The TRACE innovation initiative is a research endeavor developed and maintained by the University of Florida’s Department of English. TRACE works at the intersection of ecology, posthumanism, and writing studies. Augmented reality criticism (ARCs),or the use of augmented reality (AR) applications as a medium in critical public discourse, is one of several distinct projects supported by TRACE. This session will provide a forum for discussion of novel applications of AR and how these can be used in academia and beyond.
Novel applications of augmented reality (AR) continue to emerge alongside the unprecedented rise in mobile computing technologies. Museums and historical sites are beginning to integrate AR content into their displays, companies are promoting AR apps in lieu of print or even web-based catalogs, and engineering firms are creating AR applications that reveal their often invisible work. Although such uses of AR are certainly interesting in their capacity to redefine the role of technical and professional writing for many disciplines, they do not utilize AR’s potential as a medium for social and cultural change.
Digital artists and activists continue to lead the pack when it comes to shaping AR’s future as a medium for critical public discourse. For instance, artists working as part of the Manifest.AR collective have been pursuing AR “interventionist public art” since at least 2010. During the Occupy movement, artist/activist Will Pappenheimer created an AR application that uses text from Occupy protester’s signs to generate digital skywriting. According to Pappenheimer’s website, the project, titled Skywrite AR, seeks to give everyday citizens an opportunity to “occupy” a space of public writing “normally out of [their] financial reach.”
In its unique rhetorical capacity to promote compelling interactions between physical and digital content, AR is the perfect platform for creating critical, digital texts whose salience is more clearly discerned when placed within specific physical locations. Indeed, as mobile/ubiquitous computing continues its ascendance and eventual merger with predicted advances in wearable augmented/virtual reality technologies, this type of “writing” will only continue to proliferate. Trace ARCs seek to build upon the AR work of digital artists by more explicitly situating AR within writing studies scholarship as an emerging medium for creating and disseminating critical public texts.