Click here for Laura Lotti's essay, "Through the Augmenting-Glass: The Rhetorics of Augmented Reality Between Code and Interface."
Along with ubiquitous computing and wearable technology, augmented reality (AR) belongs to the triad of intelligent technologies that promise to simplify individuals’ lives by allowing users to access information anywhere and at any time. AR speaks a language of enhancement and incremental (rather than “epochal”) change. It is the “language” of AR - both in terms of the rhetorical forces embedded in the discursive practices of technoscience and in the materiality of computer software – that constitutes the object of this essay: just as technoscientific discourse freeze- frames reality, suspending its relation to history and language and allowing for certain socio-cultural practices of meaning-making to emerge, so does AR by collapsing reality into the screen – or better, the user interface - of a portable device. By taking literally Richard Doyle’s analysis of the rhetorical software embedded in the discursive-material practices of life science, I sketch a series of theses aimed at foregrounding the rhetorical software underlying the conception of reality promoted by AR, both in its spatial terms and in its relation to the “reading bodies” of the signs – codes -- that stem from the network of connections that constitute the differential, ungraspable unity of reality. The screen – or better in this context, the user interface - constitutes the map from which, like the negative of a photograph, it is possible to trace the diagram of power relations in which we are inscribed through our embeddedness in the world.
Laura Lotti is a PhD student in the School of the Arts & Media at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She recently received her MA in Digital Media: Technology and Cultural Form from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include interface cultures, human-machine interaction, computational aesthetics and non-cognitive capitalism.