Experiment: Translation & augmented reality

Layering of digital and analogue content has been a theme in this project. Now that I am creating what could become a series of images I was interested to see whether I could overlay them with a digital layer to further scramble their meaning. An interactive experience was of interest so I experimented with both Google Translate and a free augmented reality app.

Below I experimented with Google Translate as a simple way to generate dynamic content. I noticed that as I twisted the camera around the image it confused the translator which the font was clearly contributing to. The rough bitmap nature of this font was clearly scrambling modern technology which I quite enjoyed. New words started to appear as well but not always meaningful words, together with random shapes. Personally I find this result of little interest and of little potential. Beyond the dumbfounding of technology there is no deep level of inquiry here and nothing of any real interest is being revealed.

The free app Zappar was used for the experiment below. This involved creating a version of the sign with the Zappar icon on it and adding this to a project on the website as this would be the scannable image. A separate video was then uploaded to the site. When the Zappar app now detects the sign and icon it overlays the video on the static image. The video below shows the result.

I was interested in whether this result would be more revealing than the translation above. I’ve experienced a few augmented reality exhibits before and have never been that impressed so I did approach this evaluation slightly biased. The interaction was enjoyable and had a slight ‘wow’ factor. Also the video of hundreds of horses running is entertaining, but only if you know the context of the message on the placard. Creating this as an exhibit would require viewers to download the app which presents a challenge – could I rely on them doing this and are they more than likely going to be disappointed?

Summary & next steps

A digital enhancement to the photographs is not something that I’ll be pursuing. The experiments above detracted from the raw quality of the images. The technology becomes the focus and the viewer is deflected away from trying to interpret what they are seeing in favour of a cheap thrill. That’s not to say that the photographs would benefit from another form of presentation, other than being placed on a traditional gallery wall. It is the presentation concept that I need to investigate options for at some stage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *