Rhetorical Spaces

A blog about writing, space, and technology

It's a Dry Rhetoric

When you tell people in Florida that you’re moving to Arizona, you usually get the same response: “At least it’s a dry heat.” And when you tell people in Arizona that you’re from Florida, you (also) usually get the same response: “I can’t stand the humidity.” People don’t like to be hot, but they really don’t like to be sweaty..... Read more

Who Owns Augmented Space?

Earlier this month, Snapchat launched an art-based component to its popular augmented reality platform. The project, known as "Snapchat ART," places geo-located art all over the world, allowing users to find and view digital artworks through the Snapchat camera. As of now, Snapchat is in control of the artworks that are generated at each location and individual artists can submit proposed locations and artworks through the platform. For one of its first ART installations, Snapchat partnered with artist Jeff Koons to install a large AR balloon dog in Central Park. Within a few weeks, however, Koons' project had been "vandalized" by local NY artists, who claimed that Snapchat's project raises a number of troubling questions about space, corporate art, and digital publics that need to be addressed as AR technologies become more widespread.... Read more

Augmenting History

If you've ever played Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4, then visiting Alcatraz Island in San Francisco is a very surreal experience. The entire time I was touring the island, I had to fight the urge to jump up on the handrails and pretend I was doing a kick flip onto the lower deck. (I can't skateboard at all; I definitely would have broken my neck.) As someone interested in augmented reality, this strange convergence between digital and physical spaces was truly fascinating... Read more

Pokemon Go to Sacred Spaces

I was in Europe for two weeks this summer, and as is probably a common experience for many tourists, I went to more museums than I can remember. After a while, I started to notice some interesting variations in how these spaces encode and enforce their historical, political, and/or religious significance by regulating the actions of visitors: at a 10th century church in north Germany, I was told not to film the paintings; at a beautiful, towering cathedral in Poland, I was told to remove my hat; at the former home of Frederic the Great in Germany, I was told to not take any pictures of the palace interior (or else pay ten euros for a "photo pass"); at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, I wasn't "told" to do anything. With each interaction, I gained a little more knowledge about not just why but how spaces are configured as sacred through the actions of those who pass through them... Read more

Celestial Realities

Augmented reality is on track to become a $120 billion industry by the year 2020, AR startup Magic Leap just received an unprecedented $800 million in C round venture capital investment, and Vuforia, a leading vision-based augmented reality platform, was recently purchased for $65 million by PTC. Without a doubt, the last few years have seen a staggering amount of interest in AR technologies. As a result, some of the smartest people in technology, business, marketing, and design are starting to flock to this emerging industry. But for some reason, they can't seem to convey the potential of this technology beyond kids looking at models of 3D planets... Read more