Gonzo-Reality

The story Bruce Sterling posted up last week on his Wired blog blew my mind.  It shouldn’t have really.  But I guess I’ve been considering augmented reality and its commercial uses to be official and sanctioned.  This kind of unofficial gonzo-view of reality could go a long way.

First, if you’re too lazy to click the link and check out the article, the leak in your hometown gang have made an augmented reality view that shows the oil leak on your smartphone when you point it at any BP logo, assuming you have the proper layer pulled up.

Mark Skwarek, one of the creators, sent me an email about the project as I was writing up this post.  Here’s some of the progress they’ve made and other places talking about it.

We were featured on WIRED’s Beyond the Beyond. We have an upcoming show at Famous Accountants in Bushwick NY, Aug 7th through Sept 4th. We are showing it at the Bronx Art Space in NYC. We were featured on Turbulence’s Networked_Performance and will present on it at Upgrade! Chicago in September. We were also featured on Eyebeam’s Reblog. And we are in the upcoming Cyberarts.

This project itself seems simple and is quite ingenious.  But why stop at poking fun at the world’s current kick toy?  Pointing your smartphone at random objects and getting an individual person’s POV visual could be quite mind expanding.

An unofficial game of object-association could make great interactive art, political rhetoric, or dystopic reinforcing world-view; depending on its implementation.  Wouldn’t you like to point your smartphone at everyday objects and find out how your favorite artists or celebrities view the world?  Seeing how YoYo Ma, or the Dalai Lama or Bruce Campbell (the guy from the Evil Dead series) view the world could be liberating.  Or since our own Bruce Sterling is the Prophet of AR, one of the AR browsers could do a “Bruce Layer” and show us what kind of world he sees when he’s looking around.

Maybe if Glenn Beck was your thing, you’d have a Nazi symbol pop-up when you pointed it at an Obama sticker.  Or if you were a former Bush-hater, you could see a Stalin-esque version of the W with your smartphone.   Propaganda could be all encompassing, blotting out all but the sanctioned viewpoints.

I’m absolutely certain I wouldn’t want to see what Lady Gaga has in mind for the world.  Well.  I might take a peak for a few minutes.  Just out of curiosity.  Not like I’m a fan or anything.  Just curious.

And maybe that’s what a gonzo-reality could bring to AR.  Instead of a mirror reflecting all of our beliefs into an ever-increasing sine wave, we might be privy to alternate views to our own.  Maybe even trying out how someone else sees the world.

Maybe.

Or maybe we couldn’t handle their viewpoint.  The overstimulating rush would make our realities spin around us until we puked it back out, losing all those alternate nutrients our world views could have used to grow.

Oh well.

It’s a nice little project, anyway.

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