Tag: Augmented Reality

Dancing around Digital Architecture: Denno Coil and an Augmented Future

Dancing around Digital Architecture: Denno Coil and an Augmented Future

The highly underrated 2007 anime Denno Coil postulated a future where a pervasive digital world intersects with the physical world through the use of augmented reality glasses. More recent anime depictions of the digital world such as Sword Art Online(2012) and Log Horizon (2013)  have opted for an immersive virtual world rather than augmenting the physical. With the advent of technologies such as Google Glass and the Oculus Rift both visions of the future are now available to consumers. The question is now which vision can emerge as blueprint for everyday life in the digital 21st century.

This goes beyond a competition of formats such as Bluray/HD DVD and or Betamax/VHS. Fundamentally each technology posits a different way to interact with the digital world and how the human body relates to digital space. Sword Art Online’s (SAO) and Log Horizon’s immersive virtual reality are passive,  cutting a user off from the physical world in favor of an all encompassing digital space. As intriguing as this vision for the creation of new worlds and the exploration of old, say a VR tour of London’s Crystal Palace or Edo Castle, its applications tend towards the idea of a separate and distinct digital space.  Physiological issues aside (I personally get motion sick after a few hours of Halo) SAO and Log Horizon push a conceptualization of compartmentalized digital space that is eroding in the face of a pervasive and always on internet.

The everyday applications of an augmented world are likelier to gain traction among the general population as movement towards merging digital and physical spaces continues. Consider our instagrammed, Tweeted, Facebooked world where we are able to constantly project an image of ourselves into digital space. Allowing the digital to intersect the physical is less of a radical idea than it world seem and one that most internet users would find more comfortable and less strange than strapping on headgear to wander the digital wilds. (Despite the modern love affair with technology, the often heard exhortation to go outside and play speaks to a current cultural inability to completely equate a digital space with a physical one. The debate over E-sports is another example.)

The ability to add onto the existing world, such as personalized bus signage or a digital rendition of a building over the current construction site is an attractive one for business as well as a way for consumers to customize their environments. (Functionally, consider Doctor Who’s virtual clothing in the episode Time of the Doctor, Denno Coil’s use of augmentation to clean up distressed areas of the city and the pet owl in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.) An immersive AR environment can allow for a replication of otherwise unobtainable assets and enhance the current physical world with the digital, a proposition that both carries weight with an ordinary consumer while continuing a trend of integration rather than segregation of spaces.

Around the Internet: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Around the Internet: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has recently unveiled a new web site which endeavors to reach the laudable dual goals of “scholarship and accessibility.” Rather than using the web site as a simple reference point for visitors or as a catalog of works held by the institution, the museum has opted to attempt to deliver a completely different online experience to the one that can be had in person. By incorporating the strengths of the internet to deliver vast amounts of information and visuals according to the wishes and interest of the user, the Met has created a user-definable venture that can hopefully serve to enlighten as well as enhance any physical trip to the museum.

As the presence of the internet in daily life continues to grow, so does the chance to use new technologies to augment traditional activities. History in particular is a discipline which can only benefit from the incorporation of new forms of media and new methods of disseminating knowledge. The use of the word accessibility by the Met is also a key one, as some of the greatest work in the historical field remains firmly in the domain of historians. The result is that brilliant insights and discoveries remain isolated from the public, which can perpetuate long standing misconceptions about what historians do and the importance of their work (in my experience, asking any freshman history survey course about this will provide sufficient insight into the problem.) Balancing accessibility with scholarship is a valid concern but simply because it is difficult does not mean it is impossible. As this web site was founded on the idea of enhancing historical studies through the use of the internet and technology, the Metropolitan Museum’s efforts are both welcome and worth watching.

The New York Times has a more thorough review of the Metropolitan Museum’s online effects. Read the article at :: New York Times and the Met Online

Check out the Met’s web site at :: metmuseum.org