Augmented reality got a dressing down recently courtesy of an open letter from Clark Dever on Wired, lamenting its inability to give the crowds what they want: first-person AR without the gimmicks. But while some soul searching from the industry may be in order, there’s still people using the technology in innovative ways.
Project Paperclip is a photography exhibition, with the Cold War as its theme, which uses AR to add a sonic dimension to the usually mute experience of looking at photographs. Photographer Nuno Serrão has created reactive soundscapes to accompany the pictures—users download an app then use it to activate the soundscapes by pointing the phone at a QR code. The sounds change depending on a variety of factors, like the level of ambience in the room, the time of day, the user’s voice and other variables, so each experience becomes unique to the environment and setting.
The concept of augmented reality, utilizes a digital interface to permit the creation of a bridge between our universe and the digital universe, creating a mixed ambience in real time where the differentiation between these two realities is reduced.
We’ve seen AR used in the form of artistic intervention in art galleries and it’s been used plenty of times in areas like gaming and film. But using sound to augment a photography exhibition is an interesting development and something that is perhaps more immediately accessible than some of the more gimmicky aspects of the field.