Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Augmented realities

The meaning of augmented reality is computer-assisted extension of the way we perceive reality. This technology has grown out of research labs quietly into the public domain.

AR as an emerging technology was new about 4-5 years ago.
Now it’s a gadget for smart phones mainly, with a lot of undiscovered potentials.
It’s an extra artificially added layer carrying information. This information can be anything from simple data to animations, or like in Adobe’s Photoshop an extra, but this time to the naked eye invisible layer above the image.
We are in the early imature phase, it’s still relatively unknown, brute since we still need all kind of extras; applications, headsets, things which are not very obtainable for the masses. The further development of this technology is once again driven by the commercial interest of advertising through applications for smart phones. Layar, a Dutch company, is one of them.
It’s a new information toy-tool which feeds on our inpatience and addiction to instant access. In certain ways it is a manifestation of the present days atemporality merging the past, present and future in one single vison.

It will take a few more years before AR can reach a matured state where we stop seeing it as a new tech gadget and it will be integrated in our daily visual culture.
It’s a pre-sign of the future which actually has already started. Small steps like the integration of digital tools such as Photoshop are introducing us to this new era. This is the language of a multi dimensional networking society.

Futurity and this multi dimensional networking society is also a main topic in Michael Najjar’s photographic work called “Augmented Realities”. He describes himself as a Hybrid photographer. In search for material for his unsettling visual experiments he chooses some particular locations, like neurology labs or the Cryonics Institute in Detroit. We stand face to face with over sized photographic prints of storage tanks in which dead bodies are flash frozen in nitrogen with hope to be reanimated somewhere in the future when technology is ready for it. There is a plain simplicity in these pictures. In a way it is a modern documentary of the future which already exist within the present.
Najjar’s vision of the future confronts us with unnerving directness.

His series titled Netropolis is a portrait of the future City, which is a material depiction of information density. He has photographed mega cities such as New York and Shanghai from the highest vantage point of each city. He took pictures of the view in all four direction of the compass. He used computer algorithms to calculate the density of each picture before superimposing them as layers on the top of each other. The result is a seemingly chaotic view of what the mega cities of the future might look like. 

I don’t want my work to be justified by some sort of a product.
Controversy belongs to art.
Every time you offer another perspective you produce a controversy.
A lot of people don’t want to move their point of view; they don’t want to be disturbed by a new vision. People don’t like diversity.
So, every time you offer diversity you get into trouble.
                                                                                                 / O. Toscani  /