Urban Screens and Augmented Environments

In my comments yesterday at ISMAR 2012 I showed Urban Screen’s KUBIK555, Blu’s Muto, and Re*public, an urban AR art project that was demoed at ISMAR, making the argument that they share certain aesthetic and artistic affinities, but using different media. I introduced my concept of the polyaesthetic in the context of Augmented Reality and I realized how interesting and challenging the juxtaposition in itself is. Technically and in terms of cultural or artistic context these projects are presented to different audiences, but they really live in similar cultural spaces. AR/MR seem perfect for our cultural moment as media often extend outward into the same space we live in, making almost all our environments medially augmented. The danger is of course that we dilute the concept of AR/MR, but the upside is that we can learn from different projects, across academic disciplines, professional boundaries, and technical/artistic skill sets. Mark Billinghurst made the point yesterday that we should really work together – designers, humanities scholars, engineers, and programmers – to make better experiences. Helen Papagiannis, too, mentioned the importance of experience that is shaped by many. Experience is a key word in many of these discussions, and seems to take the place of reading, hearing, viewing, interacting etc. I would argue that the reason we find “experience” to be more apt is that we are increasingly addressing more senses, more facets of engagement, and that many media now function alongside and enmeshed with other parts of our lives.

The panel and ISMAR gave much food for thought and I return with renewed energy to my book (Polyaesthetics: Experiencing Digital Cultures), and to thinking about my talk for Monday at Georgia State University’s Digital Arts Entertainment Laboratory

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