Augmented Reality and Wikitude

Holding the device up, after a few moments, images/information appear, hovering over the camera image. With a compass marking further accessible information Wikitude allows you to view Flickr or Instagram images, Wikipedia entries or Tripadvisor ratings by location. Uricchio, 2011, looks to Culler and Heidegger, to define the “algorithmic construction of the image” p25, saying that “the modern social order can be defined through a representational system characterised by precisely defined subject-object relations (the world as a picture), a metaphysics of exactitude and an underlying spatiotemporal grid” p26. Suggesting that digital media, in the form of location-aware technologies and augmented reality (AR) systems, are affected by “algorithmic interventions between the viewing subject and the object viewed” p25 Where, “the algorithmic domain ultimately determines what we see and even how we see it” p33 (their italics) “In the case of location-based AR applications, meanings are as precise as the viewing position.” ibid

My office is adjacent to the hospital, which offers me a Flickr image of an x-ray and another of a sleeping baby, it feels rather intrusive or even voyeuristic, as these images feel private to someone else, they were not intended for me.

Picture 3

Screenshot of flickr content discovered through Wikitude

Picture 2

Screenshot of flickr content discovered through Wikitude

Holding up the device, to view through, feels cumbersome and not particularly intuitive as I am constantly aware of the technology. As are the other people in the room, with a camera between us, I can see that they feel uncomfortable.

Anne Friedburg (2009) defines modern media through the use of multiple windows, or frames, through which we perceive images. Saying that “our new mode of perception is multiple  and fractured. It is ‘postperspectival’ – no longer framed in a single image with fixed centrality; ‘postcinematic’ – no longer projected onto a screen surface as were the camera obscura or magic lantern; ‘post-televisual’ – no longer unidirectional in the model of sender receiver.” p194. The ‘window’ metaphor suggests realism of visual content, a clear transparent view of the world, however AR gives content overlaid with multiple frames/windows of further information.

Bolter and Grusin (2000), defined contemporary media through the concept of remediation, consisting of two logics: immediacy and hypermediacy. Wanting to highlight “the twin preoccupations of contemporary media: the transparent presentation of the real and the enjoyment of the opacity of media themselves”, p21. Suggesting that the goal of a media designer should be to create a transparent interface, “so that the user is no longer aware of confronting a medium, but instead stands in an immediate relationship to the contents of that medium” p24. Linking this through the history of visual culture, to the addition of linear perspective to painting, to mathematise space. Hypermediacy is represented by screens containing heterogenous windows, “a medium that offers ‘random access’; it has no physical beginning, middle or end” p31. These multiple windows bring the interface to the foreground, working against the desire for a transparent medium.

My screen creates a frame/window through which I can view the augmented information, the image has become an interface, overlaid with further information, which is floating, detached from three dimensional space. When I view via the map, the location-based information feels rooted somewhere more concrete and space regains dimension once more.

(331 of my words)

Other related links

Sight from Robot Genius on Vimeo. A film that imagines a future, where reality is augmented through contact lenses. Suggesting that even mundane everyday tasks  will become a gamified experience, through the permanent inclusion of digital graphics into our field of vision. It is rather pessimistic about the augmented-human condition, suggesting that technology will form an emotional barrier with an inability to form unmediated relationships. However the aesthetic quality of the augmented imagery integrated into our perceived reality is seductive and makes current examples look underdeveloped.

Immateriality | The Future Human from jenny lee on Vimeo. With available technology, will we want to augment our own appearance in the future? I can imagine people might want to appear more attractive or younger, however, the ‘digital skins’ offered by this artist may be to far removed from current realities to seem currently feasible.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo. Another slightly pessimistic view of AR, suggesting that we will surrender our cognitive abilities to technology and need the help with even simple tasks, such as how to make a cup of tea.


Bolter J.D. and Grusin R. (2000) “Remediation: Understanding New Media” MIT Press, US

Friedburg A. (2009) “The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft” MIT Press, US

Uricchio W. (2011) “The algorithmic turn: photosynth, augmented reality and the changing implications of the image” Visual Studies, 26:1, 25-35


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