Academic journal article Afterimage

Spatial Politics: The (Non)destinations of Augmented Reality Art (Part II)

Academic journal article Afterimage

Spatial Politics: The (Non)destinations of Augmented Reality Art (Part II)

Article excerpt

[Ed. note: This is the second part of a two-part essay. See the September/ October 2010 issue (Volume 38, no. 2) of Afterimage for Part 1 of this essay.]

What would it. be for an augmented reality artwork to produce a form of communication, connectedness. and community qualified participation interactivity as noise, as an ambivalent destination? An augmented reality art work that would call attention to the inseparability of "Here you are now" and "Where are you now?," turning this inseparability into innovative ways of perceiving? What would such a work look like' What would be the aesthetic operations constitutive of such AR environments? These works deploy communication, connectedness, and community as an undertaking more than a program or an accomplishment. They do so by effectuating affective/sensorial/ perceptual/cognitive horizon shifts to problematize the instantancity of connectedness and the non-oppositional view of participation.

THE PROBING STRATEGY

Let us first address Seiko Mikami's interactive Desire of Codes (2007 ), and its exploration of what I call the "probing" strategy of (non) destination. In its most recent 2010 version shown at Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media's Studio A in Japan, Desire of Codes is made of three sections: (1) a wall of sixty devices with highly receptive built-in lights, microphones, and cameras, which blink and move, following the detected movement of the spectators; (2) six robotic search arms suspended from the ceiling, equipped with cameras and projectors that also move (although more slowly) to closely observe the actions of the detected spectators, recording and projecting their enlarged images onto the floor; and (3) a large round screen at the back of the exhibition resembling an insect's compound eye that projects the images (details of the spectator's body, such as skin, eyes, or hair) and sounds recorded by the cameras of the first section, together with footage of public spaces (namely airports, parks, hallways, and streets; recorded by different surveillance cameras around the world, The spectator who enters the site is submitted to informational society's sensing, detection, and surveillance operations: s/he is tracked down from beginning to end; the sixty structures on the wall move together as s/he moves; when s/he stops moving the structures' motion also stops. In the middle section, the search arms extend their appendages to establish a camera-to-face relationship with him or her to ensure the detection-recording-projection of his or her moving body: Finally, s/he observes his or her own image (nearly illegible at this point) being mixed with other surveillance images, inserted into a community of surveilled and encoded bodies. His or her trajectory in the space is more precisely a passage from a sense of relative privacy and control (a sense of play, instant feedback, gratification, and uniqueness in relation to one's image and movement) to a sense of becoming public, and controlled (observed, processed as data, encoded, multiplied, made reproducible and visible as code to all). Even the soundscape a sonic environment mixing every sound occurring in the site with formerly recorded .sound data accumulated up to the present--embeds the logic of passage from private to public.

In this process, while the "Here yon are now" modality of augmented reality persists--for the Desire of Codes is distinctively an installation of continual surveillance, tracking, and detection--and while the encoding of one's desires unfolds accordingly, the installation opens up to the questioning "Where arc you now?," "Who are you now?," and "Is this really you?" This is the ambivalence of destination: the representative deployment of a microcosm of informational society in which every consumer or social networking participant is destined to leave a coded trace once desire is materialized, but: whose connectivity with the tracking machines these machines provide, after all, recognition, imitation, observation, and care starts to wear off. …

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