Augmented reality artwork conjuring phantasms explores nostalgia for a future we cannot experience.

Abstract:

A visit to the concrete ‘Sound Mirrors’ in Denge Kent inspired me to combine my enquiry into emerging virtual digital techniques with obsolete & lost heritage as I am an artist fascinated by the relationship of history, new technologies, memory & dreams. These spectacular remnants of a dead-end technology from WWI would tell more of a story if combined with augmented reality. 

Funded by a ‘Grantium’ from The Arts Council of England (focussing on my hometown of Hastings & St Leonards) I designed and produced an ‘augmented reality(1)’ (AR) application called ‘Apparitions’. It triggers spectral artworks – 3d models with anachronistic soundscapes when viewing special vintage postcards of the sites using smartphone cameras. Digitally Elevating traditional souvenirs of obsolete sites into steganographic missives, described by Mark Fisher’s as ‘hauntological(2),’ embedding the past into the future so it may be interrogated as a simulation and a simulacrum(3).

There are three experiences allowing a glitching, time travel, potentially creating a nostalgia for a future we cannot experience and each is accompanied by a soundscape encapsulating its lifetime: St Leonards Pier (destroyed in WWII) & the Albert Memorial (lost to fire in 1973) and Edwardian beach huts (destroyed by storms 1907).

Until the 1960s the act of looking back, or nostalgic reminiscing was seen by the medical profession as a pathological aspect of ageing (causing or exacerbating depression & disengagement from everyday life). American Psychiatrist Robert Butler challenged these views popularised the term ‘Ageism.’ The platform of ‘AR’ enables me to exploit this and deliver an expandable series of artworks in a significant exploration of the impact of cutting edge ‘augmented reality’ technologies on memory & nostalgia.

As contemporary degrading or invisible urban palimpsests, they offer several levels of engagement: uncanny bygone landscapes both real and imagined, self-selecting experiences that also include factual historical presences anchored in surreal soundtracks. Apparitions are visual, sonic and metaphysical, their role as artworks is also to preserve and share social memory and lost heritage as simulacra during rapid gentrification. 

 

  1. Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.
    The overlaid sensory information can be constructive (i.e. additive to the natural environment) or destructive (i.e. masking of the natural environment) and is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived as an immersive aspect of the real environment.
    In this way, augmented reality alters one’s ongoing perception of a real-world environment, whereas virtual reality completely replaces the user’s real-world environment with a simulated one. Augmented reality is related to two largely synonymous terms: mixed reality and computer-mediated reality. -Wikipedia
  2. Fisher, Mark. “What Is Hauntology?” Film Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 1, 2012, pp. 16–24. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/fq.2012.66.1.16.

  3. Baudrillard J. (2009) The Precession of Simulacra. In J. Storey (Ed.), Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 409-415). Harlow: Pearson

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