After much hemming and hawing (and other antiquated phrases) and much, much inspiration and brainstorming with Noreen (thanks Noreen!), I am starting to zero in on a final assignment topic (I think). I had been debating doing nanotechnology as a mapping to the skin (like tattooing in a way), the skin itself as input device, and the ramifications on perception and consciousness on all of that, but I want to go a slightly different direction.
I am intrigued by Augmented Reality (AR), which is just a catch all term for a “live direct or indirect view of a physical world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated sensory input”, like sound, graphics, etc. Some refer to it as mediated reality as it is reality modified by technology. I care less about the technology and more about the implications for (cyborg) perception and presence. I wanted to focus on one instance of this in particular, Layar. The name itself doesn’t particularly matter; more importantly is how it “augments” perception, allowing for layers of reality to be experienced, even simultaneously.
I am walking down the street (doing my best impersonation of a flaneur). I look down an alleyway. I point my mobile down the alleyway. I see various layers of information mapped to it. The history of the street. Older photographs of the buildings. Real estate prices. Voting preferences. Carbon emissions. Building construction materials. Anything. I wander off.
I think this has potential if viewed as both a perception issue and a presence issue. What about this expands my perception, disregards boundaries, laws, the very things that cyborgs ignore and humans cling to? The mobile devices affording augmented reality become the magnifying glass and binoculars (both micro and macro perception issues) of the digital flaneur, tools of the trade. Augmented reality allows the cyborg to not only disregard boundaries, but to see through them, to understand them at both the conceptual and molecular level. If the world was converted into information (DNA, consumer purchases, biological processes), then this perception becomes a reappropriation of that information in the self/cyborg (Shields, 212).
It also situates the cyborg in space, a fuzzy material reality that complements the “overlapping nodes in webs of power, not discrete and unitary sites” (213). These augmented reality layers may contradict, bleed into one another.
So, long story short, I would like to look at augmented reality as the tool of digital flaneur/cyborg towards expanding the scope of both perception and presence. Any thoughts on this one? Sorry for rambling.