The introduction of digital technology shifted the way memory imprints were stored and accessed. What made the shift to digital space such a profound phenomenon was that within a short span of sixty years, the physical space required to store memory imprints went from the first functioning electronic computer ENIAC (1946), which weighed some 27 tons, was roughly 8 by 3 by 100 feet (2.4 m × 0.9 m × 30 m), and took up 1800 square feet (167 m2) to today’s compact mobile units, which in most cases weigh in at less than six pounds.

Furthermore, with the introduction of the internet (1982), digitized memory imprints could now connect and interact through space causing our experiencing of physical space to become as William J. Mitchell points out “fundamentally and profoundly antispatial”.

With the advent of AR technology, this antispatial experiencing physical space began to shift to yet another level. Space within the context of AR becomes a sort of actualized memory imprint bank which can be tapped into: allowing for the altering and augmenting of reality in real time. Furthermore, unlike digital space which simply acts as a carrier of memory imprints to a designated and enclosed hardwired device, AR directs its memory imprints to specific points in physical space, via GPS (Latitude, Longitude and Altitude). Presently, there are two primary modes of interactions relating to AR technology which are being explored as augmented reality or space which I call ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’ expressions.

Expected Expressions

Expected expressions are linear narratives constructed in space through AR technology and its associated media (2D/3D images, video, text, animation and audio) to familiarize and guide a participant through physical space/s. Expected expressions are used in commercialized AR applications, where the author wishes to directly control the participant’s actions and behaviour. Examples of this would be directing the participant to local retail outlets, to promote products and services, or by using AR as an event guide. This, in essence, does nothing to truly alter or augment the participants’ experience of the physical spaces in which they occupy or move through: it only acts as a means to further reaffirm their expectations of such spaces.

Unexpected Expressions

The second method involves ‘unexpected expressions’ where AR technology and its associated media are used to create non-linear narratives. These narratives are constructed to simulate virtual portals or doorways for the participant to interact with and discover new relationships with the physical space they occupy and move through.

When ‘unexpected expressions’ are created, the participant’s expectation of their relationship to the physical space can be profoundly altered. With ‘unexpected expressions’, the participant becomes involved in the creation and interpretation of their own self-constructed narrative – their own ‘social fiction’.

Author: John Naccarato, 2014

Related AR Projects by John Naccarato

(1)City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn, William J. Mitchell, MIT Press, 1996