Making the invisible visible

This project required me to construct a sequential narrative to be revealed by interaction with an environment through a smart phone/ similar networked media device. I chose to use free online augmented reality software called Aurasma. Bellow is a copy & pasted version of a presentation I made explaining my project:

I based my project on a personal experience from roughly half a year ago. I briefly awoke in the middle of the night to turn over, but when I turned I visually hallucinated a tall figure (being) looming over me. It did not make any sound nor any movements, it only swayed. The experience can be explained by waking up during a stage of sleep, almost jumping into a dream based reality.

This is relevant to the brief as it is a literal manifestation of something invisible becoming visible.

My idea was to use objects in my bedroom as ’trigger images’ and use Aurasma to overlay a boiling GIF. When the in app camera pans around the room, Beings emerge and watch.

From the very beginning of the project I encountered problems with Aurasma. My GIFS worked in the desktop version, but when viewing with the app camera they would not move.

This issue was eventually resolved as the GIFS did not have enough frames to be played. Amazing.

Another GIF that I made

I then decided that the piece needed a more obvious narrative.

I wrote out the experience using my words. After reading through it, I realized that it would be interpreted as pure nonsense by the casual viewer.

To resolve this, I added periodic translations in brackets underneath the text.

I scanned, traced and created a GIF existing of 123 frames which presents the words.

My idea now was to create a double page spread in which would appear in my sketchbook.

The next painful pleasure to execute this idea was to slap it all together into Aurasma.

It worked in the sense that it was successfully placed into reality, but a characteristic of Aurasma is to consume and spit out GIFS. To slightly overcome this and to examine what it would look like, I stumbled over to Adobe After Effects and created a short video of the GIFS overlaid onto an image of the spread I was using…

Relatively satisfied with what I had so far, I decided to add in another object to beam a Being. I decided to use my guitar as it generally sits in the same position as it is in a stand, and so there wouldn’t be too much variation for the Trigger Image not to work.

I experimented with placing the GIFS outside of the Trigger Image, which meant they were big.

I then created this film and phone recording to show my work.

A mild evaluation.

I believe my outcomes for this project are successful as they appropriately communicate the narrative and aesthetic which I was aiming for, and I am happy with them. Although the GIFS are relatively simple in appearance, they are effective and strong when placed into the real world via the Aurasma app.

The reasoning behind the pieces taking place in my bedroom was to relate to the original experience, almost recreating it. The objects I picked (canvas and guitar) I felt were good permanent structures, things that rarely move from their place and therefore steady trigger images. The sketchbook however, although the pages I used are permanent, it can be moved and taken into different environments and still work which is an aspect I enjoy.

I have learnt new skills throughout this project, including understanding how Aurasma works and its capabilities, creating GIFS, and learning how to use Adobe Aftereffects for the first time and building a relatively good relationship with it.

I encountered a handful of technical problems whilst carrying out this project and found solutions to most of them. However, a problem which I couldn’t seem to overcome was the lack of playback quality when viewed through the Aurasma app (as seen in the videos). It seemed the app was churning them out low res, no matter how big or small my files were. This is a shame as the GIFS themselves are high quality and crisp.

I believe I could improve my outcome by focusing more on the video. I could do this by including sound. Although there was none during the actual experience, it would promote more of an atmosphere. Another point of improvement could be trying to add more of a narrative to the video displaying the Aurasmas. I could have filmed it from the perspective of the bed, to make the viewer feel as though they are in the bed and looking around to see Beings emerge.


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