This augmented reality (AR) work tells the story of three generations of women through a series of short poetic videos organized spatially on a table top installation. In the version documented in the video, the work used a printed out marker system and a webcam connected to a computer to move from one marker to another. As the camera is able to identify the markers, the software replaces them with a short video with a voice recording of Fisher reading a poetic text. Beautifully produced, the videos visually engage the theme of memory by focusing on old photographs, photo albums and family heirlooms, and reinforcing this aurally through vignettes that breathe life into these objects.
The poems that appear, a series of letters written by two lovers struggling to map the boundaries of their relationship, do not exist on either page or screen, but in the augmented space between them opened up by the reader.
A human being cannot read the book without the aid of a networked computer equipped with a Flash-enabled browser and webcam, as documented in this short video. All they can see is the artfully minimalistic graphic squares which are simplified versions of the more widespread QR codes.
This causes a blurring of the boundaries between media and in the concept of the reader. As people trying to read this book with an iOS tablet may discover, the implied reader is no longer just a human being but also a machine, both integrated in their configuration and behavior to perform the work: a cyborg. For a more detailed explanation of this concept and process, read the section titled “The Cyborg Reader” in pgs. 67-71 of my dissertation (pg. 76 in the freely downloadable PDF file).
Allow yourself to be charmed by the sonorous, semantic, and visual wit of this work as you read its poetic narrative and it reads you.
The layers and juxtapositions in this piece are fascinating because this pop-up book has been inscribed by AR codes, which blur the boundaries between RL and VR. What we see is a video documenting a reading of the work, so it is a far cry from actually experiencing it, but it gives us a taste of what reading an AR book through a digital lens could be like. The juxtapositions are also conceptual: the sequential nature of journeys and books, the Andromeda myth, the speaker’s voice and life, the sea, children’s books, and now (through no fault of Fisher’s) the “release the kraken” meme.
All silliness aside, this award-winning work is richly layered and merits multiple readings to conceptualize as a whole experience and arrive at its insights.