s services, still collects 0% of our incomes. Anyway in both cases we need our own system of communication, transport, etc. and we that are the people involved with open source software, brico in nature, share as a way of living, people with some sense of shame left.

I must say I will not ask to agree or disagree, I think everybody should make up his/her own mind. This post is just a teaser to make people think. And I wanted to end this post with one advice: As artist, please don’t focus on the gadgets, but on the connectivity.

Yolande Harris

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on December 1, 2008

Yolande Harris / Composer & media-artist / Explores relation between architecture, sound & image / Project example: Sun Run Sun


First of all, working as a composer with both audio and image, it became clear to her that sound doesn’t draw your attention as quickly as images that get to us much faster. A second remark she makes is that, as she likes to investigate the relations between sound, technology and environments, it became clear how little environments and landscapes are discussed in the media arts.


Looking at landscapes from different points of view she also uses GPS and thus satellite information. As these data are used for her compositions, creating the sounds, what we hear is actually the external space, which wraps the space we live in. Even though this all sounds really scientific, her first goal is to confront the audience with something it is not always aware. She won’t present it as a neutral reality but will try to provoke a certain emotional response and as the raw data becomes subjective at some point in the process, thus creating the possibility of multiple interpretations.


Talking about interpretations and connotations, it is clear that indirectly these satellites are connected with the military, communication, etc. This doesn’t bother her at all, but what she finds most interesting is the fact that GPS technology tells us at any time where we are. You can not get lost anymore these days and it will take you from point A to point B in a way that you stop thinking about the environment you are in. GPS has split navigation from the environment, it has disconnected the ‘knowing where you are’ from the ‘knowledge of the environment’. I always found GPS technology undermines the orientation skills and it seems to me that Yolande agrees. In my opinion she is totally right when she says new technologies make our lives easier, but one should always be aware of the fact that at the same time we risk losing a lot of what we already know and, more specifically in relation to the subject of the satellites, our fundamental engagement to our environment. Fully aware of this phenomenon she has become fascinated by working towards a hybrid between technologically aided and intuitive embodied navigation, or as she calls it the techno-intuition.

This article is based on: A Journey Through Sound; An Interview with Yolande Harris by Carmen Hutting and Annet Dekker – Tagmag 05 – Eco Aesthetics