[NetBehaviour] Science Fiction Writer Becomes Augmented Reality Developer

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Fri Aug 19 13:13:31 CEST 2011

That's a nice coincidence. I've just posted a text on my website that discusses how science fiction has been prescient of augmented reality - and where we might be going with the technology.

You can read it here:

or here:



On 19 Aug 2011, at 11:11, info wrote:

> "I don't often dabble in net.art, but every once in a while I have to
> keep my hand in -- if only for the cynical pleasure of writing my own
> press releases." bruces
> Science Fiction Writer Becomes Augmented Reality Developer
> Art Center College of Design, Pasadena CA, August 18, 2011
> Art Center "Visionary in Residence" Bruce Sterling has created his own
> augmented reality.
> "Sometimes it's easiest to teach by doing," said the novelist and
> design critic, speaking from Art Center's "Reality Augmented" Lab in
> Pasadena. "I used to write science fiction about Augmented Reality
> back when it was mostly imaginary. Now that it's become a real
> industry, I had to conjure some up for myself."
> Sterling's new application runs on the "Layar" platform, available on
> iPhones, Androids and Symbian mobiles. Amsterdam-based Layar was the
> corporate sponsor for the special project this summer at Art Center
> College of Design. This was the first course in America to concentrate
> on the design of AR.
> Twenty Art Center students from various design majors have created AR
> apps and also prototyped ideas for new, futuristic Layar services.
> The AR class was co-taught by creative director Guillaume Wolf and
> produced by Nikolaus Hafermaas, Art Center's Dean of Special Programs.
> Sterling's new Layar "layer" is titled "Dead Drops," and is an
> international collaboration with Layar coder Menno Bieringa, German
> media artist Aram Bartholl and Layar artist-in-residence Sander
> Veenhof.
> "I wrote a contribution for a new book about Aram's artwork," says
> Sterling, "and I realized his 'Dead Drops' network meshes perfectly
> with the Augmented Reality ideal. It's all about hidden data revealed
> in real-world, three-dimensional spaces. So, suddenly, I had a class
> project. Now I'm a registered Layar developer."
> Bartholl "Dead Drops" are thumb-sized flash drives publicly hidden in
> cities around the world. Bartholl's urban intervention features in the
> current "Talk to Me" show at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
> With Sterling's "Dead Drops Layer," users can scan the horizon for
> handy Dead Drops that might be lurking nearby. A few taps and clicks
> create a map that will lead to the site. Network users can then plug
> their laptops directly into the "Dead Drops," which are commonly
> embedded in brick walls and almost invisible.
> Programmer Sander Veenhof, who visited and lectured at the AR class
> in Pasadena, is Layar's artist-in-residence. Veenhof's own augmented
> reality works include the "Infiltr.AR" invasion of the White House and
> the "Battling Pavilions" exhibit at the Venice Biennale.
> "Now that the app is launched, Menno, Sander and I have some
> provocative ideas about new features," says Sterling. "Aram's network
> is growing steadily. I'm writing a new work of augmented fiction
> specifically created for Dead Drops."
> Sterling doubts that he will be the last science fiction writer to
> embrace "Augmented Reality."
> "Layar's strategy is to transform Augmented Reality into a mass
> medium," says Sterling. "That means a torrent of change in hardware
> and software, plus new initiatives like the 'Layar Vision Creation
> Challenge.' AR is happening today in places with core media
> competence. The Los Angeles basin is definitely one of those places.
> I'm pleased about this 'special program' -- I feel that it's opened
> new prospects for everyone involved. I couldn't have done it anywhere
> else but at Art Center College of Design."
> http://www.layar.com/layers/deaddrops
> http://www.layar.com/layar-creation-challenge/
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Simon Biggs | simon at littlepig.org.uk | www.littlepig.org.uk

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk | Edinburgh College of Art | University of Edinburgh
www.eca.ac.uk/circle | www.elmcip.net | www.movingtargets.co.uk

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