Hunting a Snark? | Rudi Knoops


exploring uncharted terrain on the New Media map (after Lewis Carroll)

Innovative use of Augmented Reality

Most Augmented Reality examples have a high gadget level,  showing off new technology with no added value.

With his Augmented Reality Modelling Tool Melka however approaches AR in a completely new way.

click to watch the VIMEO video

click for the demo

The innovative use of AR in this prototype certainly shows one possible road to further explore!

Manovich on ‘Augmented Space’

In  his  essay “The Poetics of Augmented Space” (2002, revised edition 2005), Lev Manovich places Augmented Reality in the context of similar trends in New Media: Augmented Reality being one possible form of Augmented Space, characterised by overlaying dynamic data over physical space. For me, the most important statement he makes in his paper is to describe Augmented Space – m.m. Augmented Reality – as “idea and cultural and aesthetic practice rather than as technology”.

“here is the brief definition: augmented space is the physical space overlaid with dynamically changing information. This information is likely to be in multimedia form and it is often localized for each user.”

In an analogy with architecture he points out that overlaying physical space with layers of data is part of our cultural history since long. The main new difference is now the nature of the data: in contrast to e.g. paintings, pictures, colours, …, data are now dynamic, in multimedia form and localized for each individual user.

“The layering of dynamic and contextual data over physical space is a particular case of a general aesthetic paradigm: how to combine different spaces together. Of course, electronically augmented space is unique – since the information is personalized for every user, it can change dynamically over time,  and it is delivered through an interactive multimedia interface, etc. Yet it is crucial to see  this as a conceptual rather than just a  technological issue – and therefore  as something that in part has already – been a part of other architectural and artistic paradigms. “

Moreover, Lev Manovich sees Augmented Space as the next step in a logical progress in modern art from flat wall to 3-D space: “how in 20th century art from the dominance of a two-dimensional object placed on a wall, there is a trajectory towards the use of the whole 3-D space of a gallery.” Not just a physical space, but also a ‘dataspace’ filled with dynamic, contextual data with which the user can interact.
Manovich sees this ‘dataspace’ – built using newly available and emergent technologies – “as a continuous field that completely extends over, and fills in, all of physical space.”

As I mentioned above: describing Augmented Space as a next step in the evolution of cultural and aesthetic practice rather than focussing on its technologicial backbone, is an important statement.  Maybe even more so because most Augmented Reality applications that ‘do the rounds’ suffer a bit from being very clear manifestations of the technology involved.

Taking a more neutral stance,  you could also describe the field as such:

There is this general trend of new technologies becoming part of our physical world in an increasingly less obtrusive manner  – Ubiquitous Computing. Parallel to and part of this general trend there is this dynamic and continuous ‘dataspace’ added to the physical world – Augmented Space. But as long as Augmented Reality applications keep focussing on the technology involved, they exclude themselves from becoming completely ubiquitous.

Ironically, new technological advancements are needed to allow Augmented Reality to make this next step towards effacing itself as tangible user interface to the (augmented) real world and thus become integral part of the world of Ubiquitous Computing.

motion tracking in processing

I’m currently building a playful Processing application for the pre-opening of the new Media & Design Academy building at C-Mine. The pre-opening is scheduled for the weekend of april 25-26 2009. So I have quite some time left to finetune the draft version I have now.

using my old phone as trigger

using my phone as trigger, the red square outlining the blob

Concept = The mirrored video image of people passing in a specific frame is projected lifesize. When you stand still in the frame, you just have the projection of your mirror image. Movement will reveal an extra layer.  Using motion detection, particles of ribbons that follow the movement in the frame are superimposed upon the videosource.

Curious how people will interact with this.

For the time being it’s based on motion tracking as provided in the JMyron processing library.

I took out the visualisation of the blobs (well not yet everything, as keeping some visual reference in an unfinished product is a real time saver while still in production. I just have to outcomment a few lines of code when completely finished.)

And I added:

  • Mirroring of the video input image
  • the 2D ribbon code graceously provided by James Alliban, which I linked to the motion tracking output.

Still to implement:

  • Mirroring of the motion tracking output.
  • Limiting the amount of blobs.  (based on luminance levels, well, in fact on colour)

What I have now works best in a dark setting: writing particles using a light source (my mobile phone).

If you browse James Alliban’s blog, you’ll notice that I got my inspiration from his virtual ribbons experiment. I’m only using his 2D ribbon code though, but combining this with other chunks of code into a real application, forces me to delve deeper into Processing, and will probably prove to be quite a learning experience.

Will be continued…


June 2017
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I currently have a PhD fellowship at KU Leuven, Associated Faculty of the Arts. This blog documents my PhD research, where I explore the workings of cylindrical anamorphosis in audiovisual media. My practice based arts research shows an evolution towards installation-based works.