Occlusive Reality

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Aaron Rosa:

"As Augmented Reality (AR) tentatively moves from obscurity to ubiquity, we find ourselves constantly enticed by the purported capabilities and glossy demonstration videos of this technology. While major corporate players seek to establish unique identities in this emerging information space, their design fictions focus on a product’s ability to improve everyday activities. By using images of comfort, convenience, and efficiency, the companies seeking to monetize Augmented Reality tend to gloss over AR’s potential to create distraction, disinformation, and delusion. As we begin to recognize the capacity for AR technology to obscure or eliminate elements of the real and the digital, we open up a new space for examination Occlusive Reality.

Occlusion, as used in the Augmented Reality paradigm, is the intentional blocking of information from the visual spectrum. Augmented Reality technologies have been lauded for their capacity to allow users to visualize geospatially contextualized information about their surroundings in real-time creating an experience that marries the digital and the real into an immediate, personalized, and seamless space. Alongside other perceptual engineering, occlusion is employed to create the illusion of embededness for digital artifacts; analyzing the user’s visual scope and selectively eliminating both fragments of the real and digital worlds. In so doing, AR simulates via a rendering algorithm, a visual phenomenon we are accustomed to—inability to see through solid objects—thus creating the illusion of realistic placement for the digital artifact.

While this rendering illusion is critical to creating believable coexistence of digital and real information, I believe that the capacity for occlusion merits investigation and a discourse for political power inherent to AR technology." (http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/17-3/S10.pdf)

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