Blackspot

Augmented Reality

Replacing imagination with computer animation.

The world is losing its magic. The rivers are no longer deities and the Nymphs that Socrates knew were on his walk with Phaedrus are not acknowledged anymore. Today we live in a strictly material world, a boring world, a scientific world where rocks are rocks and nature is man-made. Beautiful vistas are just that – beautiful, worthy of a picture but no longer a fountain of sublime transcendental glimmers. And yet, despite closing ourselves to the immaterial and denying the mystery of existence, the sable shadow still haunts us. So, we keep it at bay with new diversions and dazzling distractions.

Every modern generation has felt the alarming emptiness of life and has sensed that the horizon is bleak. Our banal society has long offered us nothing but the continued march of technological suicide, the extinction of biodiversity and the leveling down of infodiversity. We are wasting away our lives in long hours in front of screens, pushing pixels and accruing overtime. Bleary eyed, in a digital daze, we gulp down what we’re given and try not to think about the existential walls that are closing in as our precious years slip through our fingers, never to return again.

Faced with the shallowness of our existence, a life lived on the surface of reality, we desperately try to re-create the magical feeling that has been lost. But we are so far gone that the only alchemy we know is made of silicon chips and computer code. Still, our mercurial wizards with laptop laboratories combine these two technologies, frantically seeking the incantation for re-enchantment. But their methodologies are materialist and their tools far too modern – all that comes from their labors are expensive rose-colored glasses.

They call it augmented reality, a system for looking through the machine’s eyes, a way of seeing that replaces imagination with computer animation. And while our rocks may still be rocks, with this technology in hand, they promise us that our declining world will be bearable. That the dirt, grime and pollution need not be cleansed for through the screen everything is shiny and clean. And forget, of course, a revolution that razes this world because we can do it on our machines, safe and legally. Why destroy an oppressive reality when we can simply live in a “liberating” fantasy?

Against those who claim that augmented reality is the future of activism, we need only say: Everyone may wear blinders but the world will still stink of decay.

Micah White is a contributing editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He lives in Berkeley and is writing a book about mental environmentalism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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68 comments on the article “Augmented Reality”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 68

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Anonymous

btw there is a school of thought that 'reality' is already totally sufficient and complete in every way - including the bizzare social and technological contrivances of uberurbanised humans - ie it is all 'nature' - especially given the viewpoint that we are a product of nature - rather than the somewhat anthropological other way round -

Anonymous

btw there is a school of thought that 'reality' is already totally sufficient and complete in every way - including the bizzare social and technological contrivances of uberurbanised humans - ie it is all 'nature' - especially given the viewpoint that we are a product of nature - rather than the somewhat anthropological other way round -

tonykinglux

Good point. I was going to read all the comments but the article convinced me to switch off this laptop, and go running in the park. Thanks!

tonykinglux

Good point. I was going to read all the comments but the article convinced me to switch off this laptop, and go running in the park. Thanks!

Rational Ivan

I disagree with the author that the scientific worldview devalues our perception of the world.

If you actually knew what quantum mechanics tells us a rock is, you wouldn't for a second think that science tells us a "rock is just a rock."

A rock is a crumpled piece of space-time, slowed down light.

There is more happening inside a rock than literally any of us can intuitively conceive of.

Even a lone particle exhibits kinds of symmetry and elegance that most people never in life even become remotely aware of.

If we walked around believing in Nymphs and water-spirits that wouldn't make reality any more beautiful. It would just increase the magnitude of delusions in the world.

Rational Ivan

I disagree with the author that the scientific worldview devalues our perception of the world.

If you actually knew what quantum mechanics tells us a rock is, you wouldn't for a second think that science tells us a "rock is just a rock."

A rock is a crumpled piece of space-time, slowed down light.

There is more happening inside a rock than literally any of us can intuitively conceive of.

Even a lone particle exhibits kinds of symmetry and elegance that most people never in life even become remotely aware of.

If we walked around believing in Nymphs and water-spirits that wouldn't make reality any more beautiful. It would just increase the magnitude of delusions in the world.

Irrational Ivan

Ahh... well as long as the "scientists" tell me that a rock is "a crumpled piece of space-time, slowed down light" then it must be true!!

I mean, that couldn't possibly be a myth at all. And I am sure that will be true for the rest of time as well... not like there will be any new "scientific" theories that claim rocks are actually strings or harmonies or waves or....

Give it up... there is nothing more rational about your system.. in fact, all you're doing is turning over your brain to the "scientists" who are simply a by-product of this consumerist world.

Why would you trust any group of people whose work has brought us the BP oil spill and atomic bombs?

You may laugh at the medicine man or mystic, but he hasn't wrecked the world.

Irrational Ivan

Ahh... well as long as the "scientists" tell me that a rock is "a crumpled piece of space-time, slowed down light" then it must be true!!

I mean, that couldn't possibly be a myth at all. And I am sure that will be true for the rest of time as well... not like there will be any new "scientific" theories that claim rocks are actually strings or harmonies or waves or....

Give it up... there is nothing more rational about your system.. in fact, all you're doing is turning over your brain to the "scientists" who are simply a by-product of this consumerist world.

Why would you trust any group of people whose work has brought us the BP oil spill and atomic bombs?

You may laugh at the medicine man or mystic, but he hasn't wrecked the world.

anonymous

Science isn't a by-product of a consumerist world, dick. Consumer culture is more like a toxic waste that has resulted from science and proceeded to take on a life of its own. Science, math and all things logical are about finding the beautiful reasoning that underlies the natural universe that existed far before the first consumer. Capitalism has simply hijacked this logic and sold it to the highest bidder.
Yes, the mystic may not have wrecked the world, but it's simply because he doesn't understand it and couldn't wreck it if he tried. Couldn't save it either.

anonymous

Science isn't a by-product of a consumerist world, dick. Consumer culture is more like a toxic waste that has resulted from science and proceeded to take on a life of its own. Science, math and all things logical are about finding the beautiful reasoning that underlies the natural universe that existed far before the first consumer. Capitalism has simply hijacked this logic and sold it to the highest bidder.
Yes, the mystic may not have wrecked the world, but it's simply because he doesn't understand it and couldn't wreck it if he tried. Couldn't save it either.

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