The Incompleteness of Lookings

The Incompleteness of Lookings

Gerhard Richter: 48 Portraits, seen through an iPhone camera with facial recognition overlay. Photograph: J. Hillman.

Augmented reality is fundamentally different from virtual reality: it does not map a real world environment into a digital one as a virtual experience. Instead, it locates both reality and virtual within the same experiential frame. Through it, our interactions with reality are mediated via the fantasy of an augmented experience. Thus, augmented reality supplements what we see with the purpose of trying to maintain our attention. What is most fascinating about augmented reality is how reality itself becomes a part of, rather than distinct from, digital information. It is in this sense that the very notion of seeing is fundamentally challenged. Since when augmented technology is not deployed, what is left is an apparent incompleteness of simply looking. But what are the consequences of confronting this incompleteness? In this article I examine how augmented reality simply renders a structure that has always sustained the visual field.

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In augmented reality, as things behave in unexpected ways, our ‘real’ reality seems more obscure, confused and hidden.
Reading time: 11 min.

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