Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Questions for “Augmented Human”

Posted on | October 5, 2018 | No Comments

Thanks everyone for the lovely chat last week and hope everyone has a great reading week! Here are my questions from last week.

1. When describing his mixed AR Theatre company, Kreindlin asserts that “Everything is a balancing act…If you get carried away with the technology, you’ll have a bad production.” Thinking of artistic applications of AR, Manovich’s data dense augmented space, and of the upcoming Toronto concert involving the hologram of Roy Orbison, what do you think are the key parts of maintaining “a balance”? What are the aspects being balanced against each other? What are the main thoughts that an artist or designer using AR should keep front of mind?

2. Early forms of cybernetics, keyed by the theorist Norbert Weiner (The Human Use of Human Beings; Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine), centred largely on keeping the “man-in-the-middle” of technology as a way of enhancing the human with technological extensions (Katherine Hayles, in How We Became PostHuman, gives a very useful history of the Macy Conference and early cybernetics). While this early history was largely centred around military applications, much closer to a transhumanism than posthumanism, this dynamic of human-master and machine-tool has persisted through much of the discussion of AR (she characterizes it as a tool repeatedly, under human “control” (another word she uses often)). What do you think are the benefits of approaching technologies like AR as tools are? What might be some of the downfalls of a human-centric “man-in-the-middle” approach?

3. The two keys words that seem to consistently reoccur, as ways of describing the goals of future AR development, according to Papgiannis, are “immersion” and “personalization.” What do you think is gained by using technology to “immerse” a user into another world? What is gained by personalizing that immersion? What are the dangers?

I suppose this questions springs from my own suspicions about immersing the user (as a way of unbalancing biological-technological aspects of a healthy posthuman) and why there seems to be this obsession with making a “real” alternate world (a bit like Bazin’s Myth of Total Cinema). I am also deeply suspicious about treating the body, and existence, as a set of data sets to mine; not only am I concerned about who is doing what with that data (and all the joy that come with the capitalism of complete datafication) but also, along side the obsession with a “real” feeling immersion, the obsession with making the human a perfect being, transcending (the singing hologram who never misses a note)

4. Norman Klein, in The Vatican to Vegas, is suspicious of special effects (digital and analogue) as having placating qualities (to bring “fear under control” (45); as endless capitalism (47); as ways of making real disasters spectacle (and therefore disarming them); as general distraction of the masses, just to name a few examples). Is calm technology a special effect? (Papagiannis, 107) What benefits and dangers might it hold, especially given Klein’s assertions. Who decides what is a distraction needing removing? Who watches the watchmen?

I guess this questions is also a general reaction to the sort of techno-utopianism of the Papagiannis book in general…that tech (and AR) and can solve all problems…with the most human-centric solutions and forward paths…

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