Speech to text: between the real and the unreal

8:30 AM, Thursday 16 Aug 2018 (1 hour)
Context aware technologies (Augmented Reality) allow for novel forms of interaction with physical environments. These technologies feature properties that allow information to be situated in the environment in a context aware manner.
There are diverse ways in which information can be integrated into the environment by such means. The Microsoft Hololens, and related technologies, allow the placement of virtual information in locations that are congruent with physically tangible objects and environmental elements. You may place virtual images onto physical walls, punch virtual portals through to other (virtual) spaces in actual floors, or place a virtual ball on a physical table so that when the table is tilted the ball will roll along the surface of the table and drop onto the floor, bouncing on impact. The virtual object and the physically tangible space the virtual object has been placed within are, within the logic of the system, of the same ilk. The imaginary and the tangible are merged in a novel manner.
Artists have been undertaking context specific creative interventions for some time, where the imaginary is sited in specific places. Janet Cardiff's work employing recorded spoken narrative for pre-determined walks (psycho-geographies) are an exemplar. Cardiff carefully crafts the recording of her voice to create a sense of co-location not only with the physical and visual environment the walker encounters, as they listen to the narrative, but also the aural characteristics of the location; Cardiff states, "On the CD you hear my voice giving directions, like 'turn left here' or 'go through this gateway,' layered on a background of sounds: the sound of my footsteps, traffic, birds and miscellaneous sound effects that have been pre-recorded on the same site as where they are being heard' (Gibbons 2007).
This merging of now and then, the constructed and the experiential, allows the creation of a hybrid place that exists in the physical now and the artistic imaginary - a space between the real and the unreal. Whilst characterised as a psycho-geography this could also be considered a form of memory theatre (Yates 1992). Recent work by Judd Morrisey, The Operature (Engberg 2017), continues these developments, exploring the dramaturgies of augmented reality as an example of the memory theatre (or memory palace).
This paper outlines a program of artistic augmented reality research that allows users to encode information into the environment around them, allowing them, or others, to recover that data at a later time from the environment it was inscribed upon. A focus of this work is on how the information, once inscribed, can evolve (self-modify) in a context aware manner, creating a new imaginary between author, environment and reader. The project seeks insights into how place might be explored as an active mnemonic, a literary and artistic (geo-poetic) site as subjective perception between the real and the unreal.
University of South Australia
Professor of Art

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